Episode #24: Fairies, asteroids and psychic mediums

The 24th episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (23.7mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

This week we discuss the 1986 Lake Nyos disasterin which thousands of people living on

A cow killed by the Lake Nyos gasses

the banks of Lake Nyos, in Cameroon, were killed by a giant out-gassing of carbon dioxide.


Owen waxes lyrical about his visit to the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition at the SciBono Discovery Centre.


A Mexican man claims to have found a live fairy and is charging people to view it. There may be a less crazy explanation.

Scientists are going to try and change an asteroids orbit by smashing something heavy into it.

Chris talks about thin film solar technology being developed by Professor Vivian Alberts at the University of Johannesburg.

Scientists have altered a chicken embryo’s development so that it grows an aligator-like snout instead of a beak.

The James Randi Educational Foundation has challenged a pair of con-artists to prove they have the psychic powers they claim to have after an embarrassing public display of idiocy.

Feature: Big Instrument

South Africa vs Australia for the SKA

In the wake of news this week that the MeerKAT telescope array has passed it’s preliminary design review (PDR) with flying colours, we examine the scientific, political, economic and geographical differences between the Southern African and Australian bids to host the Square Kilometer Array telescope.

Sci-Fi Quote

(Cut out of podcast by technical difficulties – Chris unplugged his mic and Owen didn’t notice)

“What’s life? Life’s easy. A quirk of matter. Nature’s way of keeping meat fresh.”

-Dr Who


  1. Johannesburg
    1. SpeaktoaScientist – Thursday 25th August, 18:30. Venue: Sci Bono Discovery Centre, Miriam Makeba Str, Newtown, JHB. Topic: Genetically Modified Organisms- Harmful or Helpful?, speaker Bianca Verlinden.


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6 Responses to Episode #24: Fairies, asteroids and psychic mediums

  1. James says:

    Great episode everyone!

    Guavas, bananas, what’s next?! From now on I think you should ban all news stories that mention fruit in case Owen and Michael wet themselves. 😛

    • Angela says:

      Thanks James 🙂
      We could just cut the crazy laughter out, but that would be a bit boring, in my opinion. And, like the bananas in Ep #23, you never know when fruit might crop up in a news story.

      • James says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I love the laughter and I also cry with laughter every time. But I was just jokingly ( 😛 ) saying that I think the lesson to be learnt is “News involving fruit” = “real risk of wetting the floor”.

        It’s a great episode. 🙂

  2. Chris Sham says:

    For those who haven’t seen it, this is the excellent Dara O’Briain bit I refered to during the cold reading discussion:

    • James says:

      I love Dara’s “Talks funny”. He’s a very quick wit. In a TV interview a while back he talked about his degree in science but said those years (studying) are so far behind him he can’t remember much of the details. All that he was left with was an awe of the work scientists do and an understanding that it’s our best way of discovering knowledge. That’s why he’s very pro science and very anti pseudoscience.

    • Angela says:

      Brilliant! Thanks Chris.

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