Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Bigfoot Bounty

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:56 pm by he_who_is_nobody

I just got around to watching the first few episodes of “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty” from SpikeTV. This is another cryptid based TV show, but instead of being another pseudo-documentary about the cryptid, this show is based on the reality TV template. There are nine teams of two, one team is eliminated every episode after competing to see who brings the best evidence in for Bigfoot. The teams also have a smaller challenge during each episode, wherein they compete for advantages going into the main elimination competition.

 

I am just going to start by saying, this show is terrible, and unless you have a huge interest in reality TV shows or Bigfoot, it is not worth watching. However, there are two highlights of the show. The first highlight is Dr. Todd Disotell. Dr. Todd already has a reputation among crypto-zoologists in that he is the one who tests material to see what type of DNA signature it has. Dr. Todd’s no nonsense approach to genetic testing is a breath of fresh air when it comes to this and other cryptid related shows. In “Bigfoot Bounty” the show’s producers gave him a state of the art mobile genetic testing lab. Dr. Todd is able to test the different samples brought in by the contestants in a matter of hours. I feel this testing lab is the best thing to come out of this show.

 

The second highlight of this show is Natalia Reagan. Natalia is a field biologist and her job is to teach the contestants how to act like actual field biologists. Natalia is always instructing the contestants on how to take proper field notes and collect proper field samples. As an actual field scientist myself, I can greatly appreciate the fact that Natalia is teaching crypto-zoologists the basics when it comes to fieldwork. There are many tedious notes to be taken long before anything can be sampled in a lab. Natalia and Dr. Todd make a good point in informing the contestants that none of the samples will be tested unless they follow the proper procedures when it comes to collecting their samples.

 

Another aspect of the show that I find funny is just how out of shape the contestants are. All but one team are either actual hunters or active Bigfoot researchers. However, one would not be able to tell that they spent anytime out in the field with just how out of breath they are on a simple hike. Beyond that, the way most of the contestants act when they are in the woods (they jump at any noise and think it is a Bigfoot) is highly suspicious to someone that has spent any amount of time hiking and camping. It appears to me that none of them has any basic outdoors experience. If it were not for Natalia teaching them what to do while in the field, they would just be running around scaring the hell out of each other. However, in the end Dr. Todd and Natalia cannot save this show. It is just another run of the mill reality TV show with standard made up drama between the contestants and added dramatic tension before each commercial break. In my opinion, this show is best left unwatched and forgotten. I do like Dr. Todd and Natalia’s attempt to bring some science into this show, but their efforts alone cannot save it. I hope that Dr. Todd and Natalia will end up with their own TV show one day; I would watch it. In addition, the mobile lab that Dr. Todd now has may lead to some awesome real biological discoveries.

Disproving Genesis

Frenger
Frenger
Mon May 20, 2013 6:30 pm by Frenger

Recently, Dr Joseph Maestropaolo, a Calfornian Creationist, pledged $10,000 of his own money to anyone who could disprove the literal word of Genesis. While the challenge is rigged with more booby traps than a Marks and Spencer’s lingerie section, I thought it would still be fun to disprove Genesis, chapter by chapter over a series of blog posts. So, here we go.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

For the time being, I’m going to gloss over the concept of god. Personally, I don’t see any evidence for such a being, but this isn’t the point of the series.  The point is that Genesis is in direct conflict with what we know about the Universe and our species from evidence.

So, in the beginning, there was the heaven and the earth. As Heaven isn’t defined here I’m at a loss of what to do with it, so I’ll simply ignore it until a more concrete description is given. The Earth however, is something we can work with.

The Earth, is 4.5 – 4.6 billion years old. We know this by dating meteorites surrounding the earth using Lead isotope systematics. As Claude et al show;

The PbPb ages of the most radiogenic compositions measured in Allende refractory inclusions range from 4.568 to 4.565 Ga, the PbPb ages of secondary phosphates in equilibrated ordinary chondrites vary from 4.563 to 4.504 Ga, and basaltic achondrites show ages between 4.558 and 4.53 Ga.

Sauce

Of course, the Earth will be slightly younger than primitive meteorites, about 0.1ga. This is due to a series of processes that will need to take place before Earth can be recognised as Earth, such as core formation, end of accretion, atmospheric extraction etc.

So, I could stop here, as in the beginning god made meteorites, waited a bit, then through a series of processes made Earth. However, I want to show that our Universe is MUCH MUCH older than our planet.

The recent WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) mission from NASA produced results showing the Universe to be around 13.77 Billion years old (sauce). This is likely the most precise measurement to date, although other systems of measurements have produced similar results.

By measuring the Cosmic Microwave Background, Knox et al were able to show the age of the Universe to be 14.0 ± 0.5 Gyr.

If Ωtot = 1 and structure formed from adiabatic initial conditions, then the age of the universe, as constrained by measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), is t0 = 14.0 ± 0.5 Gyr. The uncertainty is surprisingly small given that CMB data alone do not significantly constrain either h or ΩΛ

Sauce.

So, the Earth is 4.5-4.6 Billion years old along with the rest of our solar system. However, the Universe is, according to new estimates 13.77Gyr. Unless it can be shown that Earth was static and the Universe was built around it, I would suggest that in the beginning, god did not make the Earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

That the Earth was without form and void, leaves me to believe it didn’t actually exist. But glossing over that, we’ll look at the next two points.

“Darkness was upon the face of the deep”. Well, according to the Nebular hypothesis, the Earth formed out of the solar nebula left over from the formation of the Sun. This would suggest then, that the Sun was producing light as a bi-product of nuclear fusion during Earth’s accretion, and therefore darkness would not be upon the face of the deep.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”. Again, I’m not here to look at the claims made concerning spirits, gods, afterlife’s or anything super natural, so I shall miss out the spirit of god in this instance, however, that he moved upon the face of the waters, is up for scrutiny.

According to Genesis, we are still in day one, a day in Earth terms being 24 hours, or the amount of time it takes for Earth to spin 360o on its own axis. However, according to Mojzsis et al, evidence of water has only been found as far back as 4,300 myr

Here we report in situ U–Pb and oxygen isotope results for such zircons that place constraints on the age and composition of their sources and may therefore provide information about the nature of the Earth’s early surface. We find that 3,910–4,280 Myr old zircons have oxygen isotope ( 18O) values ranging from 5.4 0.6 to 15.0 0.4 . On the basis of these results, we postulate that the 4,300-Myr-old zircons formed from magmas containing a significant component of re-worked continental crust that formed in the presence of water near the Earth’s surface.

Sauce

So, with this being the earliest evidence of water on the surface, we are left with around 200 myr where the planet was too hot for water to form as liquid. Therefore, would not have been present on the same day as the Earth’s formation. It will be said that a day is relative, and that days were longer back when the Earth was formed some 6,000 years ago, however, the Bible makes no reference to this, and so we take it literally as is asked by your man Joseph.

Part of me wants to carry on, although I’ve already hit nearly 1000 words debunking only 2 sentences. Therefore, I’ll save the “let there be light” for next time, as I want to go into that in some depth.

Comments and addition always welcome.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:10 pm by he_who_is_nobody

I volunteer at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which was created in 1986 and is made up of two floors of exhibits. There are several different halls to the museum, some change over time, but the main thrust of the museum is found in eight halls that make up the Walk Through Time. This section of the museum focuses on the geological history of New Mexico from Precambrian to the present. The exhibits in the halls may change, but the overall theme of them stays the same.

In this blog post, I am going to give a general overview of the museum by describing the eight main halls that make up Walk Through Time. I will provide the map of the museum so one will be able to follow along while reading this post. In addition, this post is the beginning of several posts I will be doing about the museum. Some will be about specific halls, while others will be about specific exhibits found in the halls. This post will always be referenced, thus one will know exactly which part of the museum I discuss in the future.

Walk Through Time starts on the second floor and works its way back down to the first floor.

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Hall One: Origins

In this hall, one is given a brief overview of the formation of the earth and how life might have started. It covers the Precambrian and Paleozoic periods of the earth. Walking farther into this hall one is shown fossils of some of the first life forms on earth and modern creatures that resemble that life. This hall also briefly covers the origin of land-based life. At the end of this hall is the beginning of the major theme of this museum, and that is the natural history of New Mexico. There are fossils, displays, and murals that cover what New Mexico was like at the end of the Paleozoic and beginning of the Mesozoic.

Hall Two: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

In this hall, the first thing you see is a wall talking about the largest extinction event in earth’s history. Next to that, they show what the oceans looked like (with fossils and art) in the Paleozoic and compare with what it looked like in the Mesozoic. The beginning of the hall deals with the early Triassic and has displays of living fossils featuring lungfish (including a live specimen) and coelacanth. Phytosaurs and Placerias, which made up the bulk of the land base life forms during the late Triassic, dominate the late Triassic part of the hall. This hall also includes a display of the earliest mammal (Adelobasileus) and talks about how exactly scientists are able to classify mammals using their ear bones. This hall also includes an exhibit on Coelophysis, New Mexico’s state fossil.

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Hall Three: Age of Super Giants

In this hall, some of the largest dinosaurs to ever live are displayed. This hall is about the Jurassic, which is the period that dinosaurs truly became the dominant animal on the planet. Two of the dinosaurs on display in this hall are Seismosaurus, the longest dinosaur to ever be discovered, and Saurophaganax, the largest carnivorous dinosaur of the Jurassic.

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There is also a display showing the evolution of birds from dinosaurs. It compares the anatomy of Archaeopteryx with that of a pterosaur, a small dinosaur, and one of the first true birds in order to show the homology between the bird/dinosaur and dissimilarity between bird/dinosaur and the pterosaur.

Hall Four: New Mexico’s Seacoast

In this hall, one is able to find a display that shows the movement of the sea that once covered most of New Mexico for all of the Cretaceous period. Because of this sea, the Cretaceous period is one of the most fossiliferous periods in the whole state. When first walking into this hall, one sees into the bottom floor, which has a mosasaur sculpture surrounded by blue floors and walls, representing the sea that covered the state. Next to that is a coastal jungle, which is filled with fossils and sculptures of the creatures that once inhabited the coastal region of the inland sea. One walks down a ramp passed other fossil displays and the coastal jungle. When walking into the first floor one comes into a room entitled “A Bad Day in the Cretaceous”, which shows a film projected on the wall of a meteor striking the earth. Once one leaves this area one walks closer to the mosasaur display.

Hall Five: Volcanoes

In this hall, one is treated to a walk through a generic volcano. New Mexico has more extinct volcanoes than any other state. Inside this hall, it discusses all four different types of volcanoes and the lava they produce. It also shows examples of all four volcanoes with ones found in New Mexico. This hall has been here, virtually unchanged since the museum opened in 1986 and is still one of my favorites along with most of the people that visit.

Hall Six: Rise of the Recent

In this hall, one is able to see a brief overview of much of the Cenozoic of New Mexico. This hall contains some of the most beautiful murals in the whole museum. The best mural in this hall is the mural showing the evolution of the horse. There are a few fossil exhibits found in this hall including Diatryma, which was discovered here in New Mexico by Edward Drinker Cope.

 

Hall Seven: Cave

In this hall, an artificial cave is created to show all the different aspects of caves. There are different displays that light up and tell one about the different formations found in caves. This exhibit also discusses the life forms that one would find in a cave. In addition, a display talks about Carlsbad Caverns, which in my opinion is the most beautiful cave system on earth.

Hall Eight: New Mexico’s Ice Age.

In this hall, there are several different displays of the different animals found in New Mexico during the Pleistocene. This hall includes erected skeletons of a Columbian mammoth, two dire wolves, and a saber-toothed cat. It also has a mural, which depicts how lush New Mexico would have been during the ice age. This is also the only hall that contains depictions of human activities in the Museum, which is a mural of the Clovis People butchering a Columbian Mammoth.

Edited by Dean, 11/04/2013
Reason for edit: Spelling/word-choice alterations, all images but the first reduced in size by 50%.

How MonsterQuest disproved Bigfoot

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:50 pm by he_who_is_nobody

A far lesser known hobby I have is dealing with crypto-zoology (I have not dealt with this for years). However, recently I sat through a marathon of MonsterQuest to see how much new information cryptozoology has compiled. The only thing that I have learned is that the crypto-zoologists have all but disproved Bigfoot and all other land based cryptids with just one episode.

The main difference in the MonsterQuest pseudo-documentary compared to most other cryptid pseudo-documentaries I have seen is the use of trail cameras. A trail camera is a camera left in the wilderness for weeks to years taking pictures or video of anything that sets the motion detector off. Now, the episode of MonsterQuest that disproved land based cryptids is entitled “Lions in the Backyard” (episode 7: season 1). This episode deals with reports of black cats seen in the U.S., and of course, they were unable to show any black cats in the U.S.

However, how does an episode about black cats in the U.S. disprove Bigfoot and all other land based cryptids? Well, in the episode they eventually get to a section at ~21 minutes in where they talk to two actual biologists that use trail cameras. The two biologists explained that jaguars used to live in the U.S. (mostly the southwest) during historic times, but were now thought to be extinct in the U.S., thanks in large part to humans. Nevertheless, they were able to show, using trail cameras, three separate individual jaguars in Arizona; essentially proving that jaguars are expanding their territory back to somewhat historic ranges. Furthermore, they were able to prove this over an 8-year period.

Now, trail cameras are in use all over the U.S., not just by crypto-zoologists, but also by actual zoologists and hunters. Does anyone truly believe that something the size of Bigfoot, or any of the other cryptids crypto-zoologists love to talk about, could go undetected by these trail cameras for decades when they photographed several jaguars in 8 years? In addition, the photographs are not ambiguous, they were able to determine that two of the three individuals were male (the other remains unknown at the airing of this episode), that is how wonderful the pictures of these animals came out.

In every episode of MonsterQuest that dealt with a land based cryptid, trail cameras were placed in the areas the animals were thought to roam and yet no photographs of the cryptid were ever produced. I must point out that MonsterQuest only sets up these cameras for perhaps a month or two, but the actual crypto-zoologists, zoologists, and hunters have trail cameras that are in use for most (if not all) of the year, for years! One would think that if these cryptids were real, at least one of them would be captured on camera in the decades that trail cameras have been in use.

There are two things I learned from watching MonsterQuest; the first is that crypto-zoologists appear to be just as dogmatic as creationists are when it comes to their preconceived notions. I know that this information does not definitively disprove Bigfoot and his kin, but it seems to be very compelling evidence that any rational person should consider.

The second is I really want a trail camera now. Here in New Mexico there is a lot of wildlife that would be very interesting to photograph without human interference. Seeing the price tag on most of the trail cameras makes this dream something that will probably never happen for the simple fact that I do not think I would waste that much money on a hobby. However, one can dream.

Edited by Dean, 12/03/2013
Reason for edit: Grammatical corrections.

Me me me, it’s all about me.

Frenger
Frenger
Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:52 pm by Frenger

Not wanting to be the chap to rock the boat, I thought I would follow in the footsteps of my fellow contributors and introduce myself.

My name is Rob, I’m 26 and 3/4 years old and I’m in training to become a teacher. Here I am playing the drums dressed as a shark.

I’m currently studying for my BSc degree in Natural Sciences (high five Laurens) and will be teaching a short Introduction to Evolutionary Biology course in Spring. Other than Biology I have a healthy interest in Religion and Philosophy and was even lucky enough to teach this at A-level for 6 months last year.

Other than my academic pursuits, I play the drums for a nautical themed ska-punk-folk-anti folk-bugle blowing outfit known to few as the seas of mirth, and I also do a fair amount of writing, involving reviews, promotional features and a book. My book is about how I’m joining 12 religions over 12 months. I have only just started. It’s terrifying.

The reason for me wanting to blog here, is that I want to do better at knowing things. I have always found that being shown to be wrong is an entirely wonderful way of learning, so putting my thoughts down and having you chaps show my errors and expand on certain areas was too good an opportunity to miss. Saying that however, I hope I can provide you all with something with at least a smattering of interest.

The topics I will most likely babble about will be science and the love of science, philosophy, psychology, politics and a whole plethora of other such things. I can be quite faddy so best not to set too much in stone now.

Can’t wait.

The Dawkins/PZ Protest, 9/6/11

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:54 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Been a while, ain’t it?

AndromedasWake and I attended a conversation between Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers yesterday. Well, we tried. But we were slightly obstructed by the protesters who forcibly entered the theatre and then hippied up the whole damn shooting match.

Protesters? Oh, yes. You may count upon it.

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You can’t be good without sci-fi

Aught3
Aught3
Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:43 am by Aught3

Science fiction provides the perfect backdrop for exploration on the borders of morality because it creates alternate realities which are limited only by the depth of our imagination. Promising technologies can be created, controlled, and finally be seen to unexpectedly turn on their former masters. New planets can be discovered and explored for ancient civilisations or exploited for basic resources. Alien species can threaten our planet with annihilation or they can teach us what it means to be human. In the world of science fiction all these possibilities can occur; new worlds, galaxies, and alien species can be created and destroyed over and over in myriad combinations – then it can all be written again. The remoteness of these new galaxies and the unfamiliar forms of alien species allows for an ethical discussion of current events in a way that does not threaten the personal identity of those directly involved. Science fiction allows a lot of nonsense to be bypassed and lets the viewer to look directly into the heart of important subjects1.

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There’s A Reason The Metro Is Free

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Tue Jun 01, 2010 5:55 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Most of you will have realised that I get the vast majority of my newsing from free London rag The Metro, distributed around the Underground every morning in order to allow bleary-eyed businessmen to further realise that the world is falling gracelessly towards the sun. I don’t think the Metro is a bad little paper, really; the quality of writing is generally good, and it catches stories earlier than other papers you might come across in the day. And you’ll find articles of comparable quality on the same subjects in “real” newspapers.

However, you develop an unfair bias of a newspaper when you peruse it mainly to find new nonsense to write about in your blog. You ignore all rational articles about politics\current affairs\crossbows to the face and concentrate only on articles that guarantee a spout of vitriol frothy enough to incur a transparent sense of self-righteousness. And as a result, your perception is that the chosen paper exists only to print stories about religion, druids and the supernatural. Unfair, since the Metro regularly dishes out reasonably informative articles about modern science and astronomy.

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