Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Look up in the Sky with the SciSchmooze

Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau for December 10, 2023

Greetings Science Fans, Acceptors, and Supporters!

As we are nearing the winter solstice there are a lot of really fun and inspirational things going on. I think an interesting social challenge we are facing in so many areas in and out of science is reflected in the Audubon’s 124th Christmas Bird Count that starts this coming week. Earlier this year there was a bit of a flurry in the news about the Audubon Society changing it’s name. It decided not to, but they are going to change the name of a bunch of birds! It is a great chance to be a part of history and science! Keep in mind that science isn’t all that new!

I’m sure that you have heard that a ‘polyphenolic and organosulfur enriched nutraceutical spice consumed since ancient times, has shown excellent health-promoting and disease-preventing effects on many common human diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, blood pressure, and diabetes, through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering properties, as demonstrated in several in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies.’  But what is the evidence, or how do you check the accuracy of the statement? Thank goodness for Google and Google Scholar! Those that know me know that I rarely turn down garlic and usually ask for extra. Sometimes it is good to check out something that gets too much advertising to believe. Sometimes it is nice to just go with the cultural beliefs and not worry about the science! Sometimes it’s nice to hear How Wastewater Is Made to Be Safely Drinkable

You might ask why I started with a Doonesbury cartoon, and those two paragraphs. It was to remind myself and hopefully you that science isn’t static or free of emotion. You can think of it as a living evolving, understanding of how the universe works. There are things that are generally known to be true but there is a lot to learn, unlearn, and relearn! Sometimes it’s good to question what you think you know. You may know of musica universalis. It appears that TESS has found an example of this about 100 light years from here!

If you are young enough (that’s a loaded opening) you might catch the opposite of what happened on Saturday. In 1986 I went to Peru to see what was almost the perihelion of Halley’s Comet. It wasn’t nearly as spectacular as I had hoped. (Ask me to tell you that story sometime!) Well Saturday was the aphelion of Halley’s Comet. I hope that if you are around in about 37 years and it is a better show than I saw! You can get some practice looking at the sky at the San Mateo County libraries the week after christmas at Skywatch With Us: Telescopes at the Library or Geminids Meteor Shower Viewing at Chabot

Even though we are coming in to one of the lowest density of cool presentations to catch there are still some worth seeing. For example…

Here’s your warning to help avoid disappointment… Tickets are on sale for all of The Physics Show performances. If you can’t have fun with physics … … you aren’t a very fun person! These tickets sell out about as quick as the tickets for the summer lectures and music performances at Lick Observatory! They run from 1.6.24 to 1.21.24. Don’t delay just order them now.

I have to say that this is one of the coolest sentences I have read in quite awhile… “Volunteers spend warm, rainy nights on the sides of Chileno Valley Road with camera equipment, buckets, and reflective vests, picking up newts and shuttling them to the other side of the road.” In some areas, they blanketed the road,” says a volunteer newt-rescue organizer.

The images that we get from incredible telescopes both on earth and in space do inspire wonder. However the images that come from our oceans are more amazing and startling to me than any galaxy out there. These are just plain charming!

The stories of adventurers often become legends. Here’s one that is still developing… Endurance: Shackleton’s lost ship is found in Antarctic and, also in the Weddell sea, A23a is on the move. There will be more debate about climate change!

In case you missed it The 33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

A couple of weeks ago Bob wrote a reminder/update of who and what we are. Keep those comments, notes, and suggestions coming. It has been great to hear from readers that we don’t hear from.

Have a great week learning cool new stuff and sharing it with friends and family. You may remember this… The Medium Is The Message (1967)

herb masters

 “Paranoia’s the garlic in life’s kitchen, right: you can never have too much.” – Thomas Pynchon

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