Episode #7: Hubble, the peacock’s tail and vaccines.

The seventh episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (21.8mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to Appreciate History
April 24th was the 21st birthday of the Hubble Space Telescope. Achievements of special note: the Hubble Ultra Deep field and determining the value of the Hubble constant. Hubble successor, the James Webb Space Telescope is going to be even more awesome.

A new study in Animal Behavior complicates our view of sexual selection and the peacock’s tail. It follows a similar Japanese study from 2008. There’s a nice write-up in Nature about the findings.

Two new Australopithecus sediba fossils have been unveiled. Highly recommended: John Hawks Anthropology blog.

A Karroo monster? (Hint: probably not).

The South African cabinet has imposed a fracking moratorium in the Karroo pending an environmental impact assessment. Good for the SKA and SALT. For the controversy about the general impact of fracking, see here and here and here.

Sai Baba has died.

Ben Goldacre reports on problems Richie, French and Wiseman are having publishing a (negative) replication of Daryl Bem’s “feeling the future” [pdf] paper. Bem’s paper, incidentally, was problematic all by itself: see this exchange. That great xkcd is here.

Vaccines. Selected links:

  • The seasonal flu vaccine isn’t all that effective: see the Cochrane Collaboration studies for adults, children and the elderly. (But also see this).
  • Studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry are much more likely to be reported as positive.
  • For a lot of information on the autism-vaccines (media) controversy, see this.
  • Jenny McCarthy Body Count.
  • The Andrew Wakefield profile in the New York Times Michael mentioned is here.
  • Brian Deer’s fraud allegations against Wakefield are here.

The Scopex Astronomy and Telescope Expo 2011 (Facebook / Plancast / Main Site) starts on May 7th.  http://www.archive.org/download/ConsilienceEpisode7/Consilience07.mp3


About Michael Meadon

Michael Meadon is a graduate student in cognitive science at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. When he's not procrastinating online or propitiating his wife, he investigates the effects of rapid & unreflective facial judgments on political elections. He expects to graduate any decade now. When he was an innocent undergrad Michael studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at the University of Cape Town. Unfortunately, he had to find out for himself that "social" and "science" often don't go so well together.
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7 Responses to Episode #7: Hubble, the peacock’s tail and vaccines.

  1. benguela says:

    k so if Andrew Wakefield’s research papers are withdrawn then so should Poul Thorson’s suffer the same fate? enjoy: http://www.naturalnews.com/032216_Thorsen_fraud.html

  2. Rallick says:

    Good episode as always guys. Can I just say that I could listen to your accents forever? Being a Dutchman raised in Ireland and currently living in America, I’m used to hearing lots of different accents, but South African is definitely in my top three favourites! 😛

  3. Angela says:

    Yeah, I’ve been corrupted by Mike since we started living together.

  4. Tom Maydon says:

    Great to hear more stuff on SKA. So looking forward to hearing which of Aus and SA gets it, but really don’t have a clue on who might be front runner and the pros and cons of both locations.

    Loved the segment on vaccinations. Would be nice to hear more of the African view point on it. Particularly with the resurgence of polio (I know it’s spread from West Africa – due to the Western conspiracy), but I hear that it has been as close to home as Namibia too in recent years (not sure why?).

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