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Old 10th July 2017, 11:24 PM   #41
ProgrammingGodJordan
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Part A

There are far smarter humans than Neil Tyson, including Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, Edward Witten etc.

They together with Neil, like other humans, are susceptible to error.

However, that they are susceptible to error, does not suddenly render them non-scientists.





Part B

Neil Tyson research samples:

"OPTICAL LIGHT CURVES OF THE TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE SN 1990N AND SN 1991T"
http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tys...AJ-115,234.pdf


"The Expanding Photosphere Method Applied to SN1992am at cz = 14600 km/s"
http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tys...pJ-367,547.pdf




Part C

(1) What type of research have you contributed to humanity?
(2) Are you not susceptible to error, in some way?
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Old 11th July 2017, 01:23 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
I'm rather forgiving of a *popularizer's* mistakes, simplifications and even warping of some facts if the principal goal of inspiring the audience is realized. At several points during the episodes I did see of the Cosmos remake there were groaners. But at least 9 out of 10 in the audience would miss most or all of these. I think NGT's audience--or at least the most important part thereof--is the all too common scientifically illiterate. Getting across to them the rudiments in a way that's engaging is job number one. If that's achieved, mission accomplished! Sins forgiven.
I agree 100%.

I used to each radar theory at a Technical Training School in the Air Force, and one of the most difficult subjects to get across was how TACAN worked. I often found that if I could get my students to understand the principles of operation, even simplifying it to a point where what I was telling them was not technically correct, I could always fill in the complexity later.
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Old 11th July 2017, 01:54 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by ProgrammingGodJordan View Post
Part A

[hilite]There are far smarter humans than Neil Tyson... etc
Do you really believe that?
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Old 11th July 2017, 02:44 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by HopDavid View Post
Neil deGrasse Tyson will study a topic with half his attention and then build a story around it. Which is usally entertaining but often wrong.
Person is sometimes wrong about topics outside his area of expertise. News at eleven.
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Old 11th July 2017, 02:46 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Quote:
Quote:
What was the point that was missed?
the point was not whether or not 2 grams is a lot of coke.
It's about 13 doses. Which is a lot of coke.
Hilarious.
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Old 11th July 2017, 03:20 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Yep. I wish people would PREVIEW their posts and fix broken quotes before they push the go button.



I think you miss a lot by getting angry about minutiae.
When I first started watching Star Talk, I didn't like it all that much. I couldn't immediately put my finger on why, but after watching a few episodes it dawned on me that it was his sense of humour. NDGT has a quirky sense of humour. Its an acquired taste, and it definitely took me while to acquire it.

When I heard he was going to be the host/narrator of the Cosmos reboot, I was initially disappointed. I though there were others who might have done a better job (Brian Cox, Alice Roberts perhaps) but having seen the whole series, he was perfect for the job, and I now cannot imagine anyone else in that role.[quote]

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Last edited by zooterkin; 11th July 2017 at 03:30 AM. Reason: broken quote tag
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Old 11th July 2017, 04:23 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by ProgrammingGodJordan View Post
Part A

There are far smarter humans than Neil Tyson, including Yoshua Bengio
There are also far smarter humans than Yoshua Bengio. What's your point?
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Old 11th July 2017, 07:27 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by HopDavid View Post
Rigor and accuracy are not important. Gotcha.

You admire Tyson because he invents fictions to support arguments you agree with.

You are no skeptic.
I wonder why the animosity? Is it because he's black? Is this like the visceral reaction some people had about Obama? Don't like them uppity coloreds? Is that it? Not possible for a person of color being that smart so he must be pulled down?

What arguments do I need Tyson to create fictions for? Evolution? God? Maybe Global Warming? Seriously, what back story have you made up for this?
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Old 11th July 2017, 08:02 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by welshdean View Post


I'm not sure what NDGT does, but interestingly, I did learn that the skin of an apple is proportionately similar to the earth's atmosphere. I thought that was a marvelous fact, one to tell the children and their children too.
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm. So far, so good.

The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.

Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm down to 2.31cm, combined with .033cm to .076cm --> yielding a low of .0076 and a high of .0239 ... way outside our range.

Could you find some set of apples where his example would be true? Yes. Good luck with that.

The take home lesson is not to make fruit analogies for planets.
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Old 11th July 2017, 08:04 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.
Nonsense. He's comparing apples to planets.
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Old 11th July 2017, 08:38 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm. So far, so good.

The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.

Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm down to 2.31cm, combined with .033cm to .076cm --> yielding a low of .0076 and a high of .0239 ... way outside our range.

Could you find some set of apples where his example would be true? Yes. Good luck with that.

The take home lesson is not to make fruit analogies for planets.
The point is that the atmosphere is not that big compared to the earth and his not quite accurate analogy illustrates that sufficiently for the general population.

Using analogies to explain science is often like using a banana to demonstrate condom use. The fruit is not to scale (for most) but it gets the idea across. (And technically a banana is a berry and we don't put the condom on our berries.)
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Last edited by Spindrift; 11th July 2017 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 11th July 2017, 08:46 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm. So far, so good.

The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.

Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm down to 2.31cm, combined with .033cm to .076cm --> yielding a low of .0076 and a high of .0239 ... way outside our range.

Could you find some set of apples where his example would be true? Yes. Good luck with that.

The take home lesson is not to make fruit analogies for planets.
Aren't we just being picky? How do you determine what the range is? His analogy isn't meant to be utilized for a precision instrument, but to convey to laymen that the atmosphere is thin.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:12 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
The point is that the atmosphere is not that big compared to the earth and his not quite accurate analogy illustrates that sufficiently for the general population.
Where do you draw the line?

Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Aren't we just being picky? How do you determine what the range is? His analogy isn't meant to be utilized for a precision instrument, but to convey to laymen that the atmosphere is thin.
The atmosphere is as thin as:
The epithelium on your teeth.
The oxidized shell on a BB.

I get it. It's a great analogy. But it's wrong.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:17 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm. So far, so good.

The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.

Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm down to 2.31cm, combined with .033cm to .076cm --> yielding a low of .0076 and a high of .0239 ... way outside our range.

Could you find some set of apples where his example would be true? Yes. Good luck with that.

The take home lesson is not to make fruit analogies for planets.
Give me a break! Let's use instead a definition of the thickness of the atmosphere most people listening to this analogy might actually use, okay? Say "breathable" -perhaps 6 km, or even the troposphere - up to 18 km. How does the compariosn work then? No one in his audience would consider the Karman line as conferring a useful measure of what they would define as the thickness of the atmosphere,

Last edited by Giordano; 11th July 2017 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:27 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Where do you draw the line?

The atmosphere is as thin as:
The epithelium on your teeth.
The oxidized shell on a BB.

I get it. It's a great analogy. But it's wrong.
As I said, You're being pedantic. Nobody cares.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:42 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
As I said, You're being pedantic. Nobody cares.
More than pedantic: choosing a definition intended to belittle Tyson's analogy rather than the one most of his audience would use.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:46 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm. So far, so good.
What is 1.7cm supposed to be?

Anyway your ratio gives the atmosphere as about 1/58th the size of the radius of the earth. 110/6400 = 0.017.

Quote:
The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.
I didn't click your link because I assume that you are reporting apple sizes correctly, but not clicking I have no idea what those numbers mean. Anyway, it's okay because below you give some units:

Quote:
Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm down to 2.31cm, combined with .033cm to .076cm --> yielding a low of .0076 and a high of .0239 ... way outside our range.
The thickness of the atmosphere / the radius of the earth is 0.017. Your range of skin thickness/apple radius goes from 0.0076 - 0.0239. 0.017 is very much within that range.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:48 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
Give me a break! Let's use instead a definition of the thickness of the atmosphere most people listening to this analogy might actually use, okay? Say "breathable" -perhaps 6 km, or even the troposphere - up to 18 km. How does the compariosn work then? No one in his audience would consider the Karman line as conferring a useful measure of what they would define as the thickness of the atmosphere,
This is the kind of apologetics it takes to make it all work out, but it's still wrong.

Consider what a science advocate is challenged to do. He's responsible to put a little work in. It's sloppy. What am I to make of an analogy that fails so miserably? If I am in his target audience, I'll look into it myself, and find out the trick. What then does it say for the next think he tells me?

He should drop it.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:50 AM   #59
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I think the OP does have a good point.

For instance I find Tyson very annoying when he talks about dark matter. He goes on about how we don't know anything about it ("We shouldn't call it dark matter, we should just call it Fred, we don't know that it's matter" etc.). But we know much more about it than his portrayal implies.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:51 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
This is the kind of apologetics it takes to make it all work out, but it's still wrong.

Consider what a science advocate is challenged to do. He's responsible to put a little work in. It's sloppy. What am I to make of an analogy that fails so miserably? If I am in his target audience, I'll look into it myself, and find out the trick. What then does it say for the next think he tells me?

He should drop it.
But it's not wrong. At least according to your numbers.
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Old 11th July 2017, 09:58 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
He's comparing apples and oranges here.

Given that avg. radius of the earth is 6,400km, and that of the atmosphere is by the Karman line (110km), you have the equivalent of 110km/6400km or 1.7cm %. So far, so good.

The trouble is when you force fit your other data on the apple side.

Apples range from a size 64 to a size 216 (http://stemilttrade.com/wp-content/u...ppleSizing.pdf). All of these would be cited as a "ordinary" apple.

Skin thickness also sorts out from a low of 33um up to 76um, with variation between different thicknesses on the same apple. (http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/51351.pdf)

Putting these two apple facts together, we get a broad range of values - from 4.3cm 4.6 cm radius down to 2.31cm 2.9 cm radius, combined with .033cm 0.0033 cm to .076cm 0.0076 cm --> yielding a low of .0076 0.00072 or 0.072% and a high of .0239 0.0026 or 0.26% ... way outside our range.

Could you find some set of apples where his example would be true? Yes. Good luck with that.

The take home lesson is not to make fruit analogies for planets.
Sorry, but you also seemed to have some errors with your units and conversions.

First correction, I assume you meant to express what should have been a dimensionless ratio as a percentage.

I'm not sure what happened when you converted apple diameters in inches to radii in centimeters. I think that is what you were attempting.

Also, a micrometer is 1/10,000 of a centimeter, I believe, and not 1/1000.

If you got your apple skin sizes from the abstract of the pdf file to which you linked, then your 76 um probably should have been a 73 um, too, but I let that slide.

I wouldn't want to add to the confusion. ...lol
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:06 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
But it's not wrong. At least according to your numbers.
I will accept "less than right."

Here's a blog post about an actual experiment where it "comes out wrong" but gets massaged into being right anyhow:
"I just did it with a golden delicious apple. My stack of 10 layers had a measured thickness of 11 mm, corresponding to 1.1 mm for a single layer–which is the thickness of the apple skin. The apple has a diameter of 80 mm. So the diameter of the apple is only 80 / 1.1 = 72 times the thickness of the skin. Comparing that to Earth’s diameter equal to 127 times the thickness of the atmoshere means the Jeffism (at least with my apple) is confirmed!"
http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/05/21/apples-and-you/
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:08 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Shepherd View Post
Sorry, but you also seemed to have some errors with your units and conversions.

First correction, I assume you meant to express what should have been a dimensionless ratio as a percentage.

I'm not sure what happened when you converted apple diameters in inches to radii in centimeters. I think that is what you were attempting.

Also, a micrometer is 1/10,000 of a centimeter, I believe, and not 1/1000.

If you got your apple skin sizes from the abstract of the pdf file to which you linked, then your 76 um probably should have been a 73 um, too, but I let that slide.

I wouldn't want to add to the confusion. ...lol
Thankfully, I am not a popularizer of science.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:10 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
More than pedantic: choosing a definition intended to belittle Tyson's analogy rather than the one most of his audience would use.
I don't get this entire thread. There seems to be a hate-on for Tyson that is inexplicable to me. Is. I'm a science fan, not a scientist. The difference is very important. Tyson is attempting to convey the overall story to laymen not specific details to grad school physics students.

I want to understand why Einstein and Newton are so revered and why The Principia Mathematica and the Theory of Relativity are amazing and important. Sure, Tyson could get bogged down into the minutiae that would lose his audience (Me). But what purpose would that serve? I generally understand the subject now so Tyson did his job.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:17 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's about 13 doses. Which is a lot of coke.
I have no opinion on NDT, but I know a hell of a lot about cocaine users.

Funniest line ever said by a coke guy was the time where I was asked if I knew the best time to snort a gram of blow.

I didn't.

The guy told me the best time to hit that gram was after you already snorted an ounce. And he was still a very happy fella on the back seat ride to county jail.

8-balls (eighth of an ounce, 3.5 grams) isn't much more than an appetizer for folks into it. I've been involved in busts where we found ounces of coke with zero indication it was being trafficked or sold - possession for personal use - and the individual with it in possession was charged with simple possession.

That changed later on when possession of specified amounts of powder or crack became sentencing enhancements whether or not there was evidence of intention to sell or not.

Please note - these weren't cases involving highly diluted samples either. Our agency confiscated powdered coke on a regular basis in the high 80's mid 90's purity level - the old story about powdered coke being 20% - 25% pure might be true somewhere, but not in the S.F. bay area in the 1980's into the 2000's.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:18 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I don't get this entire thread. There seems to be a hate-on for Tyson that is inexplicable to me. Is. I'm a science fan, not a scientist. The difference is very important. Tyson is attempting to convey the overall story to laymen not specific details to grad school physics students.

I want to understand why Einstein and Newton are so revered and why The Principia Mathematica and the Theory of Relativity are amazing and important. Sure, Tyson could get bogged down into the minutiae that would lose his audience (Me). But what purpose would that serve? I generally understand the subject now so Tyson did his job.
I just have a few nits to pick with his presentation. I don't dislike the guy. And it's not like I'm the only one - I didn't start the thread.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:21 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I will accept "less than right."

Here's a blog post about an actual experiment where it "comes out wrong" but gets massaged into being right anyhow:
"I just did it with a golden delicious apple. My stack of 10 layers had a measured thickness of 11 mm, corresponding to 1.1 mm for a single layer–which is the thickness of the apple skin. The apple has a diameter of 80 mm. So the diameter of the apple is only 80 / 1.1 = 72 times the thickness of the skin. Comparing that to Earth’s diameter equal to 127 times the thickness of the atmoshere means the Jeffism (at least with my apple) is confirmed!"
http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/05/21/apples-and-you/
So the thickness of the skin/apple is within a factor of 2 of the thickness of the atmosphere/earth. That sounds like it supports the analogy to me. If the range of apples includes apples that have the same ratio as that of the earth, and most apples are within a factor of 2 or 3, I'd say the analogy is pretty good.

Did you think he meant that the thickness of the skin of every apple is exactly proportional to the thickness of the atmosphere of the earth?

That would be pretty damn cool. I'd start wondering if apples had maps on them under the peel...
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:22 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I just have a few nits to pick with his presentation. I don't dislike the guy. And it's not like I'm the only one - I didn't start the thread.
Nitpicks are fine, even somewhat important.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:23 AM   #69
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Maybe a better analogy would be the hairy layer of one of those blue-green mold covered oranges. Am I the only one to have seen those?
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:23 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I don't get this entire thread. There seems to be a hate-on for Tyson that is inexplicable to me. Is. I'm a science fan, not a scientist. The difference is very important. Tyson is attempting to convey the overall story to laymen not specific details to grad school physics students.

I want to understand why Einstein and Newton are so revered and why The Principia Mathematica and the Theory of Relativity are amazing and important. Sure, Tyson could get bogged down into the minutiae that would lose his audience (Me). But what purpose would that serve? I generally understand the subject now so Tyson did his job.
The OP outlined some ways in which he wasn't just inaccurate, but actually intentionally misleading. That's a very different claim and one that I personally do find important to consider.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:32 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
This is the kind of apologetics it takes to make it all work out, but it's still wrong.

Consider what a science advocate is challenged to do. He's responsible to put a little work in. It's sloppy. What am I to make of an analogy that fails so miserably? If I am in his target audience, I'll look into it myself, and find out the trick. What then does it say for the next think he tells me?

He should drop it.
No, Tyson has precisely the correct analogy for the people to whom he was speaking! it is an analogy, right? A way of allowing someone not familiar with the actual discipline to obtain a type of understanding? Why not just complain that the earth is not an apple! I presume that you would instead first explain that the various definitions of each of the layers of the atmosphere, explain the Katman line, note the differences at different seasons and latitudes, then present your data on the variation of apple and apple skins. Great! I'm certain that will really help most people understand how thin the earth's atmosphere is much better than Tyson's "sloppy" approach.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:41 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I don't get this entire thread. There seems to be a hate-on for Tyson that is inexplicable to me. Is. I'm a science fan, not a scientist. The difference is very important. Tyson is attempting to convey the overall story to laymen not specific details to grad school physics students.

I want to understand why Einstein and Newton are so revered and why The Principia Mathematica and the Theory of Relativity are amazing and important. Sure, Tyson could get bogged down into the minutiae that would lose his audience (Me). But what purpose would that serve? I generally understand the subject now so Tyson did his job.
For me it is hard to not see Tyson as playing a role much like that of Carl Sagan. Sagan also had nitpickers angry at him. But I think a lot of it comes from conservatives who do not like Tyson's takes (based in science) on global warming, theology vs. science, etc. Among some critics outside this forum I also suspect that there is some subconscious racism.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:41 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by HopDavid View Post
...blah blah blah...snip...snip...

Neil deGrasse Tyson will study a topic with half his attention and then build a story around it. Which is usally entertaining but often wrong. I don’t believe it’s his intention to convey misinformatiom. It comes from combining his flamboyance with sloppy scholarship. And his fantasies are often colored by his preconceptions and prejudices.

...blah blah blah...snip...snip...
I stopped there.

I'm assuming the rest of the dribble has evidence supporting the bolded portion?
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:44 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I will accept "less than right."

Here's a blog post about an actual experiment where it "comes out wrong" but gets massaged into being right anyhow:
"I just did it with a golden delicious apple. My stack of 10 layers had a measured thickness of 11 mm, corresponding to 1.1 mm for a single layer–which is the thickness of the apple skin. The apple has a diameter of 80 mm. So the diameter of the apple is only 80 / 1.1 = 72 times the thickness of the skin. Comparing that to Earth’s diameter equal to 127 times the thickness of the atmoshere means the Jeffism (at least with my apple) is confirmed!"
http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/05/21/apples-and-you/
So you were off by a factor of 10 and Tyson was off by less than a factor 2 for a golden delicious and probably still closer for the range of some other apples. Damning of Tyson indeed! I concede your point, condem Tyson to scientist hell, and (really do) abandon further debate on this issue!

Last edited by Giordano; 11th July 2017 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 11th July 2017, 10:48 AM   #75
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I have thought this topic over, and I wonder if science presentation is itself a science or an art?

If it is an art, does it have a right to artistic license?

The job of an artist is not to hammer exact details into students' heads, but to make a larger image come to life in the minds and imaginations of an audience.

For example: I love History, and I like novels set im some historical context where the author has acquainted themselves well with what the science of history has so far figured out about that period, and he fills this up with imaginary people doing imaginary things. In important way, such imaginary stories can convey the reality of the historic setting better than the study and precise citing of extant sources and archeological finds could ever do.

Newton was at the same time a brilliant mathematician and physicist and a disturbingly errant religious nutjob, who allowed himself to be guided in part by patently false assumptions about the universe. This cannot have ended well. But how exactly did this not end well? Perhaps we do not know, cannot know - we cannot know how Newton's life and achievements as a scientist would have been different had he been an agnostic. So is it fair to make up - using artistic license - a bit of alternative history and invent a path by which he failed to acomplish more? To illustrate how religious nutjobbery deprives great minds of greater achievements?
I am split on that question. It would be cool if NDGT had written a novel in a format that readers would expect the use of artistic license. I have read such novels on Friedrich Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt, Gerhard Mercator, and a medieval Persian scientists whose name currently escapes me, and I found them to be illuminating and entertaining, and perhaps even true to the character, despite the inevitable inventions. It's a different beast of course if the format is a talk on science - people probably do not expect artistic license to be at play.
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Old 11th July 2017, 11:14 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
I have thought this topic over, and I wonder if science presentation is itself a science or an art?

If it is an art, does it have a right to artistic license?

The job of an artist is not to hammer exact details into students' heads, but to make a larger image come to life in the minds and imaginations of an audience.

For example: I love History, and I like novels set im some historical context where the author has acquainted themselves well with what the science of history has so far figured out about that period, and he fills this up with imaginary people doing imaginary things. In important way, such imaginary stories can convey the reality of the historic setting better than the study and precise citing of extant sources and archeological finds could ever do.

Newton was at the same time a brilliant mathematician and physicist and a disturbingly errant religious nutjob, who allowed himself to be guided in part by patently false assumptions about the universe. This cannot have ended well. But how exactly did this not end well? Perhaps we do not know, cannot know - we cannot know how Newton's life and achievements as a scientist would have been different had he been an agnostic. So is it fair to make up - using artistic license - a bit of alternative history and invent a path by which he failed to acomplish more? To illustrate how religious nutjobbery deprives great minds of greater achievements?
I am split on that question. It would be cool if NDGT had written a novel in a format that readers would expect the use of artistic license. I have read such novels on Friedrich Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt, Gerhard Mercator, and a medieval Persian scientists whose name currently escapes me, and I found them to be illuminating and entertaining, and perhaps even true to the character, despite the inevitable inventions. It's a different beast of course if the format is a talk on science - people probably do not expect artistic license to be at play.
It's both. Maybe a litle artistic license is fine taking into account the audience. Tyson is trying to tell an interesting story and any use of analogies is by necessity not going to be precise. While he could pepper his presentations with caveats about the lack of precision I think that would detract from his stories not enhance them.
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Old 11th July 2017, 11:26 AM   #77
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Since I fell short of the mark with my apple example, I offer this as a bonus:

Tyon's own words here:
“With regard to the sex, that was interesting because some biologists jumped on me claiming that it’s just false. And people love nothing more, apparently, in revealing or finding that I’ve said something that’s wrong. Now, so do I. I take great joy in finding if I said something wrong, because then I’ve learned something.

“But what happened in the case of the sex hurting and the species going extinct, biologists and people were quick to say, ‘Oh, he should stick to astrophysics.’ Well, why? Oh, because there are species where sex hurts and is quite painful."


As quoted and criticized in Pharyngula: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2...egrasse-tyson/
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Old 11th July 2017, 11:27 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Where do you draw the line?
Wherever it needs to be for a given audience.
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Old 11th July 2017, 07:35 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
I have thought this topic over, and I wonder if science presentation is itself a science or an art?

If it is an art, does it have a right to artistic license?

The job of an artist is not to hammer exact details into students' heads, but to make a larger image come to life in the minds and imaginations of an audience.
Are you familiar with the concept of lies to children?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie-to-children

Quote:
A lie-to-children is a statement that is false, but which nevertheless leads the child's mind towards a more accurate explanation, one that the child will only be able to appreciate if it has been primed with the lie".
It's not an excuse for carelessness, but it is sometimes justified.
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Old 12th July 2017, 10:42 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
Are you familiar with the concept of lies to children?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie-to-children
Not, until now, as a lemma.
As a concept, I think it is rather trivial.


Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
It's not an excuse for carelessness, but it is sometimes justified.
Which, in the context of this thread, raises two questions:

1.) The, say, less than accurate bits of NDGT's presentations - are they lies-to-children, or just errors?
2.) LtC, are they justified?


The WP article you link to is, IMO, poorly written - vague and repetitive. I am not sure, after spending several minutes on it, if I could tell LtC apart from simple models on one hand and fraud on the other.


I remember a science experiment from primary school, 3rd or 4th class, I guess. The objective was to show that air is approximately 20% oxygene. The set up was as follows:
A shallow bowl is filled with water
A lit candle floats on the water
Experimenter puts an upside-down beaker over the candle, dipping it a bit below the water surface, such that the volume of air inside is shielded from air outside.
The candle will burn until oxygen level inside the beaker is too low to support fire, then the candle goes out.
As a result, water from the bowl gets sucked into the beaker, such that the water surface inside is higher than outside
It so turned out that the water filled roughly 20% of the beaker's volume.
I have never forgotten this experiment, which impressed me a lot, and I have remembered this "ca. 20% oxygen in air" very well since then. So the experiment served its purpose to teach me something true about the composition of air.
BUT it was a lie-to-children: Not little of the candle wax's chemical composition is made up of carbon atoms. Each C combines with two O-atoms from the O2 molecules in the air to a CO2 molecule, which is released into the beaker - replacing exactly the volume of the O2 expended to oxidize the carbon. Most of the rest of the wax is H-atoms, four of which may react with 1 O2 to create 2 H2O - so each O2-molecule in the beaker that reacts with hydrogen is replaced with two H2O molecules, which are (initially) released as a hot gas.
The main effect is that the air and exhausts inside the beaker get hot, the gas expands, and some escapes the beaker - something we failed to observe. Then, when the candle goes out, the gas inside quickly cools and contracts, sucking water up (also, the H2O-exhaust condensates, which subtracts gas volume; this is the only part of the experiment where the volume of used O2 is genuinly removed). I distinctly remember that much of the rise of water level inside the beaker occurred after the candle went out, but didn't make correct sense of that when I was only 9 or 10 years old.
I figured out this was a LtC only when I was already an adult.
But as I said, it served its intended purpose of teaching the O2 level of air.
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