Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
admin

Episode 50 — Gravity

Recommended Posts

We had some technical difficulties that have delayed the still-forthcoming "Best of Professor Blastoff" episode, so we decided to strap in and settle in for a look at gravity. Actress and physicist Christina Ochoa explains gravitational pull and the always popular discussion of atheism vs. agnosticism. Please keep sending your favorite moments to professorblastoff@earwolf.com so that we can get this clip show done before we fall into a black hole.

Share this post


Link to post

Wow Christina was really impressive, and she's only 26. She had all the answers and explained them really clearly, so much so that she clarified a few concepts that I had read about but never really understood.

 

Also David and Christina make a good couple *wink*

ckRTy.png

Share this post


Link to post

Also as for David's point about atheists not being scientists, over 72% of the National Academy of Sciences express disbelief in a god, and another 20% express agnosticism (link). I and I think most atheists take the view put forth by richard dawkins of disbelief at a level of 6 on a scale of 1-7. The evidence for a god is poor, and theories like the big bang and evolution show the tendency for things to develop from simplicity to complexity, not the other way around.

 

But if convincing opposing evidence were discovered I would be enthralled just like anyone else and I know that there is an infinite amount of things that we don't know. But simplifying that vast realm of the unknown into a simplistic patriarchal 'god' figure-a concept that was conceived of during more primitive times-just doesn't make sense to me.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

I really enjoyed this episode, although I miss Tig and hope she is feeling better! Christina did a GREAT job! She got out a lot of good scientific info. And she was funny and charming too!

 

I was so happy to get a "shout out" from the guys at the end of the episode.

 

As I have mentioned before, I an a devout Greek Orthodox Christian who is a scientist and engineer. IMHO religion is about belief based on faith. I don't find scientific knowledge and faith incompatible.

 

Good luck to Dustin in his new endeavors.

Share this post


Link to post

havent even listened to the episode yet and from the only commenter the religion thing is brought up again... Really is there any subject where you guys aren't going to make David do cartwheels? There are millions of trained theologians and philosophers out there.

 

@Jookerson Being an Atheist doesn't make you a scientist, clearly from your assertion from a single piece of evidence you are not a scientist. The rest of your article has links showing it isn't a clear causation it is at best a social correlation. Dawkins is a pop writer he isn't a good scientist and hes an even worse philosopher.

Interesting that you would reference the big bang theory (developed by a priest) and evolution (Gregor Mendel was a monk and responsible for half of the modern synthesis). You are falling into the modern false dichotomy of science vs. religion. Science is the best system that can help us develop an understanding of the natural material world. It is not a life style or philosophy, capital "A" atheists always conflate a philosophy with the totality of science.

 

"But simplifying that vast realm of the unknown into a simplistic patriarchal 'god' figure-a concept that was conceived of during more primitive times-just doesn't make sense to me. "

Guessing that the whole point David was making (having not listened yet taking a stab at it) was that stating explicitly that there is definitively no God or gods is intrinsically unscientific because science requires the door for further evidence to always be left open. You personally just assumed that the only religious explanation is "Simplistic patriarchal", did you ever even bother looking for evidence that that isn't the basis of religions? Say Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Ba'hai, oh and Judaism and most of Christianity. The big man in the sky thing is a demonstration of a weak understanding of the Abrahamic religions it gets trotted out any time someone wants to slyly use an ad hominem argument to dismiss an entire field of thought.

Share this post


Link to post

No Swamp Rock? No Shame Shack? Disappointing. However one of the best experts you've yet had on. But I am starting to agree that maybe we need to back off the theology stuff or have a new episode devoted to that. It was a bit jarring this time to move from 'gravity' to 'So, do you believe in God?'. Like really jarring actually now that I listen to it again. One of the reasons I like this show so much is because it allows multiple points of view and lets people who are not normally talking about these topics get together in a lay sort of way. That's fun.

 

But then getting on the message boards and aruging about...whatever we're aruging about above...not fun.

 

But it is nuts.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Sorry for hijacking this thread but wow Sisapis made so many errors in a statement directed specifically at me, so I'll keep it as short as possible:

 

Since you didn't listen to the episode much of your comment doesn't even make sense. David said that atheists tend to 'have a limited knowledge of science', that why I linked to statistical evidence that at the very least, a solid majority of the people who have the most in depth knowledge of science are atheists.

 

I never said being an atheist makes you a scientist. The Dawkins 'scientific approach' to atheism-which you are obviously unfamiliar with-just means that you are not a '7', or 'dogmatic' atheist- just as science never fully proves something, it only builds evidence that can always be contradicted by new evidence. Nothing to do with 'being a scientist,' it's about the willingness to change your mind.

 

Dawkins is an eminent biologist from Oxford, take five minutes to read through his wiki since you don't know his work. But you're referencing the person rather than their argument, which is just poor argumentation.

 

I know that the BBT and Evolution were developed by deeply religious people (and Newton wrote more about religion than science.) This is not evidence for anything. If you think it is, again that's just poor argumentation since good science depends on the methods and the evidence not, bizarrely, the religious affiliation of the scientist...

 

As for the rest of your comment, you didn't actually listen to the episode so you didn't hear them specifically talk about believing in 'God' and a 'creator.' that's why I reference a patriarchal figure. Next time listen to the episode before you comment.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Oh! And never have an episode this short again. Ever.

 

Ha! Tig, you need to come back. Look at all this arguing. You're the glue that holds this thing together. Please get better and return soon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

To sort of settle some of David's questions about atheism since he seems to think about it a lot, you should have David Silverman on either in person or over the phone. He's the president of the American Atheists and he's very smart and has a sense of humor so I think it would be one of your best episodes.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I just wanted to clarify that atheism has 2 camps.

I am what some people call a "lower-case-a-atheist", where I simply have an absence of belief in a god or feel there isn't enough evidence.

Then there is what some people cal a "capital-A-Atheist" who believe that there is no god.

Agnosticism, in the strictest terms refers to religion, not god. So you can be an agnostic who believes in god (usually called diest or thiest) and you can have a religion without a god, such as zen budhism, or people who follow religious ceremonies, but don't believe in god.

It's really up to the individual what they call themselves. I wouldn't try to make parameters for christians to determine their christianity.

I am an organizer for an atheist group here in Sacrament, and I consider myself an agnostic and an (lower-case) atheist.

What the former guest said about atheism is accurate, in my opinion.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

//Who is this F. Mary-Kill person they keep talking about? What's their field of study?//

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I am confused. Are we arguing over there being a God, or arguing over who believes there isn't one, less? More? Gravity?

Share this post


Link to post

//Who is this F. Mary-Kill person they keep talking about? What's their field of study?//

 

Good one.

Share this post


Link to post

Damn! Christina Ochoa's science is too tight!

 

I enjoyed this episode a lot because it's always great to have someone there with some serious explaining to do. It always gives you guys a lot with which to work, and Christina brought it. I can't imagine how in-depth you guys would've got, had there not been time constraints.

 

And like everyone else, I send well wishes to Tig. We miss you! Beepboop boop boop

Share this post


Link to post

Every time Tig's "BeepBoop boop booop" tells me I have a text message, I get a little more anxious for her to come back. You guys have been doing great, though.

 

It was especially nice of you fellas to be SO friendly to Christina, who (judging from her voice) is some sort of weird looking nerd lady that really struggles in social situations.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Love the podcast... but this episode was painful! Christina was a great guest from a comedic perspective, but she got a lot of things just straight up wrong! It was like nails on a chalkboard hearing David and Kyle get excited about understanding something, when the explanation wasn't even close to correct.

Share this post


Link to post

First post is something like this? Seeing these '1 posts' on all of the boards of Earwolf with very negative comments and no back up.

 

Love the podcast... but this episode was painful! Christina was a great guest from a comedic perspective, but she got a lot of things just straight up wrong! It was like nails on a chalkboard hearing David and Kyle get excited about understanding

something, when the explanation wasn't even close to correct.

Share this post


Link to post

Atheism: The lack of belief in a god. (Can be a positive belief there is no god)

Agnosticism: The belief that one cannot have knowledge of whether or not there is a god. The root gnosis means knowledge, therefore agnosis means not knowable.

 

Agnosticism is compatible with atheism and theism, it is not a "mid point" between the two. Belief is different from knowledge.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Hi everyone, long time listener of the podcast and only my first post.

 

I just wanted to pipe in because I'm not sure about a lot of things being "straight up wrong." I'm not a physicist. But there was one thing that caught my ear, and it's not so much about Christina being wrong as it is Aaron being correct. Christina more or less described 'gravitational lensing,' which is the effect that gravity has on light over long distances. But Aaron was also correct. I don't know the percentage, but many, many exoplanets have been discovered based upon observations of the star's "wobble." In fact, the math is so precise that several planets orbiting a single star have been discovered this way.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Sorry for not posting more of an explanation after my initial criticism. I understand that is a bit of bad internet etiquette on my part but I was riled up after listening on my way home, and decided today was the day to begin posting. To be honest I planned to try and listen to it again and go through things in in detail, but haven't done so yet.

 

The first thing that really caused my ears to perk up while listening was Christina's explanation of the four forces. I don't recall the exact wording, but she says something like "the strong nuclear force is what's responsible for holding protons and neutrons together in the nucleus, and the weak nuclear force is responsible for holding together the quarks inside the protons and neutrons". This is just not true. The strong force is responsible for both of those phenomena. The traditional thing to cite, when explaining what the weak force is responsible for, is nuclear beta decay, but this is a rather esoteric topic itself so it doesn't come with much explanatory power.

 

I also had a hard time listening to her try and explain the incompatibility of quantum mechanics and gravity. Kyle asks something to the affect of "is the lack of gravity what makes quantum mechanics, quantum mechanics?" She fumbles around a bit saying something about quanta, and Plancks constant without ever really explaining what the issue is.

 

So, the standard model of particle physics (that she references a few times) is really two theories: Quantum Chromodynamics, which is the theory of the strong force, and (the un-cleverly named) Electroweak Theory, which is the theory of electricity ( and magnetism) and the weak force. These two theories are both Quantum Field Theories, or to just call them "Quantum Mechanics" is enough for my point. The formal mathematical description of these theories is complete, however, it's very difficult to carry out any practical calculation, and in practice everything is approximated (although these approximations can be extremely accurate, some of the best predictions in science in fact).

 

The theory of gravity on the other hand comes from Einsteins theory of General Relativity. It too is a "Field Theory", but not a quantum field theory. It explains gravity by positing that any mass or energy actually curves the space around it, and an object moving under the influence of gravity is actually just following the curvature of space, dictated by the distributed mass and energy. So, in general relativity the objects dictate the curvature of space, while also moving through this curved space, and the actual equations of the theory are like a feedback loop, both generating the curvature, and explaining how to move through the curvature.

 

Now people have been trying formulate a quantum theory of gravity since quantum mechanics came on the scene, but the problem is that quantum theories are already extremely hard to make calculate, and those calculations are done assuming the space around the particles is flat. Quantum field theories happen "in" space, where as general relativity actually changes the space. So far no one has been successful in combining these theories, and creating a quantum theory of gravity.

 

Luckily, as Christina does say, gravity is all but negligible except at the largest mass scales (planets, stars, galaxies etc.) and at these large mass scales, the quantum theories are negligible. However, things that are both massive and tiny (understanding the internal structure of a black hole for instance) would require a quantum theory of gravity.

 

Alright, maybe that was a bit much. And my first post not enough. I'll work on moderation.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×