The Real Insanity Behind 2012

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I finally managed to watch the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode I was involved with (called Apocalypse) and I must admit, I was very disappointed. The doomsayers who write those idiotic books and edit those insanely inaccurate YouTube ‘end is nigh’ videos really are as insane as they sound!

To steal a phrase from the awesome Penn Jillette, “Does anyone have a fork I can stick into my own eye?” And I agree, some of the nonsense those guys spewed during Apocalypse was totally, and utterly, crazytown; enough to consider personal bodily harm.

Subtle: Profiting from doomsday... Crazy Penn & Quetzalcoatl Teller style (© Showtime)

Subtle: Profiting from doomsday... Crazy Penn & Quetzalcoatl Teller style (© Showtime)

After 18 months of writing articles countering the crappy science behind 2012 doomsday theories, I really did think that although their research was pseudo-scientific, scaremongering bunkum full of misinformation and misunderstandings, the people behind the theories must have some semblance of normality. Right?

Wrong. These individuals have been out of circulation for quite some time.

Also, they have no idea how to communicate their beliefs without sounding, and looking, insane. In this superb episode, we have Jaysen Rand bumping tennis balls around on pieces of string, yabbering about his alien abduction experiences and then promoting his scary theory (that we’re all going to die in 2012 via Planet X, or Wormwood) to an 11-year old girl. Then there’s the Belgian guy who seems to be having a panic attack about “an enormous– a gargant– gargantuant solar flare” with some kind of fetish for describing geomagnetic shift with a grapefruit. Then as an entertaining sideline, we have two disco dancing ghost hunters running around the Mayan pyramids in Chichen Itza talking to dead Mayans who think “many will die” in 2012 (their divining rod skills sucked cheese in my opinion)…

Naturally, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! isn’t a scientific study, it is an entertaining show that just happens to be very good at the art of sniffing out, well, bullshit. They bring on professionals who really know what they are talking about and make fun of the individuals who for some reason think they are going to get a fair hearing.

The man with the grapefruit... and me (©Showtime)

It’s hard to know who to listen to; the English solar physics guy with a doctorate degree and a decade of study and research experience, or a Belgian guy who fucked up our grapefruit love!” –Penn Jillette (Apocalypse)

It is such a strange feeling to have my Universe Today articles hit the mainstream on an Emmy Award winning show with Penn & Teller.

A huge thank you goes to the production team at Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. I had a great time filming the interview last year and I feel honored to be in a show alongside two skeptical-comedy greats. If you get the chance to watch Apocalypse, please do, especially if you have any concern about 2012… this show will dispel any myths. But to be honest, the doomsayers shoot themselves in the feet, providing Penn with some great material to bring Armageddon to the scaremongering idiots.

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Penn & Teller & Astroengine: Bullshit!

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One day, many, many months ago, I was approached by the producer of the Emmy Award winning TV show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! to make a skeptical appearance for one of their Season 7 episodes. Apparently it was all going to be about doomsday, Mayans, Planet X and all that jazz. As I was halfway through my “No Doomsday in 2012” series over at the Universe Today, I jumped on the chance to be involved with such an awesome production.

This is me, on TV (by @cbrannon)

This is me, on TV (by @cbrannon)

Until this week I’d forgotten about the filming, but then the episode called “Apocalypse” popped up… could it be?

Unfortunately, I don’t have Showtime, so I’ll have to watch it on the DVD, but an eagle eyed Twitter friend @cbrannon sent me this sighting… they used my stuff! I can’t wait to watch it.

As the new episode aired tonight, you might have missed it, but it looks like it’s going to be repeated for a long while yet, so check out the schedule and tune in!

Globe And Mail Interview: “Only Three Years Left Till Armageddon?”

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A few days ago, I was interviewed by Elizabeth Renzetti from the Canadian publication, The Globe And Mail. As you may have guessed from the title, we weren’t talking about my pet rabbits.

Elizabeth and I had a great chat about 2012, the Mayan calendar and my feelings about the doomsday nonsense stupidity crackpottery, and I think she did a great job with the article. The best thing is, Elizabeth didn’t give any 2012 advocates misguided fools crazies any airtime as, obviously, she has a very strong sixth sense for bullsh*t and decided not to interview any of them.

All in all, a very satisfying article that puts the whole 2012 nonsense into perspective. Kinda refreshing.

I actually get the feeling people are tiring of the doomsday mania… but somehow I get the feeling that we ain’t seen nothing yet

For me, however, 2012 was so 2008.

Next!

Astroengine Interview with Dr Richard Greenberg: “Unmasking Europa”

A future mission to the Jovian moon Europa could incorporate a life-searching robotic submersible under the icy crust (NASA)

A future mission to the Jovian moon Europa could incorporate a life-searching robotic submersible under the icy crust (NASA)

On Wednesday (Feb. 18th), NASA and ESA decided to “prioritize” a mission to Jupiter. Set to be launched in 2020 (for a 2026 arrival in the Jovian system), NASA will work on a spacecraft called the Jupiter-Europa mission and ESA will work on the Jupiter-Ganymede mission. Both probes will be launched at the same time to carry out this unprecedented planetary mission. However, this doesn’t mean a mission to Saturn will be off the cards; NASA hinted that a return trip to the ringed gas giant will also be planned in tandem (following in the footsteps of the Cassini Equinox Mission). But Jupiter comes first.

In an enlightening interview earlier today, Dr Richard Greenberg, an eminent Europa scientist, discussed this recent NASA/ESA announcement with Astroengine Live and his excitement that there will be a return mission to the Jovian system. He is an expert in celestial mechanics and worked on several NASA projects at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Dr Greenberg has also published a book called “Unmasking Europa” (of which I am very excited to receive a copy soon), detailing the science under the icy crust of the moon, where there is a tantalizing possibility life may thrive in tidally-heated sub-surface oceans.

But that’s not the best part. Dr Greenberg provides an exciting narrative about what form this Europa (European?) life may take… It’s not just microbial extraterrestrials that could survive in these environments

Be sure to listen in to my radio show, Astroengine Live on Wednesday, February 25th to hear the full recording of my conversation with Dr. Richard Greenberg.

Slacker Astronomy Interviews Dr Michael Turner about Dark Energy

Dr Michael Turner

Dr Michael Turner (Slacker Astronomy)

I’m just listening to Slacker Astronomer Michael Koppelman’s excellent interview with Dark Energy’s Dr Michael Turner at last week’s AAS conference in Long Beach. You have to listen to Turner’s views on dark matter, dark energy, the LHC, the rights and wrongs of general relativity and some great opinion about the current state of cosmology. On checking out Turner’s bio on his website, anyone who has “Space” listed under “Areas of Expertise” has to be listened to!

I especially liked the Slacker question concerning the growing number of people opposed to the idea of dark energy accusing cosmologists of “drinking the same Kool Aid” (in reference to the perceived thought that dark energy might be a crazy idea), to which Turner replies with, “Well we do all drink the same Kool Aid, that is true. I’m Mr Kool Aid!

It is a really entertaining interview, providing an insight to the cutting edge of cosmological thought and excitement for the continuing work being done in the field.

Great work Slacker Astronomy! Now I feel like the slacker, Astroengine.com didn’t manage any podcasts direct from the scene of the AAS… I must remember by dictaphone in June for the next AAS in Pasadena!

Source: Slacker Astronomy

Guest Appearance on the TV Show Uncommon Sense, Episode 25

Following hot on the heels of episode #24 of Uncommon Sense, both Charles Parselle and myself discussed another batch of topics chosen by host Charlotte Laws. This time, we started out with politics (my personal favourite as you will probably tell from my expression, and the background to this can be found in my recent article “Politics Has Nothing To Do With Space Exploration” – Debate (Wear Safety Goggles)), where I had a rant about NASA (although I wish I’d studied Obama’s space policies more thoroughly!), then we drifted into the reasons why women dressed in red are more attractive to men, how deadly Black Friday became this year, alternative therapies (cue: rant about the perceived risk of radiation) and robotic soldiers.

Once again, Charles and I had little clue about what we’d be talking about, so there was a lot of spontaneous fun to be had. Thank you Charlotte again for inviting me on Uncommon Sense and for being a superb host, I think it’s a great format worthy of a prime time slot (I think we’ve found a replacement for The View!).