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View Full Version : "Bad Universe", Phil's top secret project?



Daggerstab
2010-Jul-23, 05:51 AM
It's on Discovery Networks official YouTube channel, so it's not so secret any more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiSJ73pckw4

(Hat tip to John S. Wilkins (http://evolvingthoughts.net/2010/07/23/phil-plait-destroys-the-earth/))

EDG
2010-Jul-23, 05:54 AM
Looks like Mythbusters in space! I will be so watching that :)

CyberCecil
2010-Jul-23, 10:48 AM
That looks like it will be a lot of fun. I'm definitely going to watch. I hope they put it on after the Mythbusters.

Fazor
2010-Jul-23, 01:20 PM
Very cool. And I bet the sneak-peek is even cooler with sound! (I have my speakers unplugged at work so I can use them with my mp3 player instead :-P )

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Jul-23, 03:54 PM
Looks like Mythbusters in space! I will be so watching that :)
Adam and Jaime at mythbusters signed a new contract which allowed them to create new shows plus the BA's friendship with them probably means that they had something to do with it.

Also it looks cool and Fazor the sound does help.

ToSeek
2010-Jul-23, 04:56 PM
That's "sooper sekrit" project to you!

Seriously, looks awesome.

LotusExcelle
2010-Jul-23, 05:12 PM
Oh no! I may need to get cable again!

Gillianren
2010-Jul-23, 05:26 PM
It comes free with my apartment, though I don't use it much. For this, I will use it.

SRQHivemind
2010-Jul-23, 06:25 PM
Huzzah.
Why do I think that the BA's Close Personal Friend Adam Savage(tm) will be making an appearance on this show?
After the MB's debunked the hoaxers this is a decent expansion that that concept.

can't wait.

peter eldergill
2010-Jul-23, 07:18 PM
Anyone know when it will air and if it will be aired on Discovery Canada?

Pete

Mister Earl
2010-Jul-23, 07:22 PM
I can't wait to see it. And watch the clip with audio at home hehe.

Fazor
2010-Jul-23, 07:59 PM
I can't wait to see it. And watch the clip with audio at home hehe.
Yeah. I'm still waiting to actually hear the clip too; too much work to crawl under my desk at work and plug the speakers back in, only to crawl back under it again to unplug them when done.

Mister Earl
2010-Jul-24, 02:41 AM
Vid's still down. What a cruel thing, to see part of it, sans audio, at work, and then to look forward to seeing it at home in all its glory, only to arrive and find out the evil Discovery Channel yanked the video due to unspecified "problems" with the video.

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jul-26, 02:01 AM
I think ToSeek just ToSeeked himself here (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/106202-Phil-s-sooper-sekrit-project-revealed-quot-Bad-Universe-quot-coming-to-the-Discovery-Channel).

Nick

Gigabyte
2010-Jul-26, 11:16 AM
No need to point that out. Everybody makes mistakes.

But the video no longer works!

Noclevername
2010-Jul-26, 09:30 PM
For those of us who can't see the video, details please?

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jul-26, 09:33 PM
For those of us who can't see the video, details please?
It's Bad Astronomy done Mythbusters Style i.e. demonstrated by experiments likely to include explosions and presented by Phil.

Mister Earl
2010-Jul-26, 10:24 PM
Phil's trailer is back up, finally. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8PU7NMx178

KaiYeves
2010-Jul-27, 07:28 PM
Phil with lightning vision! Yay!

Noclevername
2010-Jul-27, 09:07 PM
That. Is the coolest thing. In the history of ever.

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-29, 04:36 PM
Heads up! In case anyone didn't know or forgot, the show premiers tonight, at 10pm someone's time.

Doodler
2010-Aug-29, 04:46 PM
Ow, that hurts....I haven't grinned from ear to ear like that in a LONG time. :D

Trakar
2010-Aug-29, 05:33 PM
Heads up! In case anyone didn't know or forgot, the show premiers tonight, at 10pm someone's time.

DVR now programmed!

Doodler
2010-Aug-29, 06:45 PM
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/bad-universe/

For those who may be challenged by broadcast availability, here's Discovery's clip archive for the show. For the rest of us who will have the opportunity later tonight, the usual spoiler warnings should apply.

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-29, 07:15 PM
I wonder if BAUT will see an uptick in activity after the show, or will Discovery launch it's own show-specific forum.

If so, we'll need to get t-shirts made that say "We may not be the official, but we are the original".

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Aug-30, 02:37 AM
And if their board merges with this one what would be the new name:
BABUUT
B^2U^2AT

baric
2010-Aug-30, 03:02 AM
I'm watching Bad Universe and am unimpressed :(

I think the problem is that Phil's show on the Discovery channel about asteroid/comet impacts is immediately following "The Last Day of the Dinosaurs". That was an hour-long show about the effect of the asteroid impact on the dinosaurs, complete with awesome special effects of dinosaurs, meteor impacts, tidal waves, volcanoes, cat & dogs living together and general mass hysteria. It even finished with a 3-way dinosaur fight ending as a 3-dead-dinosaur stalemate!

So Phil's show comes on as another asteroid show, but no dinosaurs! Kind of letdown. Phil is great, we need more dinosaurs! :P

Mister Earl
2010-Aug-30, 05:10 PM
I liked the show. I'll be keeping an eye out for other episodes to come. An hour long show is nice, it lets you get into details that you might otherwise have to take a quick pass at just to fit everything in. The pace of the show was good as well. We weren't subjected to ten minutes or more while the experiment was set up, with a long explanation of each part. Nope. Instead here's Phil, experiment is ready to roll, and a quick "Here's what this does, what we're going to do with it, and what we expect to happen."

My one bit of criticism? Might wanna scale back a wee bit on the "Helelukas". (I'm certain I got the spelling on that wrong.)

peter eldergill
2010-Aug-30, 06:49 PM
I thought the show was quite informative. Phil was good and I'll bet he only gets better as more episodes come out. Does anyone know haw many episodes will be made (so far)?

I agree he says Holy Helekula way too much. I see the producers used many trends that you see in North American TV shows. The constant "dramatic" music, the recaps and "coming ups" and the ever irritating "don't give anyone free advertising" by blocking out the make of Phil's truck (I can understand blocking the license plate). I see this all the time with t-shirts and yellow power tools (duh...could it be deWalt??). None of this has anything to do with Phil, it's just the way TV is made over here.

All in all, I can't wait for the next episode.

Pete

NEOWatcher
2010-Aug-30, 06:57 PM
Heads up! In case anyone didn't know or forgot, the show premiers tonight, at 10pm someone's time.
Didn't know.
All I've heard was "this fall". And the last post was a month ago.

I am kind of disappointed that the heads up wasn't a lot sooner, at least before the weekend.

(Rant not aimed at you Ara. Just that your reminder sparked it)

peter eldergill
2010-Aug-30, 07:12 PM
Didn't know.
All I've heard was "this fall". And the last post was a month ago.

I am kind of disappointed that the heads up wasn't a lot sooner, at least before the weekend.

(Rant not aimed at you Ara. Just that your reminder sparked it)

I'm sure it will be repeated during the week sometime.

Pete

NEOWatcher
2010-Aug-30, 07:31 PM
I'm sure it will be repeated during the week sometime.
I had hoped, but I already went through thier schedule through Aug 6... Saw nothing except for the 2am repeat this morning.

Anybody know the next airing? Sometimes they'll put the most recent episode right before the airing of a new one.

orionjim
2010-Aug-30, 07:50 PM
Actually it was better than I thought it would be, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I felt it was well organized and got the main points across. The program was better than Michio Kaku’s “Si Fi Science” and Brian Cox’s “Wonders of the Solar System”.

Phil’s comes across as a super nerd and that part works pretty good. But my advice would be is drop the comic book theme, and as Earl and others have said too many “Holy Helekula’s”.

There was a point in the beginning of the program I thought that they were actually going to show a formula, something forbidden on primetime TV, but Phil cleverly talked his way around it.

Jim

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-30, 08:01 PM
Didn't know.
All I've heard was "this fall". And the last post was a month ago.

I am kind of disappointed that the heads up wasn't a lot sooner, at least before the weekend.

(Rant not aimed at you Ara. Just that your reminder sparked it)

No problem. I understand. I posted here as soon as I found out myself, right after I saw a fb post from mythbusters about it.

BTW, who is Holly Okula, and why is she holy?

A quick question though: how is the kinetic impactor different from the nuclear option? Couldn't we scale them such that they have the same result on the inbound asteroid? Is the BA being anti-nuke for a reason?

publiusr
2010-Aug-30, 08:26 PM
"Holy Haleakala!" referes to this: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanoes/haleakala/

Some thoughts. It had the right bit of Mythbuster vibe. Bill Nye's old program (for kids admittedly)--was too flash-flash, although that was probably to get the attention of kids with low-attention spans. on the other hand, Baldwin almost put me to sleep with this:

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/DVD/National-Geographic-Journey-to-the-Edge-of-the-Universe/Alec-Baldwin/e/727994753353

Now I actually appreciate long stories--heck I even love ST:TMP. But give me Will Lyman or Liev Schreiber, that I know not as Sabretooth but as the voice of Frontline.

I like Dan Durda, and all (he had a toy of the Kvant module of a Mir toy to use as a gravity tractor)--but the idea of the kinetic impactor over the nuke--that I have to question a bit. First of all, for a gravity tractor to work, you have to have a Rosetta type mission. That vehicle will have been en route to its target for a decade before its mission can begin. On the other hand, the flyby Deep Impact mission makes more sense in that, unlike a gravity tractor, you don't have to waste time matching orbits, Rosetta style.

But even if that spacecraft bus had hit itself, the damage, and the deviation of its target would likely still be negligible at best. You can use a smaller rocket for a flyby mission, true, but you still need significant mass for a impactor. So, we can all get behind Ares V or something like it, or have a similar Deep Impact mission carry one Orion pusher plate "shaped charge" bomblet that was designed to give a uniform push to a large object to begin with.

You don't need to break up the object, though that might spread enough mass out so only part of the asteroid hits Earth's disk. A stand off nuke will 'cup' the asteroid applying thrust all over one surface, and heat the comets without having a death star laser or massive solar sail (though that would be cooler) A nuke just has a lot of mass energy at its disposal. The experaments done on the show are kinetic impacts. Nukes in space can have different effects besides breaking something up. Their effects can actually be quite gentle in space.

So, as much as I hate to say it, the BA was wrong when he called for a nuke as a last resort weapon.

No--it is the first thing you use. You strike with the shortest mission with as much mass-energy as you can muster. The earlier you strike, the more time you have for the deviation to build up.

If you waste a lot of time trying to match your target with a weak gravity tractor, a good deal of lead time is wasted. Frankly, I don't trust a small craft that Durda suggests to have enough pull. Jimo mass or bigger, with a lot of fuel--then we'll talk. And if the tractor doesn't have enough pull, you have to rig some MX with a standard warhead and hit it then as a last resort--then there is no time for the deviation to build.

I would suggest an all solid rocket, like ATK's Athena III concept to have a rugged, rad-hardedned version of Deep Impact atop it--filled with hypergolic fuel and SDI thruster packages on an Orion-type bomblet. This package would stay at the ready on a pad or even a big silo, and be ready to launch at moments notice--an Interplanetary Ballistic Missile/SDI rocket if you will.

That races out FIRST. The spaceberg is hit, and its orbit calculated again. If other bomblets are released in a row, Orion put-put style--even better.

Later on, do you use a Rosetta-length gravity tractor mission for fine tuning, and permanent disposal. Or harvest.

Hardware prefered to lengthy unproven gravity tractor:
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/08/03/215924/nasa-plans-armageddon-spacecraft-to-blast-asteroid.html

The expert
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/pdf/363422main_Rob%20Adams%20Resume.pdf

More:
http://planetarydefense.blogspot.com/2010/01/lockheed-martin-human-asteroid-mission.html

Gillianren
2010-Aug-30, 08:29 PM
Personally, I liked the comic book theme.

George
2010-Aug-30, 09:20 PM
Personally, I liked the comic book theme. Me too, and I have a hunch it will be more effective later when he does his debunking.

I too, like orionjim, felt an equation was coming along in the form of KE=mv2, but nope. He did, however, do the inverse square law in graphic form, which was nice.

The cool graphics were a real plus for the show, and they were better than I had anticipated.

I had heard the Sydney opera was in trouble, but geeeee whizzzz!

publiusr
2010-Aug-30, 09:25 PM
Apophis just heard they were doing SG-1 performance art there and got mad.

George
2010-Aug-30, 09:26 PM
Did I hear him say that the 6 mile wide asteroid that hit Chicxulub was large enough to have extended above our atmosphere at the moment of impact? That's only about 32,000 feet. Was our atmosphere thinner back thin? *wink*

George
2010-Aug-30, 09:28 PM
Apophis just heard they were doing SG-1 performance art there and got mad. Better there than hunting Anderson down [and taking out the whole U.S. and half of Texas!]. :)

George
2010-Aug-30, 09:38 PM
His dummy scene was pretty cute, but I wonder what his show would be like if he had a side-kick dummy - a Tommy Smothers or a Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy).

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Aug-30, 10:25 PM
I haven't seen it but maybe soon.
The way my job hunt has been going I am almost willing in being sidekick, Dave.

NickW
2010-Aug-30, 11:31 PM
I watched it last night before I went to bed. I thought it was good. The only complaint for me is the "Holy Heleuaklalskdala" or how ever you spell it :) I have never heard anyone say it, and have only seen it on his blog.

closetgeek
2010-Aug-31, 12:32 AM
I tried so hard to stay up last night. I was literally doing my, watch with one eye to rest the other then switch, method that never works. At some point, I closed one eye and fell asleep before I could open the other one. Just watched it on DVR with the kids (2 of them, at least) and we enjoyed it. Can't wait for the next one.

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Aug-31, 01:22 AM
Good, very good.

EDG
2010-Aug-31, 01:26 AM
Is there only going to be three episodes of BU?

peter eldergill
2010-Aug-31, 03:33 AM
Is there only going to be three episodes of BU?

That could be standard for any new show that they are "taking a chance on" or maybe the number of topics could be limited

Pete

NickW
2010-Aug-31, 03:44 AM
I thought it was just a pilot run for the time being.

George
2010-Aug-31, 04:07 AM
I thought it was just a pilot run for the time being. Uh oh, is William Shatner taking it from here? :)

NickW
2010-Aug-31, 04:08 AM
LOL, I really REALLY hope not. :)

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-31, 05:12 AM
Oh yeah, I did wonder about that whole sticking out of the atmosphere thing. Airliners routinely fly near 6 miles, so it can't be outside the atmosphere.

Doodler
2010-Aug-31, 10:12 PM
Oh yeah, I did wonder about that whole sticking out of the atmosphere thing. Airliners routinely fly near 6 miles, so it can't be outside the atmosphere.

I'm wondering if that shoulda been a reference to the ejecta cloud, mahself. Other than that minor scratch of the noggin, I rather liked it. Its got just enough of the Mythbuster format to keep it fun, while still very much playing in the BA's arena.

Another minor thing, when we sent Deep Impact to Wild, I seem to recall it being less a matter of us hitting the asteroid as much as it was DI was "run over" by it, because of the relative velocities involved. Not something your average layman may be apt to pick up, so file that one under "Nitpicks" more than a gripe.

beskeptical
2010-Sep-01, 03:06 AM
What, not one word about the Bad Astronomy crowded asteroid belt?

I liked most of it overall.

I think a nuke makes more sense as a deflector device than a blow-the-big-thing-to-small-things device. As for explosions, vs impacts, I'd have to re-watch it to see how that came off. I was trying to watch the show while I was doing something else and missed a bit of the details.

And I agree, one too many Holy Haleakulas. But then I also think the Mythbusters ham up the "I'm having so much fun blowing stuff up" too much as well. It's not that credible.

beskeptical
2010-Sep-01, 03:09 AM
That's "sooper sekrit" project to you!

Seriously, looks awesome.Did you really get ToSeeked on this one? :D

EDG
2010-Sep-01, 04:46 AM
I just watched the asteroid episode. I thought It was OK, but flawed.

The experimental parts at least were fun to watch. I think he's definitely trying to get the Mythbusters vibe there. And he is enthusastic at least.

However, I thought the whole approach was far too sensationalist - way too big a deal is made out of the "threat" I think. It's all "what if it hits a city!" (not sure why Phil picked poor Sydney as a target - maybe it was to make a change from using a US city as the disaster victim all the time?) when the reality is that cities cover a very small amount of the surface area of the planet, so it's much more likely NOT to hit a city at all.

I was a bit confused about why they had the dummy at the blast site - it was a life-size thing in a scaled-down environment. So really I guess it simulated the effect of the impact on Godzilla at two miles from ground zero? ;)

And sure, we're going to get hit by an asteroid at some point, but I thought that was presented in far too alarmist a manner here. It just seemed that the object of the show was to terrify people, not educate them (and what exactly are viewers supposed to do as a result of this? Whimper helplessly? Start digging bunkers? Run to the hills? Write to their congress representatives/MPs or something?)

The comet part seemed very weird. Have we really seen cometary orbits changed significantly by jets suddenly firing off at random angles? I know we've seen them suddenly flare up at distance from the sun, but is that enough to change their orbits by much?

Also, no mention of Tunguska at all? You've got an example of an airburst right there (again, airbursts aren't even mentioned), and actual photos showing what the aftermath of the impact was. No mention of any other impact craters? Not even Barringer (a nice, full-sized impact crater)?

I had no idea what the "grade" being given for 'nuking the asteroids' meant. The Rubble Pile, Stony and Iron asteroids essentially remained intact, and the porous one broke into several larger bits - all of which remains bad for the planet. As far as I could see, nuking all of the targets was entirely ineffective. (I wonder what happens to the rubble pile if it was hit in space as opposed to in Earth's gravity. Would it still hold itself together, or would there be a momentum transfer inside the pile that would cause it to flay apart into a big cloud of debris?). Also, was the kinetic energy of the impactor supposed to represent the energy released by a nuclear detonation on the surface of the asteroid? Would that really have the same effect as a nuke? I guess they both involve fireballs and blastwaves, but I'm just wondering if a nuclear explosion would have anything unique about it (radiation I guess, but I doubt that'd have an effect).

"Holy Haleakala!" (or whatever) got annoying really quickly too. As did the use of non-metric units (e.g. I have no idea what a PSI is, in terms of Pascals), particularly when at various points the scientists were using metric units when talking.

So... yeah. It was fun I guess, but I thought the educational content was somewhat dampened by the alarmist presentation.

What are the other episodes going to be about? I'll probably still watch them to see if they're any better, but I'm kinda disappointed in what I've seen so far.

EDG
2010-Sep-01, 04:47 AM
The program was better than Brian Cox’s “Wonders of the Solar System”.

I can't even begin to disagree with you enough about that.

NickW
2010-Sep-02, 12:51 AM
I think that using a city can give a sense of scale. If it hit in say, the midwest where everything was flat, it wouldn't have been as spectacular. :)

Gillianren
2010-Sep-02, 01:42 AM
And it was such a nice change from New York, but it still has landmarks even Americans can identify.

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-02, 03:55 AM
And it was such a nice change from New York, but it still has landmarks even Americans can identify.

You mean that thing that looked like a hat from one of Douglas Adams's stories?

EDG
2010-Sep-02, 05:16 AM
I think that using a city can give a sense of scale. If it hit in say, the midwest where everything was flat, it wouldn't have been as spectacular. :)

Yeah, but they could at least have shown the actual, real world one-mile wide crater that's in Arizona!
And sure, a city can give a sense of scale, but from the way it was presented it sounded like there was no chance that the asteroid would hit anywhere else on the planet!

Fazor
2010-Sep-02, 02:05 PM
I had been avoiding this thread since I DVR'd the show but couldn't watch it until last night.


And it was such a nice change from New York, but it still has landmarks even Americans can identify.
Agreed. I mean, as much as I'd love to see LA wiped off the map (sorry, I know it's your home-townish-area!), it's nice that America gets a rest.

But he used the cliché "As explosive as X lbs of TNT!" Just once, I'd like someone to try to make a hard-to-imagine force even harder to imagine by equating the explosion to something like match-heads. "This 500 lbs mix of fuel and fertilizer generates an explosion equal to 900-billion match-heads!", you know, something like that.

Overall it was a good show. I set the DVR to record the series, whenever that might be.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-02, 06:21 PM
Agreed. I mean, as much as I'd love to see LA wiped off the map (sorry, I know it's your home-townish-area!), it's nice that America gets a rest.

Well, and Los Angeles gives a lousy sense of scale. According to Wikipedia, the Borough of Manhattan contains about 23 square miles of land. (I wanted stats on the island itself, but I'll settle for this.) There's a lot more New York than that, but that's the New York non-New Yorkers tend to think about. Whereas the City of Los Angeles, just the city, is nearly five hundred square miles. The words "urban sprawl" never met a truer example than Los Angeles. None of our landmarks are very close together. Wikipedia says, if I'm reading their data right, that Sydney is even bigger, though it may be counting what we back home would call the Greater Sydney Area. However, both of those landmarks are right in the same harbour.

Fazor
2010-Sep-02, 06:27 PM
. . . I just wanted to pick on LA ;)

Gillianren
2010-Sep-02, 07:26 PM
Yeah, I know. But it's why disaster movies almost never do.

Fazor
2010-Sep-02, 07:32 PM
Yeah, I know. But it's why disaster movies almost never do.

No, it's because the sound of the audience cheering would drown out the rest of the movie! (Ba-zinga!)

Back to 'Bad Universe', I was a little surprised by the 'alarmist' vibe of the episode, but in fairness, it does add 'drama' that might hook viewers other than the BA Blog/BAUT Forum crowd. Plus, I didn't think it was too terribly trumped-up, as it is in some of Discovery's other shows. I thought Phil was great; there were some awkward'ly moments, but I thought that made him more identifiable. And I thought the look on his face, followed by the line "... look what I just did . . ." after he detonated that first explosion was priceless.

EDG
2010-Sep-02, 07:55 PM
So, what are the other eps going to be about?

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-02, 08:03 PM
When will the other episodes be broadcast??

NickW
2010-Sep-03, 04:53 AM
Yeah, but they could at least have shown the actual, real world one-mile wide crater that's in Arizona!

Except I used to live near that thing. And pictures in books or television don't do it justice. There is no sense of scale when you look at a picture of it, and it is hard to determine scale when you are standing on the rim of it.

Spoons
2010-Sep-03, 05:42 AM
I can't even begin to disagree with you enough about that.

Yes, I haven't seen Phil's show yet, but even though I quite like his style I struggle to believe it'll be better than Wonders of the Solar System.

Oh, and yeah, I'm pretty sure the area of Sydney that you saw, Gillianren, would be including the surround suburbs, or the Greater Sydney Area. It's not that big a city, really.

If you want to talk about urban sprawl including the surrounding areas, Perth would have to be listed as one of the bigger ones, although the Central Business District is pretty small really.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 05:42 AM
It's the same thing as the "tons of TNT" bit, really. The human mind has a certain range it can encompass just fine, and beyond that, we need place markers. "The distance between Los Angeles [or San Francisco] and New York." "The weight of three elephants." "Five times around the Earth." And so forth. Even if I don't have a clear mental grip on how much, exactly, any three given elephants will weigh (and who's giving out elephants?), that still lets me place it in context.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 05:47 AM
It's the same thing as the "tons of TNT" bit, really. The human mind has a certain range it can encompass just fine, and beyond that, we need place markers. "The distance between Los Angeles [or San Francisco] and New York." "The weight of three elephants." "Five times around the Earth." And so forth. Even if I don't have a clear mental grip on how much, exactly, any three given elephants will weigh (and who's giving out elephants?), that still lets me place it in context.

I can imagine tons of TNT fine. I have no idea what he's going on about when he's talking about "pounds of TNT" though.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 06:00 AM
I can imagine tons of TNT fine. I have no idea what he's going on about when he's talking about "pounds of TNT" though.

Look it up.

Spoons
2010-Sep-03, 06:13 AM
Close enough to divide by 2200, isn't it? From memory I thought 1 kilo is approximately 2.2 pounds.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 06:28 AM
The comet part seemed very weird. Have we really seen cometary orbits changed significantly by jets suddenly firing off at random angles? I know we've seen them suddenly flare up at distance from the sun, but is that enough to change their orbits by much?


That could have been explained more. I had the feeling there was a lot more material that had been edited out for time constraints. This would matter most for a comet with what appeared to be an Earth impacting trajectory, or a trajectory bringing it close to Earth. What looked like a near miss might become an impact event. What looked like an impact event might turn out to be a near miss.

But, if we see a comet heading our way, given our current capabilities, there probably isn't a lot we could do about it, except buckle down for a possible impact. There wouldn't be time to try much. The good news is that comets, because they don't have orbits that regularly bring them into spitting distance from Earth (unlike some NEO asteroids), are less likely to have the right trajectory to intersect Earth.



Also, no mention of Tunguska at all? You've got an example of an airburst right there (again, airbursts aren't even mentioned), and actual photos showing what the aftermath of the impact was. No mention of any other impact craters? Not even Barringer (a nice, full-sized impact crater)?


Again, I suspect time constraints, or possibly some editor that didn't want to mention an impact in an out of the way place like Siberia. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some cut material where Phil talked about Tunguska. It is a great example that significant impacts have happened during human history.



I had no idea what the "grade" being given for 'nuking the asteroids' meant. The Rubble Pile, Stony and Iron asteroids essentially remained intact, and the porous one broke into several larger bits - all of which remains bad for the planet. As far as I could see, nuking all of the targets was entirely ineffective. (I wonder what happens to the rubble pile if it was hit in space as opposed to in Earth's gravity. Would it still hold itself together, or would there be a momentum transfer inside the pile that would cause it to flay apart into a big cloud of debris?). Also, was the kinetic energy of the impactor supposed to represent the energy released by a nuclear detonation on the surface of the asteroid? Would that really have the same effect as a nuke? I guess they both involve fireballs and blastwaves, but I'm just wondering if a nuclear explosion would have anything unique about it (radiation I guess, but I doubt that'd have an effect).


It was good that he pointed out that the "nuke it" idea isn't easy and might cause more problems, and it was good to see the point that there are different kinds of asteroids, but I think it glossed over a bit on the issues for an impactor, which also might or might not work well depending on the specifics of the situation.



"Holy Haleakala!" (or whatever) got annoying really quickly too.


That was amusing once or twice. It might even be a good signature line for the biggest event in each show, but yes, not so funny when overused.



As did the use of non-metric units (e.g. I have no idea what a PSI is, in terms of Pascals), particularly when at various points the scientists were using metric units when talking.


Well, the other side of that is that most people in the U.S. would have no clue what you were talking about if you mentioned Pascals, but they know what their car's tire pressure is supposed to be in PSI.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 07:07 AM
That could have been explained more. I had the feeling there was a lot more material that had been edited out for time constraints. This would matter most for a comet with what appeared to be an Earth impacting trajectory, or a trajectory bringing it close to Earth. What looked like a near miss might become an impact event. What looked like an impact event might turn out to be a near miss.

I got that, but is it remotely likely that could happen? It just seemed to imply that astronomers are helpless if they see a comet near Earth because a random jet may send it anywhere.


The good news is that comets, because they don't have orbits that regularly bring them into spitting distance from Earth (unlike some NEO asteroids), are less likely to have the right trajectory to intersect Earth.

Yeah, but that wasn't mentioned at all in the show.



or possibly some editor that didn't want to mention an impact in an out of the way place like Siberia.

I hope not. They can't possibly be dumbing it down THAT much. (then again, they mentioned Sydney so they're obviously expecting their audience not to switch off at the mention of anywhere outside the US... )



Well, the other side of that is that most people in the U.S. would have no clue what you were talking about if you mentioned Pascals, but they know what their car's tire pressure is supposed to be in PSI.

Well, they could just "look it up", couldn't they.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 07:09 AM
I'd rather a science show used scientific units.

What's unscientific about "a pound of TNT"?

Spoons
2010-Sep-03, 07:10 AM
Well, they could just "look it up", couldn't they.

Yep. That's true for both sides, but I believe this show was made in America, likely with those citizens in mind. It is pretty understandable, isn't it? Otherwise we should demand Germany stop printing their books in German and switch to English, darn it!

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 07:23 AM
I got that, but is it remotely likely that could happen? It just seemed to imply that astronomers are helpless if they see a comet near Earth because a random jet may send it anywhere.


If a comet were heading toward Earth, it would be a tough issue. It wouldn't be so easy to say "yes it will hit" or "no it wont hit."



Yeah, but that wasn't mentioned at all in the show.


And I would like to have seen it there, but trying to explain different orbits would be time consuming, and I would bet it would lose a lot of the audience.



Well, they could just "look it up", couldn't they.

Why should they? The show was made for an American audience. If I'm watching a British show, I don't expect them to explain the terms that would be familiar to a British audience that might not be familiar to me.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 05:11 PM
Yep. That's true for both sides, but I believe this show was made in America, likely with those citizens in mind. It is pretty understandable, isn't it?

Well, heaven forbid that the anyone in the US makes any attempt to teach the units that everyone else on the planet uses (except Burma, the only other US-unit holdout).

US scientists use metric units. US science shows should use those units too.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 05:13 PM
And I would like to have seen it there, but trying to explain different orbits would be time consuming, and I would bet it would lose a lot of the audience.

That alone makes me not really interested in watching the rest. If the assumption is that the audience doesn't have the attention span or interest to actually learn anything that might slightly expand their minds, then this isn't the show for me. It's kinda sad when science shows are dumbed down so much that it's got to be all about the explosions and the sensationalism and less about actual science and education.

(EDIT: that said, if the show is aimed at kids then maybe it's more appropriate. But if this show is aimed at adults, it's really poor quality).

baric
2010-Sep-03, 05:34 PM
What's unscientific about "a pound of TNT"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_System_of_Units

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 05:42 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_System_of_Units

So? I don't see an answer to my question.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 06:07 PM
EDG: This wasn't a show about teaching metrics. Are you seriously arguing that they should have used units of measure much of the intended audience wouldn't understand, then spend time explaining those units?

This seems to be misplaced criticism at best, and comes across as being rather petty.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 06:32 PM
EDG: This wasn't a show about teaching metrics. Are you seriously arguing that they should have used units of measure much of the intended audience wouldn't understand, then spend time explaining those units?

This seems to be misplaced criticism at best, and comes across as being rather petty.

No, I'm just tired of science shows that don't use the units that scientists actually use, because they think the audience is too stupid to accept them. And it's not like they didn't mention metric units, because the scientists on the show used them while talking.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 06:49 PM
It's not that Americans are too stupid to get metric. We just don't use it. I can envision a two-liter bottle. I know about the size of a centimeter and about the size of a meter. And after that, it isn't something I can get without looking it up. Now, Phil's show should encourage people to think, but what he wanted us to think about was not conversion charts. He wanted us to think, maybe, that there are all sorts of different kinds of asteroids. That comets interact differently. That life isn't as simple as we think it is. Taking the time out to do conversions takes time away from putting in more information that we might actually find interesting.

Fazor
2010-Sep-03, 08:05 PM
If you're all talking about the TNT part, also keep in mind that he was comparing an amount of TNT to a certain poundage of the fertilizer/gas mix. So it only makes sense to use the same units for sake of comparison. And, as a US show, I think lbs are an appropriate unit to use to describe an amount of fertilizer and gas.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 09:11 PM
It's not that Americans are too stupid to get metric. We just don't use it. I can envision a two-liter bottle. I know about the size of a centimeter and about the size of a meter. And after that, it isn't something I can get without looking it up. Now, Phil's show should encourage people to think, but what he wanted us to think about was not conversion charts. He wanted us to think, maybe, that there are all sorts of different kinds of asteroids. That comets interact differently. That life isn't as simple as we think it is. Taking the time out to do conversions takes time away from putting in more information that we might actually find interesting.

Then there was lousy editing in the show. Like I said, you hear the scientists describing things in metric units. If they didn't want people to think in metric they should have edited that part out completely.

And seriously, does ANYONE actually describe TNT in "pounds"? Even Americans talk about kilotons and megatons on TNT when it comes to nuclear explosions - I've never heard them describe it in pounds.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 09:57 PM
If the amount of TNT you're using is less than 2000 pounds, no, you're not going to use tons. You're also, it seems, missing the difference between scripted and unscripted; the scientists are talking as they normally do and use metric because, yes, it's what scientists do. Phil is actively talking to the audience on their presumed wavelength and uses pounds, etc., because it's what Americans use, whether they should are not.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 10:13 PM
No, I'm just tired of science shows that don't use the units that scientists actually use, because they think the audience is too stupid to accept them.


Wow. So, people who don't use the metric system are stupid?

And I guess the textbooks on my shelves that don't use metric units are just a figment of my imagination.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 10:41 PM
Wow. So, people who don't use the metric system are stupid?

I would appreciate it if you do not misrepresent what I said. I said "because they think the audience is too stupid to accept them", not "people who don't use the metric system are stupid".

The US audience is perfectly capable of looking up metric units. US scientists use metric units all the time too. The US is the only major country that still insists on NOT using metric units, and since it exports a lot of its TV shows (and books, and other media) I don't think it's too much to ask that US media producers don't just think of the potential audience of 300 million or so people in the US that they're catering to directly, but also for the potential audience of billions outside the US who will also be watching the show.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 10:45 PM
If the amount of TNT you're using is less than 2000 pounds, no, you're not going to use tons.

He said it was the explosive equivalent of 3000 pounds of TNT. So yes, by your definition he could have used "tons".

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 11:44 PM
I'm just saying that ton isn't metric, at least as we use it in the US.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 11:57 PM
I would appreciate it if you do not misrepresent what I said. I said "because they think the audience is too stupid to accept them", not "people who don't use the metric system are stupid".


*I* fully expect that a good part of the audience would not accept them, especially for something like Pascals, but I would never say it would be because they were "too stupid." Whatever you intended, I would suggest avoiding the word "stupid" when discussing measurement unit preferences. At best, it is likely to be misinterpreted and I found it offensive.



The US audience is perfectly capable of looking up metric units.


It's an American show. Why should they?



The US is the only major country that still insists on NOT using metric units, and since it exports a lot of its TV shows (and books, and other media) I don't think it's too much to ask that US media producers don't just think of the potential audience of 300 million or so people in the US that they're catering to directly, but also for the potential audience of billions outside the US who will also be watching the show.

If it goes to international release, reshoot a few scenes, or add some explanatory text on screen.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-04, 12:07 AM
I'm just saying that ton isn't metric, at least as we use it in the US.

Yes, a ton, as normally used in the U.S., is 2,000 pounds, as compared to a metric ton (about 2205 lbs/1000 kg). In any event, I think people here would have a better intuitive feel for something measured in pounds than tons (at least when discussing a few thousand pounds).

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-04, 12:26 AM
The 1000 kg ton is metric and though that really should be spelled tonne, you can't hear the difference in normal speech.

EDG
2010-Sep-04, 12:47 AM
Well, either way, I don't consider the show to be good enough to be worth watching in the future. I did expect something a lot better than this.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-04, 03:24 AM
The 1000 kg ton is metric and though that really shouls be spelled tonne, you can't hear the difference in normal speech.

In the U.S. it is normally said or written as "metric ton" to clearly distinguish it from the short ton (usually just said or written as "ton"). However, though the term does get used, most people probably couldn't tell you what the difference was between a ton and metric ton.

peter eldergill
2010-Sep-04, 03:36 AM
Well, either way, I don't consider the show to be good enough to be worth watching in the future. I did expect something a lot better than this.

I'd suggest to give it another chance. TV shows tend to get better as the people in them get better at their job...until they Jump The Shark :)

Pete

ggremlin
2010-Sep-04, 03:37 AM
Convert everything to New"tons", bigger woo factor anyway.

Question: Anyone know when the next episode is on? I checked the schedule for the next week and can't find it.

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-04, 06:01 AM
Newsflash!

Phil Plait's TV show is called Bad Universe and it's based on the concept of his website called Bad Astronomy which debunks science myths and pseudo-science claims. So, yes, the target audience is the less educated who might believe myths and pseudo-science, or else he wouldn't be targetting them.

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-04, 06:04 AM
I thought Phil was great; there were some awkward'ly moments, but I thought that made him more identifiable. And I thought the look on his face, followed by the line "... look what I just did . . ." after he detonated that first explosion was priceless.

He did kinda have a "did I just soil myself" look.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-04, 08:02 AM
In the U.S. it is normally said or written as "metric ton" to clearly distinguish it from the short ton (usually just said or written as "ton"). However, though the term does get used, most people probably couldn't tell you what the difference was between a ton and metric ton.
For "people" measures, both are close enough to 4 baby elephants that the difference doesn't really matter.

Spoons
2010-Sep-06, 01:03 AM
With the difference of 205 pounds between a tonne (for smart people) and a ton (for the others) :rolleyes:, in normal human units it's about a difference of a shaved adult female gorilla.

That's a metric gorilla.

*warning, the above may contain sarcasm

jblank
2010-Sep-07, 12:03 AM
Actually it was better than I thought it would be, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I felt it was well organized and got the main points across. The program was better than Michio Kaku’s “Si Fi Science” and Brian Cox’s “Wonders of the Solar System”.

Phil’s comes across as a super nerd and that part works pretty good. But my advice would be is drop the comic book theme, and as Earl and others have said too many “Holy Helekula’s”.

There was a point in the beginning of the program I thought that they were actually going to show a formula, something forbidden on primetime TV, but Phil cleverly talked his way around it.

Jim

No way was it better than "Wonders".....This was basically Mythbusters with an Astronomical tilt. Add all the holy whatevers he kept spouting and it got sort of laughable. Whew, how can you think it was better than Wonders of the Solar System? <shutters>

jblank
2010-Sep-07, 12:09 AM
Well, heaven forbid that the anyone in the US makes any attempt to teach the units that everyone else on the planet uses (except Burma, the only other US-unit holdout).

US scientists use metric units. US science shows should use those units too.

I don't care if the entire universe uses the (awful) Metric system, I like to hear the figures given in Imperial units, which I use and prefer. I could go on and on using a litany of examples my old Biology professor gave, describing my hatred for the Metric system and it's impreciseness, but I'll leave it at that. :)

NEOWatcher
2010-Sep-07, 12:39 PM
*I* fully expect that a good part of the audience would not accept them, especially for something like Pascals, but I would never say it would be because they were "too stupid." Whatever you intended, I would suggest avoiding the word "stupid" when discussing measurement unit preferences. At best, it is likely to be misinterpreted and I found it offensive.
Let me second that opinion and add a few of my own comments.
First; Applying it to such a broad group of people even if there is a majority who are stupid is still offensive to the minority who aren't.
Second; in the case of metric, it's not just stupidity. For some, it's lazyness, stubbornness, or just blase about the whole thing. Then there is the group which will accept it either way.



It's an American show. Why should they?



If it goes to international release, reshoot a few scenes, or add some explanatory text on screen.[/QUOTE]

EDG
2010-Sep-07, 05:37 PM
the Metric system [...] and it's impreciseness

These two phrases combined make no sense to me whatsoever.

Metric is not "imprecise" (neither are Imperial or US units for that matter). Whatever you were using to measure it might have been "imprecise" but the system itself isn't. It can't be, either.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-07, 06:59 PM
I suppose it's the 1/32th inches that worries him:D

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-08, 05:00 AM
Wait, I thought astronomers used SI units instead of Metric.

Spoons
2010-Sep-08, 05:10 AM
Maybe. We're talking about real scientists here. :whistle:

EDG
2010-Sep-08, 07:10 AM
Wait, I thought astronomers used SI units instead of Metric.

I was never entirely clear what the difference between them was.

Spoons
2010-Sep-08, 08:07 AM
SI is the full set of units, including Metric spacial and standard time units. I think it also states that the base unit for lengths is the metre rather than the centimetre, no? And the weight base unit is the kilogram, rather than gram.

Is there more to it than that though?

EDG
2010-Sep-08, 09:50 AM
I thought they were interchangeable... that 'cgs' system (cm/grams/seconds) was just a variant of metric? (I don't use that myself, I use metres/kilograms/seconds as the base).

The cgs and mks versions are the same system though, they just use a different base (was never sure why cgs was needed though. I had the impression that engineers tended to use that more maybe?)

Spoons
2010-Sep-08, 09:53 AM
Well, the seconds aren't metric, are they?

I think SI is the full measurement standard, and metric is the spacial standard, and the standard unit within the metric system is to be assumed as metres.

If someone knows better, please correct my understanding.

Grey
2010-Sep-08, 01:02 PM
The cgs and mks versions are the same system though, they just use a different base (was never sure why cgs was needed though. I had the impression that engineers tended to use that more maybe?)You're correct. Both cgs and mks use the same basic metric units, but then they use different derived units. Using mks, the unit of force is the newton, which is 1 kg m/s^2, while using cgs, the unit of force is the dyne, which is 1 cm g/s^2. Energy is joules vs. ergs, and so forth. And you're also correct that there's more prevalence of cgs unit among engineers.


Well, the seconds aren't metric, are they?Seconds are definitely the metric unit of time. It's nice that we've managed to agree more or less universally on at least one unit of measurement. :)

NickW
2010-Sep-08, 02:20 PM
It's nice that we've managed to agree more or less universally on at least one unit of measurement.

No kidding. My mind can't even agree on what you use. I use imperial units in everyday things, but use metric when I talk about space or astronomy. Of course I think it is because when I read about it, it is usually in metric.

EDG
2010-Sep-08, 08:32 PM
You're correct. Both cgs and mks use the same basic metric units, but then they use different derived units. Using mks, the unit of force is the newton, which is 1 kg m/s^2, while using cgs, the unit of force is the dyne, which is 1 cm g/s^2. Energy is joules vs. ergs, and so forth. And you're also correct that there's more prevalence of cgs unit among engineers.

So which is actually "SI", and which is "metric"? Or are they the same? I use newtons and joules myself, not dynes and ergs (those always confused the heck out of me).

Grey
2010-Sep-09, 02:19 PM
So which is actually "SI", and which is "metric"? Or are they the same? I use newtons and joules myself, not dynes and ergs (those always confused the heck out of me).They'd both be considered metric. The SI is officially based on the mks units, so those are the ones the prescribe. However, the cgs units are still sort of included as units that are well-suited to a particular purpose (the Gaussian version of the cgs units works nicely for electrodynamics, for example), and suggest that you can use them if you really want to; take a look at page 128 of this document (http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_en.pdf).

orionjim
2010-Sep-22, 10:26 PM
I see the next episode of Phil’s "Bad Universe" is going to be on the Discovery channel, Wed. Oct. 6th at 10 PM EST. This episode is called “Alien Attack”.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 01:15 AM
Ah, cool. Hopefully that means the first one was well received.

Sensational never was Phil's style eh? :D

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-23, 03:49 AM
The second was probably in the can already anyways.

AdamL
2010-Sep-23, 05:26 AM
I see the next episode of Phil’s "Bad Universe" is going to be on the Discovery channel, Wed. Oct. 6th at 10 PM EST. This episode is called “Alien Attack”.

That should be highly entertaining!
Personally, I find this Phil Plait character thoroughly annoying. He comes across as an angry little geek.
The first show was very sensationalist and dumbed down. To be fair, it is hard to say to what extend that was due to Mr. Plait or due to Discovery Channel.
On the other hand, having had the displeasure of watching some of his Youtube productions where he tries to sell his personal opinions as "science" (ala "all UFO sightings are nothing but Venus and similar astronomical objects") he reveals his standard of intellectual honesty. Just another pseudo-skeptic trying to sell his personal opinions as "science".

As I said in another thread, I actually agree with the opinion that alien visitations are rather unlikely. But that's all it is: a personal opinion. To try to sell that as "science" is outrageous and dishonest.

But again: it should be quite entertaining to see another professional and compulsive debunker at work! Especially when he puts on his angry geek face... :)

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 05:37 AM
He does sometimes seem to get a little over-enthusiastic and maybe that results in one or two slightly sweeping statements, but I think he's generally fairly level-headed in his assessments. (I'm basing this statement on one of his appearances on a different Discovery Channel show - I still haven't seen Bad Universe. He was, in the show I saw the other day, for the most part just a little over-excited, but while I can't remember what it was, I do remember one thing he said which seemed to be an absolute statement where it didn't seem warranted. Still, it's not a patch on the sort of things Michio says.)

Unfortunately, having been confronted with so much claptrap he may end up, like many, a little too quick to jump to a conclusion.

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-23, 06:29 AM
Well, Phil is Phil. He is excitable in real life, though it's slightly accentuated in that show. I've had disagreements with him where we locked horns and neither of us would budge, so I can understand what AdamL sees. Still, I wouldn't call him an "angry little geek". He's just that animated and enthusiastic in real life.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 06:41 AM
Yeah, resorting to name calling isn't necessary. He sure is a passionate character. Personally I admire that, but I can imagine it could be annoying to some.

AdamL
2010-Sep-23, 07:01 AM
He's just that animated and enthusiastic in real life.

That is actually the part I enjoy about him. I like passionate people in general.
He has a clear voice and language and I can see why he was chosen as a presenter. He does a good job at that.

What I find thoroughly annoying is his pretentious attitude in assuming to speak for science when all he does is voicing his personal opinions (about alien visitation for example).
That is why I called him a pseudo-skeptic and intellectually dishonest.

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-23, 07:05 AM
We've had the discussion on "personal opinion" versus "science" on the topic of "alien visitation". That discussion does not need to be continued (especially in such an insulting way) in other threads.

Jim
2010-Sep-23, 06:53 PM
... Mr. Plait ...

FYI, Phil has a PhD so it's more correctly Dr. Plait.

George
2010-Sep-23, 07:37 PM
FYI, Phil has a PhD so it's more correctly Dr. Plait. Yes, and it's an astrophysics doctoral. More importantly, there is an astronomy forum that I've heard about where they love to nail any claim that remotely looks like bad astronomy. [I'll remember the name after I think aBAUT it.] ;) He's wise enough to know not to risk having to tangle with those characters.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 10:07 PM
Wow! A production like that sounds almost god-like. I imagine records of a place like that would be stowed away in a file that is marked above top secret. Hmmmm...

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-25, 06:14 AM
What I find thoroughly annoying is his pretentious attitude in assuming to speak for science when all he does is voicing his personal opinions (about alien visitation for example).
That is why I called him a pseudo-skeptic and intellectually dishonest.

The show's about him. It is what it is. Although you may have a point about him not representing all scientists. You should bring that up at the next All Scientist Meeting.

Jim
2010-Sep-25, 09:07 PM
... the next All Scientist Meeting.

Thursday night, my house. Remember to bring your own folding chair.

publiusr
2010-Sep-28, 07:47 PM
I see the next episode of Phil’s "Bad Universe" is going to be on the Discovery channel, Wed. Oct. 6th at 10 PM EST. This episode is called “Alien Attack”.

Thanks for the heads-up. Michio's alien attack episode on Sci-fi science could be reduced to "build more sensors," but The Universe's own "Trip Tucker" (i.e. Travis S. Taylor ) is probably the guy to ask:

http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Planetary-Defense-Extra-Terrestrial-Invasion/dp/1581124473/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1285703136&sr=1-1-fkmr1

Humor
http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Invasion-Survival-Handbook-Extraterrestrial/dp/1600611621/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285702851&sr=8-1

Woo-Woo
http://www.ufoinfo.com/ufobooks/defend.shtml

Asteroids
http://www.amazon.com/Space-Viz-Production-Planetary-Defense/dp/B0012BUWXQ/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1285702981&sr=8-1-fkmr2

Spoons
2010-Oct-05, 01:56 PM
Holy ukulele! Just watched the first episode. I liked it - quite an entertaining package. (I'm talking about the show.) I'm looking forward to episode 2.

I thought Phil does a good job as a presenter - I wasn't sure what to expect after some of the things I've heard about him (:D kidding). Great mix of science and entertainment value, nice simple experiments to highlight and summarise the issues faced. Very nicely rounded presentation.

I have seen other documentaries on the same theme (I think the Universe did one, including comments from the good doctor himself), but I think that makes for a good yardstick, and I liked this the most of any of the docos I've seen on the subject.

Best of luck to Phil with the show and all future endeavors in the field!

orionjim
2010-Oct-05, 02:49 PM
Holy ukulele! Just watched the first episode. I liked it - quite an entertaining package. (I'm talking about the show.) I'm looking forward to episode 2.

...


The 2nd show is tomorrow night (Wed. 6th Oct. @ 10:00 PM EST (-4 GMT) on the Discovery Channel. This one is "Alien Attack". It will be interesting to compare it to Michio Kako's "Alien Invasion". Same theme but ....

Spoons
2010-Oct-05, 02:54 PM
Yeah, judging from the first one I expect it'll be an improvement. I'll be hanging out for that one. The formula is just about right for these sort of shows, I think.

I heard it compared to Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox earlier, which I thought was a fantastic series of shows. I wouldn't even put it in the same category though. It just seems like a different kind of documentary, both equally great but in different ways.

IsaacKuo
2010-Oct-07, 03:40 PM
I was terribly disappointed in the second episode. Phil is just plain guilty of BAD ASTRONOMY with his claims of acceleration being a problem.

Put bluntly, once you get into orbit (which only requires a couple minutes of a modest 2-3 gees), then 1 gee is enough to get you to anywhere. Frail human bodies are obviously capable of surviving 1 gee for decades at a time!

If you had a vehicle capable of 1 gee of sustained acceleration (which is REALLY HARD), then it could take you to the Andromeda Galaxy within 30 years of subjective time. Millions of years would have passed by back on Earth, but you would only be 30 years older due to relativistic time dilation.

So, the limit is NOT acceleration, as Phil claims. Bad, bad, bad! Tsk, tsk, tsk! Shame on Phil.

That said, interstellar travel is honestly hard (assuming what we know of physics, obviously). The problem isn't the level of acceleration--1gee is enough. The problem is sustaining that acceleration up to useful interstellar travel speeds. There are a number of realistic possibilities, but we're nowhere close to being able to implement even the easiest of these. Still, aliens which are millions of years more advanced than us should be able to do them.

Mister Earl
2010-Oct-07, 07:35 PM
Perhaps Dr. Plait was talking about G-forces in the midset of addressing the common perceptions about UFOs. (Being able to take right angle turns, instant acceleration / stopping, ect. Perhaps he just didn't clarify enough. I can see that happening... given the media and what have you. It was probably done much better earlier, and wound up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

I'll give Dr. Plait the benefit of a doubt :)

phunk
2010-Oct-07, 08:02 PM
Perhaps Dr. Plait was talking about G-forces in the midset of addressing the common perceptions about UFOs. (Being able to take right angle turns, instant acceleration / stopping, ect. Perhaps he just didn't clarify enough. I can see that happening... given the media and what have you. It was probably done much better earlier, and wound up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

I'll give Dr. Plait the benefit of a doubt :)

Nope, was very clear that he was talking about living beings having to withstand multiple G acceleration over long periods of time. Some of the things he said were so wrong it made me wonder if the narrator was actual his evil twin.

Here's a transcript. (http://www.livedash.com/transcript/bad_universe-%28alien_attack!%29/6222/DSCP/Wednesday_October_6_2010/315146/)



00:04:32 If you're traveling to the moon, YOU NEED TO HIT ABOUT 2 G's -- That's twice the force of earth's gravity -- to reach escape velocity.
00:04:39 And at that acceleration, you'd reach the moon in about three days.
00:04:43 But what if you want to go to mars?
00:04:45 AT THAT SAME 2 G's, IT WOULD TAKE YOU A YEAR.




00:05:04 And if aliens trying to reach earth are humanoid -- and that's how they always appear in stories like swell and area 51 -- COULD THEY WITHSTAND HEAVY G'sFOR YEARS OR Decades to reach our planet?

Van Rijn
2010-Oct-07, 08:34 PM
Ah, good, a transcript. We also talked about this a bit in another thread:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/108362-Bad-Astronomy-s-BAD-Facts-and-Points-made-on-his-TV-show-are-really-BAD!?

The Mars thing might be bad editing, an unclear statement, or combination of both. Here's how it goes:


If you're traveling to the moon, YOU NEED TO HIT ABOUT 2 G's -- That's twice the force of earth's gravity --to reach escape velocity. And at that acceleration, you'd reach the moon in about three days. But what if you want to go to mars? AT THAT SAME 2 G's, IT WOULD TAKE YOU A YEAR.

He mentions escape velocity, so I think he meant to say something about the time it would take, coasting, to get to the Moon or Mars, after reaching escape velocity, but that's not at all clear as shown. He goes on to say:


So, how do you shorten that time? Well, you go faster. And that's the problem. To reach the speeds required to travel such huge distances TAKES MORE AND MORE G's, Until eventually, you've just reached the limit of acceleration that a body can take.

And, I don't really understand that, unless he's thinking of all the acceleration happening over a very short time, but the acceleration time would depend on the method being used.

It looked to me like the show was getting better after that, but I went to sleep not too much later, so I haven't seen much more. I recorded it and will watch it later.

Van Rijn
2010-Oct-07, 08:41 PM
Nope, was very clear that he was talking about living beings having to withstand multiple G acceleration over long periods of time. Some of the things he said were so wrong it made me wonder if the narrator was actual his evil twin.


I suspect there was a lot of interference both before and after he said things. I remember once when when my father, a geologist, was asked to to speak at my school. He worked hard on what he was going to say, then had a teacher say (paraphrasing), "No, the students won't understand that, or that, or that, or this, or this other thing" so when he finally gave his talk, it wasn't what he planned to say, and it was chopped up and didn't make much sense.

Van Rijn
2010-Oct-07, 11:10 PM
There's a discussion in the BA's blog. He has a comment here:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/10/06/bad-universe-contest-winner-and-some-skepticism-for-free/#comment-315910

Ara Pacis
2010-Oct-08, 06:34 AM
00:04:43 But what if you want to go to mars?
00:04:45 AT THAT SAME 2 G's, IT WOULD TAKE YOU A YEAR.At 2 gees of constant acceleration, it would take about a day, IIRC.

Spoons
2010-Oct-08, 06:48 AM
I've read in the blog comments Phil pointing out that it was awkward fitting a simple explanation into a quick slot in the doco, but I haven't seen an acknowledgement and explanation of what appears to be a significant error. It seems funny he wouldn't discuss that when pointed out, because my understanding is that he is generally very happy to acknowledge errors.

I know he doesn't seem to want to post here, and I doubt he even reads anything here anymore, but if someone hears an explanation of this from him elsewhere I'd be interested to hear it - please post it or a link in here if you have time. Thanks.

Tobin Dax
2010-Oct-08, 08:02 AM
I've read in the blog comments Phil pointing out that it was awkward fitting a simple explanation into a quick slot in the doco, but I haven't seen an acknowledgement and explanation of what appears to be a significant error. It seems funny he wouldn't discuss that when pointed out, because my understanding is that he is generally very happy to acknowledge errors.

I know he doesn't seem to want to post here, and I doubt he even reads anything here anymore, but if someone hears an explanation of this from him elsewhere I'd be interested to hear it - please post it or a link in here if you have time. Thanks.

In his blog post, Phil does indicate that he couldn't spend the time to explain velocity and acceleration to viewers who don't know the difference between the two.

Reading the transcript again, he should say "at that velocity," not "at that acceleration" since he's talking about the travel time at ~escape velocity. "After that acceleration" could work, too.

In the "withstand g's for years" comment, that still may be accelerating to cruising velocity, but the way he says it is would convey something else out of context.

Spoons
2010-Oct-08, 08:39 AM
Yeah, it's very difficult for me to believe it could be any failure to understand as opposed to a miscommunication. It's unfortunate that any clarification isn't likely to find its way into a re-edit, as those that follow his blog are likely to realise the error anyway. It's the casual viewer who most needs the correction.

NEOWatcher
2010-Oct-08, 01:11 PM
I can see boiling down an entire concept of G's in space travel into a quick comment would be difficult. But it had to be done to film him in a fighter jet.

IsaacKuo
2010-Oct-08, 01:57 PM
In his blog post, Phil does indicate that he couldn't spend the time to explain velocity and acceleration to viewers who don't know the difference between the two.
Which is nonsense. He explicitly brings up the difference, and claims (wrongly) that the problem is acceleration, not speed.

In the "withstand g's for years" comment, that still may be accelerating to cruising velocity, but the way he says it is would convey something else out of context.
Which is still wrong. There's no need to withstand multiple gees for years. Not to get to Alpha Centauri. Not to get to the Andromeda Galaxy. One gee is enough. His basic point, no matter how you twist it around, is completely wrong.

Yeah, it's very difficult for me to believe it could be any failure to understand as opposed to a miscommunication.
After seeing the show, and hearing the words coming out of his own mouth, I can only conclude that it's a failure to understand.

It isn't a case of simplifying things to convey the general idea. The idea it conveys is WRONG. It's not anywhere close to correct, not even in spirit.

I can see boiling down an entire concept of G's in space travel into a quick comment would be difficult. But it had to be done to film him in a fighter jet.
Maybe he could have done the fighter jet sequence as a prelude to debunking the myth that starships need to deal with high acceleration.

IsaacKuo
2010-Oct-08, 02:08 PM
Or perhaps his excuse for riding a fighter jet could have been to explain the difference between the "sound barrier" and the "light barrier". That would given him an excuse to go supersonic!

Ara Pacis
2010-Oct-08, 04:28 PM
I still need to watch it on the DVR.

Oh, and BTW, when I said it was about a day to Mars at 1 gee, I erred, it's closer to 2 days. (I did one leg to turn-over and 1 gee brake, instead of both legs.)

Ara Pacis
2010-Oct-09, 05:56 AM
Okay, I just watched it. Not bad: only two Holy Haleakulas. But I disagree about the whole bacteria hitching a ride thing. If the bacteria are inside the meteorite and it's not too large, it will slow down to a much slower speed by the time it hits the ground. I recall that he even discussed this on an astronomy bite on his original website. I'm not sure why he would abandon that calculation now.

IsaacKuo
2010-Oct-09, 11:44 AM
But I disagree about the whole bacteria hitching a ride thing. If the bacteria are inside the meteorite and it's not too large, it will slow down to a much slower speed by the time it hits the ground. I recall that he even discussed this on an astronomy bite on his original website. I'm not sure why he would abandon that calculation now.
Yes, that was bad also. But not as throw-the-book-against-the-wall bad as the acceleration thing.

peter eldergill
2010-Oct-11, 03:24 AM
I'm sure that Phil has to make "compromises" in the script to please the network funding the show.

The momentum of the meteor would affect its impact speed wouldn't it?

A better second effort I thought

Edit: Speaking of acceleration, there was no mention of having to slow down once you've reached the destination either :)

Pete

HenrikOlsen
2010-Oct-11, 03:58 AM
Edit: Speaking of acceleration, there was no mention of having to slow down once you've reached the destination either :)
No need, in physics it's still acceleration, you're just accelerating in the other direction.

Ara Pacis
2010-Oct-11, 05:14 PM
I'm sure that Phil has to make "compromises" in the script to please the network funding the show. Yes, but compromises shouldn't misrepresent facts. I would give Phil a pass under the assumption that they would only endure the acceleration for a short time at launch to get to an escape velocity before the rocket cut-out, but he said they would have to endure decades of high G acceleration which is not only highly improbable, it soon runs up against impossible due to relativity (I won't speculate as to which frame of reference he might use). The only realistic way to travel at acceleration for decades is to slog along with really low accelerations.

Referencing Heinlein's calculations in Expanded Universe: at the bearable 1 gee acceleration equivalent to that with which we live here on Earth, getting to the non-planet Pluto only takes a little over 2 weeks. At solar sail class accelerations of 1/1000 gee, it still takes less than 1.5 years. Note that these are two leg journeys with a turnover and reverse (braking) acceleration for half of that time. A continuously forward-accelerated (non-braking) flyby would arrive much quicker, less than a year at 1/1000 gee (calculated by rounding to 3 billion miles). At 5 gees referenced in Phil's show it would take about 5 days.


The momentum of the meteor would affect its impact speed wouldn't it?The more massive it is, the more speed it will retain after passage through the atmosphere, assuming it doesn't explode at altitude and assuming it doesn't skip off the atmosphere on an aerocapture trajectory.

peter eldergill
2010-Oct-12, 02:23 AM
Yes, but compromises shouldn't misrepresent facts. I would give Phil a pass under the assumption that they would only endure the acceleration for a short time at launch to get to an escape velocity before the rocket cut-out, but he said they would have to endure decades of high G acceleration which is not only highly improbable, it soon runs up against impossible due to relativity (I won't speculate as to which frame of reference he might use). The only realistic way to travel at acceleration for decades is to slog along with really low accelerations.



My bold

So do you think he misspoke, or something was lost "in translation" to layman speak? The whole explanation seemed a bit weak on the numbers

Pete

Van Rijn
2010-Oct-12, 03:26 AM
Yes, but compromises shouldn't misrepresent facts. I would give Phil a pass under the assumption that they would only endure the acceleration for a short time at launch to get to an escape velocity before the rocket cut-out, but he said they would have to endure decades of high G acceleration which is not only highly improbable, it soon runs up against impossible due to relativity (I won't speculate as to which frame of reference he might use). The only realistic way to travel at acceleration for decades is to slog along with really low accelerations.


There are practical issues to acceleration (for instance, mass ratios if a rocket scheme), and dangers of running into stuff at high relative velocities, but there aren't theoretical relativity limits on acceleration, no matter how hard you accelerate.

Ara Pacis
2010-Oct-12, 09:02 PM
There are practical issues to acceleration (for instance, mass ratios if a rocket scheme), and dangers of running into stuff at high relative velocities, but there aren't theoretical relativity limits on acceleration, no matter how hard you accelerate.impractical = impossible for this exercise.


So do you think he misspoke, or something was lost "in translation" to layman speak? The whole explanation seemed a bit weak on the numbersThat was a long sentence, so I'll distill it; "I would... but." In other words, something doesn't add up and parsing all his comments leads me to suspect it's not an editing issue. It is a paradox: I assume he knows, so I can't explain why he appeared not to know.

publiusr
2010-Dec-22, 12:41 AM
Now NSWR was to have sustained acceleration for hours, if doable. That's not bad esp. if you can keep it at 1 g.

NEOWatcher
2011-Apr-18, 04:58 PM
Episode 3 tomorrow...

I just happened to be on the BA site, and noticed today's story. I thought it was worth a heads up over here.

Bad Universe Episode 3 airs Tuesday April 19 (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/)


Well, it’s been a while coming, but I’m pleased to let y’all know that the third and final episode of "Bad Universe" will air on The Discovery Channel tomorrow, April 19, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern (US) time — but of course, check your local listings.

R.A.F.
2011-Apr-18, 06:45 PM
Episode 3 tomorrow...

I just happened to be on the BA site, and noticed today's story.

...where Phil almost begs people to watch...

Why doesn't he just start a thread here?...that would certainly advertise it.

grapes
2011-Apr-18, 07:05 PM
Phil hasn't posted to BAUT for years.

publiusr
2011-Apr-18, 08:35 PM
Thats a little sad. He is busy of course.

George
2011-Apr-18, 09:42 PM
"He excels in math!" C3PO

R.A.F.
2011-Apr-19, 02:50 PM
Thats a little sad. He is busy of course.

At one time I accepted the "I'm too busy" reason for Phil abandoning his own forum, but really...how long does it take to type a quick note?? Naw, the "i'm too busy" reason just doesn't "fly". it seems Phil just doesn't want to post here...not even to promote his TV show.

...and that is sad...