Science Interviews


Tue, 15th Mar 2016

Science fact or science fiction?

Stuart Higgins, Krishnaa Mahbubani, Hugh Hunt, Howard Griffiths, Suchitra Sebastian, Gabriela Pavarini. The Univeristy of Cambridge

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Cambridge Science Festival: Battle of the Brains

It’s quiz time! Team Berrow and team Smith go head to head in a round of scienceOnce upon a time fact or fiction - can they tell knowledge from nonsense? Team Berrow start first...

Smith - Just like humans, British cows moo with regional accents.

Stuart - We're going to go true.

Smith -   They’re going science Fact.

Berrow - I'm afraid it's Fiction.

This was widely reported in UK press in 2006 with quotes from farmers like...

Farmer Lloyd Green, from Glastonbury: "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl.”

But apparently it was all a huge misrepresentation of a Professor of Phonetics at University College London, who, when asked about it said “you could not entirely rule out the possibility” - the press decided that this meant it was true.

That said, some other animals do have regional accents, including whales, although they don’t have welsh accents...

Smith - …Ants can survive a spin in a microwave.

They’re saying science Fact

Berrow - Fact

Microwaves are actual waves, and they’re wide enough, about 5cm  that ants can literally run away from the hotspots in the microwave to cool areas and dodge the microwaves.

Smith - …Diamonds are made from peanut butter.

They’re going science Fact

Berrow - Fact

This is true! Scientists from the University of Bayreuth, Germany use pressures higher than those found at the center of the earth to turn peanut butter into diamonds! They’re not pure, and sometimes explode, but they form part of experiments which could tell us a lot about the formation of the earth.

Smith - And Team berrow, you have scored 2 points.

Now team Smith, you have 2 points to beat; here we go:

…Darth Vader, Beyonce and Donald Trump all have animals named after them.

Okay Howard have you got a verdict.

Howard - We’ll go True

Berrow - Fiction

This is  FALSE - while Darth Vader and Beyonce do have animals named after them, Donald Trump is yet to have this scientific accolade.  Scaptia beyonceae is a horse fly with a glamorous golden abdomen, and darthvaderum is a type of mite. BUT - There IS a caterpillar called M. opercularis which is sometimes called the Trump caterpillar because it looks like his hair.

Smith - …It takes a radio message from Earth about 1 day to get to the New Horizons probe out near the dwarf planet Pluto.

Smith - They’re going science Fact

Berrow - Fiction

Radio waves travel at the speed of light, which is about 1 billion kilometres per hour; Pluto’s about 6 billion kilometres away, so messages from here take about 6 hours to get there! A long time, but it’s not a day!

Smith -   Right you’ve got to redeem yourself on this one or it’s totally in the hands of the audience for the end and you musn’t let me down my team.  Okay, here we go…

There is a donut-shaped asteroid that scientists have named after Homer Simpson.

Smith - They're going Science Fact

Berrow - Fiction

While asteroid belts are often the shapes of donuts, no donut-shaped asteroids have ever been seen... Yet.

Smith - And Team smith, you have scored 0 points.

So the winners at this halfway stage are: 2 points to 0: Team Berrow!



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