SGU Episode 240

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SGU Episode 240
February 17th 2010
Thomas paine1.jpg
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 239                      SGU 241

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

R: Rebecca Watson

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.

Mark Twain

Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Discussion


You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.

News Items ()[edit]

Rom Houben Update ()[edit]

Solar Power Breakthrough ()[edit]

Psychic Killed over Failed Love Spell ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week: Radio frequency emissions from lightening strikes

Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Question #1 - Gas from Carbon ()[edit]

Hey guys. I was just listening to your latest episode (#239) in the lab and had a comment on your thinking on the carbon capture for formation of gasoline. While you all made the point that there would be energy lost in this process, it seems that this might be used to make gasoline for cars. While it would be amazing for all cars to have mini nuclear reactors in them, this seems slightly impractical for the near future. However, if we can use nuclear (or solar, etc) plants to make gas, it will solve the drilling problem, even if there is energy lost for the fuel. Anyway, love the show. Brian makes a good rogue. Joe Colombo Ann Arbor, MI

Question #2 - Thomas Paine ()[edit]

Subject: Thomas Paine was Not American! Recent subscriber and a huge fan of the show. In your last show, you identified Thomas Paine as an American pamphleteer and revolutionary. He was a pamphleteer and a revolutionary, but he was most certainly NOT an American -- at least not when he published Common Sense. Little known facts: Thomas Paine was born in England, and even worked for the English government at one point. In 1774, he was fired, went bankrupt and his wife divorced him. Since his life was ruined, he sought a new beginning by moving to the United States in November of 1774. He ended up publishing Common Sense in January(?) or February(?) of 1776, which meant that he had been in America only 14 months at the time. (Not hard to see why he wrote what he wrote, since he had an axe to grind against Parliament!) Yes, he played a huge role in the Revolutionary War, but I don't see how 14 months of living in a New Country can turn a British dude into an American colonial. I know you enjoy trivia. Just sayin' Keep up the good work! Mark Farrales Los Angeles

Question #3 - Knocked Out ()[edit]

Hello all. Let me first say I love the show. I started listening around the time Rebecca became a rogue, and I haven't missed an episode since. My question came to me while I was watching the ABC show LOST. People are constantly being knocked unconscious in the show and remain unconscious for long stretches of time. So my question is this: Is it really that easy to be knocked unconscious; do you really remain unconscious for such a long time; and do you really wake up without any permanent or prolonged damage? Steve, since you are a neurologist I thought you may be able to answer this. Thanks for everything you do and keep up the good work. -Jess LaCelle Syracuse, NY

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: Total length of blood vessels in the human body: 10,000 miles Item #2: Hottest known temperature in the universe is 7.2 trillion degrees F - recently created in the laboratory by physicists. Item #3: Number of cells in the human body: 10-50 trillion Item #4: Upper limit of estimates of total number of species ever to have lived on the earth: 10 billion

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure. - Mark Twain

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation and For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at For questions, suggestions, and other feedback, please use the "Contact Us" form on the website, or send an email to If you enjoyed this episode, then please help us spread the word by voting for us on Digg, or leaving us a review on iTunes. You can find links to these sites and others through our homepage. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto, and is used with permission.


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