Episode #15: Meteorites, Ghosts and Franken-milk

UZ-Fornacis (no, that's not a photo)

The fifteenth episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (29.8mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

On June 22, 1633 the Holy Office in Rome forced Galileo Galilei to recant his view that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the Universe. Galileo was ordered to “abjure, curse and detest” his opinions that the sun lay at the center of the universe and the Earth moved around it. (Documents relating to the 1616 decision are here).


Analysis of the Taglish Lake meteorite, which exploded above Canada in 2000, have yielded interesting discoveries about the nature and distribution of organic molecules in meteors, how these molecules can form in outer space, and how they interact with water.

The Randburg Sun has reported the ghost of a murdered woman is haunting the informal settlement, Zandspruit. As we can expect, evidence is hard to come by.

Scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, at the China Agricultural University, have genetically engineered cows to produce milk which has almost the same nutritional properties as human breast milk. The researchers have bred 300 cattle to produce this milk as a possible replacement for formula milk. (Mike mentions a post on Angela’s blog regarding the breast enlarging ring tone, and Ed Yong‘s article about Japanese people being able to digest seaweed because of a gene they borrowed from ocean bacteria).

Two 14-year-old boys, Christopher Anthony and Daniel Chen, at St John’s College in Johannesburg conducted a study into the health effects of a cellphone mast at their school. Their methodology is flawed and they seem to have been influenced by a cellphone hysteria crank, Tracey-Lee Dorney. (Michael mentions this study on incompetent South African science teachers. The Simon Dingle piece Owen mentions is here).

Feature: Interview

This week we interview Stephen Potter about his co-discovery of two giant extra-solar planets in orbit around an eclipsing binary star system, UZ Fornacis. The paper is pre-publication and is available on arxiv.org.

Listener Questions

  1. From Jim Nave: “if you were floating in space outside of earth and the sun was up… would it be as warm in space as it is on earth?”
  2. From Tom Maydon: recommend a book on abiogenesis. Answer: this John Maynard Smith video, the TalkOrigins Archive page on abiogenesis, and this Maynard Smith book.
  3. From Paul Giess: Is there any evidence at all for the rumored health properties of Rhino Horn?

Sci-Fi Quote

“Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them… millenia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth.” – LCDR Worf, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Homefront”.  http://www.archive.org/download/ConsilienceEpisode15/Consilience15.mp3

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One Response to Episode #15: Meteorites, Ghosts and Franken-milk

  1. Paul Giess says:

    Sorry I have only just caught up with the podcast but just wanted to drop in and say thanks for covering my rhino horn question. I understand a government minister in Vietnam claims his cancer was cured by rhino horn which has helped to generate the demand behind the recent explosion in poaching.

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