SGU Episode 933

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SGU Episode 933
May 27th 2023
933 Atomic Toy.jpg

"The Atomic Energy Lab, featuring jars of uranium, instructions on how to split an atom, and 150 nifty Cold War experiments, promised '50s kids big fun with radioactive materials. What could go wrong?!" [1]

SGU 932                      SGU 934

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

C: Cara Santa Maria

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist

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Show Notes
SGU Forum

Introduction, live streaming, birdseed battles[edit]

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 Saturday, May 20th, 2023, 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: Good afternoon, everyone.

S: ...and George Hrab.

G: Hi, everybody. Yay.

S: Thanks, you all. Thank you all for joining me. So this is a... We're doing this live streaming. This is part of a six-hour live event that we're doing. We're recording a live episode of the SGU. This is our patron thank you live episode. So the SGU really does depend upon the support from our patrons, even more now than really it ever has. And so we obviously appreciate our patrons. We want to give them as much extra stuff as we can. And encourage our listeners to support the SGU.

G: Hey, Steve, before we start, can I say I saw something and I thought of you?

S: Sure.

G: I think you would appreciate this.

S: Go ahead, George.

G: I was out in the woods the other day. I was jogging. There's this lovely path through a portion of Bethlehem that goes through these lovely wooded areas. And I saw a leucistic red-tailed hawk.

S: Cool.

B: Leucistic.

S: Partial leucism?

G: I guess.

J: What does that mean? What is that?

S: It's like albino.

G: It's like albinism, but I guess it doesn't affect the eyes and some other portions. So you have this red-tailed hawk that was just solid white. This beautiful, broad-chested bird was up in the tree there. And there were a couple other bird people that were there looking at the bird. We were walking by.

S: Did you get a picture?

G: I did not get a picture.

B: But no red tail?

G: No red tail, no. Because it's all sort of washed out from the... But they said, yeah, that's a leucistic red-tailed hawk. I thought Steve would know what that is.

J: That's cool. Did you get a picture of it?

G: I did not get a picture of it. Either time.

S: I mean, yeah, you see them occasionally. I had a male cardinal coming to my feeder that had partial leucism for a while. They don't live that long. For a couple of years I would see him coming. Then there was another one that was a... It wasn't leucism. It was a, I forget the term now. Some of the females have like a mutation on one of the sex chromosomes. And so they get like this mosaic pattern on their feathers. Yeah, they look really, really cool. Our mother is enjoying a bird feeder she has now. She's learning the joy of dealing with squirrels, who are just unstoppable.

B: Just yesterday, just yesterday, the squirrel showed up and we're watching it. Like, oh my, look at this guy going through the gyrations. How do I get those seeds? And it climbs the pole and it starts sliding down. Because I guess the pole is like a wrought iron and twisted. It starts sliding down. And it just tried all these methods to get to the seeds. And it found two really good methods.

G: They'll figure it out.

B: Oh my God.

S: You have to get the squirrel proof feeders where any weight on the rim and it closes the opening. So, it works. That was the only thing that's worked.

G: You've seen that YouTube guy who did the 10 step squirrel challenge thing?

J: Yes, I saw that.

IC: Mark Rober.

B: That was amazing.

G: Yes, it was so interesting. And they figured it out. Those little buggers just step by step by step figure it. I think it was 10 challenges they had to get through to get to the peanuts or the seeds. It was amazing. Absolutely problem solving.

S: And smarter than the squirrels are the raccoons.

J: Oh yeah.

E: We talked about that on the show.

J: They have hands.

S: They have hands. They have an opposable thumb.

G: They text.

C: Squirrels have hands.

S: Well, but they don't have the dexterity that raccoons have.

C: True.

B: More paws than hands.

S: So, we finally got all of our feeding apparatuses squirrel proof. And then the raccoons come in and they broke everything that we had.

B: Next level.

J: Wait, there's a story here. The squirrels, they couldn't get it. So, the squirrels are like, I'm going to call my third nephew.

G: I know a guy. Wait a minute. I know a guy.

J: My uncle Joey. Uncle Joey, bring [inaudible].

S: Bring the raccoons.

B: It's like the next level of tech support.

S: So the raccoons literally unscrewed the suet cage from its holder. They unscrewed it. And they took, at one point, they took the entire feeder so they couldn't get the feed from the feeder. So, they took the entire thing off the hook, threw it on the ground and broke it open. So, I had to literally like tie the feeder to the hook so they couldn't get it off. And then...

B: And then...

S: The bears started getting into the seed. The bears would just rip-

B: That's the highest level of tech support.

S: They'll just rip the shit open. I mean, yeah, there's no stopping them.

B: We found my mom's suet feeder about 40 feet away, twisted. It was like, bear. I mean, raccoons not doing that.

J: Steve had a giant stainless steel garbage bin about this big. It wasn't that giant, you know. You kind of like, you know, the top kind of sticks on it. And Steve put a huge stone on top of that. Like, there's just absolutely no way a squirrel could tip it over. A bear came up on his deck, knocked that stone off there, knocked the thing over and basically ate all the bird seeds.

E: We were doing a show here when a bear came outside.

G: What kind of bears are here?

S: Black bears. Black bears. So, fortunately though, when he knocked the bin over, he scared himself and ran away. But the best one was when there was, like, my dog was, we were inside. It was nighttime. Everything was dark. The dog is barking at the window. I'm like, oh, the raccoons are on the deck again, right? So I go up to the door, flip on the light, and there's a black bear standing on the railing of my deck.

J: Oh my gosh.

E: Did you get a picture?

S: I did not get a picture. Because it ran away, you know, because it runs away. The black bears are skittish. They're easy to scare away.

J: Brown bears are wicked dangerous.

S: They're not skittish.

J: All bears are dangerous.

E: You need some external cameras here.

G: Hey boo boo, I'm at the podcaster's house. He put a rock on top of the garbage can.

S: All right. So we actually have a lot of news items and content to get through.

SGU books (6:19)[edit]

S: First, I do want to remind everybody that the SGU people have published two books. The Skeptic's Guide to the Future.

G: People? What do you mean people? SGU people.

S: SGU people. Yeah. So we have two books.

G: Which one's the better one?

S: The Skeptic's Guide to the Future and The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.

J: They're very different.

S: They're very different books, but they're both in the same theme of skepticism.

J: Yeah. So our first book, which is the one on top right there that you can see, that is everything you need to know about critical thinking. Walk you through all the different, and these-

B: Maybe not everything, but a damn good primer.

J: The thing that Steve-

S: Damn good primer.

J: -that Steve did brilliantly in that book is that he teaches you things in the right order. Right? He builds on. Everything builds on itself. And as you go through the chapters, you're using the information from earlier chapters, which I think was a hard thing to do.

S: Yeah, because at first I'm like, oh, this isn't going to be that hard. I've already written essays about all of the topics in this book.

J: You wrote your essay?

S: I wrote my essay. But it's totally different than writing a book. Because you do have to weave it into one narrative. So then for the second book, I'm like, all right, now I got this. I know how to write a book. And then... So it was definitely a different experience, but the editors we work with are awesome, like Maddy.

G: Icarus Publishing.

S: Really knows what she's talking about and really helped us up our game. So even though I was starting at a much more advanced level with the second book, she's like, all right, now we got to take it one more step beyond that. It's like, yeah, each chapter works, but you can't do the same thing over and over again because then it gets boring. So you have to figure out a way to use the same formula, but vary it enough that it's different. It's like, okay, so we did that. So anyway, it's a really good experience. So now we're talking about the third book, which we haven't got a deal yet, so we're not going to say what it is. But we're working on it.

G: A skeptic's guide to the skeptic's guide.

E: An introspective.

J: Everything We Think About Cara.

S: Right. Well, talking about, we're going to start with Cara, actually.

Quickie with Cara: New York is sinking (8:18)[edit]

S: So Cara, I understand that New York is sinking.

C: It's sinking.

S: What's it sinking about?

C: What's it sinking?

E: I love that.

C: No, that's actually really depressing and horrible. We probably shouldn't be making light of this. Let's see. It's sinking. So we talk about sea level rise all the time. We talk about a lot of the potential ramifications, potential negative consequences of climate change. And one of the big ones that we often discuss is sea level rise. But unfortunately, there is another variable here that I don't think we often describe, and that is something called subsidence. This should have been a what's the word?

S: Subsidence?

C: You guys know subsidence?

B: It kind of goes away? Subsides?

C: It goes away.

B: Something that subsides and lessens over time?

S: Yeah.

C: Right, right. But subsidence in this case is specifically referring to the actual gradual settling, or sometimes it can be sudden, like a sinking effect of the Earth's surface when the sediments underneath it shift, or when loads on top of it make it sink down. So subsidence is actually happening not just in New York City, but in a lot of coastal cities across the world, especially in cities where there are a lot of heavy buildings. There's a lot of heavy infrastructure. So in this case-

B: Cara, real quick.

C: Yes?

B: Isn't the opposite also happening elsewhere across the country in terms of the ground rebounding because the glaciers have left? Because it compressed the crust a little bit, and now that they've gone, and it's been how many millennia since they've been gone, it's actually rising again because the compression weight is gone. So it's kind of interesting how we have the opposite happening in other areas of the country.

C: In other places. And actually, it seems to be the case that the rates are about matched. So I know that in this coverage, they were saying it's happening at one to two millimeters a year based on this new study, the modeling of this new study, which doesn't sound like much, but it's on par with the tectonic plate rebound that happens when glaciers melt. So yes, we're seeing that in some areas we've got rising, in some areas we've got sinking. Sadly, we're seeing the sinking occurring in a lot of coastal cities, which is already deeply detrimental. So for example, I don't know if you guys have been following the news, but in Indonesia, the capital city, Jakarta, they're actually thinking about moving the capital because they're afraid that by 2050, a quarter of Jakarta might be underwater.

S: They did that on SpongeBob. They just moved an entire city.

J: I thought that they already decided to move it, and they're starting the building of the new city. Is that not true?

C: They may have.

J: Yeah, that may have happened.

C: I mean, it was very, very recently that they've been in talks about this.

J: And Cara, this isn't like global warming speeds. This is like this city is sinking and it's happening on a yearly basis. It's getting profoundly worse.

C: And that's because of the combination of all of these different variables, right? This is the rising sea levels combined with the subsidence. And so this modeling, this new study that was published in Earth's Future called The Weight of New York City, Possible Contributions to Subsidence from Anthropogenic Sources, they decided to basically model how fast New York City is sinking by taking measurements throughout the city and then estimating them. They basically put them on a big grid. They calculated the cumulative mass of more than a million buildings in the city. That worked out to be 1.68 trillion pounds. And then they made a grid of the city and divvied it up in these hundred by hundred square meter, basically grid points. And then converted the building mass to downward pressure by factoring in gravity. And what they found, and this, by the way, this modeling that they did didn't even take into account roads, sidewalks, bridges, railroads.

J: How about people? What about the weight of people?

C: People. It didn't take into account people either. It was just the weight of the building materials. And they found, yeah, that New York City is legit sinking in places where the soil is clay or artificial. It's particularly prone. They even found a site where they had seen sinkage of a whole, the length of an entire ruler. And then in areas where it's built upon bedrock, we're seeing better anchoring and less sinking.

G: I thought we built this city on rock and roll.

C: Yeah, that rock and roll is in the oven. So here's something really interesting. By the way, I think New York is ranking third in exposure to flooding. A lot of Manhattan is only one or two meters above sea level. We saw what happened after Sandy and after Ida. But here's something interesting that the right around, I'm reading kind of a right around on this in Science Alert. Like I mentioned, the main study was just published in Earth's Future, but they reference another study from last year, from 2022, that surveyed 99 coastal cities that were saying that this problem could be the same, if not worse than sea level rise. Like this variable is something that we have not been paying attention to that could make it even worse. As of 2020, I'm reading this directly from the Science Alert coverage. As of 2020, scientists estimated that all the stuff humans have ever made was close to or already outweighing the dry weight of every last living thing on Earth.

S: That's interesting.

J: Wow.

B: That's including bacteria?

C: Trees, shrubs, yeah, bacteria, animals, plants, people.

S: Wow. Most of the stuff.

C: Plastics alone are doubling the weight of all of the animals on the planet.

S: I know. I mean, you hear from like the other side, people who are like trying to deny like climate change and global warming and everything. It's like, well, how could people affect the whole planet? The whole planet is so big. It's like, yeah, there's 8 billion of us. We have industry. We make a lot of stuff. At this point, anything we do has planetary impact. We just have to think about it that way.

C: And just like you said, how can we affect so greatly everything that's happening on the planet? That's a nice teaser, if we get to it, if we have time today for the other news item I'm going to tell later.

S: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Thank you, Cara.

News Items[edit]

Artemis Update (14:57)[edit]

S: Jay, give us an update on Artemis.

J: Yeah. So I have recently been looking deeper into the Artemis program. Because what happened was I read that there is supposed to be 11 Artemis missions, right? Similar to the Apollo program, they had a whole bunch of missions that they plan out ahead of time and they know what they're going to achieve.

S: Are they budgeted for 11 missions?

J: No. No, no, they're not.

S: They have a plan, but not a budget.

J: They don't. They only have a plan up to the seventh mission.

S: Are they budgeted for seven?

J: No. No.

S: So they have an idea for 11, a plan for seven, and a budget for?

J: Two, I think.

E: Two?

S: Really?

E: That's not going to cut it.

S: I thought three, because the third one's when they actually land.

J: Or three, yeah, it is three.

S: Three, yeah.

J: Yeah, so the problem is when we talk about budget I didn't want to start with this part of the conversation, but it doesn't matter. When you talk about budget, they could get budget and then some of it could be redacted. They could say, oh, no, we can't give you that much. Or they might not get as much as NASA was asking for or that Congress had originally agreed to. That's going to be a problem because Artemis is going to cost an incredible amount of money. Now, keeping in mind, we don't even have the next SLS rocket built. Like they're building the landers. They're building the next rocket that they're going to use. Each rocket that they build is specific to the mission. So the costs are huge. We are trying to partner with other space agencies, of course, and spread the money out and everything. But still, it's going to cost an incredible amount of money to do this. It is the biggest project.

S: It's going to the freaking moon.

J: Yeah, it's the biggest project you could ever run. It's a damn near miracle any time a rocket gets off the face of the earth, it's a miracle as it is. But I wanted to talk about, I want to go into more details about Artemis, things that probably a lot of people don't know because we're really only hearing about the next latest and greatest mission. Here's an interesting fact. Humans have not been to the moon since when?

S: '72.

E: 1972.

J: December 1972. I think it was December 14th, 1972.

S: Gene Cernan? Was that the last?

J: That was Apollo 17. I think you're correct.

E: Yeah, 17 sounds right.

J: All right. Now think about it. Apollo 17, 1972. That means that most people alive today were not alive when that moon mission happened. Right?

B: Sad.

S: Most?

J: Yeah. Think about it.

S: 50 years old. 51.

E: I suppose that'd be about right.

J: Past 50. There's more people below 50 than there are above 50 alive.

S: Probably.

J: So I think my point here is that we have an incredibly huge world population that has never seen a human set foot on the moon. I don't remember any of those things. It happened when I was so young that I have no memory whatsoever. I think it's one of the hugest feats of exploration that humans could ever do is put people onto the moon or onto Mars or whatever. It's something that I think the world should be enthralled with, and that's why I like to talk about it so much, because I want people to know what's coming and what amazing things that we get to be a part of.

J: Can it have the same impact, though, you think, as it did in '69?

J: Society is so strange today, George, with social media and people being burnt out by new information. I've read several times that people aren't showing the interest that people were back in the 60s. People aren't showing that same interest today.

G: I would agree. It's just like it's, with your one media feed, basically, back then. You had one, basically, set of news that was being sent, and if it was said that this is important, it was important. Now, it's so bifurcated and everything that it is the coolest thing ever, but it's like you can't get the same kind of excitement about it because you almost can't explain it in the same way.

J: I just don't think that people are truly thinking about what's going on, right? It seems like a science fiction endeavor. I've seen it before. I watch all these, of course, we've seen tons of things that don't exist or whatever, but to understand, to truly let it sink in that this is real, that people are strapping themselves to a rocket and they're going to walk on the moon, and they're going to build a base on the moon.

G: I wonder if that's part of it, though, Jay, because when the first moon landing happened, you didn't have the special effects that you have now, so you could be enthralled by a single guy walking across a powdery landscape. Whereas now, we've seen every incarnation of space travel. We've seen in movies, in fiction. How do you enthrall an audience by saying, yeah, it's just a person walking down a ladder, but they're 250 million miles away, or whatever the mileage is.

B: 250,000.

G: 250,000 miles away. Sorry, 250,000 miles away. How do you instill that same kind of sense of amazement and awe when it doesn't look like the video game that the person was just playing 90 seconds ago?

J: It's only going to get worse, too, George.

G: I know.

J: With virtual reality.

G: Right.

J: People are going to be able to do it on their own. They're going to be able to be the astronaut and go on a moon mission.

G: There's such a difference between what is actually possible and what you can represent now.

J: But the-

C: I also think it's and I'll just say this once, and then I'll just get quiet again in my little corner. I don't think I represent the majority, but I do think that there is a large minority of individuals who actually have moral concerns with this. I think sometimes we talk about it as if it's just every single person on the planet thinks that this is what we should be doing. But that's not true.

E: In other words, the resources should be used for something else.

C: Not just the resources should be used for something else, but literally as a human endeavor that this kind of colonial conquering spirit has not always served us in the past and that it's not necessarily, there's a lot of arguments there. There's no planet B. We shouldn't be making bases. We should be like, yes, like you said, Evan, putting those resources into our own planet, but also just kind of the cultural experience.

E: We're not going to the moon to claim it.

C: Well, we're going to the moon to extract its resources and build a base.

S: Yeah, but there's nobody living there now, so it's not colonial.

E: It's not exactly the same.

G: But there is a history of conquest-

C: It is the same.

G: -that on some level you're feeding into.

E: I don't know.

C: You can disagree with me and that's fine. I think it's a valid conversation, but you can't minimize that it is a valid concern. And I think the only thing that I'll say, and I know that you guys don't like this, is that that was the exact same view when individuals were conquering other nations. It was, well, there's no people there. And I understand there actually aren't people on the moon. I'm not trying to say that there are.

S: It's a big difference.

C: It is a big difference, but it's still a similar viewpoint, which is sort of like, we'll worry about it later. Let's minimize the concerns and we'll fix it. We'll go in, we'll do what we're going to do. And then if anything goes awry, we'll fix it later. I think it's concerning that deep explorer viewpoint is latent. And so, yes, I have concerns with it. And I think we could talk about that. But all I'm saying is to assume that every single person on the planet thinks that this is the way and it's the only way and we should all be very excited about it, it does minimize a lot of indigenous perspectives. It minimizes a lot of perspectives that are out there that maybe don't have a platform. So just saying that.

J: I tend to disagree with what you're saying. I think there should be a mindfulness. I think that we should be very much thinking about the impact. It's a complicated issue and it's definitely a different conversation, which I'd love to have. I'd like to explore it because I haven't given your perspective much thought.

S: What I would say, though, what I think is a concern that I agree with is that one nation shouldn't be claiming or exploiting the moon for themselves. This should be a planetary endeavor. Because there's no one there now, I don't think there's any colonialism concern. The fact that we did bad stuff in the past is true. It doesn't mean that we can't do anything that's exploratory or that develops new technology or everything because it was abused in the past. It means, yeah, we have to make sure we don't make the same mistakes going forward. I do think that we are a lot more thoughtful now than we were even 50 years ago. We were basically fighting a cold war 50 years ago. I think we are doing it for better reasons now. It doesn't mean that it's perfect. I do think that's a very important conversation to be having to make sure we aren't repeating mistakes of the past or going in blind and not thinking about the consequences. I do think there are some thoughtful people talking about it, but it's good to keep elevating that to the top of the conversation and not just assume it's all good.

B: I agree, Steve, but you can't rule out the whole cold war aspect to it because part of the reason, I don't know how much, but part of the reason we're going back or something that's being factored into it maybe retroactively is the fact that, well, if we don't claim certain areas, then China absolutely will. China has replaced the Soviet Union to a certain extent.

S: Space travel with the ISS has been an opportunity for internationalism.

E: It's been pretty successful.

J: It is happening. I mean, look, there is massive collaboration going on with the Artemis program.

S: Yes, so it can be turned into a positive thing.

G: Is Artemis going to put an American flag down when they go?

E: I don't think so.

G: Probably not?

J: I honestly don't know. I'll tell you what they will put down. They will put down a black man's footprints and a female, a woman's footprints. And that's a huge deal. And it's a fantastic decision that they made.

G: For young people.

B: Oh, man.

J: I think the first two people on the moon are going to be a black man and a woman.

S: They should have made it 50 years ago.

J: 50 freaking years ago. I mean, look at how...

E: It was a different set of circumstances that got us to the moon. It was totally different.

B: It was a different culture.

J: So according to NASA, this is supposed to be the beginning of the exploration of our solar system, starting with the moon. Humans are going to be investigating in person our solar system. Of course, the moon and Mars are the two best places, I think, for us to land ships and to get boots out there. But this probably is going to be the beginning of an effort that's going to exist at the very beginning of, in the middle of, and through a very much developed space economy. We're moving humanity into outer space. This is the beginning of it. So we could talk about the ethics of that. I think we should. I think it would make a very good conversation. But I'm going to be talking about Artemis in a very positive way for the next 10 minutes. So anybody out there, just strap in, because I love this stuff.

C: Got it.

J: So at its earliest, what we're looking at is four people will land on the moon by 2025.

G: Oh, come on, Jay. Jesus.

J: Yeah. Now, I should correct that. I don't think, I think four people will go to orbit the moon and two people will go to the surface of the moon. We're going to do a similar thing as we did last time. NASA plans to build a sustainable presence on and around the moon. That's good. That should make Cara very happy. Like I said, we have 11 missions in the queue. They think it'll take 11 missions to get to the point where we're ready for Mars. Some of these missions will be crewed. Some of them will be uncrewed. The plan is to build the lunar gateway, which is, just think of it this way. When you hear lunar gateway, just think of it as a space station around the moon. It's going to be a permanent space station. There'll be a habitat for people. They're going to be adding components to it that'll give it more power, more ability to communicate better with the Earth, a refueling depot. All these types of things will be added as the missions go by. And then we're also going to construct a permanent Artemis base on the moon. I think, as what I'm reading now, the base is going to be called the Artemis base.

E: Will it be on the surface or will it be in a lava tube?

J: It's going to be in the south pole region on the surface, maybe tucked away in a crater.

E: So it's not exposed partially to one set of environmental factors than the other.

J: Right. And I think they want to get them kind of on the cusp where light and dark are. So the temperature-

S: That's also where the water probably is.

E: Yeah, the water.

J: Exactly.

B: What about, I mean, what kind of protection are they planning for things like micrometeoroids?

J: Bob, I haven't read anything about that.

B: That's no joke, man.

J: They're going to be out in their spacesuits. I know these spacesuits are way better than any other spacesuit we've ever developed, but I don't think it can handle that.

B: It absolutely can't protect against micrometeoroids. That's why they're going to need better protection in terms of where they're going to be housed. You need some protection because a direct hit would be bad. Even a secondary hit is not good.

E: That's the lava tube advantage, right?

B: Lava tube, yeah. I mean, it's like a no-brainer.

J: So there's many reasons why NASA is saying that we should do this, right? One of them is it's basic human exploration. A lot of people would argue that it's a part of human nature. It is achievements. NASA is spending this kind of money on all of these technologies that need to be developed. We've seen historically that these technologies have a massive downstream effect into humanity. Simple things, like everybody knows, like duct tape. That's from NASA.

G: Velcro, baby.

J: Velcro, yeah. But there's thousands of technologies in these things that happen. So it isn't a complete waste of money. There is a downstream effect that comes from all of that technology. But ultimately, the moon missions are in place to make us ready to go to Mars. And I think that the backbone of all of this, again, is human exploration, right? Yes, technologies will be built. Yes, business will be involved. There'll be the ability for people, normal people like us, one day to go into outer space. All of these things are going to come with what's happening with NASA right now. Most of the equipment and technology we need to go to the moon, it's not built yet. We have the SLS rocket blueprints, right? Because we don't even have one right now. We have to build another one for Artemis 3, or 2 rather, right? We got 2 coming out.

S: Well, 2 is coming in 2024.

J: Yeah, I have the dates right here. So the earliest, well, let me just get to the dates.

S: So they must be building it now.

J: Yeah, I would say that they're already building it because it's incredibly complicated. So here's what we have. We have the Orion spacecraft, right? This is the command module that the astronauts live in when they travel to the moon. And we have the SLS rocket technology. Those are right now in the works to continue to build these crafts for future missions. This is what we don't have built and what we need. We need 3 different kinds of lunar landers for different types of missions. We need them to build the XEMU spacesuits. We just have the prototype test ones that the astronauts are training in.

E: Yeah, we talked about that.

J: But they don't go to outer space. So those suits that they showed are not ready for space. So they have to build all those spacesuits. We need a lunar rover that will be unpressurized. We need to build the entire Lunar Gateway space station, which is a ton of money and work. And we need a lot of things that they're calling exploration ground systems. All right, so let's get to the details about these early missions. Now, Artemis 2 is going to bring 4 astronauts to orbit. That's scheduled to happen November of 2024. It's a 10-day mission. And the people that are going are Reid Wiseman, Christina Koch, Victor Glover, and a Canadian Space Agency astronaut named Jeremy Hansen. They are a lock for mission 2. Artemis 3 will land people on the moon and is scheduled for late 2025. They're saying it's probably likely that it'll push into around March of 26. Not that big of a time difference 6 months or whatever. It's not that big of a deal. The plan is to land on the moon's south pole, like I said. The astronauts for that mission will stay on the moon's surface for about a week. And they plan to send a moon rover and other necessary equipment ahead of time. This is pretty cool. So they're going to send over a rover and they're going to send over a bunch of containers that are going to contain all the gear and stuff that they need. So when the astronauts land, they're going to need, this is cool, all right?

S: A lot of stuff's already going to be there.

J: They're going to need to put their spacesuits on, go out, get the stuff, and start building and doing the things that we envision astronauts doing on the moon. It's so cool. Sorry, Cara. (Cara laughs)

B: Sorry we're excited.

G: Jay, did you see the Artemis 2 crew when they were on Colbert?

J: Yes, yeah.

G: I just thought that was extraordinary. I just thought they were so personable and interesting. And you could like, like they weren't forcing it. I just thought it was so...

J: Yeah, they're real people.

G: It was like real people being cool.

J: The old version of the astronauts from the 50s and 60s and 70s, they seemed like they were superhuman and iconic.

G: They projected them as being these like, yeah, sort of...

J: Yeah. NASA's not doing that anymore. NASA is showing that these are humans. These are people that have been training for their entire lives. When you want to become an astronaut, it's not like, I'm going to be an astronaut in a couple of years. It's a decade endeavor to get the information in your head. And you need to be a certain kind of person to be able to handle being an astronaut because you can't just be anybody and go up. I could never handle going into outer space because I have panic disorders. I couldn't do it. As much as I'd love to go, I can't do it. I would lose my mind. Artemis 4 is planned for September 2028. And on this mission, there'll be again another four astronauts. One of their goals will be this time to go, they'll be helping build the Lunar Gateway space station. They're also going to land two astronauts on the moon. And the habitat module will be the primary habitat that they'll be living in on the Gateway. Now we go to Artemis 5. This will launch in September 2029. And this mission will bring four astronauts to the Gateway station and then send two to the moon's surface. They should have a lunar vehicle in play at this point during this mission. They're also planning to add modules on every one of these missions. They're going to be adding modules to the Gateway station. Artemis 6 is scheduled for September 2030. And Artemis 7 is scheduled for September 2031. Now at this point, they know what they'd like, where they'd like things to be. They can't 100% say what's going to be happening for 6 and 7, but they have an idea of where they think things will be and what they'll be able to achieve. So they think that there'll be a permanent crew on the Lunar Gateway by then. So by 2030, 2031, we'll have people living out there all the time.

S: Yeah, I hope the whole mission gets funded and gets carried out. You know what I mean? I do think it's a good thing to develop this technology. To develop our ability to be a species that could live in more than just this thin envelope on this one planet. I think long term, that's a good thing.

J: I mean, eventually, humanity is going to have to leave the planet if we're going to survive. I know it's a very long time in the future.

S: It's a very long time. I don't, that's not the reason to do it. I mean, because that is too far, it should be too far in the future to worry about. And it is correct that like no matter where we go, it's not going to be anywhere near as hospitable as the Earth. And if we trash the Earth, it'll still be more hospitable than any place anywhere else in the universe.

J: That's why the Earth is amazingly precious. We've got to really take a moment to think about the fact that the Earth and humans evolved to cohabitate, right? We belong here.

S: Yeah, we evolved to the Earth.

J: Our physiology is tuned to be on this gravity with this amount of air pressure and everything.

G: I think back to that NECSS talk, the two NASA people that spoke, and it was so, so fascinating. It was so interesting. But ultimately, excuse me, to me it was disheartening because so much of what they talked about was like, well, we have to fix this and this and this is impossible and this is a thing and this we can't do. And it was this long list of like just how space does not want meat bags in it.

S: Space is hard.

G: It does not want meat bags full of water out of it.

C: But robots.

S: Robots are great.

C: Robots are great for space.

G: Robots are great. I know. And like I slowly just, not that I've changed my position on it, but I just remember being so disheartened of like, wow. Even under the, and the Road to Mars is the name of the book, I think. Cara, you interviewed, I forget her name, the author.

C: Mary Roach.

G: Yes, Mary Roach's book.

C: Packing for Mars.

G: Packing for Mars. I read that too. And every chapter was like, oh man.

S: It's hard.

G: Yeah, it's very disheartening.

S: Nothing easy about it. All right.

B: I want to thank everybody for voting me as the obvious rogue to be an astronaut.

G: Astronaut, yeah.

B: Followed by Cara at distant second and even more distant Steve in the third. So thank you very much.

J: Wow, is that happening in the chat?

B: Oh yeah.

G: A huge, a huge sample of four people, but that's, it's good.

B: Oh, it was at least nine.

G: At least nine.

J: I am perfectly fine being home on earth, making meatballs and bread while you're doing that. We'll be able to talk we can talk to each other. Just come home. That's all I want.

What about Second Breakfast? (35:37)[edit]

S: All right, George. I tittled your segment that you're going to talk to us about. "What about second breakfast?"

B: I love that.

G: It's perfect. You're always trying to figure out, we as critical thinkers, we're trying to think what's the next kind of BS corporate scam that's going to be sort of fed to us.

J: This week, yeah.

G: You try to think, what are they when are they going to start selling bottled moonlight? Like, that's going to be the next thing. Or some kind of here's a gravity blanket. Because the thing eventually shows up and you go, oh man, like who's doing that? Well, a number of years ago, Taco Bell had an ad campaign where they sort of tongue in cheek said they're bringing around the fourth meal. And this was this idea that Taco Bells were staying open late. And at midnight or 11 or 1 in the morning, you go to Taco Bell and you have your fourth meal. Ha ha, wink, wink, wink. Turns out that Post now and a bunch of other companies are trying to literally and legitimately market this idea of a fourth meal or foods that can encourage sleep.

B: Oh, wow.

G: Foods that encourage sleeping.

B: Interesting angle.

G: Interesting angle, right?

J: What a bunch of BS right out of the gate.

G: Out of the gate, right? Out of the gate. So there's this idea that Americans, I mean humans in general, but Americans specifically love to snack. They love to eat after the meal. You love to have a snack. Well, what if we could provide some kind of guilt-free snack on some level that also encourages sleep? Because one in five Americans have sleep problems, especially post-COVID. COVID just threw everyone's sleeping patterns into just a tizzy. And there's this, there's an epidemic now of people not getting full nights of sleep. And of course, it's like, oh, let's market to those people that are having miserable nights sleep by giving them basically cookies to eat.

J: We need Taco Bell for this?

G: No, Taco Bell was just the fourth meal thing. But they were kidding. They were joking about it basically. But this idea now that here's a fourth meal and it's going to be essentially like a breakfast. So post-cereal and post-brands has realized that they're not as popular now in the morning as they used to be because mornings now, people either aren't having breakfast or breakfasts tend to be kind of on the go things. So like yogurt or like granola bars or things you can just quickly have and just scarf down as opposed to sitting down with a bowl of cereal and milk. And they realized, oh, if we can put together some kind of a cereal for before bedtime that has, and we're going to throw some crap in there that will tell people helps them sleep. So now you have products, not just cereals, but you have this whole line of products being introduced. So one's called Sweet Dreams Cereal, right? And according to their websites, made with delicious and wholesome ingredients. Right there's your warning, right?

S: Wholesome.

G: Right there's your warning.

E: Part of a nutritious breakfast.

G: It's got a nighttime herbal blend of lavender and chamomile and curated vitamins like zinc, folic acid, and B vitamins to support natural melatonin production.

E: Is that right?

C: It's herb cereal? That sounds disgusting.

J: It sounds disgusting.

G: It sounds disgusting, right? But I guess you put it in enough minute amounts and you cover it with sugar.

E: Oh, sure. Yeah.

G: Because there's sugar, like there's crazy amounts of sugar in these cereals.

C: That's good for you.

G: But like chamomile, chamomile tea is good for sleep. Well chamomile tea is good for sleep because there's no caffeine in it. It doesn't induce sleep. It just doesn't have the caffeine that tea and coffee has. So, oh, well, let's put chamomile in it. You could just, you could put notebook paper in there because notebook paper has as much effect on sleep versus caffeine as caffeine does. So you could put whatever you want to put in there. It's amazing. So there's all these products now. So there's Sweet Dreams are available in Blueberry Midnight.

S: Ooh, I want that.

G: And also Honey Moon Glow. Doesn't that sound delicious? For a little pre-sleep snack, you're going to have some cereal.

J: Is it Honey, Moon Glow or Honey, Moon, Glow?

G: Honey Moon Glow.

J: Okay.

G: Moon Glow is one word.

S: That's totally different.

J: George, can I just interject real quick?

G: Please.

J: Because first of all, this really actually pisses me off. Because the last thing that Americans need to do is open their goddamn pie holes more.

G: Especially at 11 at night.

J: At 11 o'clock at night, you shouldn't be eating that late anyway because actually eating could disrupt sleep from what I've read.

S: Totally. That's what I was going to say. That's like, I review sleep hygiene with most of my patients because, again, sleep is a huge problem for Americans and it's very comorbid with a lot of medical issues. And so number one on the list is don't eat right before you go to bed. Go to bed with an empty bladder and an empty stomach. You don't want to have stuff churning around in your stomach. That also can lead to gastric reflux because you're laying down. You don't want to have a full stomach when you're laying down.

J: And have stuff pushing up on you.

G: Well, gentlemen, tell this to the makers of after dinner mint chip ice cream. Creamy peppermint ice cream loaded with chocolate chips on the inside and a friendly and smiling craved monster on the outside. There's also bed and breakfast ice cream. Yummy, creamy maple ice cream with chunks of waffles. So good you'll be dreaming about breakfast all night long.

J: Did you say chunks of waffles?

G: Chunks of waffles.

B: I like this idea.

G: Here's my favorite one.

C: George.

G: Ready? Cookies and dreams.

C: Cookies and dreams?

G: Rich and creamy with chunks of dreamy chocolate chip cookies. The answer is always yes. Speaking of cookies, there's prime time chocolate chip cookies, a bag of three to help you sleep. And there's also sleepy chocolate bars. Gluten free, milk free, GMO free, blueberry lavender flavor, 60% cacao. Sleepy chocolate combines a thoughtful blend of powerful botanicals including chamomile, valerian, lavender, and lemon balm with the clinically researched benefits of magnesium and melatonin in a blueberry lavender flavored bar designed to help you fall asleep faster and more soundly with no lingering effects the next day.

J: George, who is this? What company is this? 50 cookies for $48.

S: By the way, melatonin does not help you fall asleep.

E: That's what I thought.

C: No, all it does is shift your circadian cycle.

S: It helps you shift your circadian rhythm. And even then it's like marginal. But even if we've given a pass on that and say, okay, it works for that thing, it's not a sleep inducer. It just helps you establish your 24 hour rhythm. It's good for sleep shift disorder, jet lag, but not for insomnia. And in fact, you know what helps you release your, your brain does release melatonin when it's time to induce sleep. And you know what helps it do that?

G: Masturbation.

C: Dark.

S: Dark. Low light. So take, put away your-

E: Don't bring your phone today.

S: Put away your smartphone. It's another, that's also on the list.

G: Richard Weissman, speaking of Nexus, Richard Weissman had that great talk about sleep that he did. And he talked about how modern bathrooms are designed to be these bright white subway tile things that like totally disrupts your sleep. And the last thing you do before you go into the bedroom is you go into this bright white lightly lit bathroom and you, and after that talk, I changed the light bulbs in my bathroom. It made the biggest difference.

B: Wow.

G: Like at night, just to kind of have that chill.

E: Don't turn the light on when you go.

C: George, I have like a, I have an amber night light in my bathroom that's low. It's on the floor. So it's motion detecting.

G: But even when I brush my teeth beforehand.

C: And that way if I get up to pee. Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

G: Even before bed.

C: Keep the lights off. Use the amber light.

B: I just don't turn on the lights-

E: Yeah, don't turn on the lights.

B: -and hope my aim is good. I just clean up in the morning.

G: Even before you go to bed. Before you go to bed, as you wind down, as you go, just brush your teeth and wash your face, whatever you're going to do at the end of the night, to not do it in a big bright white environment. It's amazing.

C: I just use candle light. Yeah, you want that kind of more orangey amber.

B: I feel so bad for you mortals who have this, who have to think.

E: I sleep in 10 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. 10 seconds.

B: Who have to think about sleep hygiene. I've got to think about the hour or two before sleep to go to sleep.

S: Yeah, good for you, Bob.

B: You poor schmucks. You poor schmucks.

E: I do feel bad because my wife has a-

Most Dangerous Toy (43:50)[edit]

S: Bob, tell us about the most dangerous toy ever invented.

B: Okay. The most dangerous toy ever, as judged by Radar Magazine in the early 2000s. This was the Uranium 238 Atomic Energy Lab by the A.C. Gilbert Company.

G: Oh, love it.

B: Released in 1950 and 51, and not thereafter, as you might imagine. It's a toy lab set, akin to the chemistry lab set you could buy for your kid's day. I think you've tried that a couple times, buying these labs for your kids to do experiments. These experimental toy lab things were very different in the 1950s.

J: They were very different.

B: Very different. First off, in the 50s, people were apparently very blasé about ionizing radiation. Here's a warning. Here's really the only warning in the entire kit. Users, kids, should not take ore samples out of their jars, for they tend to flake and crumble, and you would run the risk of having radioactive ore spread out in your laboratory, thus impairing the results of experiments by distorting the performance of the Geiger counter. It's like, yeah, don't screw around with the radiation because it's going to mess with the science.

E: Yeah.

B: Yeah, but that's all you got to worry. You don't want to mess with your science. That's their angle. Like, whoa, all right. I could imagine 10-year-old Bob in 1950. I wasn't 10 in 1950. I wasn't even born, but if I was alive and I had that, I'd know I'd be taking this radiation and trying to turn Steve and I and Jay into superheroes using the radiation. This would not have been good for us, and I think for many kids. What would you find in the kit? You open the kit. There's a Geiger counter. A Geiger counter, which is pretty cool, comes with two batteries, small Geiger counter. It detects radiation like alpha radiation, beta radiation. Then there's my favorite thing, the cloud chamber. You construct a little cloud chamber, which is really cool because I love cloud chambers. Essentially it takes alpha radiation. Alpha radiation is essentially the nucleus of a helium-4 atom. It's basically two protons, two neutrons, so kind of big-ish for a nucleus. Not that big because there's plenty of other bigger ones, but this thing is traveling at 4% the speed of light. You can see it happen. It creates a trail. Because it's going so fast, it just essentially rips the electrons away from the atoms in whatever it's touching. This ionized trail is kind of like nucleation sites. There's condensation happening, and you can see a vapor trail. They're like nuclear bullets creating this contrail that you can see them happening, these little trails showing up. Really, really cool, fascinating stuff. That's the cloud chamber. Love it. I'd love to have one of those. You can actually make one yourself to a certain extent. Of course, you're going to need a source of radiation. Then there's the spintheroscope. The spintheroscope is another radiation detector. Think of this one as a visual Geiger counter. It's essentially just a tube with a radiation source at the far end. In the middle, there was the zinc sulfide, which essentially absorbs the radiation and shoots out photons, just harmless photons. I think they're fairly harmless. I don't know where the radiation's really, I guess it's being fully absorbed. Your eyes can see the scintillation of light, and it's really beautiful. Then there were other things. There was a manual. There was also a cartoon part of the manual with these cartoon figures telling you how to use the toy lab. You can make-

G: Fight communism with a cloud chamber.

B: The real meat of this is the radiation sources. What are we talking about in terms of ionizing radiation? The radiation sources included radioactive lead, PB210, emitting beta particles, energetic electrons and antineutrinos, apparently. There's the ruthenium, which has also released beta radiation. That's Ru106. Let's see. There's also-

S: No plutonium?

B: No plutonium. Radioactive zinc, which I think emitted positrons, which is pretty cool.

J: How many kids died?

B: Let me... patience. My favorite-

G: How many patients were there?

B: My favorite was the four sample jars containing uranium-238 ore. This is real ore. This ore came from the Colorado Plateau region, and it was autonite, turbonite, uranonite, and carnotite. This is real ore. It released alpha particles, four protons, four nuclides, the helium four nucleus I was talking about. It was alpha radiation, essentially. A lot of radiation going on here. How dangerous was this, really? Not very dangerous. If you use this toy properly for a day, it would be similar to being out under the sun for the day in terms of a UV exposure. Not really dangerous in that way. The alpha particles are, even though they're going at 4% the speed of light, pretty much, hitting the air is going to have an impact. Even the dead skin layer of your body is going to stop it. Not really a danger. Beta particles, energetic electrons, also, even though they're more penetrative, they're not really that much of a hazard if you're using them properly. The big problem with this, for me, with kids using this, is the fact you open that uranium ore and you take it out. Who's not going to do that?

S: We would have cracked that shit open so fast.

B: Oh my God.

E: First thing.

B: If that stuff, if that flakes away and breaks apart, you are going to have radiation all over. The big risk here, the really big risk, is if you inhale it or if you ingest it.

J: What happens?

B: Because you get that inside of you, and then you're going to have problems. I tried to find details. It was hard to find exactly what would happen if you totally abused this kit. I couldn't find details. You do not want to ingest it. You don't want to inhale it. That would be bad.

J: What about handling it, though?

B: Handling it wouldn't be terrible either if you did it for brief periods of time, but you would not want to put it in your pocket for all day.

E: You don't sleep with it.

B: You would not want to sleep with it. You would be next to it for eight hours, even if you're not sleeping, if you're having trouble sleeping. If you're next to it for a long period of time, that would be problematic. I don't know exactly what worst case scenario in terms of impact on health, but if you get it inside your body.

G: You turn into a spheroid, that's what happens.

B: If it's in your body that's where this becomes problematic. I would love to have this today, and I would love to mess around with it safely as an adult, not like I would when I was 10. It would be great, but there's no way that this is going to be sold. Why did it fail? Now, this didn't fail because it was radiation, full of radiation. It failed because it was expensive. This was $50 in 1950. That's equivalent to selling a toy, getting a toy for your kid for 500 bucks. I couldn't find one on sale for today. I couldn't find one on eBay or anything like that.

E: Game consoles are 500 bucks.

B: I would love to have one of them. Plus also, some people think that it was a little bit too advanced for kids. I kind of agree with that. It was a little bit advanced. That's another reason why it could have failed. Also a lot of other similar kits were also dangerous, not as dangerous as this one, but some chemistry kits back in the 50s could start fires, actually started fires. If you accidentally put the wrong lid on the wrong jar, it caused fires.

S: Plus, Bob, you could think of tons of toys just statistically, like lawn darts. How many kids had their eyes poked out by lawn darts? I mean, you don't think of that as a dangerous toy. You would think the uranium's more-

J: I'd buy those today if they sold them.

B: Oh yeah. When this was determined that this was by Radar Magazine, that this was the most dangerous toy of all time, they're not including toys like shurikens or BB guns.

E: That's a toy?

B: Because those are, yeah.

E: Shurikens are toys?

C: What's a shuriken?

B: It's a throwing star. It's like a Chinese throwing star.

E: Ninja star. I never thought that was a toy.

S: It's a weapon meant to poke your eye out, is what it is.

B: You can't compare this-

G: It's a nerd badge.

B: Yeah, you can't compare this to toys, even if they're toys that were meant to harm people.

S: We had them as young teenagers, shurikens, and through them, I still have mine.

E: The bow and arrow kit that I played with too, and that could have shot my sister.

B: So I'll end by saying that soon after, they only sold 5,000, they only made 5,000. I don't know how many they sold. Not too long after, they stopped it in 51, and not too long after, especially with the 1966 Child Protection Act, stuff like this-

E: Finally.

B: Stuff like this would never be allowed in a toy. When you look at chemical sets now, they're very, not dumbed down, but they're attenuated and really, really, really safe compared to the stuff that they were coming out with in the 50s and the 60s. When I read this, I read this months ago, and I'm like, I want to talk about this because this is so much fun to think that a toy like this was available. A lot of nuclear scientists helped create this. They took this very, very seriously. I really liked that they thought it was really important to get these kids into nuclear science at such a young age. It was coming from the right place, and it was just overpriced, which is why it wasn't popular.

G: It was the future.

B: It's just so funny to look back and think, are you kidding? Uranium, but it is safe. This stuff is safe. People have collections, and they've had collections, uranium ore collections, for literally decades, and they're fine because they're adults and they handle it properly. They don't ingest it. They don't eat it.

E: Yeah, they're probably exposed to more radon in their basement where they're storing their toys rather than this toy itself.

B: Right, or bananas, eating bananas, things like that.

S: I like the banana scale. There's more or less radioactivity than eating a banana.

G: There's a museum just a couple blocks from my house in town. It's a boutique museum, and they recently had a whole display of toys. The whole museum was taken over with toys, and they had two of these kits there. They had removed the uranium from them. They made it very clear to everyone that there was no radioactive material in the stuff, but they had a room of 50s toys. They had the pogo stick. They had the springs on the bottom of the shoe thing, and they had two of these chemistry sets there. It was fascinating. It was really cool. They had a Star Wars room too that would knock your socks off. It was like every Star Wars toy.

E: Perhaps statistically for dangerous toys, if you want to talk about fatalities and that kind of stuff, it would probably be toys that were choking hazards. That probably is where you will find the most injury and death.

B: Whatever age you guys were, I'm like five years younger than you, right?

J: You were that age by default. I remember being in the basement. We had a metal, a wooden target board in the basement that we put up on the wall and practicing throwing shurikens.

S: Right.

J: Right? We had all sorts of weapons.

S: We were playing with explosives at that age.

E: Setting stuff on fire.

B: Firecrackers. We were somewhat responsible with firecrackers.

J: No, we weren't. Bob, I almost set the house on fire.

B: No, I'm talking firecrackers. I was with you with the gasoline. Oh, yeah. That was, it could have blew up the house. That was...

J: No, this was rugged 70s living, man. The fact that we all have all our fingers and eyes, it's a miracle.

S: It's amazing. It is.

G: You guys didn't wear helmets on bikes, right?

S: No.

J: My mom bought me a helmet that had a red light on top.

E: Oh, you still have that?

J: She thought I was going to wear that when I was riding a bike. No, I remember looking at her laughing at her. No.

B: No. Safety, I mean, I remember sitting in the front seat of my parents' car. Dad was driving.

E: No seatbelt, right?

B: I was sitting on the armrest. I was a little shit, so the armrest came down and I would sit there. How crazy is that?

G: Cara, did you have a helmet on a bike as a kid?

C: Yeah, I think so.

G: Okay. Just curious.

C: I was a kid in the 80s.

G: Right. By that point, a bike helmets were a thing.

C: I don't remember.

J: Cara, have you ever blown anything up, ever?

C: Yes, but they weren't sanctioned toys.

J: But what would you blow up?

C: You know what I mean? I was a little pyromaniac. I liked to burn things to see how different.

E: Yeah, burning stuff, yeah.

C: I just liked to see how different things melted.

G: Yeah.

C: That was interesting.

E: We would take boxes of caps. Remember cap guns? We would light them on fire.

S: Sure.

E: That was quite the explosion.

B: I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep on my stomach, my arm over at the side of the bed in a glass of water because I burned my fingers playing with fire. It was worth it, though. It was fun.

S: And we were into Evel Knievel.

G: That was a terrible thing to do.

S: We had the jumps in the driveway. We would go as fast as we can and then jump over whatever we could.

E: Whoever you could.

S: I mean, I would have a heart attack if my kids did half the shit that we did.

B: Here's a stupid little thing I remember doing where we would hang from a tree, hang from a tree. I mean, I wasn't very high off the ground, but a good six feet maybe. The goal was to land without bending your legs.

E: Smart.

B: How come my knees are not completely shot at this point?

G: So you would have been like 6'4 if you hadn't played that game.

B: Oh, damn.

E: That's how you know brains are not fully developed in children.

J: What the hell were we doing, man?

S: All right.

Making Fuel from Sunlight (57:14)[edit]

S: You guys know I'm obsessed with energy and global warming. What path are we going to take? Among many, many other things. I'm trying to wrap my head around this because obviously there are important consequences and it always seems to me like nobody knows what they're talking about. Everyone has their perspective.

B: Except you.

S: I mean, neither do I. I'm not an expert. I'm just trying to wrap my head around it as best as I can. But anyway, I came across this news item and I don't think it's going to change anything, but it's a good jumping off point to talk about a few things. The idea is to use solar energy to make fuel. We've talked about this before, the so-called artificial leaf. So far, artificial leaf technology has been used to basically have a catalyst and something that collects photons. You have something like a solar panel and a catalyst that uses CO2 from the air and water and it makes some kind of higher energy chemical. One thing you can make from that is hydrogen or you could make some kind of precursor that you could then use combined with another chemical process to make things like ethanol, things you could actually use as fuel. Well, this is now an incremental little step that happened where they were able to do to make ethanol directly in one step from an artificial leaf type of application. So you're not making a precursor to fuel, you're making fuel. So it makes both the n-propanol or ethanol. These are two alcohols that you could actually blend with gasoline to burn in a regular car. And there's also the so-called flex fuel cars. Have you guys heard about this?

B: Yeah.

E: I've heard the term.

S: So they could use up to 85% of the alcohols. And then there are some that could even, you can make cars that could run 100% on alcohol. So what would be the advantage here? The advantage is that, of course, these are carbon neutral. Especially if you're using solar energy to make the liquid fuel, the fuel is basically taking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and then it gets released back into the atmosphere when you burn it. So it's circular, right? So there's no net, there's no sequestered CO2 that you're digging up from the ground and releasing into the atmosphere. You're taking it from the atmosphere and then putting it back. So it's circular. So that would be essentially considered carbon neutral. Same is true of biofuels. But the problem with biofuels, if you're making that fuel from corn or whatever, is the land and water use, right? This is agricultural land that we're using. We could be using to grow food or we could be using to not grow anything, just to let it go wild or whatever. But that's not going to ever be anything more than a niche sort of application. We're not going to solve the CO2 problem, the global warming problem with biofuels. But this is a different beast entirely because it's not using agricultural land. You could put these things in the desert, right? You just need sunlight. So the question then is, fine, they did this. Now the usual caveats, this is a laboratory proof of concept demonstration that they did.

B: Can it scale?

S: Yeah, so you would have to scale it, right? The US alone burns about 370 million gallons of gasoline a day. Day. 300 plus million gallons a day. So unless you're making something on that scale, it's not going to really have a significant impact in terms of reducing the burning of fossil fuels.

B: Hundreds of millions of gallons.

S: Yeah, you'd have to be, you'd like to make hundreds of millions of gallons a day. Or even if you're making 50 or whatever, 100 million gallons a day, where you could say, yeah, a third of, it's going to displace a third of fuel or something like that, whatever. That's the scale. Otherwise, it's not really going to be doing much. So that's one problem is that this is not a proven commercial technology. This is a proof of concept laboratory phenomenon. We would need to know that it could work at a high scale. Also big problem, the efficiency is really low. It's 7%. Have you ever, have you heard about the Faradaic efficiency, Bob? Have you heard that term?

E: Faradaic?

B: Faradaic.

S: Faradaic efficiency. So that term was thrown out in the article that I was reading about this in the paper, and I had to look it up because I didn't know what it was. But from my understanding is that it is the theoretical efficiency, like if in terms of just the electron transfer or whatever, like if this process made, if 100% of the transformation created fuel, that would be 100% Faradaic efficiency. So this would be—this is only 7% of that. So that's not good. So we would need to significantly increase the efficiency and significantly scale up the process for this to even be a player. But then even if we could do that, let's say we can get up to 20 or 30% efficiency and we could scale it up to making tens or hundreds of millions of gallons a day for the U.S. and of course it would be a lot more worldwide. Is this how we should be? Should we do this?

B: Yeah, right.

s: That's the-

B: What's the opportunity cost?

S: Yeah, so is this one thing that we should even pursue? And that really comes down to the alternatives. For example, you could say, well, if we're going to have, if we're going to set up these photo collectors, right, to make liquid fuel ethanol or propanol, should we just be making electricity? Should they just be photovoltaics?

B: Yeah, store in batteries.

S: And then we could, and then to power your electric car? So how would making liquid fuel for internal combustion engine cars compare to making electricity for battery electric cars? I couldn't find that comparison because this technology doesn't exist yet really as a commercial technology. So that's the kind of comparison we would have to make because if it's less efficient than just making electricity, then what's the point, right? The other thing is should we be making ethanol? What if we use this technology to make hydrogen and then we use hydrogen fuel cell cars or we use it to feed hydrogen into industry or into whatever we use hydrogen for or just to store energy?

J: Yeah, but we talked—well, you and I talked about the hydrogen thing.

S: So the hydrogen, in my opinion, is a big no for a lot of reasons. The efficiency is low for hydrogen. It's a gas, so you've got to store it under pressure, and that adds a lot of inefficiency. It takes energy to compress it. Yeah, even if we put this aside, the safety issues because probably the current hydrogen fuel cell cars are pretty much as safe as driving around with gasoline which is also a highly combustible thing. So yeah, so the safety issues are probably not a deal breaker for hydrogen, but it's a gas. It's got to be compressed. It's got to be stored under pressure. It's hard to store. It's hard to keep it from leaking because it's a very small element, obviously, and it's also very reactive. It causes something we call hydrogen embrittlement. It's just not a great and we don't have the infrastructure for it.

J: We don't have the infrastructure.

S: We don't have the infrastructure for it.

J: Electricity can be got anywhere. Why would we build, that's crazy.

S: So the big advantage of going directly to liquid fuel is that it's liquid. It's easy to store, and we already have an infrastructure for it.

J: And it's energy dense, right?

S: It's not. It's like 30% less energy dense than gasoline. Gasoline is really good. That's why we use it. It's a really energy dense liquid fuel that has a good range of temperatures. It has all the features we want in a liquid fuel.

B: But the batteries will never match the energy density.

S: Not the energy density.

B: Right, even at the limits of physics, right?

S: Probably not.

B: It's not going to—

S: Probably won't match the energy density of gasoline, but it's twice as efficient. So it doesn't have to be as energy dense as gasoline.

B: Yes, that's key. That's key.

S: But here's the thing. Because we already have an infrastructure for liquid fuels, the ability to make ethanol or propanol directly from sunlight could serve a niche, I think. So first of all, battery electric vehicles may not be useful for every single application, right? So if you're in a rural area or a long haul application, we're not quite there yet with battery electric vehicles. So if you're people who need to be able to fill up a tank or whatever, or at some temperatures, although at low temperature, ethanol doesn't do well at low temperature either, but you can fix that. You could basically have heaters.

B: We're talking about heavy long distance planes.

S: Yes, so maybe with certain applications like planes or again for trucks or long haul vehicles, it might be more efficient than having a really, really big battery that's very heavy. So I do think there is a place for it. And also it could be just something that exists alongside battery electric vehicles. We don't need one solution for everything. It's like we have to pick the one best solution and 100% go with that. I could imagine progressively displacing gasoline, right? So first you mix it 30% and then you have flex fuel cars that can go up to 50% or even 85%. So you have a lot of hybrid vehicles that have the battery, but a small battery for the regenerative braking and to increase the efficiency of it. And so you basically end up with this hybrid flex fuel car using this—

J: Trying to stop myself.

S: Using this zero carbon synthetic fuel made from sunlight, right? So that could, I could see how that could work. And also because if we're going to try to get rid of all gasoline cars, that's a lot of batteries. It's stretching our ability to source all the raw material. So if this takes the edge off of our need for raw material for all those batteries that we would otherwise need to go 100% battery electric vehicle fleet, that could help as well.

J: We need a good way to recycle batteries.

S: Yeah, that's true. Absolutely.

J: Because if we can do that—

S: We're working on it.

J: It seems like we're making progress.

S: Yeah, but you're right. We need to get to the point where we are sourcing raw material from existing batteries. So anyway, I do think that that's a possibility. This is encouraging, and I hope it does pan out that we can scale it up and it can get that efficiency up. The other thing is I think the final way that it can have a really good use is in long-term energy storage. Because liquid fuel is really good for that. It's good for long-term energy storage.

B: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second. Like gas doesn't last forever? I mean, if you had gasoline—

S: Gasoline?

B: Gasoline.

S: Yeah, but if you had it stored in a proper condition, because I'm going to be using this six months from now over the winter—

B: If you look at a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, it's like, oh man, it's been 10 or 20 years. Gasoline's not—

S: I'm not talking about years, Bob. I'm talking about months.

B: Oh, all right.

S: I'm talking about months, not years.

B: All right.

S: I'm talking about, because think about it. If we wanted to get—

B: You said long-term storage.

S: Long-term, yeah. So right now, battery storage is good for two to three hours. That's it.

B: What are you talking about?

S: If you're—grid storage. We're talking about grid storage. If we're going to, so batteries are good for like shifting solar panel energy to use in the early evening, right? That's where the peak usage is. But we're never going to have enough battery storage to shift for even days, let alone months. It's going to be hours, and that's it. So we need grid storage that's good for days.The wind dies down for a couple of weeks. We need to get through it.

J: Pumped hydro, though.

S: Pumped hydro is great, although water does evaporate, and so it's not perfect. But yes, and it may not be great in places where like water freezes. So yeah, absolutely. I think that especially the closed loop pumped hydro is going to play a role. But the ability, when we have more energy than we need during peak sunshine, the ability to turn that into liquid fuel that then we could then store up for the winter may be huge.

J: That sounds awesome.

S: That could be, I think, a really important application for that.

J: Does it give off any CO2 or anything?

S: Well, again, when you burn it, you release the CO2 back into the atmosphere that you captured in the first place. So it's net zero.

E: Right.

S: It's net zero carbon, yeah.

E: What's out there.

S: Yeah, anyway, I keep an eye on this kind of technology, and that's always my big question. It's like, how would we use it, and is this the way we want to go? So I don't think this is going to be the solution, but I do think this could be one of many technologies.

J: Yeah, and I agree with you. I think it's not going to be—the future isn't like, oh, batteries. Like, we're going to need the shotgun effect.

S: Yeah, we need everything. We need everything. Absolutely. All right, and I love the fact, the big thing is this could fit right into our existing infrastructure. Like hydrogen, the deal killer with hydrogen is we don't have the infrastructure for it. By the time we get it, it's going to be eclipsed by batteries and other advances.

J: So you could literally pump this stuff just like gasoline.

S: It is. It's already in gasoline. Like, ethanol is like 10%, but you could go up to 30, and again, if the cars were made to burn it better, you could go up to 50 to 85%.

J: But even down to this idea, like, could you put it in the same underground tank as gasoline and corrode it or do anything?

S: Totally, yeah. Yeah, it just fits right into the existing liquid fuel stream.

J: That's damn good.

S: Yeah, that's why it's—that's the big advantage.

The Science of Reading (1:09:59)[edit]

S: All right, Evan, tell us about the new way to learn to read.

E: Yeah, new way to learn to read.

S: Tell them about the new way.

E: Thank you. Clockwork Orange. I know, right? Yeah, I stumbled on this article, and the title of it is, Love it or Hate it, the Science of Reading Gains Traction in Schools. All right, the science of reading, and nothing that I really thought about much before. I learned how to read a very long time ago and never really revisited the subject or the thought about how did I learn to read, how was I taught, how are people being taught today, how to read. I don't know. I'm not an educator, or not a teacher, per se, in a school. So this is from the sources, the school library journal. And all right, what is the science of reading? So definition, it's an interdisciplinary body of scientifically-based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing. It incorporates insights and research from disciplines including psychology, educational psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience. So a lot of the things that we want to hear about that are going into the thought about how we teach children to read. An important model in early reading research is what they call a simple view of reading. And it basically boils down to a formula, which is decoding times language comprehension equals reading comprehension. So decoding is the use of letter-sounding relationships to translate a printed word into speech. And it's also referred to as sounding out. You may have heard that term. Language comprehension is the ability to understand spoken language. So you take those, you multiply them together, and the better the numbers, the better the results of a person's reading comprehension. So when it's more complex than that, but that's basically constitutes the core of the body of research that's been done on how best to teach children to read. And there have been a lot of studies on this, I find out, over the course of many decades. And also a nice thing about it is that it's been done in various countries with various languages and various cultures. And the results seem to be pretty much the same, positive results. And a lot of this may seem like, oh yeah, well, duh, this is how children are taught to read. But you might be surprised to learn some school systems here in the United States have only recently adopted this science-based approach to reading. And prior to that, the standard method for teaching children has been, well, not scientifically based, really. It's something called balanced literacy, which is not a term I had heard about before. That seems to be the primary model that educators would use to teach children how to read. It's also known as whole language or three-queuing method. Some of these terms might be familiar to some people who are in education in our audience. Balanced literacy concentrates on having children read whole words instead of sounding out the letters. And the method also teaches children to guess when they come across an unfamiliar word. And they use context clues like a word's first letter or pictures. They associate it with certain pictures in the book. These techniques date back to, well, the 1950s, really. And there's been some refinements to them over the course of time. But that's basically the core of balanced literacy. So students guess a word and is correct on whether it makes sense or not. If it sounds right, it looks right. But the critics say that the students become much too reliant on needing pictures and context clues. And these strategies have ultimately kind of failed them over the course of their learning experience. But today, some of those popular school reading curriculums, I'm going to list a few here, Fountas and Pinnell, Journeys and Units of Study for Teaching Reading. These are apparently well-used curriculums. They're based heavily on the old system, on the balanced learning system. So the news this week concerning the science of reading, it's two-pronged. It shows that good results continue to come in as a result of the scientific method of teaching reading and that more states are announcing and school systems are announcing that they're going to adapt the new systems. So let's start with the first one. Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana have all seen dramatic improvements in reading scores by investing in their science-based reading instructions. Mississippi, 2013, that's when they adopted the new program. They passed legislation mandating that the teachers be trained in the science of reading. When those policies were implemented, reading performances in those states went from bad to pretty darn good. According to the Associated Press, Mississippi was ranked, this was in 2013, they were ranked 49th in fourth grade reading. In 2022, it became the 21st best state. So that's not an insignificant jump.

J: So I just read that, and that is directly from them changing their methodology on teaching reading?

E: Adopting the science of reading methodology and abandoning the other system. The old style.

J: That's the holy grail right there.

E: Yep.

G: That quick too.

E: Yep. Mississippi went from ranking as one of the worst states in the country for low-income fourth graders in 2013 to second in the nation in 2022. So in a span of about 10 years, they made an incredible leap here. So the new laws required that the teachers need to undergo the training in the science-based reading instruction. Alabama and Louisiana, in 2019, that's when they implemented their rules and methods for the science-based reading. Alabama had ranked 49th among low-income fourth graders, but in 2022, it ranked 27th. So in a couple years, it showed results. Louisiana was ranked 42nd in 2019. It is now 11th in the country. Also, they mentioned that while a lot of them, we've talked about this before, some students have taken some steps back since the pandemic, and then those test results have shown that. But in these states, pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, their scores continue to improve.So it actually fought, in a sense, their way through the unfortunate aspects of education and how the pandemic had an effect on it.

S: But I have to say, Evan, I mean, that's great, and I think that that's probably, it is supportive evidence for this technique. But again, it's not controlled, right? So we don't know. You're starting with states that are at the bottom of the pile for a reason. And probably anything they did would probably have resulted in an improvement. Just the fact that they're now investing in a reading program where they're like, we're doing this new thing, or the teachers are now doing something new, probably would have had an effect. You know what I mean? So just from a scientific experimental point of view, we can't say 100% that means that the new method was superior. It could have just been the intervention observation effect that we're seeing.

E: Sure. I understand what you're saying there, Steve. What I've read, and I didn't read the studies, but they're saying, and I went to various education websites to look a little bit more into this article, is that the studies that have been conducted over the decades regarding this particular method have yielded, for the most part, positive results.

S: I know there's a lot of research. I know that there's a lot of research into it. But I mean, in education in general, it's hard to do really well-controlled studies. Because you can't, like, we're going to not teach Johnny how to read and see what happens. You know what I mean? They're often just doing this kind of thing. We'll just do a new thing and see what happens. But there's always the observer effect of, yeah, you're doing a new thing. It's like every diet works. Why does every diet work? Because now you're paying attention to what you're eating. And before you weren't. But that doesn't mean that the theory behind the diet is actually effective.

E: Is there a third option, though, that they could have otherwise tried and see if that yielded better results?

S: Well, yeah. They should have tried to have some kind of control intervention. If you really were trying to ask. And this is why there's still a little controversy about this. Because the evidence is observational. And it's not experimental.

C: But are you citing a study here, Evan? I mean, it sounds like what you're saying is that there have been well-controlled studies. And based on the outcomes of those well-controlled studies, these school systems have adapted this information. And now, look, we see good outcomes from that. Which like that this was not an experiment. This was a utilization of a methodology that we know is experimentally sound.

E: I'm reporting on what they're reporting from the results. So no, it's not a study I'm citing here.

C: Right. And we're not seeing effect sizes. I was about to use that term. But it wouldn't apply here because we weren't actually doing a controlled study. But going from 48th to 11th, or some of these numbers that you said.

S: Yeah, it's impressive.

C: Yeah.

S: But again, we're starting at a famously low level. Like Mississippi is at the bottom for a reason.

C: Where anything would improve it.

S: They don't invest in education. They don't invest as much in social programs. So they tend to rank towards the bottom in a lot of these measures.

C: Putting it up into the top 20% with one variable shift is pretty telling.

E: The other part of the news though here is that other states, more states are adopting this now. Perhaps as a result of what reaction to the results that they're seeing in these other states. Because Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia, they've all adopted similar reading policies in recent months, just recently. And New York City is now going to also implement these policies. So they have 32 school districts, just New York City alone.

J: At least they're doing something.

S: No, absolutely. Again, I'm not trying to be negative about these methods. I think they are evidence based. They do make sense. And also neurologically, they make absolute sense. This is how our brains work. We decode things phonetically. We assign them. We decode them conceptually, et cetera. And so teaching in a way that's compatible with what we know about the neurology of being literate of a language makes sense from a plausibility point of view as well. And again, the old systems were not based on anything. A lot of them are just based on, let's just do it this way. They do no research or they just start doing it. There's a lot of just philosophy based nonsense in teaching. So any use of evidence is an upgrade.

J: Yeah, but think about the people in the process. So at some point they're like, wow, we've got a real reading education problem in our state, right?

S: Yeah.

J: What are we going to do? Well, let's pick the best method that's out there.

G: More prayer.

S: Yeah. Thoughts and prayers. Yeah. No, I agree. It's better than doing brain jam or some bullshit like that.

E: Well, right. Yeah, brain training.

S: You're doing something that's at least scientific.

J: But that's why them actually having a school board that decided we're going to do this and then them picking a scientific methodology. That is awesome. That's awesome.

G: Were you guys all good readers as kids?

S: Yeah.

E: Yeah, I'd say I was. I did.

S: Big reading culture in our family.

G: Cara, how about you? Were you a big reader as a kid?

C:' Yeah, I was, I mean, I was pretty proficient at reading by the time I was like four. I was reading long before I started school.

J: She could read backwards, George.

C: My parents were like, my parents taught me to read when I was very young.

G: Sure.

C: It was really important to them.

S: How about youo George?

G: I had like a there was like a block for a while and then like the dam kind of broke. Probably in fourth grade maybe. And then I like I went through all the reading like that. We had these different colored level books you could go through. And I like got to purple like really quick. And I was pretty psyched about that.

S: So you spoke English from the beginning, correct?

G: No, I spoke Ukrainian at home.

E: That's right, yeah, your first language.

S: For how long?

G: I mean, I basically learned English from TV, from Sesame Street on my own and from friends in the neighborhood. So like my sister, she-

S: So you were bilingual from the beginning.

G: From the get go. Yeah. My sister literally did not speak a word of English when she went to first grade.

J: Wow.

G: And she has these like visceral memories of like being they just said just we're just going to put her full immersion.

S: Yeah.

G: She'll figure it out. And then she and I would speak English to each other. So she helped me with the primary English, but she didn't. So that might that might have been a bit of an effect on her.

S: Well, you speak very well, George.

G: Thank you. I'm getting there. My R's are still funny. But yeah. Yeah. No, it's I know this is such a stoner thing, but like just just when you started talking about about the learning how to read, it's still such a like crazy thing that that it works, that reading works. Like when you think what's going on, like some potentially dead person wrote something down and now you're reading it.

S: Yeah.

G: It's just crazy.

S: Yeah.

G: Like how does that that shouldn't be able to work as well as it does. Right? It's just a it's like it shouldn't be able to.

J: I mean, it literally is a a teleportation of their mind into yours.

G: Right.

J: It's fantastic.

G: Through just like different colored paper.

S: And it's a totally cultural phenomenon because like we didn't evolve reading in the Serengeti or whatever.

G: And every culture has it basically. And their version of it.

S: Well not every culture. There are like some Native American cultures that don't have reading.

G: Sure. But the diversity of languages that exist that do have that do have writing systems within them. It's not like just like one system developed.

S: Yeah. Right. It's over and over and over again.

G: Over and over and over. It's like, wow. I mean, it's real magic. It's an actual incantation that someone has put on this paper.

S: Yeah.

G: And they're communicating their spell to you by by saying whatever they're saying.

S: It's amazing cultural development.

G: It's so incredible.

What's Driving Evolution? (1:23:49)[edit]

S: Cara, you're going to tell us what is driving evolution today.

C: So obviously we know that evolution has a lot of drivers. We don't need to do a whole review, right? Of like what is evolution, especially via natural selection, all that kind of good stuff.

G: Just a theory.

C: Just a theory that it's not guided necessarily, that there is no end point, that really this is a function of pressures, right? Different pressures. And there are a lot of kind of specific logistics that we could get into. But basically there's a really interesting study. And it's not even... It's funny. I'm seeing write-arounds of it now, but this study was actually published last year, but I don't remember talking about this. It's fascinating. It's also unsurprising. But basically the outcome here is that the dominant force, if we had to single it down to one on evolution across the globe today, what do you think it is?

S: People.

E: Yeah. People.

C: People. Yeah. It's people. And so we're starting to see just like more and more evidence to support that. You may have seen previous studies that talked about, for example, I want to give you a couple examples that...

G: Wait, wait, wait. Explain what you mean, people. What do you mean people?

C: Yeah. I'm going to give you a couple examples and this would help you kind of get it. So this is not the study. These are just previous things that have been explored. But for example, cliff swallows, a type of bird, has shorter wings when they are within close proximity of roads because long wings means more impact with cars. And literally the pressure of those cars has become a natural or maybe we would say artificial, but actually it is natural selection because it's not intentional, a pressure on the reproduction of these organisms.

S: Yeah. So it's still natural selection. So the selective pressures are being imposed by human civilization.

C: It's a complicated... I wish that we had another term for it because I've had this conversation historically with a lot of different scientists where, yes, it is natural selection by definition. It is human induced natural selection. And when we think of artificial selection, by definition, artificial selection is basically the fancy word for breeding, right? It's making intentional choices for specific outcomes and then choosing which organisms are crossed with other organisms, dog breeding, plant cultivars, things like that. So it's not artificial selection. It is natural selection. But I wish we had a word for that kind of in between where it's natural selection pressures, but they're artificially produced by human beings.

S: Anthropogenic natural selection.

C: Exactly. Yeah. And that's just such a mouthful.

G: And that's everywhere? Like that's-

C: Everywhere. Okay. So I'll get to the study.

G: Like more so than climate and oh my gosh.

C: Well, climate is changing because-

S: But we're changing the climate.

G: Sure, sure, sure.

C: We have to remember that.

B: Cara, just make up a word like smirger. Just make it up.

C: Smirger. So the smirger is everywhere, you guys.

G: Whoa. There's a t-shirt.

C: So another good example, not this study, but another example is that because we are overfishing and mostly removing large fish, the tuna, the swordfish, the really large fish from the ocean, the actual size spectrum of animals in the ocean has shifted and fish are now 20% smaller and their life cycles are 25% shorter than they used to be.

B: Wow.

C: Directly due to overfishing.

S: And Cara, I understand that that trend towards smaller animal size is true not just in fish, but just animal kingdom wide.

C: It may be the case, yeah.

S: And it's not just within species, it's like smaller species are predominating over larger species.

C: That probably has to do with the exact topic of this study, which is urbanization. So this was a really interesting approach. Basically the largest study of its kind, 287 authors on this paper, 287 different scientists across 160 cities, across 26 countries. And what they used was a model organism called white clover. The white clover trifolium repens is a plant that originally was native to Europe and West Asia, but is now found pretty much all over the globe. And so they followed this plant everywhere from urban centers out into suburban areas, out into rural regions. And they took over, let's see, like 100,000 samples, I think even over 110,000 samples. And they compared the genetics of these samples. And here's something fascinating that they found, that specific plants within cities were more similar than plants in the urban, suburban, rural lineage in a particular area. So basically the amount of evolutionary pressure by a city, even if that city was across the globe from another city, was more similar than the evolutionary pressure of something being geographically distinct. Does this make sense?

S: Yeah. So plants in cities were more similar to each other than plants were in city to suburban to rural, but close to each other.

C: Yeah. But like next door to one another. And they were specifically looking at a gene that's responsible for producing a toxin as a result of pressure from pests and pressure from drought. And they found that this was significantly, like the expression of this gene was significantly different in cities versus rural areas, but that the difference was smaller kind of between groups than within groups within these geographic regions. So basically their takeaway of this is something called parallel evolution, which is the idea, parallel adaptive evolution, which is the idea that these separate populations are being shaped by similar selective pressures for specific traits because the selective pressures in those locations are more similar. So urbanization itself, large quantities of people, large quantities of buildings, high levels of human anthropogenic population density is actually having a bigger influence on these traits than natural phenomena like climate or different local kind of genetic features. And so this model using this clover, they're saying, we should probably start looking at other organisms, but we can very likely extrapolate this across the globe, that urban centers are directly affecting the evolution of organisms within those urban centers. And they're doing it kind of at a more, I don't want to say faster, more intensive, but a more specific way than just climate or just natural phenomena.

S: Yeah, that's interesting. It's like urban is an ecological niche.

C: Urban itself, just human density is itself an ecological, like the ecology. So the ecology of a city in Russia might be more similar to the ecology of a city in India than going from within the city out into a rural region, which is bananas to think about.

J: Would you, are they finding that, and this is a negative influence?

S: That depends on perspective. I mean, it's just.

C: Yeah. Right. So we know that evolution is not value driven. We know that things will adapt to their environment. The things, sorry, the things that can adapt best to their environment are more likely to survive. The things that are poorer simply because they can't do it quickly enough or because they didn't already have those mutations, whatever, will not survive. So if you say like, is it a bad thing? Well, it's a good thing because these organisms are learning certain organisms are learning how to thrive within an urban environment. So there's still flora and fauna here. But yes, I think, is it a bad thing in the sense that we're going to start to see or we're already seeing lower biodiversity in these areas? A hundred percent. If we're inducing the need for evolutionary change quickly, you're often going to see biodiversity plummet because evolution is slow and not, and most species can't keep up. And that's when you see these like massive imbalances like algal blooms or like too many jellyfish or certain kinds of pest species that are just taking over. It's because there's no ability for a good there's not enough time for a rebound for these other organisms to adapt on their own time scale. So it's favoring just like fast and super resilient organisms.

S: Yeah.

J: Interesting.

C: Yeah.

G: I wonder if you could, if you could like rig the system, if you could like rig urban environments to generate some kind of positive.

C: We're trying to. Yeah. I mean, you're seeing in large urban centers that like figure this out early. They didn't need this data to figure out we need to greenify these spaces. We need to make sure that there are like roof gardens everywhere and that the entire that tree cover is very, very important.

G: White roofs.

C: If we can build habitat anywhere, we should be building habitat there, even if it's minimal.

S: And it's interesting to think long term, like I wonder in like a thousand years or 10,000 years assuming that we survive and things keep going similar to where they're going, is the earth basically going to be people and plants and animals adapted to people? You know what I mean? It's like all going to be.

C: It's going to be like rats. And racoons.

S: Just food and urban animals and plants.

G: Cats, dogs.

C: Cats, dogs, rats.

S: Things that are either pets or food or whatever.

J: Squirrels, raccoons, and bears are going to become sentient in a way that they.

E: Yeah. With AI.

C: And think about plants too. Think about within a city. I would venture to guess, and I don't know the statistics on this, so I think it's a this is a wild assumption, but I'd be curious what you guys think. I would venture to guess that the biodiversity of specifically plants within a city is so incredibly artificial because most of the plants within cities are ornamental.

E: Or introduced.

C: We're planting things because we like how they look with no regard for whether they would have grown there natively.

S: Even suburban. Lawns.

C: And suburban. Yeah.

S: We fill our lawns with our plants that we brought in because they're pretty, not because they're native. And that's completely changing the landscape.

J: I'm 100%. 100% for not cutting lawns.

S: Oh yeah?

J: Yeah. I'm all for that. Let's go.

S: You want all natural?

C: Even lawns like-

E: Lawn removals. Yeah. Take your lawn out.

C: You're starting to see, and there are some organizations that will support this. I think the National Wildlife Federation does a certification, but I would definitely Google it in your area. And probably some of our European listeners are like, uh-huh, we've been doing this for a while. But in LA, for example, because that's my backyard, that's what I know, there's a huge promotion, right? We don't have lawns. And if you do, people are like, I cannot believe that guy has a lawn.

S: Yeah. Can you believe?

E: It's like having a fur coat.

S: They're growing grass in their yard?

C: Yeah. It's like, ugh. It's so just over the top, gratuitous. But there is a movement towards going back and only planting native wildlife, or native species. And if you can kind of, there are all sorts of cool websites where you can put in your actual GPS coordinates and they'll tell you these things natively grow here. And then you build out habitat. And you'd be amazed how quickly it just becomes overrun with life.

E: Wow. So it can resort to what it was very quickly.

C: Very easily. Just think about it. If we can so easily artificially induce, we can so easily de-artificially induce.

E: We have the power.

B: Artificially de-induce.

C: Yes, thank you. Thank you. I put the D in the wrong place.

S: De-artificially uninduce.

E: Un-de-artificially.

C: And the not not with the not.

S: All right.

G: Retroficially.

S: Thank you, Cara.

Jay and the AI Voice Simulator (1:36:09)[edit]

S: Jay, you're going to do your AI thing. This is going to blow you away.

B: I'm looking forward to this.

J: An experiment has been done.

G: Oh, this is not good.

J: So here's how this is going to work.

E: It's like the Uranium kid for kids.

J: Here's how this is going to work. First, I would-

G: You're inducing like an existential crisis here, Jay, just so you realize.

J: Look, this is like all kidding aside. This is a very, very good example of where technology is today. We're talking about artificial intelligence and its ability to mimic human voices. And here's what I did. Ian suggested a website that has a very powerful AI tool.

S: Very powerful.

J: If you upload. I uploaded about four and a half minutes of each one of us talking. And then this is what the game is. Ian's going to play a sound file for us. It can either be AI or it could be the real thing. And everybody, including the audience, has to guess. And then Ian will play you the other file. And then I'll tell you what the answer is. And then I also made some funny recordings saying things that were just funny. Just to have a little fun. All right. So, Ian, let's just randomly pick one of us and let's do the first one. So, Ian is going to.

G: So, we know who it's supposed to be.

IC: The game is called AI or A-ney.

J: So, whoever Ian picks first.

IC: I didn't consult George about the name.

J: Just keep in mind, this could either be a real recording from the most recent show or George's most recent show. Or it's an AI version of that same exact sentence.

G: Right.

IC: Who wants to go first?

J: Let's do Cara first.

IC: Cara first.

C: No. Okay.

IC: Here we go.

C: Okay. Researchers are trying to develop a new way to approach this.

G: AI.

B: AI. It's a little flat.

C: AI.

B: It's a little flat-ish.

C: It sounds fast.

J: Steve?

S: I'll say Cara just to be clear.

E: It's not. There's not the little chuckles I'm used to.

J: Okay. Okay. How about this? Play the next one.

C: Okay. Researchers are trying to develop a new way to approach this.

B: Yeah, that's Cara.

E: That's Cara.

J: The first one is AI. The second one was Cara. Now, just for fun, play the AI of Cara again. This is AI.

G: It's crazy.

J: Three and a half minutes of sampling Cara's voice.

G: It's crazy.

C: Okay. Researchers are trying to develop a new way to approach this.

E: It's close.

G: It's astonishing. That's where it is right now. It's just amazing.

J: All right, next one.

S: We're actually in a worse place now than we were before COVID when it comes to hospital staff.

B: Steve.

E: Steve.

S: That's me.

G: Real Steve.

B: Meatspace Steve.

S: That's me.

J: Play the other one.

S: We are actually in a worse place now than we were before COVID.

B: Yeah. AI.

E: All right, that was definitely a little more robotic.

G: But that's astonishing. And the p-place there was like a mistake in there, which I thought was maybe a MacGuffin.

J: I picked that deliberately. I wanted, because-

E: Oh, does AI correct for that?

J: I could know. I can make it stutter.

E: You can make it do a flub.

G: Jesus.

J: All right, so that, just so everybody knows, the first one was artificial intelligence. The second one was real.

E: Wait, no, no, no. The first one was real.

C: No, that's wrong.

E: The first one was Steve, and the second one was artificial intelligence.

IC: Yeah. Well, what do you really think, though?

E: What I just said.

IC: I'll reveal right at the first one. So here we go.

J: An episodic memory is a type of long-term memory that involves conscious recollection or previous experiences.

G: That's AI Jay.

C: Probably AI, but it's so good.

G: It's JI, but it's, yeah, it is quite good.

IC: That one's AI. Here's the real one.

J: An episodic memory is a type of long-term memory that involves conscious recollection or previous experiences.

S: AI is just a little too clean.

G: It's too clean and too fast.

S: It's a little too clean.

G: If you can pull that back a little bit to make it feel like you're trying to come up with the words as you're doing, I mean, that's-

E: It's even the little things, like the tiniest bit of saliva that you can hear in a word.

J: Hold on, hold on. We're not done yet. Let's play Bob's.

B: So you have a new ball of plasma that's even hotter and more energetic than before.

C: Bob.

E: Bob.

B: That's me.

G: That's real Bob.

E: Meat space Bob.

B: That's meat Bob. Go ahead.

IC: That's great.

B: So you have a new ball of plasma that's even hotter and more energetic than before.

G: It's really good.

B: Slightly off.

G: It's so good.

E: It's close.

C: If we didn't hear them side by side, we may not have heard that.

S: Right, right. Plus we're really familiar with each other's voices.

J: Yeah, that's true.

E: That is true.

J: All right, let's do Evan next.

E: Why do we need cultivated meat? It's a crucial solution for our global food system and the planet at large.

B: That's a A-

C: That one's hard, but it's-

G: I think it's AI, yeah.

IC: Yeah, that's AI.

E: Why do we need cultivated meat? It's a crucial solution for our global food system and the planet at large.

C: Wait, before you play, I wonder if part of the reason that Bob and Evan's AI sounded closer to reality is because their reality was so much more emphasized. Does that make sense? Like the way they much more punctuated, much more emphasized. So the AI is picking up those little isms.

G: Were you reading? Were you guys reading too what you were saying? I wonder.

E: I don't recall if I was actually reading.

J: Most of us are using notes for the show. So keep in mind, I trained the AI for four and a half minutes. A year ago, I trained the AI on about 40 to 50 minutes. It took a week for it to create the AI file that let me type in the text, and then it took a day for it to create the text. This happened in moments, and I'll show you in real time. Now, for the one that will blow your mind, which of these two is AI or real George?

G: I love outgoing people that are sort of genuine and outgoing.

B: I'd say the AI.

E: I think it's AI.

G: I love outgoing people that are sort of genuine and outgoing.

C: I think that was real, but wow, it's real. Wow.

G: I mean, that is... If that was placed in the middle of a sentence-

B: Never would have known it.

G: It would never stand out. It would never stand out. That's unbelievable.

J: Right. Here is-

G: I mean, you've been hearing all the pop tunes now where like Freddie Mercury is singing Beatles songs. Have you heard these things? They're really good. They're not perfect, but they're incredibly close.

J: All right. Listen to this. I'm making this right now. I just typed this sentence in.

C: Look, Jay, I know you love outer space and all, but if you go there, forget about making meatballs.

B: Wow.

J: Now, listen.

C: Can you make it a little louder?

J: Listen to the difference. Listen to the difference. I'm just hitting the generate button again, and it makes a different version of the same thing right on the fly. It's doing it right as I click the button. It's generating.

C: Look, Jay, I know you love outer space and all, but if you go there, forget about making meatballs.

C: That was better too. That's good.

E: Yeah, the second one. That's darn good.

J: Is that crazy, guys?

E: That's good.

G: I'm telling you, it's like-

J: So in one year, it went from weeks and days to instantaneous.

E: Moments, yeah.

J: Also, this AI software lets me change a couple of parameters. I'm surprised that they don't have a faster or a slower.

S: Yeah, if you slowed it down a little bit, it actually would be a lot better.

J: I didn't want a doctor. I could have put it into audio programming. I didn't want to. I want to show you exactly what it's doing. I just took a paragraph from a pale blue dot from Carl Sagan. Here's George saying, this is live.

G: This image of Earth is one of 60 frames taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14th, 1990 from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers, 4 billion miles, and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane. In the image, the Earth is a mere point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Our planet was caught in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun.

J: Goddamn, that's, that's you, George.

G: I mean, as it goes on, there's a timbre of it that I can start to recognize is inconsistent and it's consistent and it's inconsistency. But so what?

E: To the average listener, I won't be able to discern that.

G: That's me. That's what I mean.

J: But the progress we made in one year.

G: Right. What's going to be in 10 years?

E: In all seriousness, George, do you feel like this is a violation in a sense?

G: In a weird way. I mean, on some level. I mean, it's fascinating because we're all such tech people that it's amazing. And I'm trying to not be old man yells at cloud? But it's the future that's just, it's really difficult to imagine. I mean, let alone, now it's going to start writing music? Now it's going to start writing content?

C: Well, that's the thing. I get not wanting to be old man yelling at cloud, but I think there's obvious validity and legitimacy to the concern here. I shared a tweet that somebody put out the other day and I don't know why, but it just encapsulated my thoughts and in the most crystal clear way. SJ Sindhu said, we don't need AI to make art. We need AI to write emails and clean the house and deliver the groceries so humans can make more art.

J: Yeah, I agree with that.

B: I like it.

J: This is what the future, the short, short term, I mean, in the next few years, we're going to see an artificial intelligence software make a completely real simulation of basically any TV or movie you've ever seen, right? Like they can say, let's take Star Trek, the next generation, and let's make five minutes and see how real we can get it. And it will be indiscernible from a real TV show. I mean, we are right around the corner from this.

G: You're going to have 20 year old Patrick Stewart in the prequel to Next Generation.

S: With his voice.

G: With his voice.

C: I just don't get why we're so obsessed with like the artistic endeavor here when, I don't know, it just, it seems like a massive social justice failure. Like we could be, and we are, I know we're working on utilizing AI to like minimize the drudgery of our lives.

S: I think that's what will happen.

C: That should be what we are aiming for. Like we're all so obsessed with like, look, it can make a cool painting. And it's like, why do, why are we using this tool for that?

G: Could it go through data to find like DNA stuff?

E: Find the next cancer drug or something.

G: Or yeah, or, or-

S: It will, guys.

J: It will.

S: It will. Just that the cool stuff is getting the media attention. But in terms of how it's actually going to be employed in the real world, it is going to replace drudgery, first and foremost. Absolutely. The real question is then, is it going to displace jobs at the low end? And not only like robots displacing physical labor, but now we could have like AI displacing blue collar labor like more low end of non-physical labor. And I do, I think people at the high end will be fine. All right. We do need to move on.


Science or Fiction (1:47:16)[edit]

Theme: Scientific disciplines

Item #1: Bromhidrology – the study of body odors, their causes, and their medical and social effects.[8]
Item #2: Molinology – the study of mills and other similar devices that use energy for mechanical purposes.[9]
Item #3: Deltiology – the study and collection of postcards.[10]
Item #4: Agnoiology – the study of ignorance.[11]

Answer Item
Fiction Bromhidrology
Science Molinology
Host Result
Steve win
Rogue Guess

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

S: Each week I come up with three science news items or facts, two real and one fake. And then I challenge my panel of skeptics to tell me which one is the fake. We have a theme this week. And we have four items. The theme is scientific disciplines. These are ologies. So you have to tell me which of these words.

B: Is real.

S: Is, well, three are real. One is fake. Which is the fake word. And it could be that the whole thing is fake. It could be there's just the wrong word with the wrong discipline or whatever. There's something wrong about one of these. All right. Here they are. Bromhidrology – the study of body odors, their causes, and their medical and social effects. Molinology – the study of mills and other similar devices that use energy for mechanical purposes. Deltiology – the study and collection of postcards. Or Agnoiology – the study of ignorance. All right. One of those is fake. Bob, we're going to start here to my left. You go first.

Bob's Response[edit]

B: Well, deltiology, that's clearly the study of deltoids. So right, Jay? I mean, that's just like obvious.

J: A little bit of extreme.

B: I mean, any of these really could be it. I don't know. I'll just go with agnoiology as the study of ignorance. That seems like they use a different word there. So I'll just say that. Don't know. Rolling the dice here.

S: All right, Jay.

Jay's Response[edit]

J: The third one, deltoiology, the one that Bob was joking about, the study of collection of postcards. Like, people need to study that. Like, that's the one that I think Steve found. He's like, ooh. Right? Right? You know? Damn. I'm going to go with that one. The postcards one is the fake. I can't believe that there's an actual study of the collection of postcards.

S: All right, Cara?

Cara's Response[edit]

C: I don't know. I mean, the postcard seems real to me. Like there's stamp people and coin people and postcard people. I mean, agnoiology is weird, but I mean, that's agno- like gnosis, G-N-O-S-I-S is knowing. Ag- A is lack of. So that's the lack of knowledge. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, right?

B: Yeah, I could have blown it on that one.

C: Well, but also Steve could just make any of these up ethymologically.

B: That's what I'm hoping.

C: So the question is, is it not really a discipline or is the discipline called something else? And really it's just a function of who coined the term first, because that is a completely legitimate thing. I just don't know if it's real. And then the other ones I don't even know. I don't know these Latin roots, like molin or bromide, like brom- bromhedrology. So like bromide? I'm very confused by this. Study of body odors, their causes, medical and social effects. That might be a real thing. Molinology, the study of mills and other similar devices that use energy for mechanical purposes might be a real thing. I don't know. This is bullshit. I'll go with bromhedrology being the fiction. We should spread it out so he doesn't sweep us, you guys. Strategize. Strategize.

S: All right, Evan.

Evan's Response[edit]

E: What does that mean? I have to go with molinology, George, and then you'll get to-

C: There's still one more person.

E: Right. For all the reasons you said, Cara, and whereas the first three, you're right, I don't know the roots of those. Agneology, the study of ignorance. Yeah, that's the one where you could potentially kind of put it together, which leads me to believe that that one's false. I'll go with Bob.

B: Yes.

C: Right.

B: You're so smart, Evan.

S: And George.

George's Response[edit]

G: Okay. Occasionally, listening to endless amounts of Frank Zappa pays off.

B: Oh, nice.

G: There is a song called Stink Foot, and he says, toxobromhedrosis or Stink Foot. So I think bromhedrology is good.

B: Nice.

J: That's good.

C: Nice.

B: That word did sound semi-plausible.

G: Thank you, Frank.

E: Frank's awesome.

G: The study of postcards. Now it's now philatelia is the study of stamps, right? Philatelic.

B: Are you sure?

'J: If people study stamps, they probably study postcards.

G: That's what I'm wondering. But there wouldn't be some relationship to postcards and stamps that they're philatelitic? Is that the right way to say it? The thing about number four, agnoeology, agnoeology is what Evan said that like, yeah, oh, okay. Gnosis, agnostic.

B: It's too good.

G: It's a little too clever.

C: It's too obvious.

G: It's a little too on the nose that he's going to sort of, yeah.

B: Unless that's what exactly he thought we would know and say.

G: I'm going to go with that as well. I'm going to go that Steve's being a little too clever for number four. Damn it.

S: All right.

B: That's how I felt.

G: But I agree with Cara. It's all bullshit. It is all, this is. Why are there four? What's that about?

S: Because they're short.

G: Because they're short?

E: Fire up the Steve AI. Let's get a quick.

S: We want the chat to vote really quick.

G: They voted Bob off the island.

IC: Number three, 29%.

B: I got to pee anyway.

IC: Number two, 25%. Number four had 25%.

S: That's pretty close.

G: That's a nice job, Steve.

J: That's a really good job, Steve.

S: I am very impressed by that.

G: Good job.

S: But the lowest one was number one. But nobody guessed number two. Molenology.

E: Are you going to start there?

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

S: The study of mills and other similar devices that use energy for mechanical purposes. You guys all think that is a real discipline, scientific discipline. And that one is science. That is real.

E: I knew that.

G: What's the root? Do you know?

S: I don't know. The term was coined in like the 1850s. The study of mills. Like a mill is like it uses water or wind to turn something which then either grinds the grain. But anything like that where you're converting energy into a mechanical process to do something physical is molenology. (Transcriptionist's note: from Latin: molīna, mill)

G: Cool.

S: I think it's sort of based on the idea of mills.

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

S: Let's go to number three, deltiology, the study and collection of postcards. Jay, you think that one is fake. Everyone else thinks that one is science.

J: Now, before you give the answer, Steve.

S: And that one is science. That one is science.

J: I knew it.

C: The guys got this one.

S: All right. So we're down to one or four.

B: Maybe.

G: Come on, Frank.

S: Now, I'll tell you that when I made up the fake one, of course I looked up the Latin root to make up a plausible sounding fake name.

E: Better.

B: That said. That said.

C: Wait. He just said he looked it up.

S: I did.

C: He already knew the Latin root for agnosis.

G: Yeah.

B: Well, he didn't have to look that up.

S: Well, you could see, you might say that.

G: Agnostic.

B: He never would have looked that. He knows that.

S: So, but that applies to both of these.

G: It applies to both. Yeah.

S: Because both of these have plausible Latin roots. So it doesn't really help you.

E: Tune in next week when we reveal the answer.

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

S: So let's go to one, bromodrology, the study of body odors, their causes, medical and social effects. George, you think this is, you're alone, I think, in thinking this one is.

G: I think it's science.

C: I'm alone in thinking it's the fiction.

G: Cara's alone.

S: Cara, you think this is, I'm sorry, you're right.

G: I'm relying on Zappa, yes.

S: Cara, you are alone in thinking this one is the fiction. And this one is the fiction.

J: Good job, Cara.

S: I could not find any study of body odors. It doesn't exist as far as the internet is concerned.

J: That was the one I thought was 100% science.

S: I know. Which is always an indication that it's fake when Jay thinks it's 100% science. But yeah, the broma thing is like odors. It's just odors in general.

G: Toxobromodrosis, I will never forget that.

S: Yeah, but that's where the Latin root comes from.

G: Goddammit. See, you were clever in the-

S: And agnoiology, yeah, agnose, the ignorance, agnoiology, the study of ignorance, study of not knowing stuff, that is legit. That is a real field of study.

G: Visto Zappa was never wrong. Don't say that.

S: So Cara, good job. Solo win. As much as you were complaining and moaning about this, you had a solid win.

G: It's not bullshit. It's great. It's fantastic. I love it.

C: Best science fiction ever.

G: That was the Cara AI that was complaining before, yeah. It's bullshit. I don't like this anymore.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:55:49)[edit]

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

 – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.

S: Okay, Evan, give us a quote.

E: "Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

B: Thanks for saying that, Evan.

G: Ralphie boy. Ralphie.

E: I chose this quote because the reason why we're doing this today is out of gratitude for our listeners and for our patrons. So this is kind of the way of saying, once again, thank you so much for all these years of this support. It's incredible.

S: It's a way of saying to all of our patrons, you have our gratitude.

B: Enter the dragon reference, by the way.

J: I wanted to see if anybody would guess it.

S: Right. We are out of time. We got to go. Thank you all for joining me this week. Thanks to everybody in the chat. Thanks again to all of our patrons.


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[12]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description


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