SGU Episode 861

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SGU Episode 861
January 8th 2022
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 860                      SGU 862

SGU 808 ← predictions SGU 913

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

C: Cara Santa Maria

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.

E. O. Wilson

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Show Notes
Forum Discussion


Voice-over: You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.

S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Thursday, January 6th, 2022, and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella ...

B: Hey, everybody!

S: Cara Santa Maria...

C: Howdy.

S: Jay Novella ...

J: Hey guys.

S: Evan Bernstein ...

E: Welcome to the New Year everyone!

S: Yep, first show of 2022 although technically last weeks episode aired on January 1st but it was recorded in 2021 so this is the first show recorded in 2022. We had a couple of weeks brake from our regular show and it seems like so much has happened.

C: Oh yeah, we're like 'In Memoriam' oh shit E. O. Wilson died like all this stuff happened right after we recorded.

S: And Betty White almost made it to 100.

B: Oh my god.

C: Days away.

J: How close can you get man.

E: So close. Legendary John Madden you know him from football or playing the video game Madden NFL football. We lost him too, so a lot of people.

S: And we were talking about all the political figures that died and then Harry Reid died. Kinda the same generation, you know as a lot of the other politicians who we've lost during 2021. So yea that was you know that little week before the end of the year a lot of notable people died. Let's see what else, what else is happening.


E: I got sick as a dog with covid, there was that.

S: The SGU's perfect streak of not catching covid was broken.

J: I know.

E: Gone.

S: Not just once, but twice. Jay, right?

B: Oh my god.

E: I apparently got something in my stocking on Christmas Eve and I pulled it out and it was covid, so there it was for me.

B: I don't know what it is it, I feel spiky.

J: So Steve just told me that the last show we recorded, so when was that Steve?

S: December 22nd when we recorded the Year End Review show and jay was coughing through the whole thing.

J: Got a light version of it, just a bad head cold, no breathing problems at all, and then horrible fatigue.

E: Oh yes, the fatigue was brutal for me as well.

J: I'm still kinda dealing with it to be honest with you, like you know I have the bottom drop out and when it drops out I fall asleep, like I'm done.

E: Yeah, I felt it for about 10 days, only at the 10th day did I finally feel I was 95% back to where I was prior.

C: And you guys are all fully vaccinated.

J: I'm boosted, yeah.

E: Yeah, I got my booster just a couple of days prior.

C: More of my friends have covid right now then at any other course in this pandemic. Very likely because I tend to associate with people who are vaccinated, right? And I think that Omicron is managing somehow to overwhelm the immune system even if you're vaccinated. Luckily even though we're seeing hospitals rates going way way way up I don't think we're seeing the sickest of the sick going up. We're not seeing deaths going up.

J: No, the death [inaudible]

E: I don't wanna imagine how it would've felt if I did not have my vaccinations and my booster. That would've been horrific.

J: But you know to get covid after two years of changing the way I live my life I was really disappointed, you know. I felt angry, you know I was talking to Steve quite a bit over vacation, kept calling Steve just like saying 'here's how I'm feeling today, what do you think about this' like just trying to get like more of a professional but I had it I'm like oh my god, I was like so depressed. But then Steve said you know it's super catchy it's very very easy to catch. And that made me feel a little bit better.

B: 18 times?

S: At the begging of the pandemic we were talking about how contagious covid is, Omicron variant is 18 times more contagious than the baseline. Yeah, it's super contagious.

C: I think that experience that you had Jay is really common it's something I've been talking about with patients it's something I've been talking about a lot with my friends lately is this feeling almost of personal failure this feeling of guilt and shame which I think we really really need to work society wide to reduce. You know I don't think we should go so far as to say well everyone is gonna catch it so whatever. I think that that's kinda of unhealthy view as well although there is a chance you will get it, you should still continue to be as safe as possible and to do all of the risk preventions things that you've been doing if not more. But if you do catch it it's not cause you didn't try hard enough. You did everything right.

J: Yeah, I mean that's what scary about it, that's the conclusion I came to cause you know I didn't have like a flagrant, like I'm gonna go out without my mask on, which I would never do, or I'm gonna hang out with people that I suspect could have it, like, I didn't brake any of the protocols that kept me healthy for two years and after I got over the initial shock and like wow this fire is, is in my body now, it's freaky when you get it, because, it's a head game. You just sit there and you're like I've got covid I got that thing, you know, that I've been trying to fight against the last two years. But then you know luckily when I got it, and Evan, same with you, we were vaccinated, so percentage of the danger was eliminated. And then knowing how catchy it is, you know I'm like, you know you're right Cara, I did everything I freaking could do and I still got it like what did I do wrong?

C: It's doing what a good virus does, a good virus evolves to be really easy to catch but not kill it's hosts.

B: Yeah, that's kind of a classic.

S: That tends to be how pandemics burn themselves out because the selective pressure are for infectivity not deadliness and so over time that's just by statistics alone that's where the viruses going to head. But I agree, you don't judge outcomes, you judge by actions, and so as long as you're being safe and and you're fully vaccinated and boosted if you get it, at some point it's a luck of the draw. You know I'm extremely careful, I'm actually even a little surprised I've made it two years without getting it.

B: Yeah, your scenario.

S: I you know cause I work with people every day and I have to do procedures, I have to get in people's face, that's just the nature of my job. And would not surprise me if despite my best efforts I still get it at some point.

B: What are you wearing Steve on your face when you're like in someone's face?

S: The medical masks.

C: Surgical masks.

S: They have this like triple layer like really thick surgical mask that really fits to your face very well.

B: Well compare it to a N95, is it better?

C: No.

S: It's not quite as good as an N95 but N95 are just they're just very difficult to talk through for me so but the heavy duty medical masks, surgical masks are fine.

B: I've been double masking. Whenever I go out. I'm double masked, I have my N95 on and over that I've got my cool cloth one that's got something creepy on it.

S: That's a good idea.

C But make sure you're doing it that direction, you're right Bob.

B: Oh absolutely, I was out with my mom─

C: Don't put the cloth under the N95. That completely─

E: Well that would defeat the whole purpose.

B: I was showing my mum, I was showing my mum and she puts the cloth, you know the cloth one on first and I like 'noooo!' that defeats the purpose. But the real important thing here is like Christmas was kind of like blown out of the water for the Novella family. So I spent this is my Christmas Eve, first time ever just me and my mom and we binged an entire season of {{w|Ink Master} Christmas Eve.


B: And then Christmas Day we did the next season goddamn binged a whole season and it was fun, we had a blast together and you know I still would've loved to like seen everybody that we have been planning but no, it wasn't a bit.

C: I got my hands on one of those Nintendo Classics that came out a few years ago, so it's basically the NES but shrunk down.

B: Nice, yes!

C: So instead of using cartridges all the games are preloaded. Hint, you can get them hacked online and they like load them with thousands of games.

E: Oh gosh, get lost in that one.

C: Yeah, I played a lot of Dr. Mario,a lot of Mario 3, a lot of Kid Icarus, yeah, all my favorite games, it was fun, it was fun Christmas all alone. I enjoyed it, but it was sad, I mean I think things are, things are different now and we're sort of trying to get used to it. I have a fear and Steve I'm curious how you feel about this, not a severe fear but being kind of in the first cohort of people getting vaccinated I'm afraid my booster is not effective anymore. Like I got boosted back in October.

S: Yeah I mean I would say it's gonna last at least 6 months.

C: I hope so.

S: The data suggest that but it could last even longer. the antibody response is great so hopefully the duration [inaudible].

E: That would make sense.

S: So, we'll see. I mean we'll have to wait and see.

C: Do you see this as being and I know will get there with predictions and stuff but as being sort of like ok you get your covid shot every year just like you get your flu shot.

B: Oh yeah, no question.

C: Like eventually we're gonna be [inaudible].

B:' No question in my mind.

C: I just hope that the next booster that becomes available is not the same formulation.

S: They'll iterate it. They're already working on it.

C: Yeah, like it's good good good.

S: We'll see I mean I think they could've done it for this one but they base of the evidence says if you get boosted you're antibody are so high it will protect you from Omicron. So they didn't bother manufacturing the next version but I think they're gearing up to do that.

C: Yet a lot of people are getting Omicron even with their booster, they're just not getting that sick.

S: They're just not getting sick which is fine.

C: Well they're getting sick still, they're just not getting as sick.

S: Yeah, yeah yeah, I mean they're not getting like going to the hospital sick.

E: At no point did I feel I had to go to the hospital of my wife Jennifer or my daughter Rachel, we all had it. And none of uf got to that point where we felt that bad.

C: But my concern is that we're still looking at the risk benefit analysis at acute disease, and we're not very often talking─

B: Long covid.

C: ─about long covid and the concerns about that.

S: Oh I know.

C: So you know maybe you only get mild to moderate illness that doesn't land you in the ICU and you don't have to be on a vent but you're dealing with fatigue for six months, nine months you're dealing with cognitive symptoms downstream. I mean it's still not something that we want.

S: Yeah there are some people who don't get their sense of taste and smell back or they don't get it the same like it's screwed up when it recovers and then like food tastes horrible, so there's lots of disability lots of what we call morbidity you know it's not just life or death if you survive you still may be dealing with you know chronic symptoms. It's definitely part of the toll of this disease.

E: Jay I lost some of my covid weight because I lost a lot of my appetite during the course of that ten days so my food consumption went way down.

J: That is so weird Ev, because I, I actually took note that my appetite went up.


E: Of course it did Jay.

J: I'm dead serious, I got hungrier.

E: Oh no, oh I've lost my appetite.

J: Like I felt like my body needed I was weird hungry you know like I was just hungry all the time.

B: Pickles and ice-cream.

J: Which is not that far of my baseline. But still I was hungrier.

Psychic Predictions (10:44)[edit]

S: All right so the first episode that we record in each year we do our psychic prediction review. We look back over the predictions made for the previous year to see how psychics did. This is always just a bit of fun cause they of course uniformly do horrible cause (laughter)there's no such thing a s the real psychic. But you know we do like to look at patterns to see, I like to brake it down, there's a few types of predictions that people make, there are ones that are crazy for entertainment purposes only an like nobody expects them to come true. You know what I mean like 'Bigfoot will be discovered', just crazy ass shit that is like just the prediction is purely the entertainment. Then there are those who are like trying to be successful as alleged psychics predicting the future where they make high probability predictions, right. Like things that any reasonable person could make a guess.

C: Things that happen every year.

S: Yeah, exactly, 'there's gonna be a major earthquake in Europe', yeah, it happens every year. And then there's the throw shit against the wall and hope that something sticks. Right just make a bunch wacky ass predictions and then just only remind people about the ones you got right in retrospect.

E: Yeah, that's the psychology of it.

S: Yeah, so it's usually one of those things, so, I'll note that and I looked, I don't think any psychic you know nailed any of the big events you know 2021 that's always the first one what they didn't predict. There was definitely a theme, there was a strong theme of psychics predicting that covid that the pandemic was gonna go away in 2021.

C: I saw that.

E: Yes I saw that as well.

S: That was clear. That was like a and they were just again, that was a high probability, oh, we have the vaccine, so yeah by the end of the year things should be better, so that's a pretty safe prediction, not. Completely got it wrong. One even said the variants will be no big deal like no, completely wrong. I didn't see, I've read dozens and dozens of predictions about 2021 and the pandemic I didn't read anyone where whey got it substantially correct, they sort of thought that 2021 would be the end of the pandemic.

C: Yeah it's true, I think there was a couple people, I think I saw something on like more of a political prediction site, that was like things aren't gonna be any better next year. But that was really rare. I think they're just like we hoped, we wanted things to be better. So of course that's gonna be what we tended towards. I looked at the people who write up Nostradamus's predictions. Those always make me laugh.

E: Still doing it, huh?

C: Yeah every I guess how long did the almanac go for? Cause there's some 2021 here. And my favorite is when you have to actually find that they're date stamped at the beginning of the year. You can't find something now to say 'this is what I said'.

S: That's the whole point. Gotta be what they said at the beginning of the year.

E: You gotta find the January 2021.

C: Very important. So let's see a global famine, solar storms in asteroids, I love this one, because the interpretations are almost as fun as the original writing, right? Cause I think this is, Nostradamus was so like French, yeah. 460 somewhat years ago was when he wrote Les Propheties and if you read the original translation, I mean it's like:

'The sloping park, great calamity, Through the Lands of the West and Lombardy The fire in the ship, plague and captivity; Mercury in Sagittarius, Saturn fading.'

And the interpretation here 'an earthquake will destroy California'.


C: The lens of the West! Will have great calamity.

E: There's nothing like vaguery to make predictions come true.

C: Right. And this one's my favorite one that did not come true, here we go:

'Few young people: half-dead to give a start. Dead through spite, he will cause the others to shine, And in an exalted place some great evils to occur.'

So this has been viewed as 'the Zombie Apocalypse' occurring in 2021.

B: Oh my god.

S: Remember when that happened?

C: Unfortunately. Would've been fun.

S: the other kind of prediction that that I forgot to mention is the absolutely vague like completely nebulous 'people will be more interested in traveling in 2021'. Ok... Or 'people will be interested in connecting with one another like all that kind of vague stuff that's completely unfalsifiable.

E: General sense of harmony will abound.

C: I's horoscope predictions, it's like the astrology of like 'be especially prudent in your business dealings'.

S: Duh.

B: Especially.

E: High grade fortune cookie. Yeah, exactly. So I went with Jemima Packington, we've talked about her before, the asparamancer. She's the one who throws the asparagus on the floor and claims to make predictions.

S: It's as good as any other method.

E: Absolutely, you know, I gotta hand it to her, at least she's original. She came up with something nobody else did so I'll give her points for originality. She spoke of Covid-19 early in the year and she says that the vaccines will bring a return to the new normal by June of 2021.

S: Yey!

E: Although not the full return to pre-pandemic days. And like Steve, Steve like you were saying, no that was kind of in tune with what all the psychics were sort of saying about it and no.

S: It was both high probability and wrong, right?

E: You're right.

C: (laughs)

B: Which are the best.

S: It was a lazy prediction. A very lazy prediction.

E: Totally. Now, being from Great Britain of course there's a lot of things having to do with royals. She says at least two divorces. An Harry will return to the UK on his own in March where he will be advised to not be an extension to his current terms. I have no idea really what that means.

C: What?

E: But Harry did not go back to the Royal Family in March and you know there was nothing like that. An the two divorces. I don't think that happened, I looked it up, I couldn't find any royal divorces. She also said former president Trump will be disowned by the GOP members because of his appalling handling of the US domestic situation. That did not happen either. She said that Queen Elizabeth II will make big announcements in June on her birthday. No, she didn't because she was basically saying there that she was gonna going to either semi-retirement or full retirement and make announcements that Charles will take over soon. Nope, didn't happen. And but this one she got right at least in one sense - a spate of ill hull among royals of age. Well you know Prince, Elizabeth's husband Philip did die late in the year. But of all age, no, I didn't read anything else about any of the royals otherwise having some major health issues. So she was for the most part entirely wrong.

S: Here's a question: what 1973 movie takes place in 2022?

B: What year?

S: 1973.

E: Battle of Planet of the Apes.

B: That's gotta be the Soylent Green.

C: Soylent Green.

S: Soylent Green, Soylent Green, good job. So that was an interesting vision of 2022, massive overpopulation, climate change already wrecking the planet and mass supply dificulties, food shortages.

B: Yeah but very you know there's lots of and very delicious you know chips to eat.

S: Soylent Green, yeah. And also Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow.

E: And the new Soylent─

B: Oh wait I forgot about those other ones, wait, are they in the movie?

E: Red and Yellow, absolutely.

S: Green was the new version, just was coming out.

E: Yeah, the latest greatest.

B: What was the Red and Yellow then? What were they made of?

S: They're made of people!

B: Those too?

S: Yeah I don't who knows.


S: Ostensibly made of plankton but we know the truth.


E: You're dragged away screaming if you know the truth though. Spoiler alter.

S: Does anybody have any other psychics they wanna report or should we go to our predictions.

B: Real quick I have I got Psychic Nikki, Psychic Nikki was good she had─

S: Yeah she's a favorite.

B: She got a good run. Like a 'Future holds good news for the state of the planet, the planets gonna be, it's gonna be cleaned up! It will be cleaner─

C: What?

B: ─healthier planet and the population will get healthier. No comment even needed. The other two where even better, she said 'Some people might not wanna be vaccinated but the majority will, and I think it will start definitely by the Fall, definitely.'.

E: Well, 51%?

C: The majority of people at least in the US are vaccinated.

S: Not in every state but yeah.

B: When you go global, it's horrible. And let's see her confidence is definitely misplaced. Here this one of course really struck home for me and my mum. 'People can look forward to a much more festive and celebratory holiday season in 2021. I think we're gonna have a much better Christmas next year, Christmas and New Year's.' says Nikki.

J: Not even close.

B: Yeah, if two seasons of Ink Master is very celebratory. (laughter) So no, but they were good seasons, gotta say, it was fun.

J: I didn't go to psychics, I found myself interested in predictions that people made I guess you can call this political predictions or social predictions. So the former Prime Minister of Ireland he said this late in 2020 about 2021. He said: 'With the vaccine with masks, testing and with the knowledge how to prevent and treat this virus I think the pandemic will end in 2021.'

B: Uff, flat out end.

J: You're incorrect sir.

S: You are a wrong Sir, good day Sir! <<--is this a Willy Wonka reference?-->>

J: And then you guys know who Scott, Scott Adams is, right?

B: Yeah.

S: Yeah.

E: Oh yes.

J: He's the guy who deas the Dilbert Comic and he said in July 'If Biden is elected, there's a good chance you will be dead within the year. Republicans will be hunted. Police will stand down.

C: Pff, that happened.

E: Ok...

J: Yeah, that happened.

E: Paranoia right there.

J: Yeah I mean everybody overdoes the insanity predictions of a you know the new president coming in for the most part.

E: Trying to stand out, right.

'J: It's just a ridiculous, bunch of ridiculous statements. You know I gotta tell you like when I look at the psychic predictions versus like a whole boatload of political predictions that have been made the political predictions are actually a lot more interesting, cause they are actually saying something. You know like these two are great examples. They're saying something that's tangible. Like you know the pandemic is gonna end, you know like, no it's not. Most of the predictions are what you say Steve they're very general, they're blaze, they're hedging their bets. I find that to be very boring, you know. I like it when somebody says this specific thing is gonna happen I think that has a lot more wight to it.

S: Of course.

E: Like what we, that's what we do every year. We come up with ours.

J: That's right.

C: I think my favorite along those lines Jay and I think I know kind of like where you're sourcing some of yours has to do with an article that was published in Egypt Today in September of 2020, they were referring to the Suez Canal and they said 'With improved equipment, it is expected that there will also be improved and safer navigation along the canal.' And then what five months later that container ship got stuck for six days.

SGU's Psychic Predictions (21:56)[edit]

S: All right, let's move, let's move on to our predictions I'm excited to tell you about my predictions.

E: All right, I wanna hear, remind us.

S: All right #1 The Artemis mission's return to the Moon will be delayed by one to two years. Nailed it. (laughter) Totally nailed that prediction. I was delayed─

B: Yeah it was a hard call.

C: How often can that prediction be brought out.

S: ─by one year.

E: Every year.

S: Yeah, right I could recycle that one. But so that was a solid, completely accurate prediction.

E: Was it a crystal ball Steve or tea leaves? What is your preferred method?

C: Asparagus.

S: It was asparagus, I like the asparagus.

E: Oh you've ripped off the asparagus, the Asparomancer.

S: Although I use white asparagus, that's the difference.

J: That's the trick. That's the trick.

E: I'm a banana man sir, I use Gros Michel bananas.

S: And only Gros Michel.

C: Bananamancer.

S: All right #2 The closest fast radio burst FRB source to the Earth will be discovered. Let me introduce you to FRB 20200120E only which is forty times closer that any other known extra-galactic FRB.

E: Wooo, nice.

S: Thank you. Nailed it.

J: Nice job Steve.

B: Forty times closer but how close?

S: 11.7 million light years away.

B: And did you word that your prediction?

S: The closest FRB source to the Earth will be discovered.

B: All right, technically accurate.

E: Wow I can get myself some white asparagus.

S: The only kind of accurate. (laughter) All right and then #3 A remarkable archeological find will disrupt our current understanding of the time period in question. All right so I went a little vague with that one, however─

B: A little.

E: Oh-oh.

C: You managed to find something to slot right into it, didn't you?

S: Yes, absolutely. Actually I looked up the ten like most interesting archeological finds of 2021.

B: And all ten of them fit.

S: They're all candidates. (laughter) They're all candidates but my favorite was the world's oldest pet cemetery was discovered, 2000 years old pet cemetery in Egypt's Red Sea coast and this does completely change the way we though about the relationship between people and animals at that time cause you know the thinking was that they were mainly utilitarian, you know? But some of these pets were lovingly placed in graves surrounded in banana leaves or palm leaves one of them was. So they were clearly treasured pets. Some of them were toothless which means they had to have been fed─

B: Taken care of.

S: ─you know, yeah, they had to be taken care of, they died very very old.

B: Or their teeth were stolen after they were buried.

C: (laughs)

B: But what kind of pets are we talking about?

E: They had gold implants.

C: Cats?

S: Dogs.

E: Cats and dogs living together?

S: Mostly dogs and cats but there were some other ones as well.

C: Birds maybe?

E: Snakes?

S: So they were definitely companion animals, they were definitely companion animals. I don't know, I don't know if want to give me credit for that one─

E: Yes.

S: ─I mean, kind of a deliberately vague one.

C: Why not, points, points to Steve.

J: Yep.

S: So three out of three.

E: White asparagus never lies.

B: It's a half point.

S: 2.5 to 3 depending on how generous you wanna be.

B: Ok.

S: All right Evan, you're next, what did you say.

E: All right, 'Earthquake during the Olympic Games in Japan will be happening'. And I also mentioned few other details, limited loss of life but damage will have an impact on the venues and will cancel some events. There was in fact a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck of the cost of Japan in the middle of the games. The tremors were felt by many people and definitely confirmed by Japan's meteorological agency. News reporter, new anchor Lester Holt tweeted that he felt the earthquake for about 20 seconds. Some buildings were rattled and did have some movement however there was no, certainly no loss of life and no events were cancelled as a result. So I'm like 3/5 correct I think on that one.

S: You got the high probability part, earthquakes are everywhere around the world.

E: Earthquakes, I mean that is the worst psychic prediction possible.

S: I know.

E: I looked this up, look, cool website. So this was for Japan, just look up Japan, ok? Two earthquakes in the past 24h. 12 in the past seven days. 45 in the past 30 days. 655 in the past 365 days. There's two earthquakes every day (laughs) in Japan, to some, to some degree. It's like, duh, it's like, water is wet you know there's your next best psychic prediction. So yeah, earthquakes are garbage psychic predictions. But, hey that didn't stop from making it. Next was my next prediction was 'Global warming trends will plateau in 2021 and will be the same as 2020. 2021 will be 6th or 7th hottest year on record and hotter than any year prior to 2015.' It was a La Niña year which tens to be cooler then El Niño or neutral condition years. But still was when compared to the last La Niña year it was definitely hotter. NASA concluded that 2020 had been the joint hottest year on record but 2021 was not, it was close. It was in fact consistent with a long term human caused global warming trend of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. So the rise did continue, oh and the summer of 2021 tied the 1936 Dust Bowl for USA's hottest on record. And that's very bad news. So I would say I totally failed─

S: Yeah, I would agree with that.

E: ─in that prediction. It's in fact continued on it's path towards you know bad stuff coming sooner than later so I was wrong there. My third and final one was a prominent celebrity psychic will come clean and confess that their entire career has been a ruse.

B: Oh how meta.

E: (laughs) Nope, I looked long and hard, nope I didn't find anything like that whatsoever so I did not do very well in my predictions.

S: Honest assessment.

J: I though you did pretty good though Ev, like all considering.

E: Well, I mean...

S: Well based on like the psychic standards, sure you were as good or if not better than any psychic out there.

E: That is the point, yes. I was absolutely no worse─

S: As bad as you were.

E: ─than the, right because I gave you mine for free basically. (laughter) They are charging you in some cases a million dollars for their information. And adequately accurate.

S: All right, Bob You're next on my list. Ok, so my predictions last year #1 A plague of bunnies.

C: (laughs)

E: Is that even possible?

B: I haven't even seen, I haven't seen any solid evidence just some rumors on that one.

S: Well doesn't Australia have plagues of rabbits?

B: There you go.

E: Are they considered plagues?

S: They do.

E: I suppose.

B: But yeah that obviously that one was was just for laughs. And then let's see the next one: naked eye visible Supernova, only visible in the hemisphere where Bob is not.

E: (laughs) Well?

B: And I, I'm still confident that that's gonna happen in near future it's just didn't happen in 2021.

E: Shame.

B: Some amazing thing in the sky is going to happen and I will not be able to see it, that's pretty much guaranteed as not even a prediction just a guaranteed. Fact of the universe. And then my final prediction from last year: Covid variant that is less lethal. (coughs) Omicron! So yeah, I think it's kind of true.

S: You get credit for that that's absolutely.

B: Kind of but it's still kind of like not a hard prediction to make, cause you know that's kind of the way things go with them.

S: But you did better than, you did better than the vast majority of psychics out there.

B: One in there and that wasn't I wasn't even really trying.

S: All right, Cara.

C: So the first one left intentionally vague: more acres will burn world wide that in any other modern recorder year.

B: Ok.

E: Is that true?

C: So it looks like in the US the number is slightly down although when did the Colorado fires start? Technically was that 2021 or 2022?

E: 21 I believe.

C: Yeah, I don't think that any of that has been added to 2021 calculations yet. But, I did say worldwide and I cannot find a total number yet, maybe it's because we're only six days into the next year. But I am seeing that there are places across the world that records have been set. In Russia, in Turkey, in Greece, in Italy, in Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Israel, Cyprus, North Africa we are seeing record wild fire seasons. So I think the jury is still out on the physical number of acres, but I'm you know I gonna say I'm mostly right because we're seeing wildfire records across the globe.

E: Agreed.

C: Sales on home gym equipment will reach an all-time high. So, as I started to research this I was saddened when I found an article in the Washington Post about Peloton. Peloton feels the burn as Americans head back to the gym, their shares slump more that 35% but then, sales of home gym fitness equipment in 2021 are still up about a 100% over 2019. Roughly 20% over last year, and I'm seeing a global figures that the compound annual growth rate of gym equipment sales is 2.8%, so we are up over all previous years this year.

B: I bought one, I bought something in 2021 as well. And it's kicking my butt.

C: What did you get, did you get a [inaudible].

B: It's an elliptical with arm bars. This one after five minutes, granted I haven't done any serious cardio in a month. So for me that's a long time but five minutes and I can't even, I can barely talk.

C: (laughs)

B: This is really, like this is like─

J: Wow Bob.

B: This is like your legs are really you're forced, your legs are forced to go really high and it's fantastic. So I'm really looking forward to really building up the minutes every day cause this is like a such a good cardio.

E: Not really exercising unless you feel you're damaging yourself.

C: Yeah, totally. And thank you for contributing to my prediction Bob. And then: a great political mind will unexpectedly die. Did anybody unexpectedly, Desmond Tutu died, right?

S: They were all old.

C: I know! (laughs) But there are a lot of great political minds that died.

S: But none of them, none that I would say were unexpected.

C: I don't, I'm gonna keep googling, prove you guys wrong.

[talking over each other]

S: Find it, do it, do it.

C: (laughs)

S: All right Jay, what were your three, you got four actually.

J: All right so the first one I said: it will be reveled that Trump leaked US secrets to foreign interests. I don't believe that is correct.

E: I don't recall that.

S: Yeah, I don't think there's any new revelations.

C: Yeah, what about the Haitian president who was shot last year?

S: Was he a great political mind?

C: Well... did I say great or did I say political?

S: You said great political mind.

C: Well, influential. Great is a very subjective term.

S: Yeah.

E: Agree with that.

C: There you go, sorry Jay, go ahead.

J: All right so I don't think I was correct abut the Trump leaving secrets. I said cryptocurrency used as main currency.

C: (laughs)

J: I'm giving myself a hit on that one because people are using a lot more people are using cryptocurrency as a way to pay for legitimate goods. Some websites I noticed this year take cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency has been added to Venmo it's been added to PayPal.

C: But what is it account for like 0.2% of currency transactions?

J: I didn't give a percent.

C: (laughs) I'm sure it's very low.

S: If one person use it to buy something Jay was correct.

J: To be fair, I actually was thinking exactly what happened cause I pretty much knew it was gonna happen. Let's move on to the next one: China will crack down on protestors in Hong Kong using open lethal force. They didn't openly used lethal force on the protestors─

E: They cracked down on.

C: Oh yeah they're cracking down.

J: ─but they did, they did cracked down like crazy but they did say that they could use, the navy could use lethal force against water based.

B: So the protestors at sea?

J: No but they did say that, whatever I was wrong.

C: So Jay, what's the lesson here, they all too specific?

J: No I mean I'm trying to pick things to be specific. You know what I mean.

E: That's why I like our predictions, right.

S: Good level of specificity.

J: One more, one more arguably most important prediction I made is that beards will go out of style.

C: I think beards were at an all time high in 2021.

J: They were at an all time freaking high.

C: (laughs)

E: My beard never grew longer.

J: You know what it is Cara, I'm a visionary, I just I was too early.

S: You were year ahead. All right well let's see.

Rogues' predictions for 2022 ()[edit]

Steve's predictions[edit]

S: All right so quickly guys who's gonna read through our predictions for 2022 we'll go in the same order so I'll start. Prediction #1 A new social media fad will sweep the world largely ignored by anyone who matters. (laughter)

B: Oh boy.

E: Already a hit.

S: Item #2 Astronomers will detect a third extra solar object in the vicinity of our solar system spawning another round of speculation about alien origins. And item #3 so that's a real and very specific prediction. Item #3 A book about predicting the future will be published this fall taking the world by storm.


J: That took me a second Steve.

B: That's ridiculous. That's ridiculous.

E: You've lost your mind sir.

B: Like who the hell would wrote that.

C: I hope that one happened.

S: That's a high probability prediction. All right Evan.

Evan's predictions[edit]

E: #1 175 Zettabyte of data.

B: Wow.

E: Which is expected, which we're expected to reach world wide by 2025 will actually occur by the end of 2022. three years ahead of schedule.

B: Wow I like this one, all right, all right.

E: Ok, we're not at the yottabyte yet Bob, sorry. I tried, I tried to go yottabyte I just couldn't do it.

B: Getting there my friend.

E: 2030 they're thinking. #2: 1 billion dollars or more in cryptocurrency theft in 2022. Now that's actually a big deal, because this stuff is supposed to be you know pretty locked tight. That you know theft proven in a sense. But I think thieves are gonna get in there and crack it and really open up a billion dollars or more of damage in crypto. #3 An AI designed drug will be clinically tested on humans.

C: Oh cool, that's fun.

E: There you go, three predictions for 2022.

S: Good job, all right Bob.

B: I will say that a new hominid scull will be discovered. Brand stinking new.

C: Oh like not just another hominid scull but a whole new species?

B: A whole new, yes, yeah.

C: Ok, we will definitely discover a hominid scull.

B: So human a human like an along that line you know human ancestor type.

E: Homo Bobificus.

B That'd be cool. And then prediction #2 Avatar 2 which will release in 2022 will suck.


J: Bob why would you, why, why would you say that?

E: Awesome. Bob I love it.

B: I say that, I say that for one reason, I don't even necessarily believe it. But I loved Avatar it was so cool and it's been way too long Cameron, way too long.

C: He's doing his research.

B: You know talking about striking when the iron is at─

J: Ice cold?

B: ─at zero degrees Celsius─

E: Kelvin.

B: ─or even worse. Kelvin. So yeah like dude, what are you doing? But, you know that said I mean it's Cameron you know he's been doubted before and this could be you know using all new technology it could be really cool but damn man. Why did it take you so damn long, that's why I'm doing this Jay.

J: Oh I hear you.

B: All right, prediction #3 A Gamma-ray burst will miss the Earth by just 1 light year.

E: Nooo. Nooo.

B: And the question might be, how would we even know? And I've been thinking about that, how would we know? But, I would think that if it was only a light year away, that it would you know we would just the way we could see a light beam, a lazor beam by it's igniting things in it's path.

S: It'll light up the Oort cloud?

B: Or yeah it'll light up something that then will spew light in our direction and let us see, oh boy something's happening. But so that'd be you know, thought that was a fun prediction, so gamma-ray burst by one light year. If it's 1.2 light years them I'm wrong.

S: All right, Cara.

C: Ok, man, mine are all not as specific as yours (laughs).

E: You went the fortune cookie route?

C: Yeah I think so, ok. 2022 will not be the year we return to 'normalcy' that is what life was life pre-pandemic we will adjust to a new normal in which handshakes are no longer expected, vaccination proof is required and wearing masks in public is a common practice as has been the case for decades in many Asian countries. All of 2022. #2 Somewhere in the world a major city will be plagued by drought and extreme storm and an outbreak of a deadly disease all within the same month.

E: That's pretty specific.

C: Yeah, ok, it's specific, but I think it's also high probability sadly.

E: Same month though that's what makes it tight.

C: Yeah, yeah yeah yeah I think it could happen. Ok and the #3 Income inequality in America will continue to widen and the world's richest 1% will accumulate more wealth than any other time in the history of democracy matching only number seen during historical aristocratic oligarchies.

S: Ok.

J: I like it.

E: I like it but...

C: I don't know how I'm gonna research that but I think I'm gonna have to.

S: Start researching it now.

C: Exactly (laughs).

S: All right Jay.

J: I have a the Supreme Court in the United States will overturn Roe v. Wade.

B: Aaaah.

C: Oh god Jay!

E: What are you doing Jay.

B: Uff, that hurts man, that's worse than Avatar 2.

S: What are the odds.

J: I actually think it's gonna happen, I'm making a legitimate prediction there. AI will discover a new drug that's useful. I do wanna to say new drug.

S: It sounds like Evan's prediction.

C: Hasn't that already happened?

E: A little.

J: That's my weak one.

C: But another new one, ok.

J: I have another one that's along the same lines. CRISPR will cure a horrible disease.

S: Mhm.

B: All right.

J: It that ok Steve?

S: Ok.

J: You're all right with that one?


J: And I have last one here.

E: Uu, special.

J: Either Bitcoin or Ethereum will significantly increase in value.

C: Everyone loves a Bitcoin predictions. Those are like some of the most common ones to look up when I was─

B: Oh yeah?

C: ─trying to see, yeah, like, year in reverse 2021 predictions everybody had their Bitcoins all over the place. Some people thought it was gonna hit like 300 000.

J: Yeah I know, I know, the things that I've been reading about 2022 for a legitimate prediction that somebody is making right now along with a lot of horrible predictions about how it's gonna completely crash and burn. One person did say that Bitcoin is gonna hit a 100 000.

C: Was it, what was it's high? 50, 50 000?

E: 60 000.

S: Yeah 50-60.

C: I think so.

J: Yeah about that.

C: Yeah, ok. All right, these were good.

News Items[edit]

S: All right we're gonna try to churn away through a few news items starting with you Jay, you're gonna tell us about the space highlights for 2022.

Space Highlights for 2022 (42:35)[edit]

J Yes, these are not any kind of a you know predictions, there's no psychic ability here, this is just reality. Looking at 2021, we had a great year, right, for space exploration, I thought it was very exciting, you know, other than the Moon missions it was probably the best year we've had in a long time. And when I say the moon missions I'm going back to the original Apollo Moon missions, I think that this past year has been incredibly successful and very very exciting. So we had a launch of the Webb space telescope

E: Yey! (claps)

J: ─you know as we speak it has unfurled all of its heat shields ad the main telescope is being unfolded.

S: It's unfolded, it is unfolded. It's done.

J: It has successfully unfolded. Good, ok so that's so it's jumped through a lot of the 350 you know danger hoops that it had to go through. It's going pretty far along.

B: (laughs) Danger hoops!

J: We had two rovers landing on Mars.

E: Oh yeas.

J: And one of the rovers launched that drone many many many times and they were flying a drone you know a vehicle on another planet.

E: A helicopter, that's right.

J: A flying vehicle on another planet. Just so cool.

E: So cool.

B: Mars, the planet of robots.

J: SpaceX had it's first crew docking with the ISS. That's a big deal.

B: Yeah, that's pretty big.

E: Yes, it is.

J: First commercial company kicking the ass of outer space and sending people up there and bringing them back safely. This was the SpaceX Crew-2. Other commercial flights happened as well. So we had billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson you know this crew. Love him or hate him, both flew their ships to very high altitudes and another billionaire stayed aboard the ISS as a guest, did you guys know about that?

B: Wait.

C: No.

E: Yes. I did.

B: A billionaire?

E: Japanese billionaire?

J: I think it was a Japanese billionaire. Stayed aboard the ISS as a guest. Payed big bucks to get up there.

C: For how long?

J: I don't remember. I don't know.

B: 5 minutes?

J: Should we look it up Steve?

C: I wonder how he handled it.

E: Yeah, interesting.

C: Like, I hear it's horrific the smell when you first walk into that place.

J: Oh yeah, without a doubt.

B: No way. Don't they have like a...

J: It's a toilet.

C: Stiflingly bad.

J: Yeah, it's tough.

B: Wow, what a, that would be a bummer. Like you're so excited and like oh this smells like crap.

C: Yeah hopefully they really like managed the expectations on a few things.

B: Still I would be, I would be so excited.

J: So 2022 guys, so here's what is on the books right now, so two giant rockets are scheduled to have their first flight into space, so we have NASA's long awaited Space Launch System or SLS. And then we also have this SpaceX Star ship. So the SLS system was built to take crew and cargo to other planets, that's from the ground up, they said this is what we're gonna use it for. These rockets are crazy expensive and can only be used once. The first flight is supposed to take the Orion One capsule around the Moon and back to Earth. This is called the Artemis One mission and this is an unmanned mission that is a test for the eventual manned Moon mission coming in a few years, we don't know how many but it's definitely not 2024. This mission is slated for March or April and that is not far away guys we're gonna have, you know a rocket launch Orion One and it's gonna go around the Moon and it's gonna come back to Earth in the next few months. That is happening. All in preparation for the Artemis Two mission which is bringing people back to the Moon finally and that's gonna be one of the most exciting moments of my life, to be conscious while that happens. Unbelievable. SpaceX Star ship, this is solely built by SpaceX, it's not a group of anything, it's one company, it's fully reusable rocket system. If you're not impressed you should be. That is an amazing technological feat that they pulled off. This rocket is planned to have an uncrewd test flight this year. This is the big one guys. This is the one you know the big silver cadillac looking one. It's gonna enter orbit, it's gonna then splash down near the Hawaiian Islands. That's gonna be you know more of the big test that they do before they you know eventually send this version of it to the Moon. And land people down on the Moon. There are also potentially nine Moon missions coming. These are all from several different countries and private companies. So five of these missions are backed by NASA, one of them is a miniature satellite called CAPSTONE, it's gonna be launched from New Zealand in March. It's goal is to learn about lunar orbit which I think is, you know if you think about like what we have coming they need to know more about lunar orbit. They need to know more information about how to orbit the Moon where you know what the actual orbits are gonna be that they're gonna use by NASA and European Moon base. Very cool stuff. NASA's also sponsoring three missions to the Moon surface. We have a private, private companies are building the equipment for these missions under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Service program and all of this is in preparation again for sending people back to the Moon, so we've got a lot of Moon missions that are gonna be happening this year that are gonna be giving us all the data that we need to make the final plans you know for the Moon mission that's gonna take place hopefully in the next 3 years. India is likely to land lunar rover this summer─

C: That's cool.

J: ─and Russia has plans, I know, right? Like India had a failed rover attempt and I, I guess they, they had another one in the queue so they're gonna, that's gonna happen sometime this summer. Russia has plans to land on the Moon for the first time since 1976. South Korea is planning to ride a SpaceX rocket to the Moon possibly in August. We also have a Japanese private company that's working on landing a craft that is gonna be crying cargo along with the rover to the Moon surface. And of course guys any of these missions could easily not happen. Because of the cost, complexity, whatever, you know how it goes. You know like look what happened with the James Webb telescope like a cable had an issue like a week before they were gonna launch it. These things happen so you never know any of these missions could be scudded in a heartbeat. Another interesting thing that's going on China's been working on it's space station program and plans are in motion right now to add two more modules this year. The space station is starting to come along very nicely, both of these modules will be launched on China's most powerful rocket the Long March 5B. I believe it is called it is pronounced March but I could be wrong. And finally NASA has plans to crush a spacecraft into an asteroid. You guys had to have read about this one.

S: Yeah.

E: Yes. Yes.

C: Yes, so cool.

J: Very very awesome you know this is something that we should've been doing a long time ago. This is called Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART for short. Plans to deliberately crush into the asteroid named Dimorphos, right? A small asteroid that will serve as a test of this new asteroid redirection system. If this system proves to be successful it could be used to redirect asteroid that may actually hit the Earth in the future which you know just to set your mind at ease we don't have any predictions of anything like that happening you know, we're not observing any asteroids that are gonna hit the Earth but we are preparing because statistically it's gonna happen. If we don't have a system in place we're in trouble.

C: And we all know how hast things can change from watching that documentary Don't Look Up [sarcasm].


E: Yes.

C: We must be prepared.

E: Heading for the Earth, buuuut.

J: One interesting thing about the concept with DART is it doesn't have to blow up the asteroid it just has to nudge it. If you go out far enough, you know, you just have to push it a little bit, to get it of the course.

C: Spoiler alert.

J: And that's their goal. Of course, right? (laughter) Just a little nudge.

C: It's all you gotta do.

J: That's all you need to do.

E: You got to catch it early enough, that is the point.

J: So keep your eyes peeled guys, let's look up to the stars in 2022.

E: Yeah, look up.

C: (laughs)

E: Do look up.

S: Lot to look forward to, it's gonna be exciting decade, it really is.

E: Yeah, it will be, space-wise one of the brighter points hopefully.

J: Yep.

Education and Aging Brain (50:07)[edit]

S: All right Cara tell us about the effects of having an education on you aging brain health.

C: Yeah so I got really excited when I came across a write up in neuroscience news but this is a perfect example Steve, and I know that we deal with this all the time on the show. Press release, talking about something that kind of not what the study was about.

S: Yeah.

C: And it like a weirdly incidental and very small finding. So I'll tell you about what the press release built up first and then I'll tell you a little about about the other stuff in the study. So this was a study out of the University of Zürich and it's actually a really interesting thing that they did, they looked at longitudinal data across seven years of a healthy aging cohort of individuals. They looked at 216 healthy and by healthy I mean cognitively healthy older adults their average age was 71 when they started this study and then of course followed them for seven years and really what this was a neuro imaging study. They wanted to look at their brains at several points. They also wanted to do some neuropsychological testing to try and look for correlates between what they saw on neuroimaging, specifically with MRI and performance and they really did focus on processing speed, but anyway, going back to the press release, what the press officer from the University of Zürich highlighted is that there was a significant difference between what was happening on neuroimaging as measured by a lot of little things which we'll explain and somebody's level of education. So, their claim is that higher level of education is more protective against cognitive deficits later in age, but that's as measured by some very specific markers so it's not a direct measurement. They kind of holistically were looking at something called cerebral small vessel disease and cerebral small vessel disease has been identified as sort of these like sub-clinical very often indications of problems withing the vasculature of the brain and they looked specifically at what are called white matter hyper intensities, so again remember this is a neuroimaging study they were literally looking at the spots that glow on fMRI, they're these white matter lesions that are hyper-intense when they look at MRI scans and even though we can't say that white matter hyperintensity means X we can say more of them tends to be correlated with more of these types of problems in brains, like they've been associated with Alzheimer's disease with cognitive decline, etc. So they looked at white matter hyper intensities they looked at normal white matter so just healthy white matter brain. And remember white matter as opposed to grey matter do you guys, not Steve, remember the difference between the two? (laughs) Not Steve. White matter are like the tracks in the brain, those are like the a where the axons are bundled and then grey matter is like the actual cell bodies of the neurons. So white matter is where we see tracks, grey matter is where we see the cell bodies kind of clumped together.

S: That is correct Cara!

C: (laughs)

E: 10 points to Cara.

C: They also looked at, I love that they call it brain parenchymal volume, I was like I think I know what parenchyma is but I had to look it up. Basically just the functional parts of the brain, so neurons and glial cells like the total volume of the actual brain not other structures. And then like I said they measured processing speed using neuropsych assessment. And then they used all sorts of complicated statictics to look at all these different covariates and say ok, from baseline to seven years later across all of these different measurements what can we say about this group of people we were testing? And so the thing that they wrote the write up about is that hey, people who had more education tended to have lower levels of white matter hyper-intensities, fewer lacunes, they call them lacunes, but I always heard them called lacuna.

S: lacuna.

B: Yeah. Me too.

C: Like with an 'a'.

S: Lacunes or lacuna, either way.

C: Yeah, I googled it─

S: Lakuner─

B: Matata,

S: Is the adjective.

C: Like the world apparently was lacune first which means lake and we would say lacunar stroke or lacunar scheme or whatever and yeah, now we say lacuna but, so basically the world, that world comes from the world for lake so it's like these little pockets of CSF where where used to be tissue. And there's no tissue anymore. So usually it's gonna be where there was an infarct or there was some sort of necrotic damage and basically the tissue is no longer there and it's just filled in with CSF. And so they found that the higher academic background was as they say protective against these markers of age related cognitive decline and remember this is in a group of people who didn't have dementia these were like healthy aging individuals. I struggle with the world 'protective' because there's no way to know the causal direction here. All they know is that people who tended to not have as severe small vessel disease markers were also people who tended to have more education. But we have no idea if people chose to get more education because they were already tending towards educational interests, right? Or whether the education itself was protective, are these people, is there a neurological reason, is there a psychological reason is there an intellectual reason. But we do now that there is a correlation and I think that's the important thing to note. But this is unsurprising to me, because as anybody who studied neuropsychology or neurology knows in the event of a severe brain injury, or actually I shouldn't say severe, but mild to moderate let's say traumatic brain injury, the most protective factor, the most, the best predictor of a possibly good outcome is your pre-morbid functioning. Right? Like were you already highly intelligent, did you already have good processing speed, were your cognitive levels already high, if so, it's gonna be more predictive of you doing well after an injury. So it's unsurprising that somebody who's highly educated is also more predictive this sort of sub-clinical vascular damages. But they also looked at other stuff and I think that's actually were there's a lot of kinda of interesting stuff in the paper. Like they found that anti hypertensive drugs were associated with fewer lacuna both in number and volume. Ad they also found that anti-hypercholesterolemic drugs actually were associated with higher processing speed. And that's kind of weird at first blush because if you think about it, you're like well people need to take anti-hypercholesterolemic and anti-hypertensive are dealing with heart issues and cholesterol issues. So why would they actually have better processing speed and fewer number of basically these like brain infarcts. But then, you think ok, well we know that these drugs are actually protective against stroke, so it could be that, you know the fact that they'd been on them for a while was actually protecting their brains over time. So that's kind of interesting.

S: Well this is, this is interesting outcome, but it's confounding factors galore with this study.

C: I mean as most longitudinal studies have.

S: Yeah, but this is, there's a lot of plausible things that could be going like very plausible factors that could be involved here. For example, as you say the higher you are, the more reserve you have, the further you have to fall, but that means that, as you loose function, you build up your muscle, if you get a muscle wasting disease, you'll be stronger for longer cause you have more reserve. It's the same thing if you build up your cognitive function though use and education etc. then as you start to loose functionality, cognitive functionality, cause you have Alzheimer's disease or whatever. It won't become as symptomatic for longer because you have more reserve you have more function to fall back on. But also we know that control in your blood pressure is probably the single most important thing you could do for your cognitive function long term medically.

B: Really?

S: And yeah, absolutely and the thing about blood pressure it could correlate with a number of things here.

C: Oh yeah, hugely.

S: Just taking good care of yourself, maybe people who are academic have less stressful lives, I don't know, it could be versus people who don't.

C: Or maybe they're more educated on the fact that taking care of your blood pressure could be you know protective.

S: Yeah, right, right, exactly, and also you can make a plausible argument that being intellectually stimulated recruits more neurons and they could literally just could stave off you the pruning you know of your neurons. Loss of cells.

C: And I think, and the thing is too they didn't actually look at disease process, so that's the other important thing, we're looking at cognitively healthy individuals. They removed anybody from the study that had indications of dementia, so they weren't looking at the protective factors of education on dementia, on abnormal cognitive function. They were only looking at healthy cognitive decline.

S: Yeah, just healthy, just healthy aging. Which has a huge range.

C: Huge range and again, education in it of itself has co many confounds, you know is somebody who chooses to get a higher level education already educationally oriented. It's very hard to know, do people go to college and get upper level degrees because they're smart and because they're interested in these things or do they become smart and interested in these things through the educational process. I don't think you could tease those apart.

S: Probably both, yeah exactly.

Ramjet Physics (1:00:08)[edit]

S: All right Bob, you're gonna tell us about the physics of Ramjets.

B: Yes, so interstellar travel technology in the news recently and that means you're gonna hear about it from me. So this time it's the famous Bussard ramjet that uses a magnetic field to scoop up hydrogen in space to travel ultimately at decent fraction of the speed of light. The maths and theory behind this potential tech was reassessed recently using modern ideas in technology and the researchers claim the classic good news bad news scenario, so the only difference this time around is that I'll give you this good/bad news in any damn order that I please. I'm not gonna say: 'what do you want first?', in fact, I haven't even decided yet. We shall see which comes first. Ok, so this assessment of the feasibility of the sci-fi tech was led by Peter Schattschneider, he's a physicist and material science specialist with University of Vienna. And also a science fiction author, which is a cool and awesome actually combination of skill sets. He also is parted with Albert A. Jackson who is a physicist with the Texas-based aerospace company Triton Systems. All right, so their study in entitled The Fishback ramjet revisited which will appear in the scientific journal Acta Astronautica in February 2022. All righty then, so the story starts with a physicist, he's name is Robert W. Bussard, he's proposal paper in the 60s titled Galactic Matter and Interstellar Flight outlined the now famous Bussard collector, Bussard ramjet, this Ramjet propulsion which I just basically, which I briefly described above. So, now in the interview, he was interviewed I think it was 2007 about his famous idea from the 60s and he said that he was having dinner, it came to him when he was having dinner but it came to him from the frustration that interstellar travel with rockets requires that 'you have to carry all your reactive propellant onboard', right? Steve, Jay, oh my god, that's it. So this means, that you need, you need [inaudible] spaceships to hold all the fuel that you want, if you wanna do things like accelerate for a long time. You're gonna need─

E: That means very big ships.

B: ─crazy amount of fuel to do that with conventional fuel. And then of course you'll need more fuel to push that extra fuel and so on and on recursively.

S: The tyranny of the rocket equation.

B: Rocket, exactly. So now this was especially poignant for the scientists in the 60s, because in the 60s they were also designing this famous nuclear rockets that were coming within the realm of possibility for our technology, like the Daedalus Concept. Which I'm sure you guys have heard of. So they were talking about these nuclear rockets that and also, what could they do? You know we could almost build these things it's not something that's far out of our reach, what can they do? So they designed them and they were wonderful but they were big, even these nuclear engines were gargantuan cause even they would need a lot of fuel.

E: Was it the size of a city or something?

B: No not, not that big, but I saw a Daedalus next to a Saturn V and it looked like, it looked like a pro wrestler next to a baby. It was as big as a Saturn V was, the Daedalus was gargantuan. Many, many times bigger. Just really, just like, you know, nuts. You know, not undoable but just like way too big. So Bussard then thought, why, why bother to carry fuel when the fuel is sitting out there in the spaces between the stars, as he, and I'm still quoting him, it's hydrogen, what do the stars run on - the fusion of hydrogen. So that was kind of like the genesis of his idea. And from there he envisioned his Ramjet, with huge magnetic fields in front capturing the free and sparse hydrogen that's in the ISM or the interstellar medium. It's just there waiting, you know, waiting for us to grab. It's very sparse but then you know you have a big enough magnetic field, you could grab enough of it to make a difference.

E: A collector, yeah.

B: So what would happen though is those protons would the follow the field lines down more and more constricted pathways in the ever narrowing throat of the field, the magnetic field. Until fusion occurs. And then the magnetic field could then direct the titanic energy that's liberated in that process and direct it as the thrust of the rocket exhaust. Bam! There you go, there's your Bussard ramjet. I've heard, I've heard estimates that people say that could potentially get to a 10% of a speed of light or 20% of the speed of light. People have talked about it for decades. And a, but that's particular part of the story is not over because nine years later John Fishback, MIT researcher really, really dived into the possibility of this magnetic field. He created a paper titles Relativistic interstellar spaceflight so he described the idea of this magnetic scooping mathematically and theoretically for the first time and really gave it a real solid scientific treatment of this idea and said this could work. So since then sci-fi writers loved the idea and so many sci-fi and just science and space fans are familiar with this Bussard Ramjet. Larry Niven used it in some of his stories. Vernor Vinge used it, Poul Anderson used it, he used a Ramjet idea in his novel Tau Zero and Steve, Sagan mentioned it, not only in Cosmos but also in a paper that he wrote so I remember hearing about this in, when was that, the 70s? I mean, we've known about this for so long.

E: Mid 70s, yep.

B: It's always been kind of out there, like oh, what a great idea, that's maybe not too far away. So more than a, half a century though has passed since then, it's been a lot of decades, and except for a couple of papers in the early seventies, no-one's really done a deep dive that I'm aware of, on this idea just to see, all right, is this still a viable idea. So of course until now. That's why we're even here today. So this new analysis uses this Fishback's paper that I mentioned, used his paper as a starting point and that's why the new researchers called it the Fishback ramjet revisited, cause they're revisiting his technical treatment of this whole idea of a magnetic field scooping up hydrogen in this Ramjet. So they used software that was developed at the University of Vienna and it wasn't made for this purpose, it was made for calculating electromagnetic fields in electron microscopy. So great alternative use for that new software. So what do they find? So I'll start with the good news, you know I would start there, cause that's kind of like makes sense. Good news is that a static, slowly changing magnetic field much like what Fishback envisioned back then. It really could funnel interstellar protons into a fusion reactor. There's really nothing wrong with the science that says the magnetic field can't do that. So this would allow then ultimately if this whole thing worked, what the idea is that you would allow long-term acceleration at a comfortable 1g, 1 Earth gravity, right, just keep accelerating not, it's not onerous cause you live in 1g you're entire life, if you're sending people. And you could eventually attain relativistic speeds in a reasonable amount of time and travel amazing distances if you could keep up that acceleration then you could attain amazing velocities. All else being equal. of course that's something that you can't do with conventional rockets fuel, you can't cause you would just need way too much, you can't continue that acceleration for that long. Just not really possible. Not practical at all. Unless you wanna pillage an entire Solar system of hydrogen, get to Jupiter and Saturn and even the Sun and get all your fuel. I mean it's ridiculous, it's just ridiculous, there's gotta be a better way, and this is Bussards really his whole goal here. The problem though is this - who has a guess?

J: Is it like, is it ones you've captured the fuel like it has to be funneled into a collection device and then you have to compress it, right?

B: Yeah, that's not the problem, the problem is, the actual magnetic field itself. The actual field. The field would work, but actually the field is still ultimately the huge problem. So that's, so here's why. To create the thrust of about 10 million N, which is a lot of Fig Newton cookies, twice that main propulsion of the space shuttle. So that's you know twice the space shuttle that's not crazy, that's that's not you it's kind it sounds reasonable. To do that, to create that thrust with the Ramjet you would need a magnetic field that is 4000 km or 2485 miles in diameter.

E: How, what's the diameter of the Moon?

B: So it's 2000 miles.

E: Right.

B: It's about as wide, right, it's about roughly the width of the United States. But, that's not even the worse of it, that's nothing. You know how long it would need to be? 1 AU.

J: What!?

B: A 150 million km, 93 million miles.

E: 93 million miles.

B: The distance from the Earth to the Sun, that's what the equations are showing.

J: That's a deal-breaker.

B: Yeah...

E: (laughs)

J: Like we don't even need to talk further about it from here on we could just stop talking.

B: Yes, but and if didn't have some interesting stuff to say Jay I would stop right now.


B: And, and a but Jay you what I was thinking at this point, I'm thinking of these, these protons being caught into the [inaudible] of this gargantuan magnetic field and then traveling 93 million miles and you know what song pops into my mind? Down down to fusions town, ble ble blah.

J: (laughs)

B: Ok, so the basic reason why this is such a problem is this and this is interesting. Because think about it. [Jay is laughing still] You like that Jay?

J: That was awesome.

B: The faster you go, right, you're going faster and faster, accelerating at 1g for days, weeks, months, years. The faster you go, the stronger the magnetic field is gonna you need to be. Right, the stronger that field needs to be, to keep the protons properly aligned. Otherwise there just not gonna go down down the fusion town, right, there's just not, so it's gotta be, it's gotta be increasingly more powerful. But, the strong field, the stronger the magnetic, the magnetic field the more the mechanically stressors are. So then you beef up your mechanical materials, your materials, the ship itself essentially and the technology. You make it stronger but when you do that you're adding a lot of weight and when you add a lot of weight you slow down your acceleration. That means this, that you have this balancing act between needing a strong magnetic field and a strong ship to fly apart, right? So that this balancing act means that any Bussard Ramjet that we can conceive can only accelerate at 1g for an onboard flight time of 3 years. That's it, you could only do 3 years, which would get you about 10 light years. And because after that point acceleration would have to drop, or the source of the magnetic field would just blow apart. So you could accelerate for 1g for 3 years and that's great but that's it, you can't go any, you can't continue accelerating, because then the field would have to be stronger and stronger and your ships wouldn't be able to handle it. And that stinks, but think about it though, that's still pretty damn sweet, cause you're accelerating at 1g for 3 years, that's fantastic. Especially if you just compared flat out to conventional rocketry, that's amazing, cause there is no rocket that we would ever build, conventional rocket, that could accelerate at 1g for 3 years. Not gonna happen. You definitely have to not carry your source of your fuel with you if you wanna do that.

S: Yeah, my money is on solar sails for interstellar travel.

B: Yeah, exactly, and that's gonna be Steve what the, the first time we really can create any sort of interstellar you know nano-craft is gonna be something like that. But but the researches are not saying this is impossible though, it's kind of interesting maybe too for us and our next ten generations, but they did say this however in their paper: 'The construction problem addressed here, in combination with the revised cut-off speed, puts the interstellar ramjet in the realm of extremely advanced engineering physics. It is very unlikely that even Kardashev Civilizations of type II might build ramjets.' Type II, so now we've talked about this on the show, Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev theorized a type II civilization that can harness most of their local Sun's power, right? And of course, we're not even level I civilization yet, we're like a, I think I read somewhere like a 0.7 or something silly. So we are so far away from being able to build a Bussard ramjet as it was conventionally conceived in the 60s. Of being able to for example travel to the center of our Galaxy within a human lifetime is not gonna happen. There's some huge limitations on the magnetic field that we won't be able to overcome with any technology that we could possibly conceive yet. So our descendants will be able to maybe build one I think they're just have much better idea than this ramjet. But so yeah, so another bit of fun technology that we've all kind of hoped for for many decades is kinda shut down for the most part but still the science is fascinating and if you can get of on the science a little bit it maybe prevent some tears.

S: Right so no ramjets. At least not anytime soon.

Elizabeth Holmes Guilty of Fraud (1:13:32)[edit]

S: Ok Evan tell us about Elizabeth Holmes guilty conviction.

E: Yeah Elizabeth Holmes, we know her, she was the chief executive officer of Theranos a health technology company that, you know became quite famous and had high evaluation, they claimed to have revolutionized blood testing by developing methods that could use very small volumes of blood, just a finger prick worth of blood and make all kinds of tests, hundreds, you could analyze hundreds of tests using their very small machine. Totally revolutionary. Well, Yeah, didn't turn out. i fact it was a fraud and the company had to shut down obviously in 2018 when it was revealed as such. There were news investigations on them, there were whistleblowers combination of things an they all came crushing down and then came the criminal charges, so a jury just a few days ago found her guilty of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. These verdicts pretty much sealed her downfall and you know she was really, really hyped up as, well, the youngest billionaire. At least on paper at the time in the mid 2010s when Theranos was thriving with investors. And in a few short years it all went to less then 0. The jury deliberated 50 hours over 7 days, it was a jury of 8 men and 4 women. They convicted Holmes on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for lying to investors about the devices that were developed by Theranos. Now she was also found not guilty on four other fraud-related charges connected to allegations that she duped patients who received false or faulty results from the tests that were conducted by the Theranos machines. And the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict of three other counts which were also tied to investor fraud. So guilty on four of the eleven counts.

C: So is the idea that they couldn't prove or they didn't have enough evidence to support the fact that she didn't defraud patients or that she actually didn't defraud patients? So I'm pretty sure she defrauded patients.

E: She was not the, right, that was not, basically right, that it was not, she was not responsible for the false and faulty tests. You could, it could not pin it on her specifically.

C: Hmmm.

S: Yeah it's hard to know and I haven't you know read any legal analysis that would parse whether this was decided on narrow legal grounds or on basic principles. But it's it's bad optics when she was convicted of fraud for defrauding the rich investors but not the everyday consumers, right. Certainly doesn't, doesn't look good. If you wanna be optimistic though we can look at this decision as affirming some important general principles. You know it's generally really hard to convict people of fraud. The standard's really high, you have to prove what their intent was and that there was actual harm and there's lots of ways to defend yourself against it. And Holmes had a very sophisticated defense as you might imagine they tried to mitigate their guilt in numerous numerous ways. But one thing that was, I thought was good, was that they decided that the fact that she may or may not have believed her own hype was irrelevant. And that's important, cause whether or not you believe your false claims does not protect you from fraud.

C: Yeah, just cause you defrauded yourself, didn't mean you also didn't defraud a bunch of other people.

S: Yeah, exactly. You are still obligated to do due diligence to make sure that your claims are reasonable and are truthful. And having like no consideration for the truthfulness of your claims whether or not you believe them you know can still constitute commercial fraud. That's I think very very important principle. So will see, you know will see if this changes anything a lot of people are saying this is the culture of Silicon Valley, I would say it's the culture of America generally just sort of fake it till you make it sort of thing. But where's the line between a little bit of advertising hype, you know a little bit of self promotion and out right fraud. It's I think deliberately very fuzzy. And i think a lot of people hide behind the self promotion or commercialization angle. But really you're still obligated not to directly lie to consumers.

C: But it will because A - it sets a precedent and B - it is punitive. Like, she will not be able to just do another quick startup and do this all over again cause people'll be like, wasn't she the one who was convicted of fraud? And that's important because if you went on trial and you were not convicted, you see this all the time. People go right back into business. Do we know what her sentence was? Has she been sentenced yet?

E: No, it's gonna take a few months before the judge, before the judge hands down sentence. There is not mandatory minimum sentence for theses charges, so they're saying there is a change she can get away with zero jail time frankly. Technically speaking she is going, there are sentences about fines, there's 250 000 per count plus restitution. So this will, you know if she's not already bankrupt, she'll be bankrupt by this so she'll have...

C: Yeah but that's kind of messed up, because all of her restitutions gonna go towards her investors which means that later when there's civil suits again her from the actual individuals she defrauded, she won't be able to pay them.

E: And for the counts that they could not reach and were basically, the jury was hung on those, the government can retry. So there's question as to whether they will try again to bring her up on these charges in the future. You know, if you haven't seen it, I recommend watching the HBO documentary about this, it is called The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley it came out in 2019 I watched it at the time, I watched it again last night to prepare a little bit more for what I was gonna be talking about today. It is a quite insightful. And you know hey thank goodness for whistleblowers I mean is really what it comes down to. Without the whistleblowers inside really telling us the truth about what's going on who know how much further this fraud would─

C: Yeah this was company employees, right?

E: It was.

C: Yeah, individuals.

Who's That Noisy? (1:20:02)[edit]

Answer to previous Noisy:
Hydroelectric plant

S: All right Jay it's 'Who's That Noisy?' time.

J: All right, guys, several weeks ago I played this noisy [increasing, crackling noises] All right, so, what is that?

C: A poltergeist.

J: (laughs) a poltergeist, a poltergeist mowing a lawn, right?

C: First I thought it was a toilet, first it sounded like a toilet full of marbles being flushed.

J: Totally.

C: But then it became very ghost like.

E: So to me it kinda sounded like a jackpot machine, you know slot machine paying off with the first few coins dropping and then as the coins pile up it muffles the sound of the rest of the coins all piling up on.

J: Well we got listener named Adam Hill wrote in, he said: 'Nut harvester? Love you all and good luck with JWST.' What's JWST?

C: James Webb Space Telescope.

J: How would I not know that? Thank you Adam. (laughter) I though he was like being funny here. All right so James Growe wrote in and said: 'Jay, you said last weeks wasn't any kind of gun' - this is the guy that wrote in the word 'gun' by the way, remember that guy? The nail gun and he writes in the word gun and I thought like you know, not gonna get a lot one word like e-mail, so he goes 'Jay, you said last weeks wasn't any kind of gun, but I think nail gun is kind of a gun so I should get partial credit.'. And I'm gonna say, James, you threw me on my side a little bit with the one word e-mail but you're correct it was a kind of gun, you were correct, I just thought that was funny, he was like GUN, that was his e-mail. He said that this week he thinks it's coffee beans preferably marley lively up dark roast, I don't what that's probably a brand that he likes. He says 'being ground in the machine'. So these are coffee beans being ground in the machine. Not a bad guess I will say, you actually sent me more than one word of a guess which I appreciate, but that is not correct. It is not coffee, coffee beans being, coffee I'm sorry seeds being ground, right Bob? Michael Bizerowski, Bizzarewhiskey? Bizzarewhiskey! This guy's last name is Bizzarewhiskey. B-A-Z-A-R-E-W-S-K-Y. He says: 'Hello, I believe this is someone dumping a large number of coins to a coin star machine. Which spins up and starts processing while more are being dumped in.'. Kinda what like what Evan was saying. This is not a coin star machine, but that is an interesting guess, there is that kind of noise towards the beginning, you do hear that, I agree with that.

E: That's what I thought, yeah.

J: So here's the final guess that came in, this was from Jim Kelly he said: 'Hi Jay, this weeks 'Who's That Noisy?' reminds me of the sound made by those little electric race cars that run on the little plastic track that you snap together.'. Guys, do you remember those?

C: Oh yeah.

E: Sure

J: Oh god I love those, I would buy that for my kids right now if I, I don't think they even make those anymore.

C: And then they like fly off sometimes when they go really fast.

J: We used to─

E: Contacts get yeah gonk on them and they don't quite, they go a little bit then they stop moving.

J: When I was a kid, the kind I had, I had a kind where you could change lanes. It was like the tracks had two metal strips on them.

E: Criss-cross, yeah.

J: You could change lanes, not the criss-corss one, you actually push a button on the controller and the car changes lanes. You could pass─

E: Uuu, well like [inaudible].

J: Yes, and then, the track I had, you didn't have to had it make it actual loop, it electrified the tracks so I would literally make ramps and jump the cars off of the track, it was amazing fun.

E: Sure, sure.

J: I miss those. Again no winner though, no winner for last week, I read every single e-mail that came in up until Wednesday, there was no winner, so I wanna tell you what it is and I'm gonna see if I can make it up to you this week. So this noisy is actually, was sent in by a listener named Michelle Hill and this noisy is a hydroelectric turbine. So this is a machine that makes electricity from the passage of water, so let me just play the beginning for you again. It's spinning up there, generating all the electricity that we need for our electric cars. I have never heard one of those before.

New Noisy (1:24:20)[edit]

J: So anyway guys, so this week I dedicate this noisy to Evan, cause I think he's gonna like it.

E: Oh, thank you.

J: And this noisy was sent in by a listener named Alex More.

[vague vocalization, wind, calling]

What is that? All right, so guys my only hint is that this is not a human being. Good luck, have fun. E-mail me at with your guesses, and also I need you to send me in some cool Noisies that you hear. This is how I find most of the Noisies that I play for you guys. I need you to do it for me in 2022.

S: All right. Thanks, Jay.

Questions/Emails/Corrections/Follow-ups (1:25:15)[edit]

Email #1: "Off the Reservation"[edit]

S: One quick e-mail, couple people e-mailed us in response to the previous show, I did use the term "off the reservation." I was referring to I believe Dr Malone, the mRNA researcher who is now like an anti-vaxxer who's opinions are beyond the fringe and I said he is now "off the reservation" and no-one reacted to that or picked up on the fact that, couple people pointed out to us, this is actually a racist phrase, which I accept, when I looked it up, just to see what the background was. And it is a direct reference to American-Indians in a derogatory way basically saying that you they're literally off the reservation there, not where they belong. And that became a negative term to refer to people who are out of bounds. Or have lost their minds. So, you know it's pretty derogatory, I was not aware of this, I used the term just as a phrase, as an idiom without thinking about it's etymology. Of course now it seems obvious, once it's pointed out, so just wanted to say, we try to be careful about this, not to use terms which are insulting or insensitive, and cause there's no reason to. It's easy enough to correct people, point out, yeah I didn't know that, now I'm aware, thanks, I won't do it again.

But you know our language's so littered with idioms and phrases that have you know pretty horrible origin. Seems like every insult or every derogatory comment is based in some history of signaling out a minority or repressed group. It really is incredibly common. So anyway thanks for pointing that out us, we will try to be vigilant about that sort of thing in the future. Feel free to point it out, anything else like that, you know we do like to be aware of the etymology of the origin of the phrases that we use and our vernacular, so we appreciate the feedback.

All right guys, let's go on with Science or Fiction.

Science or Fiction (1:27:27)[edit]

Answer Item
Fiction CERN
Science Prosthetics
Host Result
Steve swept
Rogue Guess

Voice-over: It's time for Science or Fiction.

Item #1: A new study concludes that even the most elite athletes with bilateral amputations running with blade prosthetics have no statistical advantage over non-amputee athletes in the 400m race.[5]
Item #2: A CERN experiment determined that antimatter has a slightly greater response to gravity than matter, with deep implications for cosmology.[6]
Item #3: Scientists have found that MRSA (methicillin resistant Staff aureus) evolved its antibiotic resistance before the use of antibiotics.[7]

S: Each week I come up with three science news items or facts, two genuine and one fake, and then I challenge my panel of skeptics to tell me which one is the fake. You guys ready for this week? This is the first Science or Fiction of the year, three regular news items. Here we go.

All right Jay, you go first.

Jay's Response[edit]

J: All right I'll take these in order. A new study concludes that even the most elite athletes with bilateral amputations running with blade prosthetics have no statistical advantage over non-amputee athletes in the 400m race. I'm confused about that one, was there an idea that they would have a statistical advantage because they're using these special prostetics?

C: Yeah, cause they're adapted just for running.

J: Understood, all right. This is saying that statistically they track the same as non-amputation. Ok, A CERN, this is #2 A CERN experiment determined that antimatter has a slightly greater response to gravity than matter, with deep implications for cosmology. Wow. This to me is profound. If that is true, that is one of the coolest thing I've heard in a very long time. Imagine something, some material in our universe reacting to gravity differently that everything else. That blows my mind, if that is true, my god, I could just. Wow. Ok, let me try move on to #3 here. Scientists have found that MRSA (methicillin resistant Staff aureus) evolved its antibiotic resistance before the use of antibiotics. That is cool too, wow, ok, that is cool. So if it involves, it developed its antibiotic resistance before any use of antibiotics. I mean I don't see why that would be a stretch here. I get the implication. But I could see something like that just developing antibiotic resistance for other reasons. So I'm gonna say that's science. I have no information about the first one, about the blade prosthetics. So I am totally guessing here without much more information. I'm I don't know man, I gotta just say that I highly doubt that anti-matter would be affected differently by gravity than non-anti-matter. As much as I, as we don't know that much about anti-matter I think that one is the fiction.

S: Ok, Evan.

Evan's Response[edit]

E: Yeah, I think I'm leaning towards what Jay is saying here. Um, regarding the bilateral amputation, amputees running with blades prosthetics having no statistical advantage over non-amputees. Now, that could be the only thing in that one that may have bearing, but usually not that subtle about making that kind of distinction and then that becoming the fiction, so just kind of you know an inside analysis there on that one. But I tend to believe that because you know so much goes into running at that level with your entire body, it's not just your legs, there's so much more going on. So I tend to believe that that one is science, how it's expressed. The one about the antimatter though, which obviously I don't know a lot about other than it collides with matter and they destroy each other, except a little bit more matter existed than anti-matter and that's why we have a Universe. That's about all I could maybe say on anti-matter, but having a greater response, slightly greater response, to gravity, than matter, why would that be, why would it have a greater response to gravity? And yeah, so that one does seem to be huge and therefore I think most likely to be fiction. The one about MRSA, yeah, how it would made some sort of natural as it were, resistance to antibiotics prior, I don't have a problem with that one. So I'll go with Jay. CERN one, fiction.

S: Cara, you're next.

Cara's Response[edit]

C: I think I'm gonna go with they guys. Yeah, for a lot of the reasons that were already mentioned, although I do think that a blade prosthetic shoe would give a runner an advantage. I don't think that individuals who lost their feet and use blade prosthetics have an advantage over individuals who didn't have an amputation. Because of all the other factors involved. And I think that MRSA, you know I remember doing a piece on MRSA a long time ago and having to really like driving to my head that this was not an artificial selection function it was natural selection that was accelerated by antibiotic use. So the idea that the gene involved would have randomly mutated before the use of antibiotics it's cool, but it doesn't blow my mind or anything. So I think I have to stick with the CERN one too. It's the least I know about, but definitely the guys make a good argument.

B: And Bob.

Bob's Response[edit]

B: All right so the first one, the running blades was a little surprising cause I thought that there was some advantage there. Just the fact, I mean I've seen people run with those blades and they're, they seem so fast. They do not seem like a hindrance at all. Mainly, it's the way that they can absorb and then release the energy from each step I think better than what human legs can do. Kind of like, kind of like you know what kangaroos do for example. Maybe the fact that, yeah, like Evan said, the term 'statistical advantage' may have some nuance to it I'm not familiar with or maybe the fact that it's a 400m race but when you, if you extend it to say five or six hundred meters then there is an advantage. Or if you go down to 200 or 100 meters then there is an advantage. That wouldn't surprise me. The MRSA one, yeah. That doesn't surprise me either. Sure, they could've just evolved that through some selective pressure of not, you now not dealing with antibiotics but some other, some other bacteria that they constantly fighting and trying to out-battle. But yeah, the CERN one, with the antimatter, that would be huge, I really hope this is true, I've been reading about this for years. It would be dramatic, I don;t think anyone is expecting that to be the case. You know when they really do test it or if they have. I haven't looked at the science news that closely, cause I already, I picked one item very quickly a couple of days ago and I run with it and I didn't look to deep. f this was released today or yesterday I could have missed it, but still, that would be big big. I hope it's true. But I don't think it's true. So I'll say that's fiction as well.

S: All right, you guys are all in agreement so someone's gonna get swept today. I guess we'll take these in order. Let's start with the first one.

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

S: A new study concludes that even the most elite athletes with bilateral amputations running with blade prosthetics have no statistical advantage over non-amputee athletes in the 400m race. You guys all think that this one is science and this one is... science, yep. So a little bit surprising, but the study was done because there is concern that or question about whether or not there is any kind of general advantage using the blade prosthetics in competitive running sports. So they researchers looked at the 400m race and they compared a number of parameters with between non-amputees and people running blade prosthetics. And they found no difference. Essentially for all of the performance measures their performance curves were basically the same so there was no statistical difference between you know how they were performing in either condition. They also looked at some aerobic conditions like outcomes such as oxygenation etc. And those were a little bit worse with the blade prosthetics. So they does appear to be more energy intensive to use the prosthetic then for the non amputees. But yeah, kind of a surprising result, that was not what the researchers were expecting.

C: Right, cause your body didn't evolve a prosthetics. You don't have efficiency built in.

B: Yeah it's just seems unlikely, seems unlikely that the blades would be statistically exactly like if they weren't blades.

S: Well, you know within the sensitivity of the study itself but again remember they did find that the blades had a disadvantage aerobically over a non-amputees so they weren't exactly the same.

All right let's move on to item #2.

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

S: A CERN experiment determined that antimatter has a slightly greater response to gravity than matter, with deep implications for cosmology. You guys all think this one is the fiction and this one is... the fiction! Good job everyone.

B: They already did it?

S: Yes so this is an experiment specifically to answer this question does matter anti-matter respond the same in a gravitational field, and they did, the most sensitive experiment to date looking at anti-protons as their anti-matter and within the very extreme sensitivity of the test they found that here was absolutely no difference. No difference between matter and antimatter. And that is what the standard model predicts, so this yet again more support for the standard model of particle physics.

E: Uff, thank goodness.

B: I'm disappointed and a little happy.

J: Oh god, thank god, cause if it wasn't, if it wasn't that would've mean like, that's like opening up a can of physics worms.

B: That's what we'd want, we want those damn worms.

C: Yeah, you wanna brake the rules a little. That's how we find things out.

B: We have to.

S: Yeah, but this was predicted by the Standard Model.

B: Screw the Standard Model, it's had it day! It's had it's day.

E: Yeah, the Standard Model, yeah.

B: It needs to fall apart now. We need to find those damn cracks, Jesus. But it doesn't account for things like dark, dark matter or you know or big dark matter, huge, like doesn't even account for it, sorry. On the one hand that's good news, means that it clearly is not all encompassing and there's something subtle out there that we need to learn, but we're just not finding it.

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

S: All right all of this means that scientists have found that MRSA (methicillin resistant Staff aureus) evolved its antibiotic resistance before the use of antibiotics this one of course is also science. Very very interesting.

B: Do they know the selective pressure?

S: They do know the selective pressure is here so this actually happened on a specific animal, do you guys know what it is? I wonder if anyone of you had heard about this. It evolved o hedgehogs. That was kind of the headline a lot of the news reporting went with. So hedgehogs have on their skin both a fungus and the MRSA bacteria.

B: Oh they're in battle.

S: And the fungus makes and antibiotic to kill the bacteria and the bacteria evolved resistance to that antibiotic. So that is how MRSA evolved their antibiotic resistance, it was in response to antibiotic, just not a pharmaceutical one due to one made on the fungus on the skin of the hedgehog. Yeah, and they said that about 60% of hedgehogs have this MRSA on their skin so it's extremely, extremely common.

B: That's not good man. That's not good, I've been, my ex-wife is a nurse, I've been hearing about this for years. Not good.

C: What? MRSA and hedgehogs?

B: No, not the hedgehogs, just MRSA.

C: Oh yeah, I had MRSA.

E: Oh yeah, MRSA, you had it, right?

C: Mhm, had it, sucked I had to take 3 different antibiotics, made me super sick. Like the treatment was worse than the disease for me but that's because I had a skin and soft tissue infection. But once it's penetrating, ufff. So long as it's still on your skin, yeah, you're...

S: All right, Evan, give us a quote.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:40:22)[edit]

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.
E. O. Wilson (1929-2021), an American biologist, naturalist, and writer.

E: Ohh, E.O. Wilson, we miss you already, gosh.

S: Yeah, E.O. Wilson. Definitely a great science communicator, my favorite book of his is Consilience, excellent, excellent book, highly recommend it. And I like that quote.

E: It's inspiring, good one for the start of the year I thought.

S: Well thank you all for joining me this week.

J: You got it brother.

C: Thanks Steve.

B: Sure man.

J: Here's to 2022 man.

S: Looking forward to 2022.

S: —and until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

S: Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking. For more information, visit us at Send your questions to And, if you would like to support the show and all the work that we do, go to and consider becoming a patron and becoming part of the SGU community. Our listeners and supporters are what make SGU possible.


Today I Learned[edit]

  • Fact/Description, possibly with an article reference[8]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description




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