Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Round-up: Week Ending October 27th

It’s been a long time, too long to be honest, but here is the return of the Weekly Round-up. The man who’s kicked it back into existence is SitP attendee Steve Ebrey. There’s a few of us who will keep it going along with Steve and if you fancy taking a turn then let us know; always happy to have more contributions and more hands to the wheel.

When you’ve finished reading the round-up don’t forget to make a note of our next event as Dr Tim Grant brings us the world of Forensic Linguistics. Now I’ll hand you over to Steve’s Round-up:

Possible made up disease of the week is Wind Turbine Syndrome . The description of the symptoms, suffered by a few people living near wind farms, are suitably vague; “headaches, ringing in the ears, insomnia and dizziness”. Also, I can continue to shun healthy smoothies in favour of caffeine as coffee is back good for us again this week. Oreos on the other hand are to be avoided as they have now been scientifically proven to be as addictive as cocaine. Or maybe not, the Oreos story turned out to be bad science, or more accurately bad logic.

Talking of junk science, have you checked your Sexual Market Value (SMV) score lately, which judges how valuable you are based on your sexual attractiveness? This anti-feminist, anti-science output from the manosphere is nicely taken down by PZ Myers here

Moving on to good science, specifically astronomy, the number of exoplanets discovered to date  passed 1,000 this week. The record for how many planets we have found orbiting a single star appears to have also been broken this week with a seventh planet identified around the catchily named KIC 11442793, a white dwarf 2,500 light-years away from earth. Most of the 1,000 exoplants discovered so far are Jupiter like gas giants but only 12 of them are believed to be in the goldilocks zone, a term coined to describe the not-too-hot and not-too-cold planetary orbits thought necessary to sustain the conditions for life. So from this can we estimate how many earth like planets might be out there? According to New Scientist”s interactive galaxy map, the numbers extrapolate to an estimated 15-30 Billion earth like worlds in our galaxy alone, so it’s hard to imagine that life wouldn’t have developed on some of these. Beyond our Milky Way, the  most distant galaxy to date was also reported this week, identified by the Hubble Space Telescope at a whopping 30 Billion light years from earth.

Crypto news! A polar bear/brown bear hybrid unknown to science has been put forward as the latest identity for the Yeti. Meanwhile, an out of place Wallaby was videoed at London’s High Gate Cemetery and, even more excitedly, a Dragon was snapped flying overhead in Truro. Wired Magazine’s absurd creature of the week is the human flesh eating Botfly (the squeamish should skip the video!). A couple of Sea Serpents (OK, Oarfish) have for some reason been beaching themselves on the Californian coast. Also, could it be that Pentecostal snake handlers are not bitten because of their special God granted protection? Surely their immunity is nothing to do with the fact they keep their snakes hungry and sick and too weak to resist!

Two candidates for this week’s mindless behaviour file include an unprovoked attack on a Predator street performer in Brum and a couple of Boy Scout Leaders causing damage at Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park. Meanwhile a man dressed as a crap ghost also tried to rob an off-licence. Finally this week, Happy Monday’s Shaun Ryder, who recently turned investigative UFOlogist, releases his new book on mysterious lights in Salford, just in time for Xmas!

Steve Ebrey attends Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub. Cheers Steve!