Today we hosted Dr. Michael Gordin, Princeton science historian and expert on fringe scientific theories. Central tenets of science are widely regarded as mainstream, but newer or more radical theories sit further away from consensus. These fringe topics supply science with new ideas, but they also spawn even further removed theories—everything from Bigfoot to UFOs to self-help quantum mechanics. In this undefined range between established and untested research, scientists need to establish what sets the bar for “real” science. In a remarkable perspective, Dr. Gordin connects Scientology with a cataclysmic Venus encounter that supposedly occurred in 1500 BCE, and shows us how appreciation for science drives the many kooky theories that bother scientists.
In other news:
- High-resolution satellite images are being used for Afghan archeology, giving artifact hunters access to sites in dangerous places without having to set foot there.
- Scientists have estimated the human casualties of severe asteroid impacts, with terrifying results—even though tidal waves may not be as bad as the shock wave itself.
- The white nose fungal disease that plagues bats appears to be damaged by UV light, so that shining lightbulbs in hibernation caves may be all it takes to sanitize bats against the epidemic.
The playlist can be found below or on WPRB.com.