Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

SciSchmooze Softcore Smorgasbord

Hot ‘soft’ core of Mars with seismic wave paths – NASA

Greetings, dear reader. I trust you will find some delectable items in this week’s science smorgasbord.


Learned geophysicists years ago concluded that Mars has a hot liquid inner core, unlike Earth with its hot solid inner core. They calculated that Mars’ gravitational pressure is insufficient to make molten iron solid, as is the case with our home planet. But there’s nothing like good data: the seismometers on NASA’s Insight mission clinched that theory using seismic waves generated by marsquakes on the opposite side of the red planet.

JWST has taken remarkable pictures of other planets in our solar system that are nicely explained by Dr. Becky Smethurst, but i think you will also enjoy Dr. Becky’s other space news in her enthusiastic video.

¿Want to practice your high school latin? A new ‘childrens’ book written in elementary Latin features astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889): Astronomia: Fabula Planetarium.


The United States’ COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends on May 11. In the U.S:
– over 30% of us are known to have had the disease
– nearly 1.2 million died with COVID-19 as the major cause of death
– since January 2022, new cases are down 92% and new deaths are down 80%

Not surprisingly, due to COVID  teenage sex was down and longevity took a plunge. You may be surprised to learn that the United State ranks 47th in the world in male longevity. KQED recently had a one-hour live program on the reasons for our poor longevity. (Program begins at a minute and 45 seconds into the recording.) ¿Is a plant from New Guinea partly responsible for our poor longevity?

Vishnu won the Caffeine Beaker with a guess of 113; closest of 17 entries. The raffle prize this time is a Galileo Thermometer. It wasn’t invented by Galileo but by a pupil of his in the mid 1600s. Just send an email before noon Friday to david.almandsmith [at] with an integer between 0 and 1,000.

My Picks of the Week

– Climate and Energy in Africa: What We’re Getting Wrong 10am Monday, Stanford
– Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge Livestream 6pm Tuesday
– The Insect Crisis is a Human Crisis 6pm Thursday, Berkeley
– All the Little Things (EcoCenter Event) 10:30 – Noon Saturday, Palo Alto, Ages 6 – 11


No catastrophic flooding in California – yet. Anticipating a faster snowmelt, agencies are clearing ‘flood channels’ in the Central Valley of trees and overgrowth that have been allowed to take root for decades. Arrangements are being made to divert flood waters to other courses, if necessary. Communities are erecting sandbag barriers and reinforcing levees. Dams are releasing water at measured rates in anticipation of rapid filling from snowmelt. Residents in 1862 had no such options. Flood waters created a 480 x 32 km lake in the Central Valley.  Over 4,000 people died along with 200,000 cattle

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is now at 420 ppm and continues to climb. Globally, energy-related CO2 emissions hit a new record high in 2022. Things we can do: 
– consider using your bicycle or public transportation when/where feasible
– install (or add) solar panels and a wall battery
– buy less; waste less
– rideshare
– shop for an EV or plug-in hybrid automobile (smaller and lighter is better)
– consider Amtrak for longer trips
– convert your gas appliances to electric

Fun nerdy videos

Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop – Dr. Mike – Dr. Mikhail Varshavski – 9 mins
Beaming Solar Energy from Space – Sabine Hossenfelder, PhD – 14 mins
Ethylene Oxide – The Right Chemistry – Joe Schwarcz, PhD – 5 mins
Concrete – Veritaseum – Derek Muller, PhD – 24 mins
Celera 500L – Future Lab – [If dreams were eagles . . . ] – 5 mins

Let me know whether you liked watching “Fun nerdy videos.”

Empathy for those you’ve never met requires a little bit of effort. Get to work!
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics

“It might be helpful to realize that very probably the parents of the first native born Martians are alive today.”
— Jack Schmitt (1935 – ) Geologist, Apollo 17 moonwalker

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