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.
Until this week I’d forgotten about the filming, but then the episode called “Apocalypse” popped up… could it be?
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 nonsensestupidity crackpottery, and I think she did a great job with the article. The best thing is, Elizabeth didn’t give any 2012 advocatesmisguided 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…
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.
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!
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!).
On Friday I was invited to appear on a local chat show called Uncommon Sense hosted by Charlotte Laws. Actually, I participated in two episodes back to back, discussing a whole host of topics. Uncommon Sense, broadcast over cable in the Los Angeles area, basically takes the form of a topic-based talk show where two guests have little idea about what is going to be discussed. It makes for a lively, fun and spontaneous show; I really, really enjoyed it. Plus it was a great chance to talk about something other than space science (although I did try to slip space in at any chance I had!).
For this 24th episode, it was a British-dominated affair with Charles Parselle, Charlotte and myself debating everything from daylight savings time influencing health/depression, child abandonment laws, cyber-bullying and cyberphobia (watch how I expertly forced my views on the 2012 Mayan prophecy into the end of the show! The hands say it all…). I was pretty clueless about the first two topics, which was fun in itself, but I got on my high-horse when we jumped into more familiar territory: cyberspace. Be sure to watch the whole thing, episode #24 leads very nicely into #25 (which I’ll post right now)…
Thank you Charlotte for inviting me on Uncommon Sense and thank you Charles for the debate and British camaraderie!
This morning I had a thought-provoking interview with Greg Fish, owner and writer for the superb website World of Weird Things. Greg wanted to get my insight to the world of commercial spaceflight and future colonization of other worlds, writing up a brilliant article called Colonizing Space, At A Profit based on my interview.
We examined the benefits mankind can reap from the exploration of space, but the responsibility of doing so is not exclusive to NASA or any other government-funded agency. The future of spaceflight rests in the hands of entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and primarily, businessmen. Manned exploration of the Moon, Mars and the asteroid belt could open a new frontier of mineral exploitation, in turn opening a new era for mankind. It may be our best hope in the long-run to survive as a race.
We could be on the verge of a Solar System-wide “gold rush”, it just depends who will be the first to have the vision for such an endeavour.
Thank you Greg for wanting to speak with me, and for preparing a very inspiring interview! Be sure to check out World of Weird Things, there are some very interesting articles and essays, delving into a huge array of topics, each written with a high degree of thought and intellect. A firm favourite on my reading list.
In a follow-up to our October 3rd discussion, Captain Jack and myself will be discussing my recent Astroengine article “Bubbles, Reflections and Space Walks… Did China Really Fake It?” On first seeing the video I was intrigued by what I saw, and the mysterious moving objects in shot needed to be addressed. Although I do not believe the Chinese staged the event, it does pose some interesting questions…
Astroengine exclusive interview with Particle Zoo founder, Julie Peasley
The hunt for the Higgs particle may have come to grinding halt until 2009, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discover the elusive particle for yourself. In fact, it’s not just the Higgs boson that awaits discovery in the zoo of Standard Model particles. And what a zoo it is! We have protons, neutrons, the quarks that make up said hadrons; plus all the force carriers, neutrinos, photons, electrons and anti-particles. There is a delicious and varied array of subatomic particles out there, but they are too small for us to see. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what these quanta actually look like?
It seems that Particle Zookeeper Julie Peasley has an intimate connection with the tiny “beings” that make up all known matter in the Universe. She has single-handedly set up her own business putting faces to the complex particles, giving us a unique view into the quantum world we would otherwise forget in the soup of theoretical physics equations. The Particle Zoo is a Los Angeles company, where Julie brings particles to life in her “sweatshop of one,” sewing beautifully-made plushie toys of all the Standard Model particles so we can collect them all… Continue reading “Particle Zoo: The Higgs Boson For Sale”