SGU Episode 454
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|SGU Episode 454|
|March 22nd 2014|
|SGU 453||SGU 455|
|S: Steven Novella|
|R: Rebecca Watson|
|B: Bob Novella|
|J: Jay Novella|
|E: Evan Bernstein|
|Quote of the Week|
|The discovery of a complete unified theory... may not aid the survival of our species. It may not even affect our life style. But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.|
|Prof. Stephen Hawking, The Illustrated A Brief History of Time|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 This Day in Skepticism (0:59)
- 3 News Items
- 4 Who's That Noisy ()
- 5 Questions and Emails
- 6 Interview with Joseph Anderson ()
- 7 Science or Fiction ()
- 8 Skeptical Quote of the Week ()
- 9 Announcements and Links ()
- 10 References
You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.
This Day in Skepticism (0:59)
- March 22, 1394: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulugh_Beg
R: First of all, happy birthday to Ulugh Beg!
S: Ulugh Beg
R: Ulugh Beg! Had he lived past the time that he died, until the present day, he would be six hundred and twenty years old today. So, happy birthday Ulugh Beg.
S: Mazel Taf.
E: Um hmm
R: Beg was one of the best known astronomers of the fifteenth century. So yeah, Ulugh Beg, his real name was much longer than that. And I will butcher it right now, for your amusement. Mirza Mohammed Harage bin Jarach. But he is better known as Ulugh Beg. He was an astronomer, a scientist, a mathematician, and also a governor. He was the descendant of a great conqueror who turned out to not be very good at politics himself. Politics ultimately led to his downfall, when he was killed by his own son.
It was a whole mess. He tried to invade his nephew's territory. And it was just a giant mess. It's unfortunate. He should have stuck to science, because he was actually brilliant at that. In terms of mathematics, he's best known for creating incredibly accurate trigonometric tables of sine and tangent values. And he calculated those values to, at the minimum, eight decimal points.
He also had an incredibly huge observatory that rivalled Tycho Brahe's observatory. Unfortunately, it was destroyed after operating for about thirty years, and eventually covered completely by dirt. So it was wasn't until much later that it was excavated. But the measurements that he took were actually more accurate than many measurements taken later by people like Copernicus and Tycho Brahe.
So, Ulugh Beg, he was a really great scientist, terrible politician. All around, fascinating guy. Like, imagine if our most famous astronomer, let's say Neil deGrasse Tyson, or Phil Plait, also led great armies to death. (Snickers)
R: You know, it just doesn't happen that way any more, which is probably for the best, but also ...
B: I could see Neil doin' that, totally.
R: I could see it happening. I could see Phil doin' it more though.
BB: Hey, can you imagine the speech he would give, right before everybody charge ...
R: It would be inspiring.
E: With the blue wode on his face and everything?
S: Yeah, Saint Crispin's Day.
BB: From the bridge of his star ship? He tells everyone to go
S: All right. Yeah, I mean, it's also, you have to remember that at this time in history, the Arab world, Persia and Arabia, basically led the world in math and astronomy and science.
S: They bridged the time between the ancient world and the renaissance in Europe.
Waking from Coma with Psychic Powers (5:07)
Cosmic Inflation ()
24/192 audio ()
Who's That Noisy ()
- Answer to last week: Roger Penrose
Questions and Emails
Question #1: Cartouche Again ()
I am a historian currently working on his PhD at Laval University in Quebec City.On last week’s podcast (March 1st), Steven mentioned that the term cartouche is derived from the French word for gun cartridge. This immediately sounded alarm bells in my head. Not only am I a native French speaker, but I also regularly come across the word cartouche in my pre-Napoleonic research.True, cartouche is a homonym for a cartridge. However, it has also been a long established term since 1543 describing an ornament or drawing representing a royal crest or coat of arms. These are most often seen on maps, not only denoting a crest but sometimes a detail of a cityscape (today this French word is still used to describe the area containing a map’s key). And the term, naturally, has been expanded to describe the royal Egyptian inscriptions found within hieroglyphs. In fact, this definition precedes that of a gun cartridge in the dictionary (Source: Dictionnaire le Petit Robert).Through the word’s pre-existing etymology, I conclude that the soldier story is highly unlikely. So where does this story originate? I can’t be sure, but I will point out that Wikipedia’s cartouche article refers to Jon Manchip White’s “Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt”. A quick read through Amazon’s user reviews reveals that “the book was originally written in 1970, and sadly relies on many sources (such as Budge) that are full of errors.”Yours truly,-Joseph Gagné (pronounced Gah-ny-ay) Quebec
Interview with Joseph Anderson ()
- Joe is a commercial airline pilot on to discuss the stability of jet planes.
Science or Fiction ()
Item #1: A new study finds an inverse relationship between years of playing high school and college football and performance on cognitive testing. Item #2: Scientists discover plants that can come back to life after 1,500 years frozen in the Antarctic ice. Item #3: A new genetic analysis shows that, while sea anemones are animals, they share certain genetic features in common with plants.
Skeptical Quote of the Week ()
“The discovery of a complete unified theory... may not aid the survival of our species. It may not even affect our life-style. But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”— Prof. Stephen Hawking, The Illustrated A Brief History of Time
Announcements and Links ()
- Upcoming Events: https://www.facebook.com/events/729419753765010/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
- Hacking the System with Brian Brushwood: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/episodes/hack-your-home/
- The Amazing Meeting 2014: http://www.amazingmeeting.com/
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 theskepticsguide.org, 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 email@example.com. 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.