Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Traveling with the SciSchmooze

“AirCar” built by Klein Vision in Slovakia

Hello again dear readers,

¿Wasn’t science supposed to let us travel using flying cars and jet packs and hover-boards? Well, all are available but it’s a lot cheaper to buy an airline ticket (or book a plane from your flying club) and rent a car at your destination.

In my June 6 SciSchmooze, I expressed skepticism that a wind-powered vehicle could travel straight downwind faster than the wind’s velocity. I was not the only skeptic. UCLA professor Alex Kusenko also doubted it was possible and agreed to a $10,000 wager with Derek Muller, the host of the June 6 video. The wager was witnessed by Bill Nye the Science Guy, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Sean Carroll. Long story short, Dr. Kusenko (and I) lost. Here is the video covering the wager and its outcome

¿Is it possible that hundreds of years ago, Māori sailors traveled far enough south to reach Antarctic ice shelves and icebergs? Yes, according to their oral history.

¿Space travel for the price of a ticket? This was once possible when Russia took millionaires to the ISS, but not in the last dozen years or so. This month both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin plan to take folk into space who are not test personnel. Blue Origin is auctioning off tickets and their first paying passenger shoveled over $28 million for this month’s ride. Virgin Galactic has already sold about 600 tickets for $250,000 each. So if you buy your Virgin Galactic ticket now, you will have to stand in line behind Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, and Leonardo diCaprio – to name a few. Stay tuned.

Some would say those trips are traveling into the ‘Ignorosphere’.

My Livestream Picks:
Engineering Mars Missions – Tuesday Noon – 1:30pm
Wonderfest: Playing with a Quantum Toy – Wednesday 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Tilting at Strawmen and Other Tricks of Climate Denial Enablers – Thursday 7:30pm

Here is an upcoming in-person event:
Sunset Science – Saturday 6:30pm – 10pm, Chabot Space & Science Center

The Hubble Space Telescope recently celebrated 31st years traveling around our home planet, but currently it is off-line while specialists are diagnosing a glitch.

Traveling farther out are the Mars rovers:
> Perseverance takes its first ‘solo’ drive
> Curiosity takes and analyzes a rock sample (animation)
> Zhurong put down a camera and then drove away

I did not find new Ingenuity news, but . . .

. . .  ¡You can win a free Ingenuity coffee mug! Send me an email (only one) before noon Friday with an integer between zero and 1,000. We will then use a random number generator to select the target number. The person who came closest wins the mug. 

Traveling toward us and farther out still is Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein, a behemoth estimated to be at least 100 times more massive than the rock that contributed to the extinction of (non-avian) dinosaurs. Don’t worry; it won’t come any closer than Neptune’s orbit and won’t return again for about 3 million years. The Solar System may be a giant pin-ball machine but it is an incredibly huge pin-ball machine.

¿Are aliens traveling to reach us? ¿Do aliens even exist? As of today, answers to both questions are ‘up in the air.’

Gravitational waves traveled for over a billion years before wiggling spacetime here. Two gravitational wave detectors in the U.S. and a third in Italy sensed two separate events just ten days apart that correspond to the swallowing of a neutron star by a black hole. Yikes!

Potpourri: Darwin loved collecting beetles but he did not have access to a synchrotron. Here’s a discussion of evolutionary biology and human intelligence. And a video that elevates the anus!


Have a great week (remember to enter the coffee cup contest),
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics


“We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace. Preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft.”
-Adlai Stevenson II (1900 – 1965) American politician and diplomat.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) French author.

Upcoming Events:
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