SGU Episode 576

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SGU Episode 576
July 23rd 2016
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 575                      SGU 577

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

C: Cara Santa Maria

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein


M: Maria Cork

Quote of the Week

Denialists maintain their stance - be it in regard to HIV and AIDS, the holocaust, or 9/11 - in the face of exhaustive and irrefutable evidence. It is not melodramatic to say that vocalization of these particular falsehoods have been responsible for many deaths -->

Ben Vincent

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Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

S: Hello, and welcome to The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. Today is Thursday, July 21st, 2016; and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella,

Pokémon Go ()[edit]

(The rogues talk about playing Pokémon Go. Bob is excited about the augmented reality)

Forgotten Superheroes of Science (7:12)[edit]

  • Carlos Juan Finlay

S: All right, Bob, tell us about this week's Forgotten Superhero of Science.

B: Yes, for this week's Forgotten Superheroes of Science, Carlos Juan Finlay (1833 to 1915), was a Spanish-Cuban epidemiologist who first recognized that Yellow Fever was transmitted through mosquitoes. Huge, huge, huge finding! Yellow Fever, you don't hear much about it, really. We know what it is; we've heard of it. But it was a horror in Finlay's time, and it still is to this day in some countries. It ravaged and haunted the tropics back then.

Often you would get better after you contracted it after a few days, but then sometimes it came back with a vengeance, and with a fifty percent mortality rate. People were dying, a lot of people were dying. In Cuba, Finlay noticed a pattern of Yellow Fever outbreaks during mosquito season, and that was the key breakthrough. His theory, that mosquitoes were the disease vector, wasn't widely believed for twenty years until famous war surgeon Walter Reid and colleagues were sent to Cuba to research the disease that caused so many deaths during the Spanish-American war.

Now, Finlay convinced Reid, and together they identified the specific mosquito species, and had incontrovertible proof; and this was the first time ever that mosquitoes were shown to actually be vectors; and this ultimately led to the eradication of Yellow Fever from Cuba and Panama, saving hundreds and thousands of lives, and also allowed for the completion of Panama Canal, which was taking a huge toll.

And then of course, then vaccines were developed, and it's much better than it used to be. There are still many parts of Africa that are isolated, they're still getting hit with it. There's also many reasons that Yellow Fever is actually increasing a little bit here and there.

So, another interesting aside: History books will often say that Reid made the discovery. But contrary to many similar historical examples, Reid always gave Finlay full credit for being the first to find a link between mosquitoes and disease. So, remember Carlos Juan Finlay; mention him to your friends, perhaps when discussing arboviruses or aides-egypti mosquitoes!

E: Ooh! Or Zika.

S: So, some historians insisted on giving full credit to the white guy, even when he was insisting that, “No, it really was ...”

B: Yes

S: “you know, the Spanish-Cuban who did it.”

B: Absolutely, yep. He was great about it, even in personal correspondences, he gave him full credit.

News Items[edit]

Funding Replications (9:42)[edit]

S: All right, Cara, I understand the Dutch are trying to do something about the problem of replications in science.

(Some funding has been given by The Netherlands to replicate major studies, in order to make sure they're really true)

Data Storage Breakthrough (18:09)[edit]

(Atomic hard drive with a density 500,000 times better than what we have today)

The Connectome (24:08)[edit]

(A map of the connections of the human brain)

HAARP (28:13)[edit]

S: All right, Evan.

E: Yep

S: You sent me this interesting article about HAARP ...


S: in the Business Standard – I had to see if that was a legitimate news outlet or not. It's funny, but ...

(Rogues laugh)

S: Business Standard abbreviates their name as B.S. (Rogues laugh) Wasn't filling me with confidence. But tell me about it.

E: All right, well they picked it up courtesy of The Press Trust of India, or PTI, which is a legitimate – for as much as it can be – a news outlet. So that's where they pulled this from. And here's how the headline reads, okay? “US Developed Weapon System May Cause Global Warming, The Government of India Warns.”

Okay, so HAARP, right? When I say HAARP, I'm referring to the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program; H-A-A-R-P.

B: Didn't they close that down?

E: Yeah, well, Bob, maybe you've heard of it in one of two ways, okay? Here's way number one you might have heard of it: HAARP was a US military-funded project. It was unclassified, non-clandestine; and it was an ionospheric research program whose purpose was to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance. And I say “was” because as you alluded to, Bob, the HAARP program officially ended in 2014.

Now here's another way you may have heard of it: HAARP is a secret weapon of the government which has the capability of any of the following evil superpowers: It can cause earthquakes, can control the weather, can boil the atmosphere away, can disable satellites, can destroy aircraft including TWA flight 800 and the space shuttle Columbia. It can control the minds of people and orangutans, or is responsible for global warming.

S: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait: “People and orangutans?”

E: I threw the orangutans thing in there.

(Rogues laugh)

B: Orangutans (Steven and Evan had been saying orangutangs)

C: Thank you Bob!

E: Yes! (Applauds) Ten points for Bob for picking up the ...

S: I say it that way just to have Bob correct me every time.

(Rogues laugh)

E: And they also think HAARP is not shut down; it's actually still being wielded to this day for evil purposes. So, which way do you think they're going with this particular story?

C: (Sarcastic) Hmm...

E: So here's how the article reads: “'A US-developed weapons system that strikes the atmosphere with a focused electromagnetic beam may cause global warming,' says the government of India.” And when I say “the government of India,” we are talking about the environment minister Aniel Manhavedave. And he put this down in writing the US has developed a type of weapon called, “High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. It strikes the upper atmosphere with focused and steerable electromatic beams. It's an advanced model of a superpowerful ionospheric heater, which may cause the globe to warm and have a global warming effect.

Well, apparently he's not aware that it's no longer in service, but again, there are some people that think that actually it is, and shutting it down is just part of the great cover up in one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding HAARP. That's what you have here.

(Rogues laugh)

S: (British accent) There you are then!

E: (British accent) And there you are! (/British) HAARP is responsible for global warming.

S: It's interesting how something innocent like that just takes on a life of its own.

B: Yeah

S: To get in their head that there's something sinister about it, and that's it! There's something sinister about it. And now, nothing that you could say, or that will ever happen will dissuade them from that, because it all becomes part of the conspiracy.

E: Right

C: It's also interesting because we know what's responsible for global warming. It's not like that's a big, open-ended question ...

E: Right

C: and we needed to find some kind of scapegoat. We know what causes global warming. We don't know everything, but we know a lot of the picture by now.

S: If you believe that sort of thing, Cara.

(Evan laughs)

C: (Sarcastic) Oh, yeah. If you believe those climatologists.

E: But, look, so I think the takeaway from this article, perhaps, is that people in high positions, in government levels and so forth, can easily get swept up in the hysteria of conspiracy theories just as easily as any other human being on the planet.

S: I think some people are more easy than others, but yeah, I get your point.

Bio Bot (32:47)[edit]

(Commercial at 40:07)

Who's That Noisy (41:49)[edit]

Answer to last week: Aztec Scream Whistle

What's the Word (47:28)[edit]

  • Estivation

S: All right, Cara, What's the Word?

C: Ooh! The word this week is estivation. Anybody have any inside knowledge? Anybody have any guesses as to what estivation refers to?

S: I know what it is.

B: That's sleeping, yeah, sleeping during the day, isn't it?

S: No, no, during the summer.

C: Ahhh!

B: During the summer!

(Cross talk inaudible)

J: When you go digging with Emilio Estivez.

(Cara laughs)

S: During a hot or dry period,

B: I see

S: but usually the summer, yep.

C: Yes, yes, yes. So, in zoology, specifically, to estivate is to be in a dormant or inactive state, generally in a hot, dry environment. We see it in reptiles, insects, snails, even some mammals. But it is not to be confused with hibernation. That actually occurs during the winter months, and it generally lasts longer. Estivation, of course, occurs during the summer months.

In botany, it also has a definition. It's the arrangement of petals and sepals in the bud of a flower before it opens. And that's as opposed to vernation, which is the arrangement of young leaves in a leaf bud, before it opens.

And also, because of its usage, you can kind of use estivation in a literary sense. You'll sometimes hear people refer to estivating. Like, I have friends from Texas who like to estivate in the Pacific northwest, in order to beat the heat. So that really just means summering over someplace. It's very hoity-toity.

E: Huh! I see.

C: (British accent) Yes, I see. (/accent) So, the etymology of this word is interesting. It was first described in the early to mid 1600's in the scientific sense. And it comes from the Latin estis, which is actually the way it's typically spelled, the A-E-S-T, although the American spelling is just E-S-T. And the Latin estis literally translates to the hot season, or summer. Later, it became estivare, which means to spend the summer. So it's like a direct translation there, from the Latin. And that's what animals do.

Estivators, as I said before, are typically snails, earthworms, bees, salamanders, toads, frogs, lizards, crocodiles, some snakes, mud turtles, desert tortoises, and the mammal that I spoke of is the adorable, little hedgehog. Hibernators, we all know, are some small birds, and mammals, pocket mouses – pocket mice – kangaroo mice, bats, insects, and animals of that nature.

B: And bears!

C: And bears!

E: Oh my!

C: Sweet, little bears. Yes!

B: It's an amazing process, what their body's actually going through during the hibernation is amazing!

C: Yeah, hibernation is a much more intense metabolic process than estivation, although it is what we think of as that kind of induced, long term, minimal sort of metabolic processes.

S: Yeah, they also, they had to develop the metabolic pathways to live off their body fat. We can't live off our body fat, 'cause we need glucose, you know.

E: Damn shame, too.

S: But they can, essentially, make glucose out of fat, so they can just live off their body fat.

E: Wow.

C: And we also don't have enough of that kind of fat. Like, they have a really high proportion of brown fat, and we don't.

Your Questions and E-mails[edit]

Question #1: Snake Follow Up (50:31)[edit]

Love the show and I’m a long time listener. Occasionally you guys mention things that I’m pretty passionate about and this time it was snakes. As an avid reptile keeper, this hit close to home for me. I agree that keeping potentially harmful wildlife from your yard is important and I would strongly encourage you to use the methods that are least harmful to the local reptile population. Please don’t get a cat and let it outdoors. Since Dr Novella lives next to a natural area, an outdoor cat will patrol far from the yard and kill whatever it can. Keeping a pet cat as an outdoor pet no longer is seen as a socially responsible way to keep cats. Cats are indiscriminate killers of pretty much anything they can take down and don’t distinguish between native wildlife and introduced pests such as rats and mice. The feral cat problems in Hawaii and Australia are prime examples of the extreme side of the problem. If I could suggest other solutions, put a fish pond below your bird feeder, get a Jack Russel Terrier, hang a tray below your bird feeder to catch spillage, convert your bird feeder to a hummingbird feeder, place lots of rodent traps (live or lethal). I’m sure there are other things I haven’t thought of. Keep up the good fight Rogues! Doug Taylor Mill Creek WA

Question #2: Archaic Terms (54:23)[edit]

Guys, It occurred to me that many of your younger listeners may have misunderstood Evan's quote of the week from Thomas Paine. The word 'fabulous' is used by most young people as a rough synonym of excellent. Of course, in Paine's time, the primary meanings (perhaps the only ones) derived from the root 'fable.' In the context of Evan's quote, I believe Paine had in mind the meaning given as definition 5.a. In the OED, viz. Resembling a fable, absurd, ridiculous; or perhaps 3.a., i.e, Of a narrative: Of the nature of a fable or myth, full of fables, U historical, legendary. I've run into this kind of misunderstanding by law students when I teach as a guest lecturer. In reading old court opinions or treatises. They often misconstrue the use of the words fabulous and fantastic as indicative of the author's approval, when, of course, nothing could be further from the intent. Similarly, they sometimes understand the word artificial to have a negative connotation, when in fact in such old texts it is likely to mean something akin to artistic. There was, in the 18th and 19th centuries, a strong preference for the new factory-made products generated after the dawn of the industrial revolution, over the homespun and natural. There was a strong prejudice against the latter, which were thought to be old-fashioned and unsophisticated. Thus, there was a widely held belief that man-made things are ipso facto superior to natural things. Equally fallacious with, and the polar opposite, of the naturalistic fallacy we wrestle with today. It might be useful, when using quotes from earlier eras, to explain the meanings of such words in their time, when their meanings have changed so significantly. Regards, Steve

Interview With Maria Cork (57:30)[edit]

S: Well, joining us now is Maria Cork. Maria, welcome to The Skeptic's Guide!

M: (British accent throughout) Thank you so much for having me.

S: I know Jay in particular has been really looking forward to this interview. We've been setting this up for a couple of months. But, Maria, you have a bit of an unusual job. Why don't you tell us about it?

M: I do. My day job is that I work in the creature effects industry over in the U.K., and for the last couple of years I've been working on Episode VII of Star Wars, and I supervise the hair department within creature effects.

S: Creature effects? So you make costumes.

M: Yep. The practical ones, nothing to do with digital, it's all the practical costumes with animatronic heads and prosthetics and that kind of side of things.

S: Do you do any full animatronics? Or there's always a person involved?

M: It varies. A lot of the characters – I mean, if we're looking at that specific film, The Force Awakens – there was some characters that were people with animatronic heads, some of them were complete puppets that were puppeteered from outside. Some of them were just hand puppets. There was a complete mix of different things.

S: And what did you primarily work on?

M: As you can probably guess from the sort of job that I do, the hair work, most of the build involved working on Chewbacca.

J: (Wookie scream) Oh my god! First, I want to ... Steve, you know, you didn't even properly welcome her. I was totally expecting Steve to do this. (Strained) Oh! Oh god Steve! My light saber is outta juice!

(Multiple people groan)

J: Oh my god! Let me recharge ... oh my god! That hasn't happened to me before!

S: Okay, you ready?

(Light saber sound effect)

(Maria laughs)

S: Jay has saber envy now.

J: Oh my god! My battery lasted for like, six months.

C: Oh yeah! That's yours Steve!

S: Jay, it happens to every guy. You can't get it on.

(Rogues laugh)

J: I really need to go see a Jedi doctor.

C: Mine's actually right behind you Maria, hanging on the wall.

M: Ah, have I got time to grab it?

C: Yeah!

(Another light saber turns on)

M: Are we gonna have a virtual saber fight now?

S: Absolutely! I've already started.

C: ... Just stick it back in.

(Maria laughs)

C: There we go.

J: So, can you tell us how did you start with that career? How do you become a hair specialist? Where did it begin?

M: When I was a teenager, I was one of the people who was completely obsessed with horror films, and anything along that genre. So I used to watch one of those and go, “I really wanted to do effects!” And I love all the magic as well. It kind of went hand in hand. And I started doing silly make up, slit wrists on friends at school when I was about fourteen, fifteen, and annoying the teachers.

And then I got my first work experience at a small model making company near my house, and then started working at Skepton's Studios one day that I had off while I was doing college. And as soon as I finished to eighteen, I started as a runner in a special effects workshop, and worked my way up, and spent a lot of time in Jim Henson's creature shop, which was my first kind of big break in the industry, as the runner. I worked my way up through that company.

S: So, did you learn your skills mainly as an apprentice? Or do you get a degree in making Wookies?


M: That came much later! But early on, I didn't go to university. I just kind of knew what I wanted to do, and started literally as the person who would run out and buy all of the goods for the special effects companies, and go to havadasherie shops and sculpting supplies, and then started to get the work doing a bit of seaming of the skins, and painting, and helping out and doing whatever I could; and then eventually specialized in hair – I think it was when we did Animal Farm at Jim Henson's creature shop, for an HBO TV series.

And we had lots of animatronic pigs to make. And I was doing a lot of the hair work on that. After six months of that, kind of went, “Yeah, I think I know how to do this! I think I can do more of this.”

J: But it's quite an honor to be the person on the planet that got to put the hair on the Chewbacca costume. I find that to be pretty profound. Like, you have to be amazingly good at this.

M: I've been doing it for a while now. When I got that phone call, 'cause the guy who's my boss, Neil Scandlen, who's heading up the creatures department, I've worked with a lot in the past. We did Sweeny Tart, and we did Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, and lots of other jobs together. But when he called me for that one, and it was always from the outset, he said, “We have to make Chewbacca,” - it's terrifying! It's daunting! It's a legacy character that everyone loves, and you don't want to be the one that doesn't do the right job of it. There's a big weight on my shoulders as soon as I took the job.

J: I bet. But seeing your work on the screen though, being a part of that film and everything, that's history.

M: Yeah, I mean, it's something that I'd never experienced in my job before. We make things all the time, and some one will go, “Oh yeah! I saw that seven-head you did in this TV show.” And then it all moves on. But this is something really different. I mean, I was just saying to Cara before you guys came online, we did the Star Wars celebration this Saturday, which was at the Excel Center. It's like a kind of ComicCon, but specifically for Star Wars. And the creature department heads all did a panel talk for four thousand people. That's not something you normally do in my industry.

J: Oh god! First off, how was the conference? Was it incredible?

M: It was amazing! I'm so happy. Borick Davis headed up our panel, so he was sort of looking after it, and introducing us all. And it was more of a conversation. So that was great, because he's brilliant at that kind of thing. And he put us all at ease, and plus we all know him because we put him in costumes quite a lot. So that was good.

But it was just an experience I've never had anything like, walking out into a room full of four thousand people who love the work you've done. Well, you hope so any way.

C: And what were you saying to me before we started recording? No where else in world will you see, like, a man in a Princess Leia bikini?

M: Yep!

(Rogues laugh)

M: I think there were two costumes that I loved that I saw on Saturday. There was a beautiful Asian lady with full beauty make up on in an Obi Wan Kenobi outfit with a stuck on beard, which was just fantastic! And then there was a guy who had done his own Chewbacca outfit, and it was just a cardboard tube and a cardboard, like a poncho that he has put over his head; and he just painted Chewie on it, and it was just brilliant! I love it.

(Cara laughs)

S: Cara, I betcha that's not literally true.

C: Literally? Oh ...

S: There are plenty of places where you will see guys in Princess Leia outfits.

C: Yeah, I bet you there's a whole dark corner of the internet just ...

J: You can pay for that, but ... let's not go there.

M: I think there's probably about five hundred of them down in San Diego at the moment, isn't there Jay? Just getting ready for the weekend.

C: Yeah, already in line.

J: So, to do the work that you do, so they gave you the body suit with no hair on it. You just got handed this ... what material was the suit made out of?

M: So, the body suit itself was a liker suit. The original one they used in A New Hope was knitted, but we decided to go with likert just for longevity, 'cause we knew how much we were gonna have to film on this film. So it was a liker suit that came to us, and we would pattern out where the blends are, so the color changes from ginger into the grey mix. And we would just knot the hairs in one or two at a time using a tiny little crochet hook, double-knotted in the same way that they make high-end wakes.

C: Oh my god! How long does that take?

M: Well, we made five and a half suits in total, 'cause there were three different people playing Chewbacca in the film. We had Peter Mayhew obviously. We did one and a half suits for him. So we did the half one for when he sat in the Falcon, just because it's easier to dress him, and for his own comfort. And then we had a photo double, who was a guy called Jonas Suitarmu. And we also had Ian White, who was a stunt double. And each of those guys had two suits each because for every day that we filmed on a suit, it had to go back to the work shop, and two people had to spend a day getting the knots out and restyling it, every day. So ...

S: Oh wow.

M: I'm trying to think how long that took in total. The peak of the build, we had thirteen people in their department, and they were generally just knotting the suits, and that was for about six months.

C: Oh my gosh!

M: But then we had about a year's development before that, or six months' development before that just to get to the point where we knew what we were doing and could get on with it.

C: Wow!

J: So, there was a moment where you finished the first suit, (I'm just assuming that this happened) and did you guys have this moment where you finished the first one and you just stood back and went, “Oh my god! It's gorgeous!”

M: (Laughs) I think we carried on developing the whole time, even when we were done, because the suits – one thing – that their head is whole 'nother ball game because the head consists of the skull. So the first thing we did was try and get the head and the face right. So Luke Fisher in the sculpting and concept department spent quite a bit of time sculpting a head, and then I'd get it and put some hair on it. Then we'd look at it; figure what wasn't right; go back; he'd change the sculpt head; then I'd put hair on it again. So that was our first thing, trying to make that right.

And even once you've got the completed head done, just the styling on it changes, 'cause Chewbacca moves his head (I think I said this on the panel on Saturday) he has a tendency to tuck his chin down and move his head left and right. And as he does, the hair on his chin kind of puffs out, and he stops looking like Chewbacca.

So then we started sewing bits of the hair down to the cowl with invisible thread and things just to try and keep it all in shape, but it was a real monster task. We got as much reference as we could from the original film, and stills, and video footage and things; and just worked with picked out photos we liked that captured the essence of Chewie; and tried to just kind of make that. It was always our brief to try to make it look and feel like Episode IV Chewbacca.

J: Yeah, and you guys didn't, or the people who made the actual head didn't add anything to it, right? Didn't you say, when you and I talked a couple of months ago, they wanted it to be identical to movies four, five, and six, right?

M: Yeah, I mean, we could have tried to add, I think there was talk at the start of maybe adding eyebrow movements and other things, but because it's such a legacy character, and because it's Chewie, and all he had was its real eyes, and he opens his mouth and then has two paddles in the top lip that cause his lips to go up into a snarl. But that automatically happens as he opens his mouth. That's all we did. We didn't add any more.

You can kind of just lose the character. And things that come up on the internet quite a bit is people going, “Why didn't you age him?” And that was always the brief, again, it came from J. J. It was kind of, we just need to make him look like Episode IV. Plus, the folklore of Wookies is they live to about four hundred years old, and he was what, two hundred in Episode IV?

S: Yeah

M: So he's only going to be two hundred and thirty in Episode VII, so specifically trying to age him, I think, might have looked like we were trying too hard, I think.

J: Were you personally on set, like, every day? What was the job like?

M: Once we had finished the build, and we started shooting, I was looking after Chewbacca every day that we shot. We did about forty or fifty shoot days on that film. There were days when we would have two Chewbaccas up, so Peter Mayhew would be doing something, and then we would also have Yonna standing by, or we'd have Ian White standing by for a stunt.

So then we had another team from the hair department; and I'd always be on set, somebody from fabrications, so they would help dress. So there were two of us. But I'd go and do the make up in the morning, black his eyes out, and then we'd both dress him in a tent on set, and I'd look after him on the actual shoot.

J: So you like standing behind the camera, and every time the actor does something that screws the suit up, you like, “Oh! Don't do that!” (Maria laughs) “What are you doing?”

M: Yeah, yeah. I think I was the bane of the eighties life, because I was always the last person out when they were gonna start rolling, because he would, he'd shake his head, and you were trying to keep some semblance of continuity throughout, and it's hair, it does move around, that was fine; but we had to try and keep it. And sometimes this one bit would just fall across his face every time, and there'd be like, “Yeah, go on. We know you're gonna go in. Go on damn it!”

(Cara laughs)

J: So when you watched the final movie now, do you see anything like, “Oh! We should have brushed the hair to the left! Oh! ...” like, you know, that type of stuff goin' on too?

M: I think the first time I watched the film, which was at the pre-screening, which was the first time we got to see it, just before it was released, I think it was about five hours before it was released. They had hired a cinema just for the crew throughout the day to go and see it. I was just – you do, you focus on the things that you did, but then the second time I watched it, I kind of relaxed from it. And I realized, you have to.

B: Yeah

M: You've done what you can do. And it's a seven foot-six wig, and there's only so far you can go with it. You try your hardest.

S: Was that all human hair? Did you say that?

M: It's not human hair, it's yak-belly hair, which is what they use a lot to make theatrical beards from it. It's a little bit coarser, and yeah, as it says, it's from the belly of a yak. But it's quite commonly available for theatrical things.

C: Oh, really?

M: And it's what the original suit was made of as well. So, again, we just didn't want to change anything around.

C: I have a sweater that's wool and yak, and it's really warm.

M: Yak's quite coarse, I mean, maybe that's the top part of the hair. If you look at a yak, it's got this strip of really long hair under its belly, and then its tail hair's even coarser and longer, so again, they use that for beard hair ...

C: Yeah

M: in theaters quite a lot.

C: I definitely know when I wear that sweater, I feel hot.

M: (Chuckles) They do live in Tibet in the pole, so ...

C: Yeah

M: that makes sense.

C: Is the full costume very, very warm?

M: Compared to some of the other costumes that people are in in that film, which made of foams, and they're really big and hefty, at least with this one we put air conditioning on him or we put a fan on him. It goes through the hair, through the light suit, and he can feel it. Some of the guys who were in the much bigger fabricated suits don't feel any benefit of any air, so they're just stuck in there. The guys in fabrication put fans in there to get air flow going, just to keep them cool.

C: Ugh! Those suits must smell so bad.

M: We use a, our secret weapon is far gone vogcurantri oil at the end of every day. Things that you can't put through the wash, we spritz them with vogcurantritri. So all the time, production, like, “You can't get alcohol on the production budget.” We're like, “Honestly, we're not drinking it, I promise!”

(Cara laughs, Jay chuckles)

J: You're like, “Just pour vodka all in the suit, and everything's great.”

M: Yeah! It's good! It's an antibacterial, and the teetri smells good, and it's also an antibacterial; it works really well.

J: No, we forgot to mention that your close friends with Richard Wiseman, and he set this interview up for us. He made the connection. He actually turned to me during a live recording and said, “I've got a dead dog in my garden.” No, after he said that,


M: I've seen where the dead dog is. I have seen that. I've been to his house. I know all about the dead dog, trust me!

J: After he said that, he was like, “Oh my god! Jay, I have someone you have to talk to.” And he told me what the deal was, and I lost my mind. I'm like, “Are you kidding? Yes, make that happen!” So I want to thank Richard for making the connection, and I want to thank you for taking the time to come and talk to us. And I'm sure that you made about, at least a solid fifty percent of our audience super-psyched to hear all this awesome info about the movie.

M: Aw, thank you so much. No, it's been an absolute pleasure to come on here, and yeah, I'll do anything for Richard. He's a sweetheart.

J: So, you know, if by any chance you happen to work on a Star Wars movie again, nobody knows, could you please come back and chat with us again? Maybe next year, or whenever?

M: If I ever get the chance to work on another Star Wars film, I shall put it in the diary.

J: Excellent!

S: Excellent! All right, thank you so much Maria.

J: Thank you Maria.

M: You're so welcome!

Science or Fiction (1:12:32)[edit]

(Science or Fiction music)
It's time for Science or Fiction

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:25:07)[edit]

Star Trek Replica Set (1:27:25)[edit]

S: And until next week, this is your Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking. For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at, where you will find the show notes as well as links to our blogs, videos, online forum, and other content. You can send us feedback or questions to Also, please consider supporting the SGU by visiting the store page on our website, where you will find merchandise, premium content, and subscription information. Our listeners are what make SGU possible.

Today I Learned:[edit]


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