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Mr_Kee
2008-Jun-14, 03:13 AM
I just started listening and was enjoying the first few shows until the show on meteor showers.

The PhD said that the light given off by meteors was due to mass being converted to energy. I am pretty sure mass is only converted to energy in nuclear reactions, nuclear decay and in matter anti-matter collisions. The light from meteors is due to a conversion of the kinetic energy of the meteor into visible radiation due to friction with the atmosphere. There might be some chemical energy released as light from the burning of the meteor but this would just be energy related to breaking and making of bonds not the transformation of matter into energy.

Then she went on to say that a meteoroid would have to be 50 meters across when it hit the atmosphere to survive the journey down to earth. That is also way off. Depending on the speed of entry and makeup, things as small as marbles can make it all the way down, surely meteroids the size of basketballs can given the right make up, entry angle and velocity.

Anyway, after hearing these to examples of bad info being given out (ironically by someone affiliated with Bad Astronomy) I wonder how many other things I am being fed as fact that are not right that I am not informed enough about to notice.

Was this a fluke and is the info usually correct or am I just filling my head with a mix of facts and mistakes?

Thanks,

dcl
2008-Jun-14, 09:24 PM
There is indeed a lot of misinformation disseminated in the forum, and it behooves the reader to have enough background in the sciences to recognize when he is being fed raw sewage. I would encourage you to see what others have to say on subjects in which you are interested and, if so inclined, to try to educate them without exuding too much of an air of superiority. I find that many contributors are willing to learn. If you are a teacher at heart, the forum will give you an opportunity to teach! Also, it appears to me that there are contributors to this forum who are considerably more knowledgeable on a number of subjects than I am, and I enjoy learning from them.

Jared Croft
2008-Jun-16, 09:44 PM
Yes, but he was refering to the podcast. Not generally knowing a great deal about astronomy from sources other than the podcast, I can't say if the accuracy improves. The show is really easy to listen to however, so it would be nice if they included corrections of the preceding podcast in every new one. I have suspected for a while that the show has brain farts and lacks precision. In the early star episodes conflicting distances are stated for Ada Korina. Nevertheless, I think the show is usually accurate or in the ballpark of being accurate. Its like an encyclopedia; and greater clarity on a subject is achieved by more indepth research.

EvilEye
2008-Jun-16, 11:14 PM
Send an email for a Q&A show. See if they answer.

The female host is Dr. Pamela Gay

StarStryder
2008-Jun-18, 02:39 AM
I know our podcasts occasionally have errors (generally because I misread my notes), but here I think you are off.

Whenever anything gives off light, something is going on that is transforming matter in a way that causes energy to be emitted. In some cases, it is just an electron changing from one energy level to another, in other cases it is molecular bonds coming apart, and in the rarest of cases it is the atoms themselves coming apart or the subatomic particles in those atoms coming apart. Here, it was the matter in the meteor undergoing chemical burning that released energy.

You also called out the 50 meter number I used. While it is possible for the occational small object to reach the Earth's surface or the occational large object to burn up before hitting the surface, the generally accepted, Astronomy 101, number if 50 meters and up hit and create big craters consistently.

We work on this show very hard, and it is a labor of love. I'm sorry if it is not always up to perfection. If you don't enjoy it, I strongly recommend Quarks and Quirks - they have a large staff and are able to create a more consistent product.

Cheers,
Pamela

dcl
2008-Jun-18, 01:58 PM
Dr. Gay, is your assertion that the Universe has the shape of a doughnut. including its dominant feature of a central hole, an instance of misreading your notes? If so, a retraction of that statement would be in order. In any case, I would think that refusing to either retract it or to support it with a plausible argument would seem to be in order.

damian1727
2008-Jun-18, 08:29 PM
dcl you crack me up

a/ you are obsessed with donuts....

b/you must be great at maths coz the english language constantly bites you in the ***

lol

...In any case, I would think that refusing to either retract it or to support it with a plausible argument would seem to be in order


good plan !!

(please take this jesting in the best possible taste ; ) )

plc222
2008-Jun-20, 03:17 AM
Mr. Kee,
You wrote "I just started listening and was enjoying the first few shows until the show on meteor showers. "

So, once the show on meteor showers occured, you then were no longer enjoying the first few shows?
;)
Well ... I should not judge by your small mistake in grammatical logic.

Let's not jude the large scale by the small bits, or function and purpose of something large scale that we have only yet glimpsed through the rolled-up cardboard tube of our emotions...
Yeah, it is frustrating if data conflicts, and when our data is challenged. Where we got the data does not come into play much at first - we 'own' it, and don't like it when it might be wrong. It is very natural - it is something that helped us survive through thousands of years of ignorance...
But NOW we have the chance to challenge ourselves without fear of instant death! We can challenge our own ideas and judgements..and data .. without fear that leads to agression. Even though it is ironic how much of that we see in scientists, that is because they too, must live in societies that demand so much more of us than the scientific method.
My own idea of the scientific method is ... to do your best to prove yourself wrong. I have the most respect for those who do. It is in doing that we may learn not only the truth about what we seek to know, but what we did not know to seek.

Hang in there .. this show is one of the best. I have my own issues with Pamela, but they mean nothing in the context of what this show is and does. It is about more than science... it is about love. Love of knowledge? Well, not really... It is more the love of sharing knowledge, and you can hear it in their voices and what they say .. why they do it ... hmm.. why else would they?

Anyway... keep listening -- there is plenty of good stuff ahead .. and if you spot a mistake? Well, it might lead you to find out even more (and you can post that here for us too! :)

drbenalbert
2008-Jun-23, 02:55 AM
Hi there,

I have been listening to astronomy cast for a few months and I too am working my way forward from the first. These are really great shows I am enjoying them a lot and adding to my knowledge at the same time.

Pamela and Fraser do a good job and I enjoy the conversational nature of the show.

I remember listening to the meteor shower podcast too and objecting to the comment about the meteors mass being converted to energy producing the light. I understand your explanation Pamela, that's fine. The way it came across to my ears was that you were suggesting that the mass was being converted directly to energy in an e=mc2 relationship sort of way. The way mass is converted to energy when a little is lost in fission or fusion reactions, on in matter/antimatter interaction. I knew this couldn't be what you meant. Its a reality of producing as much material as you do in such a way that every now and then you will make a little slip that isn't quite right. I suspect if Mr Kee had not phrased his objection in such a confrontational manner you would have met him half way.

Anyway I really wanted to say that I love the show. A slip like that certainly will not effect that. Also since listening I have bought an 8" Dobsonian and I am loving getting out each night the sky is clear, so thank you for inspiring me to get into amateur astronomy.

Cheers guys, I look forward to finally catching up to the present episodes sometime next year - you certainly have produced a lot of material.

-Ben

Jared Croft
2008-Jun-26, 12:54 PM
Dr. Gay, is your assertion that the Universe has the shape of a doughnut. including its dominant feature of a central hole, an instance of misreading your notes? If so, a retraction of that statement would be in order. In any case, I would think that refusing to either retract it or to support it with a plausible argument would seem to be in order.

Well the donut theory is in the books.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1566

Did she say it was proven?

I for one hope it is false. I don't want the universe to get eaten.

Vanamonde
2008-Jun-29, 11:59 AM
Astronomy Cast is not prefect. But I for one, appreciate it and have had many, many wonderful hours listening to all of the programs. It has rekindled an ole love for astronomy and physics in a way I have not experienced in years. In fact, I believe there has been no better show of ANYTHING on science since Carl Sagan died.

They do not walk on water. If you are dissatisfied, I am so sure they will refund your money.

I hope they will continue this great show for many more years!

And besides, there is nothing like a small mistake or two every now and zen to make sure you are paying attention!

reason_one
2008-Jun-30, 03:20 AM
I'm new too. Just discovered podcasts. I'm working my way through from the beginning and I hope I'm learning along the way. Corrections would be nice.

Mr_Kee
2008-Jul-01, 11:20 PM
I forgot that I had posted this and just checked back. I apologize for the delayed respone. I didn't mean to come across so confrontationally. I enjoy the shows and was just curious if I needed to be more careful in accepting what I heard as fact. I apologize to anyone that was offended.
I did go out and double check my thoughts on the two points I brought up and found many sources that confirmed my thoughts before I made the original post.

dcl, Jared, EvilEye, plc222, drbenalbert, vanamonde and reason_one thank you for your helpful responses. The "if you don't like it leave" responses weren't very helpful.

Dr Gay,
I really didn't mean to offend, I enjoy your shows very much and appreciate the work that goes into them. I appreciate your clarification on the two issues and must admit that like drbenalbert I thought you were saying that "mass was being converted directly to energy" in the meteor situation. Hense my confusion.

Let me just say that I also think you have one of the best voices around. It is exceptionally pleasant to listen to.

NHR+
2008-Jul-04, 08:50 AM
Let me just say that I also think you have one of the best voices around. It is exceptionally pleasant to listen to.

Yeah, they BOTH do have some of the bestest voices, don't they? :)

I mean, not everyone has a voice like that! If these 'casts were read, for example, by one of the astronomy teachers from my local university, I would probably be fast asleep in a minute or two. He's a nice guy, too, very nice indeed, but the sound of his voice just is like a sleeping pill to me. Turns even anything interesting into an uninteresting babble right away. Not a very good quality in a TEACHER, y'know...

plc222
2008-Jul-04, 04:16 PM
Since we are being critics ...
I noticed Dr. Gay mispronounces temperature in the common way..
It is often pronounced as: Temp-a-chur
when it should be as: Temp-er-a-chur

I always thought that was a bad mistake for a weatherperson, but now i include astronomers/physicists because they use the word so much!
Well, maybe it really is best to skip the "er"?
I think of all the time that would have been wasted .. as the meaning is clear enough ~~~:lol:

I just saw a thread called "Little errors that only bother the Nerdiest" so maybe i should havbe posted this there :lol:

dcl
2008-Jul-08, 06:00 PM
damian1727, thanks for catching me in a major editing goof. I must have been out to lunch or something when I said, "I would think that refusing to either retract it [Dr. Gay's statement that the Universe has the shape of a doughnut] or to support it with a plausible argument would seem to be in order". The English language did indeed bite me in the *** that time as you so eloquently put it. What I meant to say is, "I would think that Dr. Gay should either defend her statement that the Universe has the shape of a doughnut, qualify it, or withdraw it. Sorry that it took me so long to respond to your comment; I've been out off town for a number of days recently and did not have ready access to the Internet during that period. Also, I'll admit that I'm annoyed at Dr. Gay's asserting as established fact what I believe she has no basis for claiming to be such. I feel very strongly that educators in particular should be as certain as possible that what they assert to be established facts are widely accepted as such.

CharlieMopps
2008-Jul-13, 01:42 PM
What? No ones going to bring of Relativity?

Whenever energy is added to a system, the system gains mass. A spring's mass increases whenever it is put into compression or tension. Its added mass arises from the added potential energy stored within it, which is bound in the stretched chemical (electron) bonds linking the atoms within the spring.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass-energy_equivalence

the real tricky part is if you were on earth and saw the object hit the atmosphere, you would watch it suddenly lose mass as it lost relative velocity. Where-as, if you were flying parallel to it at the same speed, it would appear to you to be at rest... until it hit the earths atmosphere, at which point it would suddenly gain relative velocity compared to you... and therefor also gain mass? So a massive object would have differing amounts of mass depending of your frame of reference? My head hurts.

Empyre
2008-Jul-15, 04:45 PM
Even a simple exothermic chemical reaction like oxidation (burning) converts a very small amount of mass into energy. It is a much smaller amount of mass conerted than in fusion, but it still follows e=mc^2.

Olowkow
2008-Aug-02, 04:55 PM
Since we are being critics ...
I noticed Dr. Gay mispronounces temperature in the common way..
It is often pronounced as: Temp-a-chur
when it should be as: Temp-er-a-chur

I always thought that was a bad mistake for a weatherperson, but now i include astronomers/physicists because they use the word so much!
Well, maybe it really is best to skip the "er"?
I think of all the time that would have been wasted .. as the meaning is clear enough ~~~:lol:

I just saw a thread called "Little errors that only bother the Nerdiest" so maybe i should havbe posted this there :lol:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temperature
Perfectly acceptable among the altenative pronunciations. And "February"? Correct pronunciation is "feb-u-ary". "Feb-ru-rary" is pedantic and just a hypercorrection.

Pamela and Frasier are a terrific team, and they produce one of the best podcasts on the web. I am so glad they don't get into some fancy music or production techniques, as this just distracts from many podcasts.

One question though, Frasier told me once in an email, in response to my question of how they did the show, that they each did their parts separately and then combined them. I just couldn't understand how this could be possible. Was he pulling my leg?

damian1727
2008-Aug-11, 06:56 PM
great to see you back dcl ...

sorry if i upset you i was only having fun....:whistle:

sohh_fly
2008-Aug-12, 01:38 AM
fraser and pamela keep up the good work ,i enjoy your podcast very much ...it gets me thru the work day ,i rarely wacth the telly now except for space science programs , i like to cross reference some of the casts i listen 2 and the % of material which is very informative and knowledgable is very high and without astronomycast i wouldnt have realize how much i like this stuff .

just wanted 2 say thx 2 both of you .....hope i'm still around for the 1000th cast

Lepton
2008-Aug-15, 02:44 PM
Dr. Gay, is your assertion that the Universe has the shape of a doughnut. including its dominant feature of a central hole, an instance of misreading your notes? If so, a retraction of that statement would be in order. In any case, I would think that refusing to either retract it or to support it with a plausible argument would seem to be in order.

Well the donut theory is in the books.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1566

Did she say it was proven?

I for one hope it is false. I don't want the universe to get eaten.
Cute, now I have a picture of Homer Simpson eating the universe. Well, a Milky Way is a candy bar so it isn't too far from reality :lol: