Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Herb Masters

Greetings Science Supporters,

I’m beginning to think that the reason it’s getting so hot is that the astrophysicists and astronomers have been lying to us.  It seems pretty apparent that the reason it is getting so hot can only be because the earth is moving closer to the sun!  This must be because of the drag on the atmosphere by so many of the world’s population wearing masks, making them less aerodynamic.  (just kidding!  Wave as we drift farther away!)

I can’t come to grips with the idea that so many people insist on having their own “true understanding” of how the universe works and denying science.  Even the Vatican has an astronomer!  You’ve heard it before, willful covidnorance seems to be rampant in this country.  The overwhelming evidence is that we could, if everybody cooperated, get this pandemic under control in a matter of weeks!  It’s sort of like voting.  If you want it to work you have to do it.  So, make sure to check your voter registration is current and wear a mask

There are a lot of “incorrect” beliefs about science.  Understanding science and what it means is really important.  In these times of remote learning in the home instead of in the classroom is making it tough on parents.  I asked if anyone had some recommendations last week.  Genia sent a link to K5Learning and Auritte sent along Celsius and Beyond.  I think they are both supporting what would otherwise be called homeschooling during these Days of Covid.  The UC Museum of Paleontology has some great resources on climate change, evolution, and understanding science.  Here are some other online resources…  Academy @ Home   explOratorium Tools for Teaching and Learning  The Tech Interactive Design Challenges During Distance Learning  The Lawrence at Home  CuriOdyssey: Anytime, Anywhere

Science can help us understand and learn so that horrible mistakes happen far less frequently.  The tragedy in Lebanon is a perfect example.  Many of the risks were known but those responsible didn’t pay attention.  Here are two articles that I think can help us understand what happened.  The Tragic Physics of the Deadly Explosion in Beirut and Why Beirut’s ammonium nitrate blast was so devastating 

Even in these times of social distancing there are still many opportunities for learning for the young and those of us that are getting less young every day.   Checkout our Bay Area Science Calendar for more than most people realize are available these days!

A bit of bad news.  I remember when the Arecibo Observatory was built in the 1960s.  It is huge!  Last week it was severely damaged.  Fortunately it isn’t thousands of kilometers away from earth like some other amazing telescopes are.

Did you see what is probably the coolest corn maze ever? 

There are many stories about the first who did X or was the first who ?.  Do you know about Mary King Ward?  She was an Irish writer who happened to be the first successful female science “popularizer”.  Like so many people who have been key to the development of science she wasn’t a standard “gentleman of science” and sadly is known more for having been the first person to ever die in a car accident…   in 1869! 

Sorry to be so late this week.  It does give me the chance to add this from Ken though…  Last night at Lick Observatory

Science it never was just for rich white guys!

Peace and Planets
herb masters
Anyone care for a “Cup of Tea”? 
“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes.
But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”
     Bertrand Russell  1952

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