SGU Episode 826
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|SGU Episode 826|
|May 8th 2021|
|(brief caption for the episode icon)|
|S: Steven Novella
|Quote of the Week|
Voiceover: You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.
- (at least this is usually the first thing we hear)
- Here is a typical intro by Steve, with (applause) descriptors for during live shows:
S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Wednesday, May 5th, 2021, and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella...
B: Hey, everybody!
S: Cara Santa Maria...
S: Jay Novella...
J: Hey guys.
S: ...and Evan Bernstein.
Where were you 16 years ago? Yes, happy 16th birthday to the edge. You and to all of my fellow. Number 826, whoa, yeah less than three and a half years or so, we'll be at up to 20 years and a thousand episodes right around the same time. But yeah, what kind of stuff do you think about it? Would you guys say that there are a lot of things in life where you can say, like, you know, who would have thought type of sentiment? Like you meet someone, you get Married, you thought? Yeah, I'm going to get married. You know, I should be married to this person my whole life, but this is a milestone I look at, and I'm like, for real. I never thought that this project would have taken off that. We would have kept going and five years, I remember. And I'm like, wow, we did it for five years and wonder how much longer we're going to go. And I was always thinking back then, yeah, probably get three more years out of it. Four more years out of it, whatever? I don't know. I never had any doubt, really. You just it's not that doubt, it's more just about the staying power like you.
Keep going kind of figured I was in for the Long Haul. Obviously, we didn't have any idea, I just didn't know like what this scope of podcasting was going to be and how just the industry was going to sort itself out. But once we just start, we've decided to do this. I figured we were just going to keep doing it forever. You know as long as it wasn't a complete failure, anything other than just like a complete flop, you know, and like going nowhere, which I wasn't counting on, you know, I figured it would be a lie. Reasonably successful not surprised that were so going 60 years later, but not the minimizer or to say that it isn't cool. It does take, you know, tremendous amount of staying power. I mean, I put your putting the show out every week, obviously, every week. Come on. Yeah, mm, whatever. Been a huge chunk of our life, the last 16 years, we're alive. So you know, absolutely Rachel turns 18 this month. So she was my fault. Oh my gosh.
My daughter's entire lives. Basically, since you joined Kara, we've had a, we've had a lot of growth and we've had a lot of cool things happen, right? You know, like we started the Extravaganza which I think is a ton of fun. You know, are you listenership is doing very well? Our patreon is doing very well, you know, everybody every one of us contributes, but you know, I also want you to know care. Like, I really love having you on this show and co-hosting with you. You're a great friend. Aw, thanks. I think. And I've now been, then I'm right around a third of the lifespan. Yeah. That sounds about right. Yeah. Right around up there. If 2015 that's amazing. Yeah it's been great and evide got my right you know I met Evan playing a LARP. Okay now we're now we're delving into Antiquity that's when you think about like where you meet people in your life and What Becomes of certain friendships.
It's just funny that Peter. Look at the pathway wood. We met Perry, man, Devon, you know, and they care, we met you at a conference and like, I just took you in a way in the back of my mind. I like her a lot. I would have. Yeah. We all thought the same thing. Yeah, it's sweet. So, my students is now defunct, of course, and we've lost James Randi to well. So many people so much has changed. We really started in 1996, is when the Connecticut skeptical, Society was founded? Yes, it's been 25 years. We've been doing this for a quarter. I was saying, 25 years, right? That's what we've been skeptical, activist for a quarter of a century now. Wow. How old were you back then? Kara, 25 years ago. Yeah, I was 12. She was a 12 year old. Is this about your going on 13? Yeah. Oh, gosh. I mean that's a real. That'll screw with your head, though. When you think when we started doing this, someone that we would co-host a show with was 12. Like, what? That's weird. And when you started doing the podcast, like, Steve was your daughter even born? Well, yes. Yeah, both my daughters were born here. The podcast, but just born right now. They would have, they would have been like three, four and one, you know, how, and we started podcasting. So, they've known it. The whole life, they just grew up with it. I was a completely different person in a completely different life. I was still in a band. I was still in a band where, you know, we were playing twice a week, you know, like that that is just a complete life changer Jo is almost half of your life ago. Think of it. That way, I got you all Pi was a kind of person who would say, for the first time ever. Hello, what kind of person does that? That's good. Vocalize that right that has legs. I can't believe you still refer to that, really
Get the hello sticker. There's the hello t-shirt. It's all coming, people get all those tags. People were at those conferences and right on the hello my like to think I could use a lot more than just one step would be pronounced word but nothing was as funny. Nothing was
Just keeping going when you know that it's such a small group because I've known a lot of people to start podcast there. Like I did a podcast for like a year. Nobody really looks right gave up. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, we were happy. I don't remember ever being disappointed by the amount of listeners because we had nothing before that we had, right? The skeptical Society. We spent a lot of time, crafting a newsletter and we mail it out. We won't. What do we met lies Deva for you? Hundred a couple hundred of them. Yeah, it was a lot more work for a lot fewer people, so we rise to it. The podcast was an upgrade even though it was relatively small by our current standards and we were happy. Like when we hit a thousand, we were ecstatic. That was like off the hook, you know, for us, in terms of route, in terms, Uh, yeah, you know. But yeah, it's been, it's been a wild ride. I think the May perhaps, like, what's the most surprising part of it? I think is just all the cool people that we were enabled. Yeah. And interview in everything. Yeah, the learning never stops. It's been a fantastic. Fantastic learning vehicle. It's I consider it my continuing education. It is, I mean there's there it's true that there's no better way to learn than to teach you. So having to be able to you know, explain even just a science news.
Every week or a topic or anything like that, it's just the best way to learn new information, and, of course, absolutely have to be crowdsource by a hundred fifty thousand. People doesn't hurt either, you know, we always pointing out and learning new stuff from our listeners, it's fantastic. I remember early on, we were covering mainly those skeptically, you know, oriented items, and because it was skeptical podcast. So, I remember thinking damn it's going to be tough to find, you know, a new and unique item to Ever after a while because you know how deep is it, you know. And in terms of like I having a news item like a skeptical news item come out, that was also a, you know, not very common and then I remember that aha moment when I was like, screw that, you know, I'm going to cover science. I mean that's what I love talking about anyway and I remember making that transition in my head. I mean it's still a skeptical podcast but this is as it's a science communication thing. And I remember that was that made me very happy because that's an unending pit of Awesomeness, absolutely? Yeah.
We did science. Science news from the beginning. The do that was more of a job for a change in your head. So be it did you become more more like space nerdy as the years went on Bob? Oh God. No, I've always been I remember talking to a girl 40 years ago, talking to her about colliding galaxies and I was like, I just love that shit. I mean, I loved it since God before high school. So I would love to always love talking and she said, oh, I love that band. Yeah, right. Communicating science. So that was just such a natural fit for me and that bullet of all the hobbies that I've had in my life. You know, my love for science at this point just so profoundly dwarfs, everything else and it's luckily you know, I got my podcast got to be about something so important, right? So science and critical thinking really early like a freaking Corner Stone in my life, you know, like critical thinking is so in the in my absolute core of who I am. You think about that guy?
You know, think about just how much critical thinking is your Bedrock. Mmm. Oh yeah. Oh gosh. Okay, yeah but imagine like what would it have been if we didn't do the podcast? Like we're How Deeply would it have been seated? I think it wouldn't it. Be anywhere near where it is? Maybe will you be? You mean acting skeptical activist but just drove raw skills of you just skills of being a critical thinker, you know? I have to thank this podcast for making it be, you know, so alive in my mind I was certainly I mean yeah we learned a tremendous amount in terms of critical thinking. I mean, you know, unfortunately you could be a physician without being a critical thinker, you know, troop just my profession. By itself wouldn't have done. I'm definitely a better physician. I think it better clinician because of critical thinking. I think that part of it. I just hard to, I can't imagine living my life without critical thinking. It's like I would feel so vulnerable. I don't believe so much stupid shit, you know, like, how can you get this without the ability to sort out what to believe and what not to believe in? I would so that would be scary to me and we need a supernatural power or something to fill those gaps, Steve. So you go. Yeah. Well you know it just don't want to spend too much time. You know, reminiscing about 16, years of ESG you. But thanks for coming guys. A little bit. It has been a fantastic thing to be part of
Our Lives. Keep doing it. Keep putting the show out. I'm really glad we got to write our first book. That was that was quite a milestone. It looked at that. That's the thing that took longer than I thought it was going to take honestly but it's hard writing. A whole book is freaking hard. Yeah that's a lot of work but I think the timing was good. I think in terms of where we were in our education, it was good. You know what I mean? If we had a lot to say at that point and who knows? Maybe they'll be another one coming out some point. Okay. You never. Vern, oh, don't be severed.
Experimental Electric Plane ()
All right, let's move on with some news items Jay. You're going to start us off by telling us about an experimental electric plane. So we might have electric cars on the road but electric planes are a completely different thing. You know, not just adding in that third dimension, but the danger levels go way up in the complexity of just building aircraft that are based on electricity and not on jet fuel. It's a paradigm shift. Did you guys know that electric
Since I've been around since the 1970s, I don't really know. Yeah. So that's when the first one was created and flown. And in 2015, you guys remember, the solar impulse 2. Yeah, yeah. Yes that I remember, that was collecting energy from the Sun and powering its Motors and it flew solely on electric power. So there's there's two major problems with with electric airplanes. I'm sure everyone can easily think of the first One that's batteries, right? The weight of batteries, you know, the energy density of batteries because both of those two issues are very, very big problem with batteries alone. And you know, like there's this cyclical thing like you've talked about with sending things into outer space in order to send a, you know, more cargo into outer space, you need more jet fuel but that adding jet fuel requires more jet fuel, right? You get to a point of diminishing returns where you can't you keep adding adding and seemed better to keep adding bigger battery.
You need more a bigger battery to support the bigger battery. So we clearly need batteries to have more energy density, and, you know, it's slowly happening again. Nope. No sudden. Break breakthroughs also though, electric planes. And here's the big one, they have to be certified in the United States by the Federal Aviation Administration. You know, the FAA and this is largely due to. They have to be safe for passengers. That this is a huge undertaking because every frequent component has to be Improving are worthy and specifically, the batteries are an issue because their very safety issue because they can catch on fire, you know, the legit like it does happen. You just watch videos on YouTube where people like their battery in their phone just catches on fire because it happens. So you know they have to mitigate these problems but things are getting better. So in 2016, the FAA approved electric airplanes for up to 19 passengers. So it's not a coincidence that the same year, NASA has been developing an electric plane called The x57 Maxwell. So, right now, the number of commercial electric airplanes is incredibly low like incredibly low and I think, you know, we're talking about very small airplanes, I don't think there is a 90. I couldn't find an example of a 19 passenger electric airplane. I think they simply just don't exist yet and part of this is that the incredibly long and difficult process of getting a the FAA to say yes, this aircraft is approved for commercial flight.
So let's get back to the extra 37 Maxwell. So the plane will make use of NASA's research and electric powered flight. That goes back to 2014. So back in 2014, they started something called lead tech the leap Tech project, this stands for Leading Edge asynchronous, propeller technology. So in essence, this is what this means is that they're figuring out different ways and places to put engines on aircraft because it's not going to follow. The same ways that we create jet fuel based aircraft as an example, this this plane has 14 engines and the engines are on the wing on the wings. That's it. It's on the wing. Yeah. So, all right, so it's an experimental plane. It's centered out of Edwards, Air Force Base in California. And you know, the basic premise here is that it's a hundred percent electric power. Its first flight is actually scheduled this year and you might recognize the name. Of the plane writes, the X Playing right? There's been lots of, you know, explains with NASA. They use that to name their experimental aircraft and typically those experimental aircraft either turn into real planes or at least parts of it become something that turns into real aircraft. So this plane comes, like I said before, teen Motors. Now the cool thing about it is that not only does it, have the engines on the tip of the Wings, meaning there's a big engine on each side, on each side of the plane and the very tip, the very end of the wing, but there's six engines on each side. Add smaller ones and I was trying to find out details like why are they put the big ones on the outside? You know, what does that mean? You know what versus the small ones? Why wouldn't this have a lot of smaller engines? But I apparently that as they were experimenting doing the leap Tech project they figured out that they can get the most bang for the buck. If they have the bigger engines on the, on the far outside of the Winx they call this distributed electric propulsion and apparently, this is going to be something that is very common with electric airplanes. The fuselage that there
Using comes from an existing Plan called the technium te cnam p200 60 and they've repurposed it for the x57. Now, you might ask, why are they repurposing a fuselage? Can any of you guys guess it's already certified fuselage. Exactly. Because it because of how unbelievably difficult it is to get to get these components in and new designs proof. They had to start with something that has already been made flight-worthy. It's interesting to note that At in the history of aircraft, we've only had one real major shift in propulsion, when a group. So what is that? What was the? What was our major shifted propulsion? Well, propeller to Jet, right? Yes. Okay, what about rocket? Well, I'm talking about aircraft, like, you know, passenger aircraft. Okay? So so yeah, they started out with piston engines, right? You think of the old like the fighter planes? And the by Wings, all that stuff, those are, those are running like kind of like a car engine, right? You know, they just a pint, a piston based engine
The plane then they went to jet engines which is a completely different design, completely different way of functioning and now we have electric motors and this is coming soon. So we have this. Now, we're at the third, major shift in propulsion, so big consideration is that electric planes have to be designed specifically to be electric plants. So, even though they repurposed the x57 fuselage, right? It's a prototype that would that's not the way it's going to be. They're going to they're definitely going to be building plans for The ground up because of certain things like, you know, fundamental changes like where is the energy source going to be stored, right? So on a jet airplane, the fuel is stored in certain places and it's based off of weight and it's based off of like Wing, right? But think about it, like when the jet is flying for a long time and that fuel goes away, if the fuel wasn't put in the exact right place, the the balance of the plane would change, dramatic, right? Measure. If you had all that fuel.
The tail of the plane and then you burn up three-quarters of it, the plane, the weight distribution completely fuck. Yeah, that's true. So it's the same with batteries and batteries are really heavy. What they're doing is they're Distributing the batteries evenly throughout the plane or at least one company is working on that right now and it's looking like, this is going to be something that they do. It's not going to be like, batteries only exist here, they're going to put them in many different places. The x57 now will be tested with a crew later this year, which is really cool because it, It's going to be flight-worthy to actually put people on it. So one thing to think about here is that electric motors are much much lighter than than jet fuel based Motors. So this, this whole thing is now coming into being in his many companies that are working on it right now. We have a lot of companies that are out there that are that are retrofitting like you're using old fuselages to get their technology to get their technology to the point where they can get some approval and get more experience in the air. I did find a company that's actually building a plane from
Round up, but it's sitting there waiting to get all the testing done through the FAA. So again even if these planes are built and they're ready to go right now that the approval process could take, you know, five years, ten years. It could be an incredibly long amount of time. So you do you think that this will replace proper planes that do like, short distance travel? Like that, you'll have like four cities that are not all job for ya. I don't jumpers, right? Yeah, which which you know how often you Guys have had to fly on those, not a pleasant experience, it's a white-knuckle noisy. Yeah. Yeah. About those small planes that are good. Like remember when we flew from the south island of New Zealand to the north island and the wind shear was so bad man. Like wasn't completely flying sideways, but it was turned to an angle itself and you go. What is happening? Yeah, I don't like that. I don't think that electric planes are going to solve like those that type of experience, Steve, but it's all about weight and distance right now how far can do an electric plane fly. So, you know, they could fly. I think the max Distance. They're getting right now is somewhere around 500 Miles. Let me know like for that niche.
Found out was that when you look at the amount of power output, this is really where the tires had the paper in here right now. Batteries just flat-out are not even close to being able to put out the energy that they need to. That's it. You know, we're very much below what a jet engine can do, we need the energy of jet fuel? Has a specific energy of about 12,000 watt-hours per kilogram 12,000? The current batteries are like, T. Yeah. You know like yeah two words. I don't think. I don't think a Battery Technology will ever match that energy density. I think it might be too carefully impossible. Yeah he's realize what shit about supercapacitors. Super capacitor battery power. Heavy hitter innovations that leap us forward. But even if we don't, I mean, we're making steady and good progress with batteries. You know, I've been also don't forget, they might be able to come up with more efficient engines and you know, there's all sorts of ways to make the energy demands go down, do other than just make the plane light but we'll see. Look we're not going anywhere, you know, this isn't just an update to this, this particular test. You know this x57 ongoing tests but they're flying people in it. It's made. Good progress over the last year and I'm really excited to see how far that they can take this.
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Website Diversity ()
All right, Kara, this is, this isn't a kind of a different news item talking about the diversity of the World Wide Web. Yeah. So some computer scientists and computer Engineers from
Different Australian institutions just published a research article in plus one called the evolution of diversity and dominance of companies in online activity and you know a little bit of it I have to admit as a little over my head because it's a really cool multidisciplinary article. So these computer scientists really pulled a lot of information from economics to try and make sense of some of the data that they were able to to amass. I think just what was it? Multiple terabytes of data. Looking across 10 billion posts spanning more than a decade and what they were trying to do is kind of use this data that they pulled mostly from Reddit and from Twitter but also from a common crawl data set to serve as a proxy for how much attention different sites receive on the internet. So they basically said we're going to pick a data set. We're going to look at what people are posting on Reddit. We're going to look at what people are posting on Twitter and we're also going to look across this.
Almond crawler, and we're going to try and make some sense of, where are they pointing to? What are they linking to? And to answer these big picture questions, which is the internet becoming more diverse, is it expanding? Or is it shrinking? So I have a quick question for you guys. How many.com domain names? Do you think there are as of today? We're recording this on Wednesday, May 5th 2021 on the internet, just about Hunter, How many dot-coms do you think there are one point? Eight billion. No point, eight hundred, a hundred twenty million or Bob's a lot closer to a hundred fifty-five 446, 212 million? That's a lot. Yeah, 455 million 440 6212. That's a bit. My number was bigger, your number was bigger and so Price is Right. Rules you lose all the laundry detergent. Yeah. So so there are a lot of dot-coms there. Are fewer dotnet. So this is also pulls for some reason, a verisign tells you they're only 13 million dotnet 13 and 1/2 million dot Nets. And these are active domain names. And so these researchers were like, okay there's a lot of crap on the internet and we want to see how things have changed over time. And really we want to look at sort of the economics of who owns this sort of Internet real estate and where are people spending their Time online. So a couple interesting things that they found
Oh no I mentioned before how much data is five point six terabytes of data that they dug through and so they will read it data. Went back to 2006 and their Twitter data went back to 2011 so they ended up with five point. Six terabytes of data, let me see six billion user comments on Reddit. Eleven point eight billion, Twitter posts. Oh I love this. They said that this data set is more than four times the size of the original data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Yeah, that's pretty cool. Wow. So what they did is they looked at all of the links to other sites Sides to other online services that ended up being about action more than a billion in total. And what they wanted to know is how unique is this link? So they did a scale here where we've got maximum diversity. Meaning that all links have their own domain versus minimum diversity. Meaning that all of these links go to the same domain. So when we talk about domains, we're talking like twitter.com slash youtube.com /, right? So minimum diversity means that all of the links would have been from the same.
Lace maximum that they're all from different places and they found something really interesting. Ten years ago, there was a lot more diversity across Reddit. So for every 100 random links that users posted, there were about 20 different domains. Now for every 100 links a user post on Reddit, they're only about five different domains. So we're seeing that these big websites are carrying a lot more of the traffic that people are spending time at. So here's an interesting fact, between 60 and 70 percent of all the tension on key social media platforms and pulling the straight from the right up that the authors wrote in the conversation between 60 and 70% of all attention. On key. Social media platforms is focused towards only 10 popular domains. And we know, based on their publication, I'm just switching back to the actual article that the vast majority of internet data in the west is split between apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and in the East, their
It's Ali Baba by do and tencent. So we're seeing that the vast majority of this kind of internet traffic is in the specific areas. They also looked at linkage patterns building these different linkage trees and what they found was similar. The kind of Rich are getting richer. The idea that the big kind of Mega sites are carrying more and more. But an interesting thing is that this doesn't necessarily mean that innovation has gone down per se. They're actually finding that That still, at this point, the web is an increasing source of innovation that technology is ratcheting up, that there are more apps than ever, they're more diverse than ever, but it's also making it harder for people to get ahead and it's making it harder, there's like an activation energy that's required that a lot of individual programmers, individual users aren't able to overcome because the big players are dominating the field. So we're seeing that even though the diversity of sources is in Decline, There's an actual continually increasing Lady with a new services. So we're talking about new Niche things that we didn't have before like being able to stream music like being able to to pull from RSS feeds. But what they actually we've had that for a really long time. But you know, just think about all of the Innovation that's occurring on websites day by day. You know, we're able to stream more terabytes of data. We're able to have more more functionality Within These different websites that we couldn't have before. Like, Spotify couldn't exist. Back in the day we didn't we didn't have the technology for Spotify to work. The way it works. Now WhatsApp, you know, Snapchat, these are two things that are built on the So, technology increases and vice versa, they also talked a little bit about the researchers. Talk about these three kind of like ages, so they, they do a lot. It's interesting because these are computer scientists, but they must have like backgrounds in ecology and biology because they're constantly comparing or using metaphors for evolution. So they're always talking about kind of species and diversity and ability to overcome selection pressures, which is kind of an. Yeah, it's kind of an interesting metaphor that they use, but then they, Talk a little bit about what we think of as like infancy development and maturity. So think about an organism for example in its infancy during development and then at maturity and when we think about the health of Nations, we often talk about things like infant mortality and so they sort of reclaim that term infant mortality and they found that there is a draw. There's been a dramatic increase over the last couple of Decades of the infant mortality rate of website. So, for example, across their data set well, 40 percent almost 40,
Set of the domains that were made in 2006. We're still active five years later. Only 3% of those created. In 2015, were active in twenty, twenty three percent. That's this. That's all that sort of has survived. Yeah. So we know that there's a heavy staying power of early. Adoption, probably back when there was less competition when the web was less diverse, and once people could get their foots in the door, and you see this a lot with like YouTubers you see it even with and with the sceptics guide to the universe, right?
These early adopters are able. That time scale to innovate and if you stick with it and you're able to overcome certain odds and certain hurdles we see that the staying power is there. Where is now the field is really really diluted and it's become harder. You know the online competition is obviously really intense and but because of that unfortunately there's a loss of diversity. So you know they talk about the implications for this. They talk about how this plays nicely with what we understand about, basic economics and basic kind of capitalism, right? Right? That we know that competition leads to Innovation, but we also know that when monopolies come into play oftentimes that actually can can block Innovation. And so we're sort of at this interesting precipice where online companies have a lot of opportunity, right? Like we no longer have some of the traditional rules of capitalist economics, like go into an area. That's been lesser served like a physical geographical area because the web reaches all corners of the Earth, but we do We can tap into some economic principles like tap into Niche needs. There's increasingly more and more needs for individuals that are in that are small and specific. And so companies that are trying to get a foot in the door, whereas you may not be able to compete with a Facebook or an Amazon right now. If you can address a problem that those companies don't address or you can reach a consumer base in a way that they don't, you may be able to get your foot in the door and actually Find your area within this kind of interest in global competition and they'll just buy you out. Yeah, unfortunately, I don't know, this kind of research I think is fascinating because of course these individuals are coming at it from a computer science perspective and they did some really interesting computer science Juju to try and understand like what is the state of the internet today in terms of both its diversity but also with homogeny, imagining homogeneity? Yeah, thank you Daddy.
But I do think it has so many implications for for economic Scholars for neuro, economics for psychologists for business interest that this is just a fascinating study and because it's on plus 1, that's the public library of science. It's an Open Access Journal. Anybody listening right now? You can go and read it again. It's called the evolution of diversity and dominance of companies in online activity. It's fascinating. All right. Thanks Kara.
Evolution of Multicellularity ()
All right guys, let me ask you a question when you do you think the first multicellular creatures, ER evolved multi right before. The second one did it was that day that was Sunday. I think like Thursday a billion years ago when you have solved another that day billions billions I don't know. I was thinking 1 billion, 1 billion, maybe 1 billion years, seven eight hundred million years. A billion is a really good. Guess that's really good. Excellent, that's what is it? So it's
It's probably a billion years ago. So three point seven seven billion years is the oldest evidence. We have for a single-celled organism 3.7. So may have existed before then but that's the it's at least 3.7 billion years old. So for about 3 billion years life on Earth was also have shelled creatures that there's a lot of evolution going on at that time, modern extant single-celled creatures and the cells in multicellular creatures, are really complicated because it took three billion years to evolve that Complexity. But at what point did they start? They evolved into a multicellular creature. So, we know when the Cambrian explosion happened, there was this massive adaptive radiation of all of all different, kinds of multicellular, creatures and different body. Plans, Etc. But that's not when multicellular creatures appeared. That's when they first developed hard structures. That fossilized? That was when the light turned on. You know, that wasn't
Creatures came into existence but there and there was a previous period, the idiot, Karen period, right? We have the Eda Karen fauna which we don't know what their relationship is to the Cambrian creatures. There's some as we talked about too long ago about the fact that the, there were some evidence that indicates that at least some of the eating care and fauna evolved into some of the Cambrian fauna. But it's still not clear. But there's not, we don't have a lot of Fossil Windows into this period. Of time and we don't have any documentation of the evolution of multicellularity itself because y'all just this is when there were, there were no hard Parts, there's nothing to fossilize. There's very rare conditions but there is one place and there's a few places around the world where we do have the right conditions is 1 lakh. Torrid in in Scotland, these so-called Torah do nian sequence. It's a large array of micro fossils Mushroom about a billion years ago. So it's right at that point of time, when multicellular creatures may have been first appearing and there's a particular fossil that they've been studying called by selim brassy Airy. This is basically a sphere of spell of cells, right? Just a just a blob, spherical blob of cells but recent examination of this, spherical blob of cells were billion years ago. That there are two different kinds of cells in there. There's one kind of cell on the outside and one kind of cell on the inside. So that makes means to candidate for a multicellular creature. But it does it. But it doesn't have to be because it could just be a colony creature. This is one of those things did or could have been eating. The the sphere could have been eating the interior installs on the outside or even dissolve under our yeah. Yeah. That's another question. Did The cellular creatures evolve out of colony creatures or not. But in order to be a multicellular creature in order, a multicellular creature, you need one cell to develop into at least two different kinds of cells, right? They can't just be different, you know, kinds of cells getting together. That would be more of a colony, right? How do we know if these two different types of cells developed from the same progenitor cell? That's what similarities that's what the new study shows because we basically catch the cells in the ACT, migrating from the center to the outside and changing their shape as they do because it's incredible the cells in the middle and more spherical, they're more, they're more Rod like on the outside. And so we see these transitional cells that are migrating to the outside and becoming more more rod-like. So it looks too sweetie. Good. Yeah. Looks pretty good. That this is two different. Populations of cells developing from a single progenitor cell type, which would make it a genuinely multicellular, Critter. Wow. And pretty much the simplest one that you could possibly imagine. It's a sphere with a center and a shell, and it's like two different kinds of cells, but that's all it takes. Once you have that bifurcation, once you have the mechanism of taking different Pathways in development, that sending some jeans on
In other genes on versus off. That's it. Yeah, once you have that, then Evolution can run with that, right? Cause then why run baby run? Yes, and you have that diversity. Yeah, everything else is just a tweak on that process. So, and of course we don't know if this creature is an actual ancestor to any multicellular. The creature doesn't matter. It's yeah, the ladies to it is, yeah. It's it's at that time when it could when it's plausible and it's probably, you know, part of a population of things living at that time, that were evolving. Having multicellularity. So the question is so you have, you know, single-celled creatures replicate but they don't necessarily go on their own way. You could have a populate bacteria, you know, exists in colonies and collaborate and cooperate so films. Yeah, exactly. So, at some point, some clump of cells figured out a way to you to specialize in your you, do you go to the outside and you do your thing and we'll be on the inside.
Already has its own Machinery separate from the Machinery necessary for a single cell to go about its business. And that includes things like they have to stick together, like there's cell adhesion. Right? So that's a huge part of multicellularity and it fell. So, yes, they did. They did find that as well. So there is evidence for the mechanism by which, so the other piece D cells, have cellular adhesion mechanisms, which means court that that go slow with multicellularity as well. But not just clumped. Whether they're stuck together and also that The the path of development that they take depends upon where they are three dimensionally in the organism and that to there's they're sensing chemical gradients. For example, they're sensing the cells around them and based upon what cells are around them will determine what genes they turn on and off. And what kind of cell they become this? Just sort of the basics of multicellularity. So we're seeing the this being involved in a very primitive for begin. Of that process. Yeah, exactly. That's cool. Yeah, it's very, very cool. But we're just getting a glimpse. We're getting a question. Very complicated evolutionary process. Could it could this really be one cell that that like at the end of its life migrates from the interior to the exterior of the sphere and but it's still one cell, but it just kind of like it just goes there to die type of thing like, you know, like dead skin cells. Are you saying, could the cell have morphed itself as it extended outward, all right? All right, I think what you're saying is
You mean like this? Like this isn't two populations of cells. That's one population of cells of different ages yes looking at Young cells in the middle and old cells on the outside. Yeah that's the way between paleontology. Yeah, it's interesting idea. I don't know how they would distinguish those two things. With the end with the data that they have, I hope I'm wrong time to figure out if we were talking about two different T-Rexes or a young T-Rex and it'll. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Either way, does this sound like a Nobel Prize to you? This sounds pretty big. It's pretty big.
It's one of your life. Keep in mind, it's not like they found a fossil, this is a great dish huge bed of fossils. There's a tons of fossils in this location if they have to go through oh wow there was the same thing for years this is not new mean we've known about this for years it's but this is just it's a treasure Trove of this soft-bodied you know fossils from a billion years ago how was it preserved? It's just the the environmental conditions were such for fine. Yeah they did. They preserve These Fine soft Structures got a bet. The whole planet for side. There's a few of these, there's a few of these around the world, you know, of different ages, you know, where there's soft fossils are preserved. And in, every time we find ones like a whole new window, opens up into this, this part of evolution. And there's again we're just getting these three very brief glimpses at a very long complicated process. It just amazing to think. Like there was three billion years of evolution that is like a blip to. Yeah.
It was so important. It doesn't seem like it because we think of it as being so simple but it was so important to lay those foundations for the explosion later. Yeah, exactly. That's why I like when creationists say what's the probability of a single cell coming together you know at random it's zero because that didn't it's not random. It was three billion years of evolution to get to a modern cell and not just into nobody believes as modern South popped up into existence spontaneously three billion years of evolution. Thousand Years happened differently over the course of that three billion years. That's for sure. Right? It's cool. But then you also think that it probably would have independently happened multiple times. Mmm. Like you said we don't know if this is actually any direct ancestor. Oh yeah I mean think about all the side branches that will never know about you know? I still hope as an Alien Probe out there that documented it. That's right. Put it up on YouTube while talking about probes.
NASA Solar Probe ()
Jay, tell us about NASA's solar probe, the fastest human object, ever the Parker solar probe. Yes, it's Steve. As you say, it's a record-breaking machine. It having just broken. Its previous records for fastest man, made object and closest ever approach to the Sun and it's not done breaking these records and there's other juicy bits of science related to this news item that I love to go into. So yes, the NASA Parker solar probe, what is it? Why is it? Who is it? It was launched August 12. L've 2018 a day after day is birthday. It's, it's the, it's the weight of a grown man say a hundred sixty pounds, but it's a big as a small car or a very, very, very large. Meatball depends. Look at it. So it's the first NASA. Craft actually named after a living person, astrophysicist Eugene Parker, he was the first guy who about theorize the solar wind. So he's very very much deserves this honor the mission
Is part of NASA's L WS or living with a star program, which I just love that program name. So much living with the Stark. That's what we're kind of doing L WS investigates. Those aspects of the sun-earth system that have a direct link to life and Society basically. And, you know, why do we want to do this? Why do you know, why do we care about this relationship? I mean, it's kind of pretty obvious. I mean, just the just the science is fascinating, but we potentially, I could do wonderful things. Like here's a for an example. We could potentially predict the next gargantuan CM Biggio storm like the Carrington event from the from the late 1800 s, that the character an event was a coronal mass ejection that came out of the Sun and was barely noticed on Earth. But if it happened today, it would be a travesty it. Basically imagine everyone you know almost every circuit on the planet getting fried satellites, you know Not literally dropping out of the sky but completely burned out. I mean, it could be horrific if we could this type of research could potentially help us predict events like that, which would be nice because it's going to happen. Kids, that actually, that event could be the most dangerous event in our near future more likely, over a short time frames than almost anything you can imagine from a supervolcano to an asteroid hit. It needs a lot of attention and this is the kind of research that can do it. Okay? So the Parker was made to See the Corona and solar. The Sun. So we can learn more about space weather. So to accomplish this Parker, has some very cool inch instruments for them on board. It's got a wide field imager called whisper cool name and it's got three distinct instruments to study particles in the solar wind. They're mostly electrons and protons by the way plus they can also inspect the powerful electric and magnetic fields around the Sun. So very cool. Very precise, very Advanced instrumentation for all of that. What to do to discover what it needs to discover. And Really break new ground. It's going to have to get really, really close to the sun because we've been fairly close to the Sun before, but we need to get really close with this instrumentation to really, really get some good detail. So close that some say that this will be the first time a craft actually touches another star. Which really isn't that much of a, you know, hyperbole since the corona is part of the sun's atmosphere and it will be eventually, it will be in the corona. Now, the tech and the science that makes this happen is where some of those real juicy bits are referred to of science are
I like to talk about those. The first challenge which is just fascinating, is getting close to the Sun. What do you do? What does it take to get close to the sun? It's actually really, really hard harder than you might imagine. So, who knew this, did you know that it takes 55 times the energy to go to the sun compared to Mars, 55 times. It is. It's farther away because it's hotter because it's no radiation of that. It's all over, that it's all about. It's all about orbital mechanics or everyone. To lose all the velocity of the Earth. Yeah, everyone on your orbital mechanics hat. J. Not that but the other one on day, I like 200, really cool. Thank you Jay. So the sun has a lot of gravity. I mean, it's like, it's like no idea. What is it 98.9? Or 99 Point blah blah of the mass of the, of the solar solar system. It's a, it's an amazing. It's a huge gravity. Well, I'm just pulling everything in, but it's so, it seems like if you just leave the Earth, you know, just making yourself off of the Earth in the general direction of the sun, it'll just suck.
Window, like Steve said, you are, we are in orbit. The earth is moving at 67,000 miles an hour about a hundred and eight thousand kilometers per hour around the sun, which is basically sideways to the sun, right? You're basically going sideways to the Sun. So if you launch straight to the sun, you're going to miss it. Totally miss it because of all of that sideways motion. So, what you have to do is you have to cancel all of that orbital, velocity, that Earth, that Earth gives you if you want to actually hit the Sun and actually, from what one researcher was saying, right now we do, Do not have the technology to hit the sun. It would, it would, we would have to take away all of that sideways motion, which we said, we really can't do right now. The Parker probe though. Luckily only want to get very close to the Sun. So it only needs to remove about 80% of that hundred eight thousand kilometers per hour speed and that's incredibly hard as well. So, going to the outer planets is a lot easier because instead of canceling almost all of the Velocity that the Earth gives you, you just need to add a little bit to it.
You already have. So if you escape the Earth at the usual 40,000 kilometers per hour, right? You were you leave the Earth just escape velocity. You got 40,000 you're going 40,000 kilometers per hour because just because the Sun, the Earth is, you know, in orbit around the sun, all you need to do is go from 40 kph, to 46.6, kPa office out the accelerator, just go a little bit faster, just increase your speed by 6,000 kilometers per hour. And Bam, you go to Mars and then or hey, I want to go to Pluto, go from 40, go from forty to fifty eight thousand kph. That's it. Eighteen eighteen thousand kph and you're, you're a Pluto, but you want to go near the sun, you got to wipe out eighty-six thousand kilometers of velocity from the Sun, from the, from the earth, that the Earth gives you. And that's what's really, really hard. That's why it's so hard to get to get to the sun. Now, of course, God forbid, we just build a nice nuclear engine to do most of that hard work for us with just pure Brute Force by suspect, it would still be
But it would be a lot. Of course, it's a nuclear engine will be awesome. So but instead, we have to work, we have to work with what we currently have. So, what they do is they are sending the Parker solar probe to Venus for at a gravity assist maneuver and that gravity assist eats away at that sideways motion. Every time it goes around Venus, it takes away some of that sideways motion. It just reduces it incrementally every time it goes around. So as a result you have less and less of that sideways motion. Every time you get that gravity assist from Venus and That tightens the probes elliptical orbit, each time, letting it get closer and closer to the Sun. As the probes perihelion, right or closest approach to the Sun, but not only that. Not only will do these. Do these gravity assist of Venus help you get closer to eat away at that sideways motion. But it also, you have the sun pulling you in every time you go back towards the Sun and that just adds to your speed. So, two things are happening, you're getting closer and closer to the Sun and you're going faster and faster and faster faster than anything we have ever launched. And So, you have to be able to take the stress of that. Oh, yeah. Not only that. I mean, talk about the heat which I will live, which I will be talking about so months after its launch. So, 2018, a day after JJ's birthday, I just a few months later and Parker's already breaking records, the records were held by the Helios to space-based spacecraft. I think that was in the 70s that spacecraft also when very close to the Sun, and in one very fast, but Parker, blew those records away. Just after a few months, it was
Already going. And because, who cares? They've already been broken multiple times, but I'll tell you the record that was just broken. And that's why this was in the news this week right now, the park is solar probe is the fastest human-made object 330 thousand miles per hour, five hundred, and thirty-two thousand kilometers per hour. That's that's, we've made nothing, that's gone faster than that, no material objects and then the closest it's a spacecraft has ever gotten to the sun. It was just recently, 6.5 million miles or ten point four million. Ian kilometers at perihelion. So the closest and fastest ever. But but of course, as I, if you've been paying attention, those records are ephemeral as well, because, because there's more Venus gravity assist in the future. And ultimately, it's going to get even closer and even faster. So how close, and how fast is it going to get okay? Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, 2024, it will achieve its or around that time, it will achieve its fastest and closest. So it will achieve
A hundred thirty thousand miles per hour which is six hundred ninety two thousand kilometers per hour. That is fast. Nothing you know, of course, nothing is gone. Faster, that is point zero, six four percent, the speed of light which actually is pretty awesome. It's a hundred ninety two kilometers per second. That means it could go around the plant if you could travel at that speed around the planet very close to the surface, you could, you could go around the planet in three and a half minutes. Bambina, half minutes, Superman me around the world. That is Fashion, right? And and then and then, in terms of proximity to the Sun that that Christmas Eve in 2024, it's going to be 70 million kilometers or 4.3 million miles from the Sun. Mercury is 46 million kilometers away and this is going to be 7 million kilometers away. Super close within it will be within the Corona, for sure. I think, at that, that distance, that would be amazing. Okay. So one other thing that
Really piqued my interest when reading about this, the Parker solar probe has the most sophisticated heat shield ever that I've ever heard about I've ever devised for Cutting Edge. Yeah, right. It's got to be right. It's called the TPS thermal protection system. Not very creative there, but kind of very very descriptive. It's 8 feet, it's an eight, got an eight-foot, diameter heat shield, and it protects everything within its Umbra from the intense heat, of course the intensity. But also the hypervelocity dust particles. That's in the sun's Corona. So, it does a dual job of protecting that and radiation to as well. The shield itself is carbon foam sandwiched between two layers of superheated carbon-carbon composite really cool. And it also, of course, has a special white outer coating, right? That makes perfect sense. You want to reflect as much as you possibly can? So it's got a very special white outer coating. I don't couldn't find out any details of what makes it so special besides being white and of course, that will reflects the sun's energy and imagine I couldn't help it.
Can you imagine if they put vantablack on that side of the heat shield, a smart idea? And then when they, when the probe eventually has its closest encounter that Christmas Eve, it will be exposed to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is seven, thirteen hundred and seventy degrees Celsius, crazy crazy hot, but NASA thinks while it's thirteen hundred and seventy degrees Celsius on one side, the the happy side of The Shield is going to be 85 degrees Fahrenheit or Nine point four degrees Celsius. It's going to be very nice. In fact, it's going to be so cool on the instrument side of the heat shield that the scientist put heaters, they put some heaters on some of the instruments. Can you imagine that? That's to me that was hilarious because they are so good at making that Shield that they actually had to put some heaters on some of the instruments because it wasn't quite hot enough for I guess for maximum efficiency. So I'll just close with the my final
Reception of this heat shield was that this would make what a perfect Dragon shield, right? You're going up against a dragon. I want to carry the carbon foam sandwiched between two layers of superheated carbon-carbon composite. That's what I'm going to be carrying. Is it heavy Bob? I don't know, I don't care. I'll just stay put wait till the dragon goes away, but I are they don't make it a sphere of that stuff. So I get to stay in there and wait and then the dragon will probably kick me. But whatever I won't get burned and we'll get burned. That's all I got kids.
Well everyone, we going to take a quick break for a show to talk about one of our sponsors this week chirico. Co-creates super cool Hands-On projects designed to expose kids of all ages to Concepts in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. And we all know that kiwi KO s main mission is to help kids, build confidence, build their creativity, and maybe especially their critical thinking skills. I love the maker crate because they're, it's really about inspiring makers and creative. So everything from, you know, making macrame planters for all of those houseplants that you've been collecting throughout the pan. Endemic to making a punch needle pillow, that you can actually show off in your home to even making clay organizers out of Terrazzo, which is like a mosaic, like clay, you can kind of get your hands dirty, create something yourself and then you'll have something that you have proud of that, you can display in your home. And that's on top of all of the other incredible crates for. Like we said, kids of all ages with the key Pecos Hands-On Art and Science Projects kids can engineer a hydraulic claw. Build an animation, machine explore colorful, kid-friendly chemistry,
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Chinese Space Program ()
All right, Evan. We have one more space related news item. This one is about the Chinese space program. Yeah, it is, you know, the old Chinese proverb. What? Goes up must come down. Yeah, this one kind of pissed me off. Yeah, in the case of China's, Long March 5 be rocket, we're witnessing that proverb come to fruition. This is the fifth iteration of the Long March rocket family, name for the Chinese, red, Army's 1934, 1935 Long March. During the Chinese Civil War, the letter B is used there. I'm not hundred percent sure, but the be appears to be designating it as a single stage rocket, whereas the non be
A second stage and I think a third stage as well. Also, the be is slightly lighter and slightly shorter than the non be. And the 5B is Elio specific low earth orbit? Yeah. Yeah, the Rockets coming down? I think a lot of people have been following this on the news. It's been big news all this week. So they launched it because they are, the Chinese are putting a space station together, and this rocket will put up one of the key pieces of the space station. Were it unfortunately was not equipped with equipment to control its descent and it actually reached orbit and now you can't control it. So it's going to come crashing down. But when is it going to hit that is the 29 million dollar question. So these Rockets there haven't been many launches, there's been several 7 launches of these types of rockets in the past, in the past. And the first one occurred in 2016. So
It's fairly new, the 5B variant. This is only the second time. The 5B has launched that space space that they're constructing a scheduled to be completed in late 2022. It will be a scientific research Outpost that China will use for the next decade, perhaps Beyond, but the rocket itself that got it up there. Well, this is a big thing big because it's over 30 meters long, it has a 5 meter diameter and because it reached orbital velocity like I said it's going to come crashing down because they can't control it. This will be one of the if not, the largest object man-made object to hit the Earth or coming back in as an uncontrolled re-entry. It is Well, it's not quite up to the speed of the Parker Pro, but it's traveling around the earth once every 90 minutes, which is respectable seven kilometers every second. So that's a pretty impressive. It passes. Just north of New York and Madrid. Also, Beijing and is Our South as she lay and New Zealand. They say that it's going around the earth, between the latitudes of 42 degrees, north and 42 degrees south. And by the way, do you know where Connecticut is on that? We are 41 degrees north. So we are, we are inside the zone between so we could land on our damn heads. It could. But you know what? The chances of that happening but I don't care statistic carrot. Yeah, I've been pretty darn low. Yeah. But higher than my chances are one in three chance it could land on land. I mean sure maybe it'll it'll probably land in the water but the thing is they don't know they don't control. This is 90 feet by 15 feet. I mean this thing is huge. They've had I've heard they've had some stuff for and previous launches like on Villages like in with were they in China? Or whatever comes out of, yeah, someday.
This is like, this is irresponsible. That is the point, Bob, and Jay touched on it as well. Is that, you know China's? Well as one person, put it there, taking shortcuts that they're not supposed to be taking your supposed to take responsibility for the things that you're putting up in space and you try to mitigate these kinds of things from happening to the best of your ability. But they're just not equipping the Rockets with the technology needed in order to bring these things in so that they burn up in the atmosphere as opposing to come crashing down onto the planet. So this isn't
Even just Not going to do this. Yeah. Child. Even worse. Yeah. And they're pretty even worse. I slipped about kind of what's going on. They really haven't even had much in the, in the form of details to say, and inform the rest of the planet about kind of, what's good, what's going on here? But, you know, I guess. Fortunately, other space agencies around the planet are keeping an eye on this and trying to come up with the best determinations as to exactly when it will happen. Now, when you're listening to this, this podcast is going to launch on Saturday, the 8th of May. It may be said it's going to launch. I love that. Yeah, thank you. So it's possible that the, by the time you're listening to this, it is already come down, and we'll may have to do a follow up next week on it, but it could still be up there because it's a moving Target. I've seen estimates anywhere from May 7th, the calculations by Russian experts are saying as early as May 7th, but I'm also seeing other agencies say as late as May 10th. I've seen some estimates for May 10th.
Who's That Noisy? ()
- Answer to last week’s Noisy: _brief_description_perhaps_with_link_
All right. It's Who's that noisy time. Okay guys, last week I played this noisy.
All right, you get the idea. The Jazz. That actually is very relevant. Hmm. Interesting. It sounds like a with the I would guess it's some kind of phenomenon translated into drumming like all right. Well let me know that's not that smart of an answer because obviously you're hearing drums, but so what's making the drumming sounds and you know, it, you know, it doesn't send. It doesn't sound totally random either, so, I'm thinking there's yeah, so, corrected, I'll give you that. Let's get into the, with the people said. All right. So, Phil sumo He said hi there. Love the show is this week's noise? The Thai Elephant Orchestra. And I was, you know, really surprised to find out about this tie. This tie elephant Orchestra. What is it? It's an elephant Orchestra. Check this out.
The orchestra is a whole bunch of elephants playing different kinds of percussive musical, instruments drums, clackers hitting steel, pipes and whatnot. It's fascinating so that's look it up. It's a fun watch and it's really funny that these elephants are standing there and they're doing it, which I think is so freaking cool. But Phil, it's not the elephant Orchestra of I have to thank you for that. We will move onto ostrich man. And he says, hey Jay, I think this noisy is a monkey. Playing the drums. Best wishes from Lithuania. No, this is not correct. It is not a monkey playing the drums, but it might as well be and you'll find out why? Because it's, yeah, it's pretty pretty nutty. You're not as far off. As you think this next one is from a listener named Antonius de Boer and he says, hi Jay, long time. First time, this sounded like a drum kit left out in a hailstorm Or lots of people, guess that like weather-related the hail that could be, you know, it's not a bad guess at all, but Evan, did say something very key here and it's that it seems to get more louder as it goes. I'm going to go down to a new listener wrote in and this is another clue Abigail Lubin wise more and she said, hi Jay, my name is Abigail, I'm a nurse working in Jerusalem. Israel, been listening to the show since the early days and I still get excited every Saturday for a new
So I actually have a guest this week. Yay! Me. Is it very slow popcorn, huh? Hmm, it's not slow popcorn. It is popcorn, it's popcorn that when it pops, it Keys, a drum kit, the winner for this week Christian barrage. Hi, Jay longtime listener first-time guest sir, I think I've heard this week, so easy. It's a drumset connected to a frying pan filled with popping popcorn. Thanks for the Great show. So yeah. So they hooked This rig to a frying pan that has popcorn and it with oil and it's cooking. And as the popcorn pops, it hits different pressure plates above the pot, right? So like a, you know, a popcorn hits, this one and it hits the kick drum, a popcorn hits. This one and assemble gets hit, right? So every single thing about the drum kit can get triggered. And then as Evan said, as it goes on and on it gets faster and faster, I Didn't want to play the whole thing because it's actually quite a long sound file, but I will play this popcorn Jazz for you. I will play it later on in the file. Sure, that's that Cadence. And I love this noisy because when you when you listen to it, knowing what it is, your brain instantly Maps, the drum sounds to popcorn, kernels popping. But anyway, thank you very much. This original one was sent in by miklos Boza. I really appreciated. That was a lot of fun. I have a new noisy for you guys this week and this noisy was sent in by a listener named Simon King. King.
And a very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views, which can be uncomfortable to be one of the facts that needs altering. So I'd like you to identify the person. Speaking in any other relative information that you think goes along with that some of you will know, instantly Some of you will have no clue. Some of you will not make my meatballs this week, which is wrong, right? Evan wrong answer Margot. All right, so, do you think, you know what this noisy is? You can email me at WTN at the Skeptics guy dot org and don't forget to send me. Any cool sounds that you heard as well. I have a few announcements, I made a mistake last week. I said the Apollo 11 Mission had the astronauts on the moon for 8 Days. The entire mission was approximately eight days. How much time they spend on the moon, does anybody know little over a day 2100 hours 2120, whenever we have a series of SGU events, we actually have some really cool stuff happening right now but there's there's more than one Extravaganza and there's more than one private show. So go to the Skeptics Guide dot-org, forward slash events to see all the details and that's it.
Interview with Andy Weir ()
All right guys we have a great interview coming up with Andy. We're so let's go to that interview now.
Joining us now is Andy Weir. Andy, welcome back to the Skeptics guy. Hey, thanks. It's great to be back. If you recall, we interviewed you a few years ago about your first book, The Martian, which was awesome. Of course, somehow we missed you for Artemis, your second book, but we've had to get you back on the show for you. Now your third book project Hail Mary, which is going to be He's very soon. I understand and I got an advanced copy and read the whole thing. We just say, it was awesome. You know, I think it's fair to say that if you liked the Martian of you love the Martian. You'll love this book as well as interviews with people who are not aligned with our skeptical philosophy. But that's not the case here. So let me just open up with. I'm sure this is like a very common Question that you're getting. So how like consciously is Project Hail Mary in the in your mind like in the same? Genre as the Martian like how much are you trying to recapture the same sort of feel of the Martians? Well I mean I wasn't going out of my way to do it. I guess that's just the kind of story I turn out but it shares the concept of like an isolated scientist, right. And a lot of problem solving and of course there's space and stuff. But really I mean it deviates from that and Isolated for long and it deviates, from that and becomes basically a buddy, comedy sort of, yeah, I could. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it is very different in a lot of ways, especially, you know, I don't know, spoilers right now. But, yeah, it ends up in a different place than the Martian by far, which I thought was really cool. And I did not expect that at all. Cool, I'm glad you. You were caught off guard. So, yeah, for our listeners of the first part of this interview. We're going to remain relatively spoiler-free, but we have to talk about that. Book of course and then we'll let you know when there are big spoilers coming. So it's no surprise. You know? Just looking at the cover of the book you have an astronaut you know. So you know that this is going to be some kind of a space Saga. And there is there are, you know, other characters involved. So let me ask you about what was the original concept for this book. How did you sort of conceptualize, like, where you wanted to go with this story? It was actually pulled largely out of the junkyard of my mind. Basically, I have a mental list.
And stuff like that, you know, aren't good enough to be an entire story, an entire novel on their own or in a couple of cases. When I tried to write a novel, I got about 70 thousand words in and then head to back, burner it and then put it in the fridge and then put the fridge on the ground and being something like, I gave up on that book, that it was called.
Back and I wrote it between the Martian and Artemis, and it didn't work out, but it had some nuggets of good plot and character ideas. So, although it seems like a single cohesive story project Hail Mary was actually made of a collection of unrelated story ideas. That that I had, that kind of really fit well together. So Jack had the concept of a mass conversion based spacecraft Fuel and then check also Add a character that was very much like the character of Strat in Project Hail Mary, that's where straps personality came from. Then I had another story idea where a guy wakes up with amnesia and finds out. He's aboard a spaceship, and then I had another story idea about their, there's just a bunch of stuff that we. Yeah, unrelated. So it wasn't this like linear, like I'm going to figure this out. Make this story. It was like, oh I had this idea. Oh, but I need an explanation for that.
This other idea would explain that. Oh, okay. Wait, wait. You know, and so on it came together really well, but it was a series of shower, epiphanies of hooking up tubes to other tubes of ideas, I'd already had. So since the very beginning of the book, obviously, this is not a spoiler because it's like page one, you know, the story starts with someone who wakes up with complete autobiographical Amnesia, although retaining their procedural memory, like, they still no stuff. They just have no idea who they are.
Where, Advice. Because then, you get to simultaneously next next Generation. Did it that did that in the 90s? Obviously, there's nothing new but it as devices go, it worked well for the story because the characters a scientist. So you have a scientist starting from nothing trying to figure out what's going on. So it allowed for that to unfold which was fun. And then it also, as his memory comes back, we get flashbacks, right? Which is also. Yes, of course. That's a super old literary technique but it works. Is it kind of made all came together? Well, yeah, required. Basically. If I told the story, the reason he had memory loss and the well, we find out the actual pot related reason, he had memory loss like toward the end of the book but the reason I did it that way with memory loss and then flashbacks is because if I told the story linearly it would be really weird like the first third of the book or so would be them all about them, building the ship and then they launch it.
You would never see any of those characters again. Yeah. Yeah. And then, right? And then a fairly critical character wouldn't be introduced until after that and then it would just be this really. And also the first part the parts on Earth would be like skimming through time. Like okay here's the scene and the next scene is two years later and then we have it would just be this really be like a five-year-old telling you a story and I just I didn't want to spend a huge amount of time on the earth segment so - backs was a really convenient way for me to just give the interesting tidbits. Yeah worked really well. And again you always want to start in the middle of your story, right? You don't want to like oh here's the day one. You know, we lead up yet the linear model. Would not have worked for the story in 1972. Yeah, right exactly. It's oh, yeah, it's the best stories. Always start like in the middle of the, of the, of the action where you don't know what's going on, you kind of have to figure it out as you go along, all right? So let's transition to the
More spoiler section of the knees. So, if you don't see, I said, I highly recommend the book, just get it and read it, and then you could listen to this at some other later time. It's a quick read to. I mean, when Troy Breezy, once you get into it, I think I read it in like three or four days or alternatively, you can listen to this entire interview but then erase your Memory. Yeah, you could do that. So, Andy, your protagonist is very different than your protagonist in The Martian. So this is someone who really didn't even want to be there, like, like the attitude is very different. Yeah, he was not anyone's first choice for this Mission. Especially not his own right? He would rather not be there and the powers that be would rather he weren't there, but he was really it ended up if
Vince conspired that he he had to go. He was the one who had to be on it. Mainly because since we're in pseudo spoiler, so basically there, it's a, it's an Interstellar Mission. I guess go back a little bit further, since we're in spoiler. I can lay out the premise in Alien microbe. That human scientists end up naming astrophys enters our solar system and and starts breeding on the sun. This is how a starfish works. It lives on Jean a star, the surface of a star and it collects energy. There's a lot of energy part of the star like within like the chromosphere or closer or near the surface. So kind of in the corona I guess you could say, it's a coronal virus. On the surface of the Sun and it's a microbe, it's like the size of a bacteria and it gathers in a lot of energy and stores it actually, as mass internally. So it's converting heat into mass and then interns that mass energy into light that it uses us propulsion. Because late actually, you know, light has momentum if you shine light out the back of your your butt. If you're a microbe then you you will be pushed forward, although not very fast. But they are doing math conversion. And that turns out to be a good amount of force. And so, where do they go? Well, they go to a planet nearby that'll have carbon dioxide, whatever, whatever the nearest, major source of carbon dioxide is, and they go there, and then that's how they reproduce, they do mitosis because the star itself will just have hydrogen helium. It needs more, it needs heavier atoms to be able to make a copy of itself. So it does that. And then the parent cell in the daughter cell both go back to the star and that's the The cycle of life, also frequently the Astro facial, just shoot out away from the Star, you know, instead of instead of doing the normal breathing, it'll just shoot out and in a random Direction and just go, and this is how its spores and it'll it'll spread from star to star this way. You can actually survive an Interstellar trip. So some of the it's basically like, algae in the ocean. Just it just breeds, it's not intelligent. It doesn't have an agenda. It's just doing its thing. So, as
These ends up growing on our son and this causes a very significant problem because it's growing out of control. It's just doubling its population, every whatever time period. And the Sun is starting to get dimmer scientists notice. Initially the sun's getting dimmer and then they realize that as two pages doing it and then they I mean there's a I'm skimming over a lot of stuff here, but then they realize that, ok, all the stars in our local area of stars are getting dimmer except Tau Ceti. Why is until City getting dimmer? Well, they decide to make an Interstellar mission to find out. Why? Because they hope to be able to reproduce that here to save all of humanity because if the sun gets too dim life on Earth is going to die. So as to face is the cause and solution to this problem because they can Harvest astrophys, Farm it and use it as a propulsion for an Interstellar ship. So that's what they do. And our hero Ryland Grace is aboard. The Hail Mary
That's the name of the ship because this is a desperate pass you know, a desperate attempt to save Humanity where he wakes up. He's in the Tau Ceti system. Yeah I'm for anybody who decided hey I want to ruin this book. I'm going to blow through the spoiler warning. Well, that's the premise. There's a lot more that happens. It's not too late to fuck off and go read the book. I do need to introduce one more spoiler, correct? We the what I really To talk to you about is Rocky. We are entering spoiler. Level are here. O'Reilly Grace encounters, an alien who is from another nearby star Epsilon eridani, who's also dying and right, was at that the right one, Epsilon eridani, Epsilon eridani, it's for Tierra. And then he also suddenly their own. He'll marry to the same set of the figure out the same problem. And then
With them end up working together. So I have to tell you what, I love about Rocky is that he's an actual alien alien, right? Which is a big, like, not a humanoid with two arms. Two legs, not a humanoid alien. Yeah. So you must have set out to create like as different and entity as you possibly could. It mean is that? Was that how deliberate was that? Liberabit?
Here we go. So we got two life forms with into to spacefaring life forms within 17. Light-years of each other. That's pretty good. Yeah. Well that is pretty unlikely and so I can you explain that somewhat in the book in that we find out that life, all of the life they actually find three biological worlds for lack of a better term 3, life world's, there's Earth, and then there's rocks, Homeworld of which the print Rocky's language is not pronounced. Go by humans and so our protagonist Ryland has to name everything and so Rockies, Homeworld he names it arid because it's in eridani and he calls the species iridium and so also there's a planet in orbit around Tau Ceti that they named Adrian and Adrian Earth and arid are all, you know, have each have their own like complex full, biosphere that are incompatible with each other's Bowser's. But they were all in each other. Well, tell said, he the planet Adrienne is where life evolved originally and a progenitor species to a store fasion ancestor. Like an like four billion years ago was out, was spreading out similar to how a starfish does. But not nearly as effectively and it ended up seeding a bunch of planets with life. It was it wasn't it wasn't like it had an objective. It was just Saint out and try to, you know, breed on stars and stuff like that and you know for me and it was a panspermia. So it's nice for me, the writer because I didn't have to invent life because I'm not God. So I could just say like, oh yeah, they you know, Astro phage and Rocky if you look at their cells have mitochondria, ribosomes DNA, you know, all the same building blocks and so in terms of, you know, they're being life so close together. That's why The life is so close to getting. There was anyone Genesis and they also say like Rocky and Ryland, it one pointer talking and they speculate on like why is it that we're both here? Like, how come both of our species are at the almost exact same level of development? Like if you think about it, we had like, you know, a couple billion years or several billion years, no contact. And now here we are. And we have very, very similar levels of technology. In fact, the idioms are significantly behind
There are a couple of centuries behind us in terms of Technology really it's just they have some spiky bits of technology in terms of materials scientists aren't ya and Rocky answers with his own Theory which I won't try to say it with his accent but basically says well there could be lots of species. There could be lots of intelligent species, in countering Astor phage, and the ones who were a few centuries behind us technologically, don't have the technology to address. It this way, they're just going to stay on their planet and probably die, right? And the ones who are a few centuries ahead of us in, technical it up, would probably be able to, yeah, solve the problem without having to come here. So, it's sort of a filter. The only people who would come to tell city are the species that have this narrow range of technological advancement. Now make sense, so they're good, good explanation is anything? Yeah, but that's what I like about the book. It's like obviously you like you have to make some concessions.
Like Jay and I were talking about. Did I do get why Rocky is extremely alien? He has to be relatable enough. You know what I mean? It's got to think enough like a person that he can be a character. The hardest thing to do is to make aliens that think alien, you know, and it's hard to tell stories about that because, you know, they're kind of inaccessible. Yeah. And so what I decided was I just kind of, when designing, a radians in general, I had to design their physiology. Which was a lot of fun because I actually started that I'll tell you about that in a minute, but that was really cool. But then I also need to design their kind of what their personalities are like exactly. Like you said, it's like the, you know, what are there, aliens thought processes, how do they think? What do they what? What is their society like? So I start off by in terms of social stuff. I start off by making a list of everything that is required for a life form to develop space travel. I'm like, okay.
Well, first off, they need a certain minimum intelligence, right? They need to be able to understand things, look at things build on that understanding. They also need language because no one unless unless are unbelievably intelligent, it's not possible for a single entity to work all this stuff out, right? And they also need to have some sort of pact Instinct so that they can have a civilization, you know, so they can't be like bearers, who just avoid each other all year except for when Mating, right? And so I started working on stuff like that and you end up with the idea of like just having a pack Instinct at all, you get an awful lot of the behaviors that you think of as being human. And you see that the animal kingdom everywhere. You see like dogs will have kind of their best friend dog, you know. And yeah primates of course other primates because we're primates. So no surprise there but everything that has Pacs they'll hang out so they have a pack that's their little
The ization and then they will have favorites within the pack and then they'll and so on and it's all it's the same pattern over and over again each time into the note individually evolved. So I think it's reasonable to say are the aliens here to Andy? Did you crowd Source it off for this like like the Martian I didn't? And also its kind of overstated how much I crowdsource the Martian I didn't like it's not like we played a big game of round robin. I as I wrote The Martian I was posting my chapter chapters to My website and my readers would tell me where my science errors were so I guess you could say I crowdsource the fact checking yeah that's great. I had that was a really really smart of you to do it because you know you have a hundred people look at it with different expertise and that made a lot of sense. If you do that with every episode of our show, a hundred nerds, he must have had more latitude with a book like this because it obviously has thing. You know, where's the Martian could be.
Or it could be more of a tempered contemporary piece but this one obviously takes place in a more distant future. No this one takes place modern-day so it is it's contemporary as well. Yeah, well this is a thing that happened to Earth. It was like to research. What bit of that. What bit of the signs to you was like the most interesting. But also, you know, what was hard funny? Because the thing that was hardest to research and most intriguing, the answer your question is quantum physics. Oh yeah, I had to study a lot of because I want way down. The rabbit hole going all the way down as to design the biological functions happening inside of the Astra phage. And so I decided how they store energy. Is they turned kinetic energy of protons colliding into each other. That kinetic energy is turned into neutrinos. So they basically turn heat into neutrinos. Then they have the ability to contain the neutrinos which requires our cell membrane to be something that can't be Quantum tunneled through. So it experiences something else, super cross section ality. And so here, I am like
All the way down in the Quanto dude. And this is all for like what ends up being like one sentence in the book worth it. It's worth it. I mean, containing neutrinos I could travel through light-years of lead without hitting anything. That's a defeat at some super Chrono sexuality. I kind of look that one up. All right. Up around those damn things. What are the power sources? Do you need a fusion? Exactly. Oh my God, it's epic. And the character's name is Steve hatch. I don't usually have a tough time. Remembering my minor characters names, but I remembered him and he he's this bubbling The Optimist in the book, and I mean he's only in one scene but he's like, masturbation is the greatest thing ever. And people are like it, might kill all of humanity. He's like, well, sure that but this is like a bruh. If we get a handle on this, it's like that's it. We have basically an unlimited supply of clean energy. I mean, Remember reading about, you know, Mass conversion and how its people say, oh, it's a hundred percent conversion, it's not, it's not a hundred percent efficient, this from what, from what my research was so we could never use it to really get super super close to the speed of light but it's just so incredibly efficient is this is some if you're saying efficiency in terms of what percentage of the mass is turned into energy, right? For Astra fascia, its way up in the 90s because they're storing the energy as neutrinos neutrinos are. Much Arena particles which means they are their own antimatter. Yes, if to neutrinos Collide, which doesn't happen. Often will annihilate. And so just by storing it as neutrinos and then forcing them to collide because the Supercross externality, shut up, okay? They annihilate and turn into two photons because you have to turn into two photons. Keep the momentum balance correct on the equation. Right? And then and what's cool is I even went like oh okay if they're going to annihilate and turn to Tons in this Photon to the propulsion. What wavelength are those photons? Well, that's based on the amount of energy and a neutrino that's based on the mass of the neutrino. And so I called my friend, Chuck dooba who is dr. Charles Du Bois, who was on a team that won the Nobel Prize for dramatically narrowing down the known weight of a neutrino. Yeah, but, what did you know? Go ahead. There's also a high school buddy of mine, which is my God. Awesome. So, that's where the Petrova frequency came from. That was a real number. That is a real number. That is, if you were able to mask on Vert a neutrino into a photon. Well, to neutrinos into two photons, then you would get that frequency of light. It's in the outer robe and cool. And your, what if you had like a jet pack with a trillion of those damn things in the jetpack? Could you how, much lift, would you get well, you die, because it before you died, would you get it? Shin is light. So, in order to get any sort of reasonable amount of force, you've got to be throwing a lot of light out the back. Yeah. And if you do that in an atmosphere, you're just going to make a big Fireball the vaporizes, everything well everything, except the Astro phage, it likes heat will make a really good weapon. Then again, if you like the idea of I mean it could make a pretty good bomb but it wouldn't make a very good gun because you know, if you're shooting Ali really incredibly huge amounts of infrared, light out, the front of your gun. You're just going to ionize the air right there and vaporize yourself, even a happens. Yeah, no. It's I mean last Thursday, I did that. It was and, did you remember what was your first inspiration for the book? Like, where did where did the idea of the whole thing start in your head? So, the book that I was working on between the Martian and Artemis was Jack, as I mentioned earlier, and inject, there was, I mean, you Shack was a
Sci-fi Space Opera style story, and there were aliens all over the place and stuff. And this, there was this alien technology called black matter and black matter would do that. It would it would mask convert and it would actually Propel a ship with like the cosmic rays or gamma way, raise or whatever. So the the propulsion itself, the photons that a use would just pass harmlessly through you and stuff, but it had a feature of any, any electromagnetic radiation that hit it? It would convert Into math. And so they would, you know, I'm up. If you had any black matter, you could Farm more black matter and stuff like that. So when I was working on a project, Hail Mary, I was like, well, that's a cool technology but humans would never invent it. However, what if they found it? Well, they could find it. But then like, why does it exist? It wasn't made by aliens. Oh no. You know what? It sounds a lot like life. It uses energy to make more of itself. That's the same thing we do indirectly and so yeah, so it'll be a life-form and that's kind of where that came from. I thought it was really cool of you to take the risk of having, you know, having your protagonist not necessarily be, you know, incredible Boy Scout, right? It was a very different person that you put up in front of us, but I thought that was a really good and ballsy thing if you to do, thanks, I'm always trying to get better as a writer and my characters are where I'm weak as to think. So I'm trying to make them deeper more complicated and more flood complex etcetera. All right. Now words, audiobook, and
The audiobook, it's already been recorded it releases the same time as the as the main book May 4th, who Naruto know when this is going to get aired. So May 4th may have already happened very early next week, okay? And the narrator is Ray Porter. Oh my God, oh my God, there he is. A god of narration. I wasn't daring to hope that it was that it was going to be Porter, I'm just so psyched. Right, that's right. Outside will be narrating awesome. And it's been optioned for a movie that not just option, but boss, which means they put more money into it. And so it means they're probably taking it more, seriously, I hope. But anyway, it was bought by MGM and we have Ryan Gosling attached to play the lead. That's so cool. It is cool because he has the same initials as Ryland Grace to bring his own links to the South. Oh my God.
Chris Miller set to direct jobs. Awesome. That is awesome. And you visit the whole time the whole time, I was reading this book. I'm thinking, I can't wait to see this rendered in moving too far away but I hope you go next time or away. Man, I will for sure. This time I've I have not conquered my fear of flying, I'm still very much afraid of flying but now I have pills that make it okay. Yes, that's what I do. Medicate yourself into Oblivion and you're good, I began.
Science or Fiction ()
Voiceover: It's time for Science or Fiction.
Each week I come up with three science news items or fax to real. And one take that, I challenge my Peril Skeptics to tell me which one is the fake. We have a theme this week, although these are all news items. The theme is animal senses happen to be multiple news items dealing with animal senses. All right, here we go. Item number one, Recent research finds that bats are born with an innate sense of the The speed of sound and judge distance entirely by time. I remember to a new study in mice, finds that the mammalian brain is able to process olfactory information, much faster than previously thought with mice. Able to detect a 10 millisecond odor pulse. I never 3 while previously thought to be colorblind octopuses have recently been found to have six distinct photoreceptors for color vision. Bob go first. So that's with an innate sense of the speed of sound makes
Hence I think I could buy that one. Let me got the let's see it here. This full thing you study of mice, finds it. The 10 millisecond odor pulse. Yeah. I mean humans will factories is crap, but other other mammals. I mean, I remember reading once seventy percent of the genes that encode sent the sense of smell have like been mutated Beyond function for humans. It's just like pathetic. So yeah so that when I can 10 milliseconds, sure Sure. This one though. The next one though, the octopus is colorblind. I mean, they found how many six distinct photoreceptors. I mean, I wouldn't think they would have, they would have found that by now. So I'm going to call bullshit on that one. Say that's fiction. Okay. Jay. That's okay. Let's go to the first one research is finds it. Bats are born with innate sense of speed of sound. I think that what makes perfect sense, right? That they factor that in to their movements being able to, if they have to eat.
Insects that are super tiny like that. Yeah, they need that kind of precision, that makes total sense that science. The million brain is able to process the olfactory information, much faster at this is cool. So if I paint the picture of this in my head, like they would change the odor and they can register it in 10 milliseconds, if they feed them an odor. And in 10 milliseconds there, no deciphered, no, that's not how long it takes. It's the owner itself only lasts for 10 milliseconds and they can detect it well. Whoa, that's even cooler. Super brief odor, like that. Also, that also means that they the odor could be changing that quickly and they'll be able to detect it. Yeah. Okay. Alright, that's very cool. 10 milliseconds. Okay, well I mean that's that's fast man I could totally see the advantage to that so you know makes kind of makes sense. Okay, the move on to the last one this is octopuses have recently been found to have six distinct photoreceptors for color vision which means that they
Amazing color vision. Now, I'm thinking of things like the depth that they exist at and the check the fact that colors get muted. When you, when you are at depth underwater, I'm going to say that. That one is science and that, the mice mammalian photoreceptor. I mean smell receptor one is fiction. Okay, Kara, I think I'm going to maybe go with Bob on this. I think I agree with both of the guys, that bats need from the time that they're very young. Young and ability. I just don't see how that could be a learned thing to be able to echolocate, you know, you need to know Speed and Sound and learning something like that, seems really complex and so it's really between the mice. And so, the 10 millisecond pulse that is interesting, this idea that they can switch. I don't think people could do that. I do know that olfaction is relatively fast because it doesn't go through the thalamus the same way or does it always go through Thalamus? The same way that almost every other sense does. But this,
Idea of like Fast switching is interesting. And then I'm like, oh yeah, that would For people, I don't think, but then I'm like, whatever mice are awesome and people suck when it comes to smelling, like half of a mouse's brain, is their olfactory bulbs. So not quite half, but it's a huge chunk of it. So that one kind of seems reasonable. The thing that bugs me is, like, why would an octopus need to be able to see color like a ton of color there? Like deep under the water that doesn't like grok for me in terms of an evolutionary trait? I would think being able to have really awesome. Rods would be important to see motion hugely important to see shape. Of Grey, hugely important important. But like lots of just rental space, dedicated to Cone seems wasteful from an evolutionary perspective. So I'm going to say that once the fiction and Evan plus how do you go from you thought it was colorblind too. Suddenly six distinct photoreceptors? That's, that's a leap. That's a huge leap. I mean, how could they have gotten that so possibly wrong? But for all the reasons Kara said right, you know you don't need it under the water like that. I think the octopus one is fiction. So let's start with number one.
You all agree on This research, research research finds that bats are born with an innate sense of speed of sound and judge distance entirely by time. You all think this one is science and this one is science. Yeah, this is pretty cool. So again, like a judge Distance by time, meaning that the bat the bats brain is saying that bug is point two seconds away, right? It's not 10 feet away, it's this number amount of time away, they think, in terms of time, Because they're just thinking in terms of echolocation, if that makes sense, which means that they need to have as a standard, they need to know how fast the sound is moving at Baseline. So, yeah. And it makes sense. Yeah, that location is extremely important for them. So, it's a yes, and the but they demonstrated that definitively. Okay, let's go on to number three. Well, previously thought to be colorblind. Octopuses have recently been found to have six distinct photoreceptors for color vision. So
Little surprised at some of the comments, you guys were making about that. So, you're aware, right? That, that a lot of of octopuses can actually change their skin colors and as users. Yeah, for signaling and they use it for meeting. So there's a lot of reasons why they would need to have color vision, right? They don't have to be able to see what color they're changing too. Well, they do, if they're using it for to signal for mate, I don't think, I don't know. Color can actually present as Shades though. Why it's so gray, right? Yeah, just else. And I'm do the water in the this one we got. It is the fiction, but not for the reason you think it is. I love it when I get it, right? Is it an actual photo cone cone photoreceptors and look that's nice. Do you know how many different kinds of photoreceptors mantis shrimp? Have like 15 14 and 16 points? Yeah, right, they're underwater Rock. So that's why would you think it's unusual for the octopus to have sex? When there's mantis shrimp has 16? I don't know them. I thought it was unusual because I thought we would
But they see in color completely differently than we do. How, how how do you think so? There's so they have one type of photoreceptor, but they're able to see color with one photoreceptors that. What can I do? Oh, nobody's figured out what you said was completely different. So I don't it's completely different way than we do. What do you remember what their pupils look like? They
Like these all like, don't you shave pupil or u-shaped pupils? So it's related to that weird, but you stay here, six. Distinct photoreceptor. That's the LIE. They don't, that's, that's my exact section. We have one, you have one photo receptor, which is why we thought they were colorblind. But then, we're like, wait. But it didn't make sense because they definitely behaviorally see color. They behaviorally absolutely see color. So we had to figure out how they were seeing color, and then we did and, and it has to do with the shape of their pupil What you think the pupils doing to the light and it's bending it it's splitting it into different colored light in there. So it's so they only need one photoreceptor because they could split the light into red green blue in color or black and white. By the way, they reshape their lens and their cornea. Right?
Pupil, and It can write. And so when they do split the light into different colors it does make it a little blurry. So they could see like a wide field in color but a little blurry or they could focus in a narrow field in black and white and be really sharp a sharp. Yes that's hunting or whatever. Yeah so that's how they can adjust their Vision but that's cool. They evolved a way to see color in a completely different way. Way than vertebrates, with they do a quick photo receptor. Yeah, that's cool. So, all that means that a new study in mice finds that the mammalian brain is able to process olfactory information, much faster than previously thought with mice. Able to detect a 10 millisecond order pulse is science and that was surprising because it's a lot faster than we had previously thought. They also say that so they when they were looking at like the brain reaction of the mice, it was
Milliseconds. But when they were looking at operant conditioning, they could respond to 40 Hertz changes in and odor. So, it's 40 times, 40 times per second, you know. So that's again, just down to the in the milliseconds. And so with this would give them the ability being able to process or odor. That quickly means they can have a very complicated odor map of their environment, they could actually map out three-dimensionally.
We're different. Odors are Give them a very wet, very complicated, three-dimensional, map of their, of their smell environment if you will. So very physical very fast temporal features in the odor. Stimuli that is awesome. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's fascinating. But back to octopuses, you said you said that we got it right for the wrong reasons, and that's incorrect, ma'am. Nice, like I don't see why they would need to be able to see under the water at all. My my point was that there's no way that they have Have multiple photoreceptors and we didn't know it. So, I was right for the right reasons, just throwing that out there that that part was correct care was completely wrong. But your whole discussion about my point, what I found surprising was your whole discussion of, why would they need to see color? Which is wrong, they do need to see color, they do see. However, there are lots of other wire, all the fish. So brightly colored in the first in tropical, and now that I think of it, it's like, mostly in tropical reefs. And in shallower waters, right, deep. Sea fish. All just look like hard like scary monsters.
Of course octopuses are usually like eating you go tide pooling for octopus. Like that's where you're going to see that the show. Yeah, well come on. It's late and I'm tired. I'm feeling very a chroma topped ectopic. A chroma, top stick to give octopuses are cool. They are octopi. They're the most intelligent in vertebrates. The remains of the city. They call them, you know, basically.
Skeptical Quote of the Week ()
‘Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.’ – William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1
All right. Evan. Give us a quote. Okay. So tonight's quote needs a little bit of context. So 16 years guys, right? Hmm, 16 years, you know what I did? I looked up 16 year anniversary online, you know that there are gifts that you espouse will give to each other, right? Depending on the year, you know, we probably read about all scam but yeah. Exactly. What do you think the 16 year anniversary gift is Cardboard carpet, vacuum cleaner. Oh no, it's usually some sort of material, right? It's perfect aerial. Testy bubble plastic retain. Ian Cheney guesses. I said, wood pulp wood. Pulp, not bad, not bad. The answer is wax what so glass I guess I'm lucky exactly. Right? Or you don't go polish your car by Jake is they're all made. Eat up exactly right. Who knows why? There's there's no y as only by very short because you were slim pickings out there. First, everything's happy to do, okay. But but if I expanded my search a little bit to use it to include,
Word wax is used, so not just the material but like, like a waxing moon, right? The waxing, so I expanded it and I came across a few, other few things. But so, here's a quote with wax in it and it's just for the four of you from me, Rich gifts, wax poor, when givers prove unkind, as from Hamlet act, three scene, one Ophelia, talking to Hamlet, I really like that. Yeah. So, a little bit of waxing, poetic as it were for you. Do feel, you was a snarky wench. Alrighty, then she was, I like quote, because it reminds you that, you know, eat it's about look, you have to be kind, you know, the quality of a person is what's important. It doesn't, you know if you get a gift from someone who's a jerk, you know, okay there's still a jerk and you shouldn't judge them by the gift, they're giving you. It's about the person, the quality of the person. That's what that quote means to me.
And to me, you are four of you or some of the most quality people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing in my entire life. So thank you. Thank you. Thanks bro. Thank you, thank you Evan. It has been a lot of fun going on this skeptical. Journey. With all of you guys, absolutely wouldn't have trade it for anything else in the world and I'm so looking forward to the next 16 years and Beyond I think so, why not? Yeah, we'll keep going. Keep going short. Sign me up song in my brain, still works. I'll be here. Absolutely, that's it. That's and that's key. All right guys, so thank you all for joining. For joining me for the last 16 years and this week. Sure. Thank you, Steve. Hey, Steve.
S: —and until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.
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Today I Learned
- Fact/Description, possibly with an article reference
- Gizmodo: NASA’s Experimental Electric Airplane Edges Closer to Its First Flight
- The Conversation: We spent six years scouring billions of links, and found the web is both expanding and shrinking
- NeuroLogica Blog: Evolution of Multicellularity
- CNET: NASA solar probe becomes fastest object ever built as it 'touches the sun'
- The Independent: Chinese rocket tracker - live: Falling spacecraft falls to Earth over Indian Ocean, reports say
- [url_for_TIL publication: title]