Episode #17: Killer asteroids, killer apes and Dr. Adrian Tiplady

The seventeenth episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (34.2 mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

July 5th 1687Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (or the “Mathematical Principles ofNatural Philosophy”). (Note: Michael makes a slight mistake here, saying Hooke claimed to have independently derived the inverse square law. In actual fact, he only proposed a law of gravitation that reduced in strength in proportion to the distance between two objects, he didn’t specify the exact proportion). Also: July 1st 1858 was the joint publication of Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Dr. Adrian Tiplady


Astronomers at Imperial College London have detected the brightest object in the early universe and dubbed it ULAS J1120+0641. ULAS was a quasar which emitted approximately 60 trillion times as much light as our sun, and dates to approximately 770 million years after the Big Bang.

Earth was buzzed by a near-Earth Asteroid on June 27th. 2011 MD is an Apollo asteroid somewhere between 10 and 45 meters long, which crosses the Earth’s orbit. It was only discovered 5 days before its closest approach, and if it had struck, it probably would have disintegrated in Earth’s atmosphere.

We discuss the Fongoli chimps which have been hunting smaller mammals (such as bush babies) with crude spears. While this is not really news, we discuss it for the remarkable insight it offers into the behavior of these apes. (Side note: Now give me a f**king banana).


This week we interviewed Dr Adrian Tiplady, one of the project leaders for the South African Square Kilometre Array bidding committee.

Sci-Fi Quote

“I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.” Terry Pratchett.  http://www.archive.org/download/ConsilienceEpisode17/Consilience17.mp3

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3 Responses to Episode #17: Killer asteroids, killer apes and Dr. Adrian Tiplady

  1. benguela says:

    Nice one guys. May I suggest calling it “the far side of the moon”. Pink Floyd was wrong. 😉

  2. Rallick says:

    That quote is actually one of my favourite quotes from the great Pterry. I’ve had it up on my facebook page for ages!

    I haven’t actually listened to the show yet, but I will do soon.
    *skulks off in shame*

  3. Pingback: Speak2aScientist July 2011 | The Skeptic Detective

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