Many of you will already be familiar with Richard Dawkins’s series, Enemies of Reason. In this series, Dawkins examines the all-too-readily accepted charlatanism of psychics, astrology, homoeopathy and more.
During one section of Enemies of Reason concerning spiritual readings, Dawkins interviews the illusionist Derren Brown in order that he might be better prepared for the tricks (cold reading etc) that will inevitably be used during a visit he plans to make to a spiritualist church.
Below, you will find the complete, uncut interview (not shown in the original series.) The interview is taken from “The Enemies of Reason: The Uncut Interviews“.
All text © 2008 Gary William Murning
Estimated to be no more than three times Jupiter’s mass, the planet, called Fomalhaut b, orbits the bright southern star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish).
Fomalhaut has been a candidate for planet hunting ever since an excess of dust was discovered around the star in the early 1980s by the US- UK-Dutch Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS).
via ‘Hubble directly observes planet orbiting Fomalhaut’ by EurekAlert – RichardDawkins.net
A truly amazing discovery. 25 light years! Wow. For once I am uncharacteristically at a loss for words.
I haven’t done a science related post in a while, if memory serves me well, so today I thought I’d share this great YouTube series on the history of the universe with you. There is much in it that many of you will already be familiar with, but it is nonetheless an excellent, simple explanation of many complex ideas. A valuable refresher and an excellent introduction for the beginner.
From potholer54’s YouTube site:
WE NEED YOU! — I am looking for people who can “seed” the Made Easy series, either hosting it on their websites, mailing DVDs to schools or to other ‘seeds’, or spreading through BitTorrents. If you can help spread a bit of science and counter the rolling tide of creationist ignorance, please get in touch. Message me with a description of what you can do. Thanks!
The ‘Made Easy’ series is designed to explain the evidence that shows how we got here, from the Big bang to human migration out of Africa. A better quality version will soon be available for free download from a website — details to be announced. I will be happy to send DVDs free of charge to schools after the series is finished.
The ‘Made Easy’ series of videos can be freely copied and distributed for educational purposes, but cannot be used for commercial gain in whole or in part. They cannot be altered, transformed or added to. If you use repost these videos you must attribute them to ‘Potholer54 on YouTube.”
I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, 14 years as a science correspondent. My degree is in geology, but while working for a science magazine and several science programs I had to tackle a number of different fields, from quantum physics to microbiology. My particular talent was my ignorance. By not understanding half of what I was assigned to cover, I had to reduce scientific discoveries from the complex to the simple. If I wrote it in a way that I could understand it, then my readers could understand it.
“Every time you break an egg, you are doing observational cosmology.”
From Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes? by Sean M. Carroll.
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but what with my “creative endeavours” and whatnot, I just haven’t got round to it.
The blogoshere is growing on a minute by minute basis. It’s estimated, in fact, to be growing so fast that by 2020 it will have broken free of its technological confines and turned the world and everything in it to a fish-paste-like mush… or was that nanobots? Either way, it’s a force to be reckoned with — and as our blogging skills increase I’m sure the trend for so-called “real journalists” to start sweating a bit and worrying about their job security will also continue to grow. Exponentially.
But, let’s face it, there’s a whole heap of dross out there. Silly, personal websites I have no objection to. They serve a purpose for the individual concerned and more power to them. What I don’t like, however, are the badly written blogs that claim to speak with authority on subjects they quite clearly know nothing about.
With this in mind, I thought I’d take a few moments to introduce you to some of my fellow bloggers who don’t fit into this category. These are the blogs I read on a daily basis. And they are a bit good.
See what you think.
- The Odd Blog. Mike’s mix of Internutter de-masking and commentary.
- PD Smith. Science writer par exellence.
- The Will Rhodes Portmanteau. Will’s political blog.
- Nectarville. Bekki’s blog. Slow down, girl!
- Pharyngula. “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal.”
- KurzweilAI.net. Science and futurism.
… that’s all for now, but more will follow soon.
[Edit: Please be aware that not being included in the list does not necessarily mean your blog falls into the “badly written blogs that claim to speak with authority on subjects they quite clearly know nothing about” category.]
I despair when I read stories like this on the state of funding for the sciences in the UK. It no longer seems the priority it once was — the ignorant simply “not bothered”, whilst the plain stupid probably believe that we’ll be safer, because the science boffins will have less money “to build, like, bigger bombs and stuff”.
The reality is, of course, a lot different. Many of us simply wouldn’t be here today were it not for science of one form or another. We certainly wouldn’t enjoy the lives of luxury we currently enjoy. That 42″ LCD TV you watch? Science. The pills that keep your hypertension in check or help you be a fine upstanding fellow in the bedroom? Science. The airbag that inflates in nanoseconds (hopefully) when you smash your car up the arse of another? Science. The double-glazed units that insulate our houses? Science.
Need I go on? It’s a cliché, but investing in science really is investing our future. Heaven knows, if we blow this planet up, I want to be on Mars when we do it. And how is that achieved?
Now you’re getting it.
[EDIT: This might be of further interest: Sir David said it was “a scandal” that there was “no place for continuing series of programmes about science or serious music or in-depth interviews”. ]
Richard Dawkins on the strangeness of science.
Sagan was a true communicator — of ideas, but also of his passion for life and knowledge. Wonderful stuff.
For all those who haven’t already seen it… and those who have…