Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

From Antikythera Island to Lagrange

SciSchmooze 7.11.22

herb masters

Haaretz Archeology

Greetings Science Fans and Critical Thinkers,

A special note about Tuesday, don’t miss the first images from the James Webb Telescope at 07:30 PDT (14:30 UTC). (Note: the Jan 6 hearing is also about the same time!) Here’s a teaser. Check out the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio for more great visualizations as well.

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I am not a student, and never have been a student, of history. Needless to say there is a lot going on in the world of science and reason. I do like various stories that appear unrelated that I think make the threads of the history of science. Consider the Head of Hercules and other treasures. Why do I bring this up? Well, when quantum theory was first proposed and then proven, I don’t think it was thought that it would play such an important role today. You may remember that the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN was announced 10 years ago on July 4th. Well, just recently the CDF at Fermilab reported that they had precisely measured it’s mass and it is a lot higher than was predicted. I, for one, can’t begin to understand the science behind this but like so many things in science we have to trust the scientists and also celebrate their accomplishments. How we decide to trust what a scientist is a challenge when what they are doing is so esoteric(?) but still really important to our understanding of how the universe works. Why do I bring this up? Well, when quantum theory was first proposed and then proven, I don’t think it was thought that it would play such an important role today.

So how do you decide which scientist to believe or accept? You may or may not be familiar with the Sokal Affair and its’ latest iteration Sokal III: The Latest (and Greatest?) Academic Hoax Here in the USA we seem to be having a lot of trouble agreeing on what science can and can’t do. Here are a couple of articles from the Brazilian organization Instituto Questão de Ciência (IQC) that show that science is misunderstood in many places… Equals Before Science and The FLYING SAUCER CPI For me, getting to talk with people who know how to recognize good and bad science is really important. David and I have mentioned it before but this is your last reminder to check out SkeptiCal 2022 which is happening this coming weekend. The lineup of speakers is really excellent. The best known is Bill Nye but there are many others that you should watch. If you attend that you may very well find yourself looking for more science and reason at CSICon 2022. I’ll be there!

It’s summertime, the beaches are calling (some of us), and there’s great things to learn. Here are a few suggestions from the calendar… 

JWST: First Image of a New Dawn of Discovery Fri 7:00
Family Nature Walks – Baylands Nature Preserve Sat 10:00
The Ominous Ocean: Rogue Waves, Rip Currents, and Other Dangers Along the Shoreline and in the Sea Sun 1:30

This series … “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World” premieres at 9 p.m. tonight.

You can see this live Thursday evening. You can’t unsee this: Cow eyeball dissections are S.F.’s greatest science tradition

Here’s something to plan for next year if you have a young woman in your life who happens to be looking for a career… Camp Cinder. Check out a career that has lots of science in it that most people don’t think about. Science is the great equalizer between a burly firefighter and someone who can look at something and figure it out!

Here are two bonus links for the week!!!
Jad Abumrad’s Superb Caltech Commencement Address
Immunity, Interdependence, and the Shared Root of Our Safety and Our Sanity

Have a great week learning new things and seeing how that changes what you see when you look as something familiar.

herb masters

“The displacement of the idea that facts and evidence matter by the idea that everything boils down to subjective interests and perspectives is — second only to American political campaigns — the most prominent and pernicious manifestation of anti-intellectualism in our time.”
— Larry Laudan, Science and Relativism (1990)

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