March 24th, 2014


COSMOS Watch: Episode 3

Sunday 23 March 2014 21:00 EDT Channel 17.1 (FOX HD)

I knew this was coming. Certain people are now claiming their "right" for COSMOS to air their ideas as equal time. I am SO tired of people not understanding the First Ammendment, both in terms of freedom of speech and freedom FROM a government mandated religion. COSMOS is about science and the history of science. You want to talk of your ideas and beliefs, especially things which are not actual scientific theory, get your own show.

-- Opening credits. Did I miss the opening tease? But they're showing the TV ratings logo... might have missed part of the first minute.

-- Closeup of baby's face -- stars and Milky Way wheeling across the sky.

-- We were like an abandoned baby, with no idea how to end our cosmic isolation -- had to figure it out ourselves.

-- Our intellect -- our abilities at Pattern Recognition.

-- Different cultures devised different constellations, in order to be able to read the calendar of the sky.

-- Position of the stars versus the seasons. When to plant, when to harvest, etc.

-- Anime shows a newcomer. People took the apparition of a comet personally.

-- Every culture made the same mistake. That comets were a message -- a bad message. An omen, portents of doom.

-- The word disaster comes from the Greek for "bad star".

- 1400BC the Chinese began to systematically record comets. Determined that the number of tails meant different things.

-- We are very good at finding patterns, even when they aren't there. (I tell my students this all the time.)

-- We even have a term for it -- false pattern recognition.

-- Too easily deceived by the face in a grilled cheese sandwich or a comet.

-- 1LY from our sun lies a swarm of ice, rock, debris from the formation of the solar system, etc. The Oort Cloud.

-- Jan Oort in 1950s looking at so many ways for comets to die. If it is worn away by the sun, get an asteroid.

-- But there are still more comets.

-- Theorized a vast cloud of things out there to give comets.

-- Can't see it. (Same argument as in Ep. 1 -- distance between pieces like the distance between Earth and Sun.)

-- Oort also correctly estimated distance from Sun to galactic center. Also 1st to use radio telescopes to map the spiral arms of our galaxy.

-- That we know the names of mass murderers and not Jan Oort says something about us.

-- An icy rock begins a free fall of 100KY towards Sun.

-- Path bent by Neptune, Jupiter.

-- At the inner solar system, heat from the Sun bakes it. A beautiful transformation begins. The dark sooty rock forms a coma and a tail.

-- In 40,000 years of human civilization, probably 100K bright comets.

-- Anime: the friendship of Isaac Newton and Edmund would set us free.

-- The Comet of 1664 was particularly frightening, portending in England alone the Plague and the Great Fire of London.

-- To one child the comet was not the least bit worrying. It was beautiful. And he had a telescope.

-- Halley dropped out of Oxford at 20.

-- Traveled to the Southern Hemisphere and made the first map of the southern sky.

-- Halley came home with the other half of the sky and opened up the world to navigation.

-- The Latin motto of The Royal Society translates to "See For Yourself."

-- Robert Hooke's fascination with everything -- improved telescope, looked at cork with a microscope and called it a cell, law of elasticity (Hooke's Law for the spring force), perfected the air pump, experimented with cannabis, foremost experimentalist.

-- Coffee was the drug of choice in 17th century England. The Coffee House was the center of discussion and thought. Surprisingly democratic and classless.

-- Halley and Hooke met Christopher Wren. Elliptical orbits had been shown by Kepler. But why did the planet's speed up when closer to the Sun? What made them? What force?

-- Hooke said he had a solution, but could not do the math.

-- There was a math expert they knew of, a clever guy at 22 at Cambridge, who had invented the reflecting telescope.

-- August 1684 meeting.

-- Newton b. Christmas Day 1642. Father already left. Mother left @ 3, returned at 11 with a stepfather and a new family.

-- 1661 Trinity College at Cambridge. Lousy student.

-- Passionate about mysticism, secret knowledge, alchemy. Hidden messages in the Bible. Made elaborate calculations to determine date of the Second Coming.

-- Had gone into hiding for 13 years after public feud and humiliation from Hooke.

-- When Halley came, he had already calculated that the inverse square law, 1/r², of gravity was responsible for the elliptical orbits of the planets. He would reproduce this work and sent a letter.

-- Just when Halley wondered if Newton faking that he had a solution like Hooke, the letter arrived.

-- The beginning of modern science.

-- Problem. The Royal Society couldn't afford to publish Newton's book, the Principia Mathematica, because of disappointing sales of The History of Fish. They were even paying Halley in unsold copies of the book.

-- Without Halley's heroic efforts, Newton's genius would have remained hidden.

-- Halley resolved to edit and publish the Principia himself.

-- Volume III would settle the coffee house wager.

-- So what's the big deal?

-- When Newton was born in 1642, the heavens were viewed as the perfection of the universe -- a perfect clockwork universe. God, the clockmaker, closes the door to other questions.

-- Newton was a God-loving man who could write the laws mathematically. No more master clockmaker, just gravity.

-- Also included the basis for calculus, allowing space travel.

-- Newton envisioned a cannon, firing cannonballs horizontally with ever increasing charges. Gravity pulls the cannonballs down. But the faster the speed, the further they travel. Now the curvature of the Earth comes into play. Eventually, Newton showed if you could go fast enough you would fall around the Earth -- you would be in orbit.

-- This changed everything.

-- Saturn V launch. Animations of space and planetary missions.

-- Decoupled cometary motions from our fears.

-- If Halley hadn't been standing next to Newton, he would have been remembered for other things. Besides the comet.

-- After Principia published, King has Halley take 3 voyages. 1st to map Earth's magnetic field. Perfected diving bell and had a flourishing salvage business.

-- Inevented the weather map. Still use his symbols for prevailing winds.

-- Groundwork for science of population studied. Compared populations of London and Paris. Based on numbers of people who didn't have children, families needed to have four children in order to keep the population steady in those days.

-- Figured out how to measure the Earth-Sun distance by timing the Transit of Venus -- the time it takes Venus to cross the surface of the Sun. Cook's first voyage to Tahiti was to test the Transit of Venus.

-- Using observations dating back 1800 years, Halley showed that the stars are not quite fixed.

-- 1st clue to larger beauty of all stars in motion.

-- The Comet

-- June 1337, 1st proper observations of all comets. Determined by tour de force calculation that comets are in orbit around the Sun.

-- In 1687 showed that the comets of 1531 and 1637 were the same 76 year period comet. Triumph of pattern recognition.

-- Predicted, including date and path for next appearance in December 1763.

-- That's Halley's Comet, out past Neptune. Slows down until the Sun won't allow it to go farther. Everything falling around the Sun.

-- Robert Hooke had died of bad health decisions.

-- Newton replaced him at the Royal Society. Probably burned Hooke's portrait.

-- Halley worked to age 85.

-- His prediction not forgotten.

-- 1986 most recent return, 2061 next visit by the comet.

-- The baby in the basket is beginning to walk. And to know the cosmos.

-- In several BY, the Milky Way will collide and combine with the galaxy Andromeda. No actual stars are likely to collide.

-- But the will be a BY light show of the dance of ½T stars.

OVERALL: A nice episode, trying to cover a lot of people and advances. And the feuds. I'm sure some will find some of the commentary heavy handed.

Dr. Phil

Heading Down To 16

Duke men, out. Duke women, won their 1st round game. And here on Monday evening, Duke is now doubly out. #2 Duke lost to #7 DePaul -- the Blue Devils versus the Blue Demons -- on the Duke Coach K Court. DePaul had a 19-point lead in their 1st round game, eventually winning 104-100. 204 points in a women's game, both teams with a century. Just a few years ago, critics were trying to suggest that the Women's NCAA wasn't very good because the scores were too low. Then it was because you'd see 100+ games with lopsided wins by the like of UConn, "proving" that there weren't 48 tournament worthy women's teams, let alone 64.

Yeah right.

On Sunday we saw M #10 Stanford 60 #2 Kansas 57 -- the Cardinal dumped the Jayhawks with the Tree, what a great mascot, shaking excitedly in the stands. W #12 Hampton 61 #5 MSU 91 -- so Michigan State advancing in both tourneys. W #7 LSU over #10 Ga Tech. M #8 Kentucky 78 #1 Wichita State 76 -- undefeated Wichita State, last year's Cinderella darling and first ever 35-0 team, out in the Real Second Round with a 35-1 season. M UNC 83 Iowa State 85. Not a good year for North Carolina.

Gotta love the March Madness.

Elsewhere, Sunday also saw our first televised Cubs game. Spring training game against a split squad from Oakland. Last time we'll see Oakland in Phoenix Stadium. Cubs got a new Arizona facility -- A's will get the old Cub's Ho-Ho-Kam Stadium next year. Cubs were losing 2-0 in the 1st inning, leading 7-2 in the 7th. Baseball... I'd say I can't wait for Opening Day, but there's been actual MLB games played in Australia already.

More anon.

Dr. Phil