Interview with Phil McAlister


Hello and welcome to the skeptics guide to the universe. Today is sunday january seventeenth twenty twenty one. And this is your host. Stephen avella joining me this week. Or bob novella. Everybody cara santa maria. Howdy joy novella. Hey guys and evan bernstein skepticism. On a sunday. I love it. This is a rare sunday recording. We're doing this because of the twelve hour show next saturday. The saturday this show comes out. I probably will be posted in this up right before we begin to twelve hours. Show so if. You're listening to this on saturday that it comes out. We're probably in the middle of the twelve hour show. Why aren't you watching that instead. Leaving this to console you on sunday or monday because the twelve hour livestream is over priorities. So we're not keep saying like we're trying to get away from doing the covert thing every week but there's always stuff to talk about that has to recover recovered. Schwab one thing about it. Obviously it's still raging the numbers that getting scary high still is crazy but david kessler which was announced as the covert czar for the incoming biden. Administration you guys remember who he is. Yes cast that. He was in From london movie right cutler no he was a former head of the fda in the ninety s and after his stint in the at the fda in the nineties the president for a while of yale school of medicine. That's how i. I know you have on speedo him personally. But you know the commissioner of food and drugs for h w bush and clinton muslim sounds nonpartisan. I like that a he. He was very much opposed to the shea. Dietary supplement health and education. Act which was a terrible loss stills eternal and he was he was completely right correct in his opposition to it so hopefully because a lot of experience. Hopefully he'll will prove to be the right person for this job. And we're hoping to shift into high gear will along that line steve in three days. Yeah did you hear. That biden is elevating. He's making a cabinet of science. Yes yes scientists. -nology whatever is now going to be cabinet. Level is a cabinet level position for the first ever cap which will not be in the line of succession by the way. It's a cabinet level position. But it's not a cabinet position. I thought he was building a cabinet filled with cool science thing like curio cabinet closet of mystery. I remember that from what is this endless fascination with forbidden closet of mr really cool i mean. It's the first time the president has ever put somebody at that high. A level in science position which conferences shows his commitment to evidence based policy and also francis. Arnold who i'm super excited about you guys remember. She's caltech scientist who recently won a nobel prize. She's going to be within his his group. I'm not really sure how everybody's designated quite yet but within that group of scientists which is very exciting. I think it should be like the bridge of the enterprise. D where you've got the president the vice president and you've got the czar of science right up there with the big boys because that's where belongs in the position that the council the troy was in. That's what i'm saying. Sitting do truth be told captains left. I am kind of glad that it's not a. I shouldn't say this i don't know i don't know if i would want it to be a cabinet position because then because then they enter into the line of succession and i do worry that whoever is appointed could potentially be. Isn't that a worry about every single cabinet level position. Never i mean. Is there a cabinet member. You guys ready to become president on day one. I mean unless you've watched the survivor soul survivor. Some of those people have served in previous administrations have worked in government. It's obviously it's never happened. I it's so unlikely that i don't think someone's going to pick or not pick a cabinet member because they don't think that they're ready to be president. Yeah i mean why. Scientists are science minded person. Good as president. I think that's what we want. They wouldn't necessarily be it would be but they would still need to be somebody who has executive leadership skills all right. Let's get right into some news items. Is it true that astronomers were wrong about the number of galaxies in the universe. a what. Yeah they're often wrong about stuff like that so yeah. The estimated number of galaxies in the universe was recently cut in half. You are correct steve. So how the hell did this happen. And and more importantly what is the worst title for a news item covering this discovery. All all will be revealed So this all started years ago when the hubble space telescope did some deep sky surveys and it came up with the estimate for the number of galaxies which was two trillion lots of galaxies two trillion in the universe. It did this by using by doing deep field observations. These are observations. That take a really long time looking at the same patch of sky. So you're you're building up the photons right you just building up. The photons. seeing what's revealed and that would that reveals after a while that reveals the very very very faint galaxies. And then then it's easy. Yes sir but can we clarify. Are you talking about the observable universe so you just just just a good point to a good time to clarify that. The the observable universe is a subset of the total universe because like because some of the universe has moved beyond the on the einstein limit rights even traveling at the speed of light. The universe is not old enough for light to travel from there to here so we can't see it's outside of our bubble our light bubble right. It's a little complicated. But yeah i think primarily although not necessarily implies that it's it's just it's just observable we'll we'll see maybe we can. Let's revisit at the end okay. So then so then. Once you have this patch of sky that you've looked at for a while Then you and then you then you know how many galaxies right then you just multiply that little patch by how many similar how many patches in the in the sky are there. And that's and that's basically. What hubble did but we knew that. That wasn't quite accurate though that that's because there has to be other galaxies that are out there that are just too faint to be directly detected even with the best deep field observation that the h. The hubble space telescope could muster onto those super faint galaxies though they do create a suffused glow. Just a general glow in the galaxy and now this background glow that i'm talking about is called the cosmic optical background which is a term. I hadn't i hadn't seen before which is fascinating because it reminded me of maybe was well the cosmic microwave background which is the first light of the universe when it became transparent to electro-magnetic radiation the cosmic optical background that was the glow of all the

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