Exposing PseudoAstronomy

July 14, 2018

Podcast Episode 170: Interlude, and Another Podcast Endeavor


Where has the podcast
Gone? Qui’t is the sound. How can
I keep you list’nin’?

An interlude episode, you know, the one that happens in the game between going up against the little boss and the big boss where you do the side quest to get the special magic sword and silver arrows. Or something like that.

In this entirely ad lib episode, I discussed where I’ve been: Working and on travel. When you’re out of the house 24–27% of the year, it’s hard to put out a regular podcast. When you do enough work to place in the upper 15% of your division, it’s hard to have a life. But I’m trying … and in the meantime, two of the hosts of The Reality Check (cheque? chœk? … they’re Canadian) podcast – Pat roach and Christina Fernandez – and I have a new endeavor: “5 Minutes with an Astronomer.” The show is done in spurts, when I have a week or two of a few hours to sit down and record.

In fact, we recorded most of the first 28 episodes – all now released – in their basement while I was visiting the Great White North (Canadia). Pat does the vast majority of the work, so he deserves most of the credit and it’s his concept. The show is roughly 5 minutes – we do tend to go over a bit, but never more than 10 minutes – where we tackle any topic remotely related to astronomy. While I have a few notes written down for each episode, there is NO script, so that cuts down significantly on the time that I need to prepare.

In most episodes, I ask a critical thinking question based on the material. For example, after talking about what causes seasons, I ask my cohosts what they think would happen for something like Uranus, where the spin axis is pointed towards the sun for half its year. A hope is that this kind of show could be useful in classrooms.

Anyway, let us know what you think — comment here, there, e-mail, or whatever. If you like it, tell lots o’ folks and give it both a rating and review on your podcast portal of choice!

5 Minutes with an Astronomer

5 Minutes with an Astronomer

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December 22, 2017

Podcast Episode 169: Modern Eclipse Lunacy, Part 3: Richard Hoagland’s Claims


Richard C. Hoagland:
Of course he has claims about
The solar eclipse.

In the final regular episode in the three-part Solar Eclipse of August 2017 series, several of the claims made by Richard Hoagland are addressed. Three types of claims are examined: Whether shadow bands indicate there are glass structures on the Moon, whether the Accutron watch readings indicate there is a hyperdimensional physics, and alleged disinformation.

This is – surprise, surprise – the last episode for 2017, the only episode for December. Just work/podcast balance realities. Of course, if I started selling ad space and had a Patreon like those OTHER podcasts … but this is free and ad-free and I’m keeping it that way.

Anywho, I also finally get to feedback in this episode, and I think I’m caught up on e-mails from 2017 except those of you who responded to my recent responses. Seems like whenever you clear the Inbox, people have a spidey sense of it because that’s when I get another flood of e-mail. Could just be confirmation bias.

Solar Eclipse from August 21, 2017 (©Stuart Robbins)

Solar Eclipse from August 21, 2017 (©Stuart Robbins)

November 27, 2017

Podcast Episode 168: Common (and False) Fine-Tuned Universe Beliefs, Discussed


Fine-tuned Universe:
Not just for creationists
Anymore. Let’s see …

Fine-tuning of the universe to allow us to exist has tended to be a focused argument by young-Earth creationists, but it’s also used by other folks to generally argue that we are special. In this episode, I discuss four categories of claims that fit into this broad argument.

An exploration into four groups of fine-tuning arguments used by some to say that we are special: Solar outbursts, habitable zone, lunar origin and effects, and giant planets and impacts on Earth.

Fine-Tuning Image

Fine-Tuning Image

October 18, 2017

Podcast Episode 166: Stellar Evolution, Age of the Universe, and Young-Earth Creationism


Star evolution,
Age of the universe, and
Creationism.

Young-Earth Creationism strikes again and this time misuses error bars to argue that GodDidIt. The episode covers a science paper that discussed the age of a very old star which was derived to be a bit older than the universe. But, add in the appropriate error bars, and potentially a correction to its color, and there’s absolutely no issue whatsoever. But, try telling that to a creationist with an agenda. There’s only a very brief singular additional segment in this episode.

M15 from HST

The dazzling stars in Messier 15 look fresh and new in this image from the NASA/Hubble Space Telescope, but they are actually all roughly 13 billion years old, making them some of the most ancient objects in the Universe. Unlike another recent Hubble Picture of the Week, which featured the unusually sparse cluster Palomar 1, Messier 15 is rich and bright despite its age. Messier 15 is a globular cluster — a spherical conglomeration of old stars that formed together from the same cloud of gas, found in the outer reaches of the Milky Way in a region known as the halo and orbiting the Galactic Centre. This globular lies about 35 000 light-years from the Earth, in the constellation of Pegasus (The Flying Horse). Messier 15 is one of the densest globulars known, with the vast majority of the cluster’s mass concentrated in the core. Astronomers think that particularly dense globulars, like this one, underwent a process called core collapse, in which gravitational interactions between stars led to many members of the cluster migrating towards the centre. Messier 15 is also the first globular cluster known to harbour a planetary nebula, and it is still one of only four globulars known to do so. The planetary nebula, called Pease 1, can be seen in this image as a small blue blob to the lower left of the globular’s core. This picture was put together from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through yellow/orange (F606W, coloured blue) and near-infrared (F814W, coloured red) filters were combined. The total exposure times were 535 s and 615 s respectively and the field of view is 3.4 arcminutes across.

September 24, 2017

Podcast Episode 164: The World Didn’t End on September 23, 2017


Doomsday yet again!
The story of this one, though,
Has a surprise end.

A much shorter episode this time, announcing what you already know: We survived doomsday, again (yay!). But, the story of this particular doomsday claim may surprise you — it did me. But I could be wrong, so please let me know if you have additional information beyond what I found (listen to the episode for more of what I’m talking about).

Meanwhile, this is either a bonus episode or the episode for the second half of September. I haven’t decided yet because I’m not sure if I can get out another episode before the beginning of October. My 10-day vacation in Utah was great, but it requires a lot of catch-up at work.

There are no additional segments.

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

September 1, 2017

Podcast Episode 163: Modern Eclipse Lunacy, Part 1


Solar Eclipses:
Even in the modern day,
Lunacy exists.

Back and pumping out a 42-minute episode on some of the crazy surrounding the recent lunar eclipse, crazy that you’re not going to hear from other sources. This past eclipse on August 21, 2017, was perhaps one of the most-hyped and most-viewed solar eclipses in human history. As with any such mass-sighted event, pseudoscience is bound to rear its ugly head. In this episode, I address doom and gloom, earthquake predictions, astrologic predictions, Planet X predictions, and other topics related to the eclipse.

There’s one additional segment, and that’s about where I’ve been (literally).

Solar Eclipse from August 21, 2017 (©Stuart Robbins)

Solar Eclipse from August 21, 2017 (©Stuart Robbins)

May 29, 2017

Follow-Up on NASA Providing Open Access to All Its Funded Research


Open Access Banner

Open Access Banner

Last August (2016), I wrote a post about the recent announcement that NASA would be making available all research that it funded, for free. In the post, I wrote many reasons why I was in support of the concept of such an endeavor, but I had serious questions and potential issues with the implementation of it. Namely, we had zero information about the implementation.

Last week, I got an e-mail that seeks to clarify:

Dear Stuart Robbins,

As a NASA grant awardee, you have the option to submit your accepted manuscript(s) to NASA’s PubSpace repository. PubSpace is available from a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA to allow wider access to the results of federally-funded research. For the grant listed below, you may deposit any peer-reviewed manuscripts describing work supported by NASA awards that were published or accepted for publication through the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system. At this time, this is not a Term and Condition of the grant listed below; however, you may voluntarily submit any manuscripts that were a result of the funded research from this grant.

Grant Award Information:
Grant Number: █████
Proposal: █████
Technical Officer: █████
Technical Officer Email: █████

In order to complete this process, you will need to have an ORCID ID number. Your ORCID ID number is required to align your award information to you and to allow you to log into the NIHMS system. Please follow this link to create an ORCID ID or to log in with your current ORCID ID number.

You will need to allow NASA to have access to your ORCID record as a trusted third-party. To do this, confirm that the box is checked next to “Allow this permission until I revoke it.” When creating a new ORCID ID, once you have all the required fields filled out completely, click the “Authorize” button at the bottom of the screen. For those who already have an ORICD ID, once you log in your ORCID profile will be associated with NASA. This will take you to a landing page that will provide further information and details on the NIHMS system.

Please allow three business days from when you register your ORCID to login to the NIHMS system. We are asking for you to complete this process so that when you do have a manuscript you wish to deposit, you will be able to access all systems and have a more streamlined experience.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the NASA Open Access Help Desk at nasa-researchaccess@mail.nasa.gov or call (757) 864-6736. You can also navigate to https://www.nasa.gov/open/researchaccess/frequently-asked-questions for additional information.

Regards,
Michelle

Michelle L. Chrzanowski
NASA Open Access Help Desk
(757) 864-6736 (OPEN)

So, we now have a system, apparently. I haven’t tried it, but I’ll be submitting my first paper based on the above redacted grant later this summer, so we’ll see how it works out as that progresses.

May 6, 2017

Podcast Episode 162: Geocentrism, Take 2


Geocentrism
Is so wrong, even young-Earth
Creationists know!

Slightly longer segment this time, a bit of a mishmash between episodes 78 and 152, young-Earth creationists refuting geocentrism. I go through about five different arguments against geocentrism and also look at the language that young-Earth creationists use to argue against geocentrists.

I added feedback to this episode again, almost catching me up, covering several varied topics including potential future episodes. There’s also an announcement about the episode schedule.

Geocentrism Cartoon

Geocentrism Cartoon

April 22, 2017

Podcast Episode 161: Water on Earth— Coriolis and Tides


Water on the Earth:
Do tides affect you? Does the
Coriolis, too?

Another short main segment, two common misconceptions about water: Coriolis and Tides. The episode was motivated when I recently heard George Noory make the statement, yet again, about, “Since we’re mostly water, and the moon causes tides in water, doesn’t the moon affect us, too?” Or something like that. Add to it some misconceptions I’ve had before about Coriolis, and we have an episode.

I added feedback to this episode, and there’s more feedback that’ll be in the next episode. This is also the episode for the first half of April. One of these days, I’ll get back on schedule.

Moon Over Water, Artistic Rendering

Moon Over Water, Artistic Rendering

April 3, 2017

Podcast Episode 160: Apollo Hoax: The US Flag Waving, and the Moon of No Return


Apollo Moon Hoax:
Why does the US flag wave?
And, why no return?

A return to a tried-and-true subject of skepticism: the Apollo Moon Hoax. In this shorter episode, I discuss two of the most common claims that you may hear: Why does the US flag appear to be waving in photographs, and if we went to the moon, why haven’t we been back?

There are no additional segments in this episode, and it is significantly shorter than my recent standard. This is also the episode for the second half of March.

Moon Hoax Poster

Moon Hoax Poster

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