Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Unexpected SciSchmoozing

Clouds are rare over Mars. Curiosity photographed these clouds so far above the surface that they may be made of dry ice crystals, i.e. frozen CO2.

from the desk of David Almandsmith

This SciSchmooze is going to press before the results of Ingenuity’s 7th flight are known. But if you would like a little model (about 1/7 scale) of Ingenuity – for free – just be the third person replying to ask for it. 

Nobody expected it was possible to be blown directly downwind faster than the motion of air – until Rick Cavallero decided that it WAS possible. This fascinating video is more than a little mind-bending; sometimes i thought i understood and sometimes i was baffled. Frankly, I’d like to see data from an anemometer placed high on the pylon.

During 27 years, 16 Concorde supersonic airliners flew at twice the speed of sound, each comfortably carrying 100+ passengers but at a ticket price nearing 30 times that for flying on a normal subsonic  airliner. Regardless, Concorde operations were never profitable and the last commercial flight was in 2003. Few expected that a major carrier – United Airlines – would invest billions of dollars in an unproven supersonic airliner being designed by an unproven company.

I would never expect glacial meltwater to be a polluter, but ‘high’ amounts of mercury are found in meltwater from southern Greenland which hosts a major fishing industry. Just a few years ago, that meltwater was found to have problematic levels of phosphate

The study of primate fossils suggested to paleontologists that apes likely developed bipedal locomotion about 7 million years ago. Unexpectedly, that milestone seems to have been pushed back 5 million years

Going back further still, an author and lecturer is claiming that the larger dinosaurs could not be expected to walk on land; they were just too heavy. Instead, the adults must have waded about partially submerged in water. (¿Where – and when – did i leave my time machine?)

The Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 and completed in 2003 with publication of the complete genome of the human species. I and most folk expected that the term “complete genome” meant “complete genome.” Apparently there were caveats in fine print because “complete” meant “all of the meaningful DNA” and that another 8% was too repetitive to be sequenced. It took until now to reach 100%.

Space debris hitting the International Space Station is not expected to cause loss of life but little pieces can certainly damage things and the situation may be getting worse.

¿What are we expected to believe about UFOs from space? For a light-hearted short video, i offer you Professor Joe Schwarcz from McGill University. For a deeper dive, here is a 25-minute video with Mick West, a well-known skeptic and former SkeptiCal speaker.

Livestream picks of the week:

No one expected the first Covid-19 vaccine to be as good as it was,“ one of the researchers admitted. The successful development of an MRNA vaccine for COVID-19 has bolstered confidence in the development of an MRNA vaccine for HIV/AIDS. At this time, about 4 million people have succumbed to COVID-19. As a morbid comparison, AIDS has taken the lives of about 30 million people.

I suppose we could have expected some folk, like Dr. Joe Mercola, to make a profit off of COVID nonsense. Because some people still worry about being injected with a microchip when getting a vaccine, The Atlantic published this. The World Health Organization has teamed with the British government to fight the spread of COVID misinformation. On the other hand, it seems that the British heir to the throne has other ideas.


Have fun – and expand your circle of empathy,
Dave Almandsmith, member Bay Area Skeptics board


“There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men.”
– John Locke, English philosopher and physician (1632 – 1704)

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