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Cosmos, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson - In which we learn that FOX is not the same as Fox News

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    The elastic rebound theory, upon which modern seismology is based, came about from studying the great San Francisco quake at the turn of the century in 1900s, early. Not much was really known about the actual physical forces involved. I don't think we even knew about liquid magma until the 1920s. You think it is obvious now only because of the groundwork laid down by many discoveries. I mean it's not like you have personally made all those observations yourself. Even now, there is no empirical way you can actually prove that continents are drifting (unless you are secretly a field geologist or seismologist or something). Have you collected volcano or earthquake data personally? I think it is really easy to underestimate the scale of what is needed to prove something like evolution, or continental drift.

    The best part? It could always turn out to be wrong! Science goes where the evidence leads. It should not be baaed simply on authority (although it often is, because we are all human).

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    If there is anything I have learned from Cosmos, it's how easy it is to take the Science I know for granted. It's really easy to think you are on the side of Wegener or Newton now, but statistically, each person is FAR more likely to be a naysayer who looks down, mocking the scientists who make the breakthrough. The show teaches humility, that scientists should be more willing to admit they are wrong, or at least follow the evidence where It leads instead of relying on learned wisdom. The most exciting science is the kind that can prove wrong what you thought you already know.

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  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    The elastic rebound theory, upon which modern seismology is based, came about from studying the great San Francisco quake at the turn of the century in 1900s, early. Not much was really known about the actual physical forces involved. I don't think we even knew about liquid magma until the 1920s. You think it is obvious now only because of the groundwork laid down by many discoveries. I mean it's not like you have personally made all those observations yourself. Even now, there is no empirical way you can actually prove that continents are drifting (unless you are secretly a field geologist or seismologist or something). Have you collected volcano or earthquake data personally? I think it is really easy to underestimate the scale of what is needed to prove something like evolution, or continental drift.

    The best part? It could always turn out to be wrong! Science goes where the evidence leads. It should not be baaed simply on authority (although it often is, because we are all human).

    Well, thanks to The Wonders of Modern Technology (TM), even a humble day laborer like myself can, indirectly, make observations about the wider world. I can go watch hundreds of hours of footage documenting volcanic eruptions, for example. Either all of those videos are fake, and part of some elaborate conspiracy, or the Earth contains some large quantity of molten rock that is sometimes ejected very violently to the surface. The energy required to do that isn't exactly trivial, so one must ask, "Where is that energy coming from?"

    Once you accept that the Earth interior isn't stable, and that it's likely made of molten liquid, the idea that the surface we inhabit is floating on top of the liquid is kind of inescapable.

    This is an interesting, if disquieting, read that compares the acceptance of evolutionary biology vs the acceptance of continental drift. Darwin, with his established network & respected family name, found his theory accepted as an a priori fact in about 5 years by Oxford. Wegener, without the network of friends or the family name, couldn't find purchase in his much better established theory, with much less controversial subject matter & a much better technology base, for 30 years.

    There's no excuse for that.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Honestly, Darwin spent a fair amount of his life gathering evidence for his theory. Wegener was in the process of doing so, but unfortunately he died. Yes, scientists can form an academic establishment that defies logic, that's the human aspect of it. "Just look at a map!" Is not good enough, nor should it be. Even that article you posted said that Wegener did NOT have the evidence to back up his claim. It's not just the theory, but also the process, and sometimes the process takes years of gathering evidence. It is a tragedy that he died while trying to do just that.

    That article is a bit unfair to Darwin as well. The mechanism was not the lynchpin. It was the predictive power of his work. Wegener was not nearly as far along in his ideas as Darwin was on his process. Again, perhaps history would be different if Wegener survived.

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  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Darwin didn't have any better evidence than Wegener did. Just the family name and a few specimens from the Beagle voyage.


    On the brighter side, I checked to see which journal finally published the landmark paper on Plate Tectonics in the 60s. Sure enough, it was Nature.

    My soul is somewhat soothed.

    With Love and Courage
  • Steel_AtlasSteel_Atlas Registered User regular
    It bothers me that he keeps saying the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor, not only are the experts in that field split about wether meteors were what caused the K-T line but they had to revise the theory to multiple meteors if was a meteor at all.

    Brainleech
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    Darwin didn't have any better evidence than Wegener did. Just the family name and a few specimens from the Beagle voyage.


    On the brighter side, I checked to see which journal finally published the landmark paper on Plate Tectonics in the 60s. Sure enough, it was Nature.

    My soul is somewhat soothed.
    According to that article, perhaps. I think it was written to paint a particular picture, rather than making a fair comparison. Wegener had far less evidence than Darwin, if you want to go that direction. I mean, it is good that you are angry about it, as social injustice is something I hate, too. But the comparison seems strange to me, almost like we want to blame Darwin for being a rockstar scientist who did great work. Not all scientists need to be Davids or rags to riches stories.

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  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    It should be noted that Darwin sat on his work for decades because he was afraid of the fallout, and only when he heard another man was going to publish a very similar theory did he take the plunge.
    It worked out well for him but he didn't feel comfortable about it at all.

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  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    According to that article, perhaps. I think it was written to paint a particular picture, rather than making a fair comparison. Wegener had far less evidence than Darwin, if you want to go that direction. I mean, it is good that you are angry about it, as social injustice is something I hate, too. But the comparison seems strange to me, almost like we want to blame Darwin for being a rockstar scientist who did great work. Not all scientists need to be Davids or rags to riches stories.

    No, but we should probably expect better of the academic institute than to ridicule someone and close off any avenues for them to pursue research. Darwin is only useful as a contrast because we see that, in his case, tenure and connections allowed a controversial new hypothesis to enter the field. If you don't have those things, welp... (or at least, so it went in the 1930s).


    In any case, it's reassuring that - eventually - Nature, once again, had our backs.

    With Love and Courage
  • BrainleechBrainleech Registered User regular
    It bothers me that he keeps saying the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor, not only are the experts in that field split about wether meteors were what caused the K-T line but they had to revise the theory to multiple meteors if was a meteor at all.

    I agree
    I keep pointing out the things that were around at the same time as dinosaurs and live on today
    They would be very affected by something like a meteor and yet they are still around

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Darwin had enormous piles of evidence for evolution. He'd only been working on it for a few decades when he published The Origin of Species. A lot of stuff that seemed tangential at the time was related, such as his extensive studies on barnacles, proving they were crustaceans and not molluscs, and his breeding of pigeons to study inheritance of features.

    However he did get additional help from the fact was that there were many proto-evolutionary theories out there, all of which had issues so people knew those couldn't actually work, so he knew what holes he needed to fix in his own theory first. Hence why he did those studies on barnacles and other things (Darwin was one of the first to study carnivorous plants, for another), so he would have more supporting evidence. There wasn't much in proto-continental drift theories (just stuff about land bridges which I guess kinda came and went, or something?) so Wegener was really, really working from scratch.

  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    According to that article, perhaps. I think it was written to paint a particular picture, rather than making a fair comparison. Wegener had far less evidence than Darwin, if you want to go that direction. I mean, it is good that you are angry about it, as social injustice is something I hate, too. But the comparison seems strange to me, almost like we want to blame Darwin for being a rockstar scientist who did great work. Not all scientists need to be Davids or rags to riches stories.

    No, but we should probably expect better of the academic institute than to ridicule someone and close off any avenues for them to pursue research. Darwin is only useful as a contrast because we see that, in his case, tenure and connections allowed a controversial new hypothesis to enter the field. If you don't have those things, welp... (or at least, so it went in the 1930s).


    In any case, it's reassuring that - eventually - Nature, once again, had our backs.

    You seem to be using those as negatives against Darwin. Tenure means that his scientific credentials were established, not that he was entitled. Connections mean that he was well known, not that he was entrenched.
    They're two very important things in science that can't be ignored. The study of science is made up of people, and so you must be capable of presenting your ideas to people.
    You can be the greatest physicist in the world and if you can't establish the scientific proof of your work or communicate it to people, then you're in for a rough ride.
    It's why people like Dr. Tyson and programs like Cosmos are necessary to translate theory into understandable chunks to those who don't know about these ideas.

  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    edited May 2014
    There is no doubt that the scientific community looks heavily towards established credentials when reviewing new claims.
    This is not particularly problematic, especially since especially in the modern age there is a large body of established work and consensus and very specialised professions, often needing extensive mathematical rigor to even be able to understand the subject, let alone contribute. Now there is always a chance that 'guy in shed' outthinks the community somehow. But the odds are slim and are slimming. The universities have grown very large and competitive.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I know physicists tire of people approaching them with Unified Theories etcet. Nobel prize winner Gerard 't Hooft has a website dedicated to an outline of prerequisites that are needed to be able to talk about these subjects on his level: http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~Gadda001/goodtheorist/index.html
    It is long and I think many people will not even get past the 'Primary Mathemathics' step, which is part 2 of roughly 25.

    Einstein is often hailed as an example but a) this was 110 years ago and 2) He still had what is more or less equal to a Masters degree in Physics and couldn't land a PhD position because of university politics. Not really a layman.
    A more modern example is Perelman, a russian mathematician who hated the politics of university too, and took all his knowledge home and solved a famous problem. But he started with a very good education.

    Bad things happen when you trust people too much though, it's where fraud enters the system. Every now and again there are shakeups because of bad behaviour in studies, often with statistics or outright fraud in manufactoring data.
    The increasing pressure of publishing due to it being a measure of scientists and universities worth isn't great.

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  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    Continental drift isn't as obvious as is being claimed here. There are plenty of volcanoes and earthquakes that are not related to drift at all and are caused by magma plumes rising through the asthenosphere. A molten interior does not imply that the continents are themselves moving--and there are other bodies in the solar system with molten interiors but without plate tectonics.

    Claiming that it's so obvious in retrospect unfairly minimizes Wegener's achievements and his insight.

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  • JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    It bothers me that he keeps saying the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor, not only are the experts in that field split about wether meteors were what caused the K-T line but they had to revise the theory to multiple meteors if was a meteor at all.

    Heard an interesting twist on the theory on RadioLab, linked below, that posited that if the meteor had actually hit and was that large, it would have liquified the crust, causing effectively a massive plume of molten sand into the sky, which would then have cooled back into glass and gravity would have pulled in, in the process depositing the heat back into the atmosphere and effectively "baking" the planet - only small creatures which could make it underground and other things in the ground (seeds, etc) would have had any real chance of surviving (although obviously given some dinosaurs DID survive, that must not be universal, and the segment is a tad sensationalized in the "they ALL died" sense). Apparently some decent evidence for this has been compiled in terms of finding the pellets all over the globe, etc. It's certainly not proven, but a different way of thinking about the meteor than is common.

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/dinopocalypse/

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Claiming that it's so obvious in retrospect unfairly minimizes Wegener's achievements and his insight.
    It shows a lack of understanding in how much groundwork was laid before, and how much advancing technology has helped as well.

    Using Cosmos' examples, finding contiguous rock formations on either side of an ocean, or undifferentiated species on distant continents are strong data points for continental drift, but a couple of data points does not a revolutionary theory make, and at the time there was so much going on that was purely hypothetical, because we didn't have the ability to easily or accurately collect the data needed to dismiss incorrect theories. For example, being able to map the ocean floor and verify, nope, no possible land bridges there. Or positioning devices and analytics precise and accurate enough to actually measure plate motion.

    Lots of stuff seems glaringly obvious in hindsight, but that's a property of hindsight.

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Even if you have credentials and evidence, the scientific community can be slow to accept your findings. Which is why you always "follow the evidence".

    30 years ago, two Australian physicians discovered that Peptic Ulcer Disease is primarily caused by bacteria, not stomach acid (which is a factor that makes it worse, but isn't the primary cause). This refuted the former dominant paradigm on medical treatment for peptic ulcer disease (acid and stress cause ulcers), which was based on a study in the 1950s that showed no bacterial involvement (H.Pylori, the organism that causes PUD, is notoriously hard to culture). After seeing H. Pylori in the mucosa of stomach ulcer samples, they sought to isolate the organism, but were largely unsuccessful. Then, during the Easter holidays, a culture was accidentally left out for 5 days to culture, which produced the bacteria in culture.

    They would never have found it, if folks didn't go on vacation in Australia during Easter.

    But no one really believed them, when they posited the link between this bacteria and gastric disease. The dismissive medical community cited mountains of prior evidence from prior studies. "Hey, the bacteria was always there, but it's just passing through. It doesn't cause ulcers." The medical correspondent of the New York Times stated "I’ve never seen the medical community more defensive or more critical of a story".

    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D). His published findings apparently inspired ANOTHER doctor to ingest a culture of H. Pylori a couple years later, who also got gastritis.* Other doctors started experimenting with various antibiotic treatments (probably thinking "Hey, curing the gastritis infection would do SOME good, even if it doesn't cure the ulcer."), which eventually led to a treatment regimen in the 90s that had an unbelievable 90%+ cure rate for stomach ulcers. This was a disease that you had for LIFE, with no cure, before the 1990s. It was so prevalent that we can often find ulcers in the remains of stomach tissue on long-dead corpses and mummies.

    The interesting thing is the humility these Nobel Prize winning doctors have about their discovery. They say that they found the bacteria, but they didn't find the link between ulcers and the bacteria. Someone else built on their work to come up with antibiotic regimen to cure it, and it wasn't until that point that their theory became commonly accepted. "Follow the evidence" eventually prevailed, but even in our modern era, sometimes we are slow to accept new research.

    * Side Note: There is a long and storied history of crazy hardcore doctors who experiment on themselves. In 1921, Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane carried out his own appendectomy in an attempt to prove the efficacy of local anaesthesia for such operations. (Wikipedia) In 1961, Dr. Leonid Rogozov removed his own infected appendix at an Antarctic Research Station, as he was the only physician on staff. (Wikipedia). In 1929, Dr. Werner Forssmann put a heart catheter into himself, after tricking a nurse into thinking he would be demonstrating this new experimental technique that he developed on the nurse. He cut his own arm and inserted it into his blood vessels, then released the nurse and told her to get the X-Ray department.

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  • Steel_AtlasSteel_Atlas Registered User regular
    Jragghen wrote: »
    It bothers me that he keeps saying the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor, not only are the experts in that field split about wether meteors were what caused the K-T line but they had to revise the theory to multiple meteors if was a meteor at all.

    Heard an interesting twist on the theory on RadioLab, linked below, that posited that if the meteor had actually hit and was that large, it would have liquified the crust, causing effectively a massive plume of molten sand into the sky, which would then have cooled back into glass and gravity would have pulled in, in the process depositing the heat back into the atmosphere and effectively "baking" the planet - only small creatures which could make it underground and other things in the ground (seeds, etc) would have had any real chance of surviving (although obviously given some dinosaurs DID survive, that must not be universal, and the segment is a tad sensationalized in the "they ALL died" sense). Apparently some decent evidence for this has been compiled in terms of finding the pellets all over the globe, etc. It's certainly not proven, but a different way of thinking about the meteor than is common.

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/dinopocalypse/

    But the thing is, and I dont claim to be an expert in the matter so its my opinion, is the meteor theory is constantly changing and getting more and more complicated which seems to be the sign of a bad theory.

    And I dont get why cosmos keeps using it, I mean they started out last week well explaining the volcanic activity in India, which seems to be agreed upon as the most likely cause but then again state meteors was the final cause, sorta of dissolves Cosmos as anything more then well done pop science.

  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    I'm sticking with the astrophysicist probably knowing more about this for now.

    EvigilantSmrtnikTheBlackWindShadowen
  • kaidkaid Registered User regular
    Jragghen wrote: »
    It bothers me that he keeps saying the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor, not only are the experts in that field split about wether meteors were what caused the K-T line but they had to revise the theory to multiple meteors if was a meteor at all.

    Heard an interesting twist on the theory on RadioLab, linked below, that posited that if the meteor had actually hit and was that large, it would have liquified the crust, causing effectively a massive plume of molten sand into the sky, which would then have cooled back into glass and gravity would have pulled in, in the process depositing the heat back into the atmosphere and effectively "baking" the planet - only small creatures which could make it underground and other things in the ground (seeds, etc) would have had any real chance of surviving (although obviously given some dinosaurs DID survive, that must not be universal, and the segment is a tad sensationalized in the "they ALL died" sense). Apparently some decent evidence for this has been compiled in terms of finding the pellets all over the globe, etc. It's certainly not proven, but a different way of thinking about the meteor than is common.

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/dinopocalypse/

    But the thing is, and I dont claim to be an expert in the matter so its my opinion, is the meteor theory is constantly changing and getting more and more complicated which seems to be the sign of a bad theory.

    And I dont get why cosmos keeps using it, I mean they started out last week well explaining the volcanic activity in India, which seems to be agreed upon as the most likely cause but then again state meteors was the final cause, sorta of dissolves Cosmos as anything more then well done pop science.

    Questioning beliefs is important while a lot of people hold that it was the asteroid strike that was the nail in the coffin of dinosaurs there are a number of other theories as well. In the end follow the evidence where it leads. Still it is also possible we may never know with 100% certainty.

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    But the thing is, and I dont claim to be an expert in the matter so its my opinion, is the meteor theory is constantly changing and getting more and more complicated which seems to be the sign of a bad theory.

    And I dont get why cosmos keeps using it, I mean they started out last week well explaining the volcanic activity in India, which seems to be agreed upon as the most likely cause but then again state meteors was the final cause, sorta of dissolves Cosmos as anything more then well done pop science.

    lol?

    Well, we know a celestial object hit the Earth around the K-Pg boundary; there is the iridium anomaly, which first started the hypothesis and is otherwise more or less inexplicable, and there is the crater remnant - found after years of hunting - near the Yucatán Peninsula. We know it's a crater remnant, because when we drilled into it we found glass & shocked minerals as far down as we were able to drill. On the surrounding landmasses, we found massive wave deposits.


    The overwhelming consensus, backed by overwhelming evidence that we've literally drilled out of the ground over the past few decades, is that an asteroid struck the Earth at the K-Pg boundary and the violent consequences of that event caused the extinction of some dinosaurs (some Theropods clearly survived - we know them today as 'birds') and a lot of flora / oceanic life.

    It's telling, in my opinion, that most of the mega fauna that went extinct were living on the North American continent, where the blast from the impact was angled & where the largest pieces of the debris canopy would've fallen. NA was probably a largely uninhabited, blasted Hellscape for a good little while.

    With Love and Courage
  • Steel_AtlasSteel_Atlas Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »

    lol?

    Well, we know a celestial object hit the Earth around the K-Pg boundary; there is the iridium anomaly, which first started the hypothesis and is otherwise more or less inexplicable, and there is the crater remnant - found after years of hunting - near the Yucatán Peninsula. We know it's a crater remnant, because when we drilled into it we found glass & shocked minerals as far down as we were able to drill. On the surrounding landmasses, we found massive wave deposits.


    The overwhelming consensus, backed by overwhelming evidence that we've literally drilled out of the ground over the past few decades, is that an asteroid struck the Earth at the K-Pg boundary and the violent consequences of that event caused the extinction of some dinosaurs (some Theropods clearly survived - we know them today as 'birds') and a lot of flora / oceanic life.

    It's telling, in my opinion, that most of the mega fauna that went extinct were living on the North American continent, where the blast from the impact was angled & where the largest pieces of the debris canopy would've fallen. NA was probably a largely uninhabited, blasted Hellscape for a good little while.

    See thats my problem with the show, it leads to people saying stuff like that.

    The truth of the matter is there no overwhelming consensus on what happened.

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/extinctheory.html

    There has been no settlement to the issue so far, and no clear one is foreseeable. Both sides claim to hold the majority of proponents in science; it seems that (greatly over-generalizing) many paleontologists lean towards the intrinsic side, while many astronomers and physicists favor the extrinsic side, and geologists are probably evenly split between the two.

  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D).

    This sounds exactly like a supervillain origin story and I love it.

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  • Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D).

    This sounds exactly like a supervillain origin story and I love it.

    Sounds to me like the results of a five dollar bet.

    SorceSmrtnikNocrenShadowen
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    The Ender wrote: »

    lol?

    Well, we know a celestial object hit the Earth around the K-Pg boundary; there is the iridium anomaly, which first started the hypothesis and is otherwise more or less inexplicable, and there is the crater remnant - found after years of hunting - near the Yucatán Peninsula. We know it's a crater remnant, because when we drilled into it we found glass & shocked minerals as far down as we were able to drill. On the surrounding landmasses, we found massive wave deposits.


    The overwhelming consensus, backed by overwhelming evidence that we've literally drilled out of the ground over the past few decades, is that an asteroid struck the Earth at the K-Pg boundary and the violent consequences of that event caused the extinction of some dinosaurs (some Theropods clearly survived - we know them today as 'birds') and a lot of flora / oceanic life.

    It's telling, in my opinion, that most of the mega fauna that went extinct were living on the North American continent, where the blast from the impact was angled & where the largest pieces of the debris canopy would've fallen. NA was probably a largely uninhabited, blasted Hellscape for a good little while.

    See thats my problem with the show, it leads to people saying stuff like that.

    The truth of the matter is there no overwhelming consensus on what happened.

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/extinctheory.html

    There has been no settlement to the issue so far, and no clear one is foreseeable. Both sides claim to hold the majority of proponents in science; it seems that (greatly over-generalizing) many paleontologists lean towards the intrinsic side, while many astronomers and physicists favor the extrinsic side, and geologists are probably evenly split between the two.

    A blog titled 'Dino Buzz' and written by a single author doesn't seem to be as compelling a source to me as a peer reviewed article published in Science, with over 40 contributors from multiple countries & multiple disciplines, all agreeing that the Alvarez hypothesis is correct.


    Cosmos didn't inform me of anything that I previously wrote - I've been following the Alvarez hypothesis ever since I became aware of it in the 90s. No theory, from the Deccan traps to plagues to supernovae, explain what happened at the K-Pg boundary better than the impact site, which we've pretty recently dated to the correct period.

    ...As an aside, I see that you're still using the old 'K-T' moniker. When was the last time you actually read-up on the subject?


    EDIT:

    800px-Drumheller_Badlands_2006.jpg

    Here's the Drumheller badlands, about an hour away from where I grew up. Apparently the paleontologists there missed your memo about how they were all supposed to disagree with Alvarez's impact theory.

    Let's play 'one of these layers does not belong'. Can you tell which one?

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D).

    This sounds exactly like a supervillain origin story and I love it.

    Sounds to me like the results of a five dollar bet.
    You are both correct!
    A five dollar bet in Australia produces super villains. Fact.

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  • Just_Bri_ThanksJust_Bri_Thanks Seething with rage from a handbasket.Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D).

    This sounds exactly like a supervillain origin story and I love it.

    Sounds to me like the results of a five dollar bet.

    Can't it be both?

    Some days I just want to smack people with a rolled up newspaper. Or a phone book.
    A folding chair is looking like an attractive option right now too...
  • JacobyJacoby Registered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    Even if you have credentials and evidence, the scientific community can be slow to accept your findings. Which is why you always "follow the evidence".

    30 years ago, two Australian physicians discovered that Peptic Ulcer Disease is primarily caused by bacteria, not stomach acid (which is a factor that makes it worse, but isn't the primary cause). This refuted the former dominant paradigm on medical treatment for peptic ulcer disease (acid and stress cause ulcers), which was based on a study in the 1950s that showed no bacterial involvement (H.Pylori, the organism that causes PUD, is notoriously hard to culture). After seeing H. Pylori in the mucosa of stomach ulcer samples, they sought to isolate the organism, but were largely unsuccessful. Then, during the Easter holidays, a culture was accidentally left out for 5 days to culture, which produced the bacteria in culture.

    They would never have found it, if folks didn't go on vacation in Australia during Easter.

    But no one really believed them, when they posited the link between this bacteria and gastric disease. The dismissive medical community cited mountains of prior evidence from prior studies. "Hey, the bacteria was always there, but it's just passing through. It doesn't cause ulcers." The medical correspondent of the New York Times stated "I’ve never seen the medical community more defensive or more critical of a story".

    And because Australian doctors are apparently hardcore, Barry Marshall (one of the two pathologists) ingested an H. Pylori culture to test it on himself. He did not get an ulcer, but he got severe gastritis (interestingly enough, he thought "maybe I'll get an ulcer in a few years". He got sick in a few DAYS, which refuted his hypothesis in a stomach-churning violent way. :D). His published findings apparently inspired ANOTHER doctor to ingest a culture of H. Pylori a couple years later, who also got gastritis.* Other doctors started experimenting with various antibiotic treatments (probably thinking "Hey, curing the gastritis infection would do SOME good, even if it doesn't cure the ulcer."), which eventually led to a treatment regimen in the 90s that had an unbelievable 90%+ cure rate for stomach ulcers. This was a disease that you had for LIFE, with no cure, before the 1990s. It was so prevalent that we can often find ulcers in the remains of stomach tissue on long-dead corpses and mummies.

    The interesting thing is the humility these Nobel Prize winning doctors have about their discovery. They say that they found the bacteria, but they didn't find the link between ulcers and the bacteria. Someone else built on their work to come up with antibiotic regimen to cure it, and it wasn't until that point that their theory became commonly accepted. "Follow the evidence" eventually prevailed, but even in our modern era, sometimes we are slow to accept new research.

    * Side Note: There is a long and storied history of crazy hardcore doctors who experiment on themselves. In 1921, Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane carried out his own appendectomy in an attempt to prove the efficacy of local anaesthesia for such operations. (Wikipedia) In 1961, Dr. Leonid Rogozov removed his own infected appendix at an Antarctic Research Station, as he was the only physician on staff. (Wikipedia). In 1929, Dr. Werner Forssmann put a heart catheter into himself, after tricking a nurse into thinking he would be demonstrating this new experimental technique that he developed on the nurse. He cut his own arm and inserted it into his blood vessels, then released the nurse and told her to get the X-Ray department.

    They talked about Forssmann in a recent episode of Sawbones (great podcast starring one of the McElroy brothers from MBMBAM and his awesome doctor wife). His life... took some bad turns. That's all I'll say. :)

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  • President RexPresident Rex Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    But seriously, without continental drift, how do you explain earthquakes and volcanic eruptions? If the earth was thought to be more or less just a compressed ball of dirt & metal, with some depressions here or there that turn into oceans / rivers / lakes, where does all of this energy magically come from to create an earthquake or volcano? Where is all of that magma coming from? Is rock just spontaneously melting & exploding, somehow?

    Again, I know, hindsight... but seriously! This was the 1930s, not the 1700s! We have the proponent for the theory on actual black & white video!


    That nobody said, "Huh. It doesn't make much sense for rock to just explode like that for no reason," or "Huh. It doesn't make much sense for the Earth to suddenly start to violently shake, but only in very specific places," just blows my mind.

    This has been slightly covered and I haven't actually watched the most recent Cosmoses to know how the theory of continental drift plays out, but it may be important to note that a lot of stuff you've learned about geology is incredibly new.

    For physics, relativity and fancy particles have basically been around for a century. Even basic quantum mechanics is more than 90 years old. For biology, the basics of germ theory and evolution have been around for more than a century and a half.

    The theory proposed by Wegener has been around for about as long as relativity, but more definitive proof didn't arrive until the discovery of seafloor spreading in the 60s (specifically discovering geomagnetic reversal (the earth's magnetic field basically inverts every once and a while) and then applying that knowledge to the fact that equidistant points on either side of a volcanic ridge in the Atlantic had the same magnetic alignment, indicating that the seafloor was spreading from a central point). The primary theory on the mechanisms acting as the source of earthquakes is from 1970. The actual mechanisms behind things like hotspots is still very hypothetical. Despite the age of the earth, the arguable core of modern geology is relatively young.

    Lava spurting out of the ground from volcanoes is obviously not enough evidence to use as a basis for continental drift. And floating crustal plates slipping past each other can easily sound ridiculous at face value.

    Maybe molten rock comes from localized pressure or frictional forces. Maybe volcanoes only show up in areas with mafic or felsic rock. Maybe lunar tidal forces compress and stretch the earth and heat rock. Maybe stratification emerged as rocks crystallized out of the primordial earth's oceans. Maybe the ground shakes because of chemical explosions deep in the earth. Or dropping masses of rock tumbling to fill voids beneath our feet. Who says the ground underneath us has to be moving at all?

    Anything is possible until you have a testable hypothesis and evidence and can develop a predictive theory.

    I'm not sure if Tyson states it in Cosmos or his series of lectures in The Inexplicable Universe, but if I can paraphrase: Sometimes you need to abandon your physical senses and rely on your instruments. Approach things from new angles. Common sense and unfounded inferences tend make bad science if left unchecked.

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  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    If there is anything I have learned from Cosmos, it's how easy it is to take the Science I know for granted. It's really easy to think you are on the side of Wegener or Newton now, but statistically, each person is FAR more likely to be a naysayer who looks down, mocking the scientists who make the breakthrough. The show teaches humility, that scientists should be more willing to admit they are wrong, or at least follow the evidence where It leads instead of relying on learned wisdom. The most exciting science is the kind that can prove wrong what you thought you already know.

    I was going to start a new thread, but this seems an appropriate place to plop this conversation.

    Speaking of humility....

    Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is a philistine
    (Tyson) argues that undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions "can really mess you up."

    Yes, he really did say that. Go ahead, listen for yourself, beginning at 20:19 — and behold the spectacle of an otherwise intelligent man and gifted teacher sounding every bit as anti-intellectual as a corporate middle manager or used-car salesman. He proudly proclaims his irritation with "asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."

    "I don't have time for that."

    With these words, Tyson shows he's very much a 21st-century American, living in a perpetual state of irritated impatience and anxious agitation. Don't waste your time with philosophy! (And, one presumes, literature, history, the arts, or religion.) Only science will get you where you want to go! It gets results! Go for it! Hurry up! Don't be left behind! Progress awaits!

    "Dogmatism" is a funny word. But when Tyson says things like, "if you are distracted by your questions, so that you cannot move forward, you are not being a productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world." he is not displaying a lack of dogmatic rigidity to his beliefs, at least with respect to the following topics.
    • There is a natural world.
    • The natural world can be known.
    • Empirical Science is the epistemological system by which the natural world can be known.
    • Progress can be made.
    • Empirical Science is the system by which progress is made.

    And that's fine. Except that epistemological humility is not found in proclaiming that one has discovered the one true mechanism of knowledge. In each historical epoch (in the Hegelian sense) the learn-ed elite presume themselves to have mastered their explanatory schema, and so figured shit out. Then we get an epoch shift, when someone has a significant breakthrough that undermines the previous conceptual schema, and all the dogmatic geese go from being wise to foolish.

    This is not to say that contemporary science is incorrect. Rather, it is the recognition that it might be. And closing off avenues of possible progress is a bit foolish, unless one has a priori certainty about one's own method.

    The sort of thing Feyerabend talks about. If the actual, existing, external world coheres with a conceptual schema different from our own, then we'll never get there if we remain rigidly fixed within our own conceptual schema.

    You don't get the Theory of Relativity if you presume Isaac Newton was correct.

    So, it's kinda weird to know that folks were wrong in the past, and then follow that up with, "Oh. But WE'RE not wrong. And philosophy is stupid...in spite of it being what fucking got us here."

    Fallibilism does funny things when you apply it to itself.

  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    I've never found that Philosophy classes teach you anything about what questions to ask or how to ask them. They teach you what other people thought to ask and how they thought to ask it. A lot of philosophy doesn't involve action or moving forward so much as it requires evidence from the past or from experience. If you argue in philosophy it's based on experience, but if you argue in science it's based on research and evidence that can be repeated.

  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    It, uh, seems really bizarre to say "NDT would really hate on this Greek dude!" when he did an episode saying how cool that Greek dude was just a couple weeks ago.

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Scooter wrote: »
    It, uh, seems really bizarre to say "NDT would really hate on this Greek dude!" when he did an episode saying how cool that Greek dude was just a couple weeks ago.

    J does have a pretty bizarre perspective on things, so there you go.

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  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Until you actually propose another of these "schemas" with which to understand reality all you're doing is concern-trolling science.

    We've tried quite a few "schemas" over the ages and only one has really worked out. If you've got a new idea, by all means share it--but you don't get the theory of relativity by just pointing out that Newton might, like, totally be wrong, maaaan, because philosophy. You have to first show that Newton is actually wrong.

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  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Until you actually propose another of these "schemas" with which to understand reality all you're doing is concern-trolling science.

    We've tried quite a few over the ages and only one has really worked out. If you've got a new idea, by all means share it--but you don't get the theory of relativity by just pointing out that Newton might, like, totally be wrong, maaaan, because philosophy. You have to first show that Newton is actually wrong.

    But experience itself might be wrong! See, if you read through Augustine and manage not to stroke out by the end, you'll see that he argued that learning is, itself, a delusion. Fuck understanding things, because understanding is just a sign of hubris! HA!


    Well, that, or Augustine was just another superstitious idiot who was more than a little butthurt about his inability to accomplish anything great, and so decided that his Magnum Opus should be insistence that nobody ever really accomplishes anything.

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  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    *wrong*

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  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    ...On a side note:

    Why is Augustine's work all written in not-English? It's like reading the the works of a Libertarian from antiquity.


    Is it the translator that screwed it up so badly? Or was it originally written in not-Latin, which then more or less directly translates into not-English?

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  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    edited May 2014
    The Ender wrote: »
    ...On a side note:

    Why is Augustine's work all written in not-English? It's like reading the the works of a Libertarian from antiquity.


    Is it the translator that screwed it up so badly? Or was it originally written in not-Latin, which then more or less directly translates into not-English?

    Augustine's writing style was always a bit off.

    He was a Hellenized Roman that self-identified as Punic, learned Latin rhetoric, loved writings of Greek Neo-Platonists, and spent the majority of his early career simply trying to stick it to Palegius. While all his major works are in Latin, the style and grammar were really different from his contemporaries or the more famous classical Roman linguists.

    I've browsed 4 different translations of De Civitate Dei, and all of them seem a bit off in English, although the more contemporary (for us, that is) ones far less so than the ones from before 1960.

    Basically, from a modern perspective some of Augustine will always seem bat guano loco.

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  • Mild ConfusionMild Confusion Smash All Things Registered User regular
    My poor namesake! You heathens! (Real name is Augustin :P )

    I just caught up on this last episode, blew my fucking mind with how interconnected things are, from tectonics, to meteors, to Venus and Jupiter, and changes in climate to the lack of trees in the Savanna.

    So awesome.

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  • N1tSt4lkerN1tSt4lker Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Two things:
    1) my uncle is actually a physicist at the Bureau of Standards. Edit: this is re: the podcast, since Tyson talks about the Bureau.
    2) I tend to agree with Tyson re: science and philosophy. The job of the scientist is not to examine philosophy any more than my job as a humanities teacher is to evaluate quantum physics. I don't think his statements in any way make him a "philistine." Deep philosophical questions have no place in the realm of the scientist. Frankly, even for the humanities or social science practitioner, philosophy can end up becoming a whole, big bunch of wheel-spinning. Philosophy is really at its best when it is used to understand where a writer or thinker is coming from or to understand the cultural foundations of social ethics and such. I would agree with Tyson that it easily becomes an obstacle in the realm of science.

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