Your chance to ask the Bad Astronomer!

Yellow_Number_Five
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Your chance to ask the Bad Astronomer!

Phil Plait is an astronomer at Sonoma State University and well known skeptic and general science junkie, so my kind of guy Eye-wink

He runs the web blog http://www.badastronomy.com/ which is one of my favorite sites. He covers everything from  debunking Appollo moon landing conspiracies, to the Big Bang, to relativity and beyond.

He'll be appearing on the show in the near future, and I wanted to get an idea of subjects you guys want to hear about. I have a pretty good background in cosmology, so it's tough for me to pick topics.

I essentially want to know what you guys don't know and would like to learn more about so we can gear the conversation toward those subjects. Feel free to ask specific questions or just mention topics.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Angelic_Atheist
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I’m having difficulty

I’m having difficulty understanding what is known about black holes.

With the massive gravity pulling everything in, does it all 'consumed' matter stay? does anything escape? And how is this connected to the multiverse?

Do black holes "die" (and how)? or eventually consume the galaxy they create?

 

:sniff sniff: i think somthing's burningUndecided

We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
~ Richard Dawkins


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Speaking of black holes, if

Speaking of black holes, if he could explain the Hawking Paradox, and the recent reversal that Steven made regarding the possibility that anything can ever escape a black hole...

Well, that'd be swell.

I'm also curious about the current state of the dark matter theory, and how it relates to the apparent difference in the speeds of stars closer and farther away from galactic centers.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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C'mon people, what types of

C'mon people, what types of astronomy questions do you have?

- Brian Sapient


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hellfiend666
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If our sun is roughly half

If our sun is roughly half way through it's life cycle at 4-5 billion years, that would mean the average star lives around 8-10 billion years.  Heavier elements are formed from the supernova explosions at the end of a stars life.  If the average life span of a star is 9 billion years, and estimated age of the universe is 15-20 billion years, that doesn't leave much time for the formation of our sun.  Since it would have to be at least a second generation star for our solar system to contain the heavier elements, like gold, platinum, uranium, ect.  The numbers just don't sit right in my head.  Either the age of our solar system has been miscalculated, or the universe is older than 20 billion years.  I have been rolling this around in my head for a while, researching as much as I can before my eyes bugg out of my head from staring at a monitor.  I would like to hear a professional point of view on this. 

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Is there new info regarding

Is there new info regarding Titan? I thought I saw something about lakes on the surface????

We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
~ Richard Dawkins


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I can answer this question

hellfiend666: I can answer your question if you dont care to wait for Phil to do it.

 In the early universe larger stars were more common and the larger the star the faster it burns up its fuel. The largest stars only have lives of 10-100 million years before they go supernova and spread heavier elements around the universe.

 

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Yellow_Number_Five
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Bjxrn, quit putting the

Bjxrn, quit putting the kibosh on needed content, you overly helpful bastard Eye-wink

Honestly, guys, I need you all to help me out so Phil and I don't simply nod at one another for two hours. Give us some things to discuss, even off the wall shit like movie physics (Phil rips on movies like "The Core" and "Armageddon" and the "physics" they employ as well on his site.

Anything goes, guys.

 C'mon, no M-theory stuff? No crazy time travel or relativity scenarios? Nothing on cyclical or mutiple universes? Nothing on the chemical content of comets and asteroids as it may pertain to pansermia? Nothing Smolin's theory? 

I want this show to be for YOU. What are you curious about? 

 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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OK I have a few

OK I have a few questions

 1. Do mini black holes exist? black holes the size of pebbles or small rocks that is. there is a theory that lots of small black holes were created at the beginning of the universe or something like that. 

 2. What is dark matter?, do scientists think that it is similar ordinary matter that you can hold in your hand or does it have some cool property and act like nothing we have ever seen before. 

 3. In Arthur C Clarkes book 2010 Jupiter is turned into a sun, called (Lucifer in the story), would it be possible for humans to increase the mass of Jupiter and ignite it? (theoretically off course)

 4. Does he think that humans will be traveling to the stars in the future if we do not find a way to somehow travel faster then the speed of light? Could this be why aliens haven't showed up yet, its simply not possible/worth the effort to travel between the stars.

 5. How long does he think that it will take for private corporations to offer orbital flights? Will it even be possible even in the long term considering the enormous amounts of energy needed to make it into orbit.

 6. Would Phil like to travel to space with Virgin Galactic?

 

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7. Isn't string theory just

7. Isn't string theory just a religion at the moment, there is not a single experiment that scientist can do to verify it, and it is almost impossible to falsify, this isn't how science is supposed to work, right?. Most of the time when we hear string theorist talk about it they say things like "a theory that is as mathematically beautiful as this theory cant be wrong"

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wow.  Good question

wow.  Good question (number 7)

It will be interesting to see how a scientist responds to such a question if you're correct in saying that there's no empiricism behind it.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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8. As I understand it some

8. As I understand it some astronomers seem to believe that Jupiters moon Europa has a surface made of water ice. Do they believe that there is a sea of liquid water under that ice today?. What do you believe the chances are that microbial life exists on Eurpoa if there is liquid water under the ice?

8b. I have heard of various plans to send spacecrafts to Europa to dig through the ice, do you have any information on a project like this?

9. What do astronomers call Pluto this week, planet, planetoid or asteroid?

10. How much longer are we going to have to use the slow chemical rocket engines that we have used for decades. When will we get something better and significantly faster.

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Angelic_Atheist
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What are your favorite

(For everyone on the show who is interested) 

What are your favorite discoveries??

We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
~ Richard Dawkins


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1. After reading Angels and

1. After reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, I have been curious of the substance anti-matter. In it, Brown claims it to be a reality. I would like to hear your pros and cons of such a substance, if you have heard of it. Is it really dangerous?

 

2.a. I also have been reading A Brief History in Time by Steven Hawkings. In it I learned that our universe is expanding. EX. A rock thrown in a creek produces ripples. Our solar system is located somewhere on that ripple and everything around us is moving outward. Does this add to validate the Big Bang Theory?

b . I recently listened to freethought media radio show and the atheist speaker mentioned that he did not believe in the Big Bang Theory because something cannot come from nothing. I've always thought the latter to be true so I accepted the Big Bang Theory as there had to be something to begin with. He said that people that believe in the BBT are just as crazy as religious folks. Please explain your take on this.

 

3. Which, if any, planet in our solar system, has the greatest probabilty for life to emerge?

 

 


Yellow_Number_Five
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Thanks for the thought

Thanks for the thought provoking inquires!

Bumping this in the hopes of getting a few more. 


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11. I have heard that if

11. I have heard that if the tests with the experimental fusion reactor in France goes according to plans the first commercial fusion reactor could go online in about 2040-50s. Is this true?, and is fusion power really the clean holy grail of energy? Will we have a virtually unlimited source of power once fusion reactors are a reality?

 

12. Whom is the better commanding officer, Capitan Picard or Capitan Kirk? Smiling

 

13. What was the worst movie of 2006?

 

14. Some sci-fi authors talk about a concept called the singularity, this is when humans have invented artificial intelligence that is capable of improving on its own design. When they are able to do this they will become smarter and smarter at an exponential rate and the speed of technological inovation will be so rapid that it will reach a singularity beyond which it is impossible for us to even imagine. What does Phil think about this?

 

15. What would be the best way to stop an asteroid "the size of texas" heading for earth? Im guessing that sending a crew of oil drillers to do an astronauts job isnt the best way.

 

 

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16. I have heard of a new

16. I have heard of a new space based telescopes that will be able to detect earth sized planets around other stars. Could this telescope tell us if these planets support life?

 

17. I have always wanted to see a supernova explosion, what are the chanses that I will get to see one in my lifetime?

 

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18. A few years ago

18. A few years ago astronomers found that the universe is expanding at and ever increasing rate, not slowing down as previously thought. Astronomer and physicists talk about a strange force that is responsible for this called Dark Energy, could you tell us alittle bit about that.

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Yellow, you have to ask him

Yellow, you have to ask him this question because I have really wondered about it for some time.

 

According to another astronomer there was no experiment that Galileo could have done to disprove Tycho Brahes model of the solarsystem while he was alive. Brahes version says that mercury and Venus orbits around the Sun and the outer planets orbits Jupiter and all of them orbits the Earth. In fact Galileo knew that he could not disprove this theory and he infact didnt talk about it in his book "dialouge". The question is could Galileo disprove Brahes version of the solarsystem and wasnt Galileo alittle scientifically dishonest in his book "dialouge" when he didnt have a representative of another at the time equally sound theory of the solarsystem in the book.

 

* A side note. Galileo used the evidence that Venus went through a complete set of phases, just like the Moon to prove that the Copernican version of the solarsystem was correct, but Venus would go through the exact same phases if Thyco Brahes version of the solarsystem was correct. 

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Plait Show topics

I'd like to hear his comments on two video's:

 

THUNDERBOLTS OF THE GODS

 

UK Documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle

 

And also why he thinks James McCanney (jmccsci.com) is wrong in his theories. 


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You assume many faulty

You assume many faulty generalizations. Suns do not age like living cells or rust like metal or decay radioactive (they actually procuce what decays)! For suns the general rule applies: The larger they are the faster they fuse hydrogen to heavier elements and the sooner they explode because there is nothing left to fuse. There are no first generation stars found yet. 2 theories say that they mght have been huge beyond imagination or very evenly distributed trough the young universe. The second generation starts we can still see are very old and therefore very small, for a sun. The second generation stars that made third generation stars must have been very big and short lived. The average sized/lived second generation stars are dust now. Only third generation stars have enough heavy elements near them to make large planets. Age of earth, sun and solar system is 4,5 billion years, earch of universe is 13,7 billion years Many different independent time measurements from different "locations" are all very close to that.


ollj
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"I’m having difficulty

"I’m having difficulty understanding what is known about black holes."

Black holes are so heavy that not even the fastest thing, light, can escape its gravity.

 Anyting that gets close to a black hole gets converted into energy and ripped apart by strong gravitation. Some of the energy/mass escapes the black hole as gamma rays that have such a high energy that they turn into matter spontanuously. Whatever enters a black hole has no chance of ever leaving it afterwards because there has to be a maximum speed for causality to make sense. There is an information paradox about black holes being able do destroy information from the universe by their ability to just disapear. But we dont know enough to clear that now.


ollj
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 How do you explain

 How do you explain somebody that there never was a "before the big bang" because time itself started with it.

Is "the universe having (had) more than one time dimension" a reasonable argument to explain "an effect without a cause" for the big bang to happen?

And against theism: How can there anything scentient have existed even shortly after the big bang when there was nothing more complex than helium or a plasma of nucleons... and later during "inflational universe" and "dark age of the universe" (not to confuse with the european dark ages, the dark age of the universe just lacked ANY fusing-sun and thus it was just dark and the most complex/biggest stuff was helium).


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I just listened to the

I just listened to the podcast. Fascinating! I especially liked the explaination about how neutron stars become so dense and how they behave. It's scary to think that one close enough to our solar system could catastrophically effect the earth's surface and weather patterns!

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