Episode #13: A large volcano, Mephisto, and a Supernova

The thirteenth episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (15mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

On June 7th, 1991, the Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted, creating an ash column 7 kilometers high. This eruption measured 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, making it the second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century. (The largest was Novarupta, which was 1912 – not 1916/17 as Michael had said).


The deepest multi-cellular life form living in the Earth’s deep sub-surface layer has been discovered. The nematode worm Halicephalobus mephisto was discovered in water pumped up from deep mines in South Africa. It is thought to survive on bacteria that share it’s home.

A mob in a Johannesburg informal settlement chased and killed a vervet monkey which they thought was a witch. Owen discusses his hypothesis that vervet monkeys may account for the mythical demon, known as the tokoloshe.

Professor Edzard Ernst has resigned his position as the head of the Complementary Medicine unit at the Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, part of the universities of Plymouth and Exeter, UK.

A recent study of Paranthropus and Australopithecus teeth suggest that the females left their own group to breed.

A new supernova has been discovered in the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) in the constellation of Canes Venatici (which, alas, is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere).

The World Health Organisation says that cell phones are as carcinogenic as coffee and talcum powder; that is, “possibly carcinogenic”.

Listener Questions
We again tackle on of Paulo’s questions how can science say that the theory of evolution is true if we are yet to find the transitional fossils, or the so called missing links?

This is the final installation in this series, please send us any questions you would like us to answer.

Michael curates the African science and skepticism blogroll (published once a month). There are a lot of excellent blogs listed that deserve much larger audiences. This month’s highlighted blog is Synapses, by Jacques Rousseau.  http://www.archive.org/download/ConsilienceEpisode13/Consilience13.mp3

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5 Responses to Episode #13: A large volcano, Mephisto, and a Supernova

  1. benguela says:

    As large and impressive those volcanoes are, isn’t interesting that humans generate more CO2 than all the volcanoes combined including the ones under the ocean. This was at one stage a leading climate skeptic argument against the human caused climate change hypothesis, after a US geological survey showed that humans emit 100-300 times the amount of carbon dioxide that volcanoes emit.
    I suggest you guys should do an episode on ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) Place to start: http://www.skepticalscience.com/
    I got into an argument with amateur astronomers at my club whom seriously believe that ACC is a conspiracy to drive up the price of oil.

  2. benguela says:

    Oh my word! You didn’t call bats rodents did you?

    • Angela says:

      wow, that was a stupid mistake! Thanks for catching it, we will issue a full correction in the next episode!
      (Hides under desk)

  3. Rallick says:

    I’m disappointed that Mephisto did not turn out to be the boss from Diablo II… 😛

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