SGU Episode 243

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SGU Episode 243
March 11th 2010
SGU 242 SGU 244
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
'The best substitute for brains is silence.'
Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

News Items ()[edit]

Jenny on Huffpo ()[edit]

See-Through Paint ()[edit]

Homeschooling and Evolution ()[edit]

Here's Your Jetpack ()[edit]

Spirits in a Bottle ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week - Bull Elk

Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Question #1- Richter Scale ()[edit]

Been a listener for quite a while. But haven't been compelled to write before. Today, however, I'm actually listening while I'm at the computer, as opposed to listening to the podcast in the car, when I always forget what I could have commented about. Anyway, regarding your commentary about the Chilean earthquake, 'a magnitude 8.8 quake' is sufficient. Adding 'on the Richter scale' -- as someone did -- is NOT correct anymore, as geologists haven't used it for years. See Thanks. For a continually enjoyable show. Sincerely, Stuart Goldman

Question #2 - Raining Fish Follow Up ()[edit]

Hey guys You are right to be sceptical of our local rag, the NT News. It is crap pretending to be a newspaper. It makes up a lot of stories, including about UFOs, bigfoots (feet?), that sort of thing. It's absolutely rubbish, and no-one should believe a single thing that they print. Even if it's not a woo story, they just make stuff up. I tend to agree with Dr Novella about fish being splattered if they fall out of the sky. Also I don't imagine there could have been a water spout at Lajamanu (pronounced lah-jah-MAH-nu, btw) as it's kind of in the desert. We've had water spouts in the harbour here in Darwin, but I don't think there's a big enough body of water down there, and it's a long way from Darwin (about 800km) so it wouldn't have come from here bearing fish. Even time travelling fish. Besides which, are the forces that form water spouts strong enough to pick up fish? I didn't think they were like tornadoes, even though they look a bit like them. They'd also have to be damned high up to be frozen; it's bloody hot here at the moment and that particular rain was a bit like a lukewarm torrential downpour. I don't think that you'll be able to get anyone to go there from Sydney, it's truly in the outback – it would take a few days to drive there. It's a day to drive from Darwin, and I think you'd probably need a 4 wheel drive to get there. Here's a google maps link: The other thing is, it's highly possible that we have fish in the Northern Territory that kind of come out in the rain. In Darwin we have frogs that bury themselves during the dry season (which lasts about 6 months) and that come out with the first rains. I'd assume that a lot of freshwater fish in Australia would have adapted for our very dry conditions. I love your podcast, by the way. Regards Noya Chong Wah

Question # 3 -Inner Space ()[edit]

Space is often my favorite topic on the show. This is maybe a Bob question - we hear about the frontiers of outer-space, however I was wondering what are currently the frontiers of inner-space? Or maybe, what would be the measurable frontiers of inner-space. Would it be appropriate to say what's being undertaken at the LHC would be exploring this question? Maybe another angle for the question is - 'How small can we go' right now? Yours in rational thinking, Jason Elrick Cape Town, South Africa Interactive Scale of the Universe:

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item # 1: A new study finds that weight bearing exercise reduces the bone loss that usually accompanies weight loss through dieting. Item #2: A recent clinical trial finds that an oral medication is 95% effective in eliminating lice. Item #3: Scientists have solved the mystery of half male/half female chickens - discovering that development of sexual characteristics is determined by inherent genetic difference in the cells, not by sexual hormones, as was previously believed.

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

'The best substitute for brains is silence.' - Unknown

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 'info @'. If you enjoyed this episode, then please help us to 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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