Episode #20: Curiosity to scale a mountain, tall women and cancer, and knights on a treadmill

Atlantis, taking off for the last time

The twentieth episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (13.2mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

July 20th (of this year) saw the end of the Space Shuttle program. It was also the anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon. (And when we say the Space Shuttle program came to an end on the 20th, we actually mean the 21st. Yeah, a slight factual error).

Listener feedback

No real listener feedback this week, but we again ask your help with getting into the iTunes podcast directory. If you have experience with dealing with the Apple collective and think you can help, please contact us on consiliencecast@gmail.com.


NASA has decided where to send the Mars Science Lab (aka Curiosity): it will land in the Gale crater, and then climb the 5.5km mountain in its center.  (“MSL: Mars Action Hero” – the video to which we refer is embedded in this link).

According to a study in the journal The Lancet, taller women are more likely to develop some types of cancer. (Getting cancer is like buying a lottery ticket).

We now know Pluto has (at least) four moonsS/2011 (134340) 1, as the moon is known for now,  joins Charon, Nix and Hydra as Pluto’s moons.

As every role-playing fan well knows, heavy armor is +5 to defence, but -5 to mobility (or something similar). Now scientists have empirically determined just how big an impact wearing plate mail has on mobility.

Surepure is a company that sells a system that uses UVC to replace the pasteurization method. They claim to have gotten “FDA approval” – but it’s not entirely clear what this means, or whether it’s even true. Interestingly grey case.


“Evolution is more than a theory. It is a fundamental scientific principle.” – Dr Phlox, Star Trek: Enterprise, Dear Doctor.


SpeaktoaScientist – Thursday, 28 July, 18:30. Sci Bono Discovery Centre, Miriam Makeba St, Newtown, Johannesburg. Speaker: Cedric Abrahams of Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa, Topic: “Science in Science Fiction”

Sceptics in the Pub Joburg – Wednesday 3 August, 18:30. Keg & Spitfire, Beyers Naude Drive, Blackheath (next to McDonalds).


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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