09:18 Liz: "Super moon or superest moon?"
10:43 Liz: "If someone from an extra-solar planet was looking at our solar system with the same technology we have today, what would they see?"
13:31 Liz: have you always wanted to be an astronomer? "Who (or what) inspired you to become an astronomer?"
15:40 (discussing the generally "Geeky Science Educational Hour" aspect of this segment of DB9)
15:12 Jerr: You talk about looking for planets with atmospheres, and people being inspired by NASA (cut off)
16:42 Molly: So far on DB we have bussed for 148 hours. What planet would that amount to the most days, and the least days?
20:10 Jerr: What happens to us if we bus on Jupiter?
20:34 Phil Plait: … The fun thing is to figure out which thing kills you first. And that's not always obvious. This is kind of a Randall Munroe question, right? when he does his what if? thing with xkcd …
23:10 Liz: "Randall Munroe consulted you in connection with his epic comic ''Time'' that won a 2014 Hugo. Fans of ''Time'' are curious for your side of the story — what was it like helping Mr. Munroe create animated starfields for the year 13291?"
PP: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Randall's amazing, — and I have a lot of smart friends, when you hang out with scientists, you meet a lot of smart people, and I've got a handful I would actually call genius, and Randall's in that [handful].
Liz: You're welcome. As one of your genius friends.
23:53 PP: People are geniuses in different things, and there are people who are polymaths, or they speak a bunch of languages, or whatever, but — everything fascinates Randall. He reads about them and he just knows all this stuff, and he can — it's more than just knowing about them, he can find the relationships, he understands it to a level that he can do things with them. I can read all I want about Quantum Mechanics or something, but I would never really be able to grasp it at the level of somebody who does it and studies it for a living — but I suspect he would just read a book about it, and then would probably have a Nobel Prize within a couple of years.
24:32 So he contacted me, and he said he was doing this thing, where he's not just doing a single strip, it's going to be hundreds or maybe thousands of panels, that go up every, I think it was 15 minutes? And if you take them and put them all together, it creates this animation, it creates a story, and at the time he was telling me, he wasn't going to tell anybody what it was or what it was about, and it was just put up. He didn't have any information about it. And if you would refresh it, or if you just stayed there, you would see it very subtly changing over time. And what happens is, you find out it was about these people who live, presumably on Earth, but there are problems and they wind up leaving their area and exploring, and he wanted to give subtle hints that it was way in the future. The easiest way to do that is through astronomy, what astronomical things change over thousands of years?
25:28 And I said, well, the Earth's tilt towards the sun — right? It's tilted like this. But over time, the Earth's axis rotates, it takes 26,000 years to do this, it's called precession. And that means that, right now, the Earth's axis is pointed towards the star Polaris. But in 5000 years it won't be, in 10,000 years it will be pointed way in a different part of the sky. And he'd already thought of that. Of course.
25:53 So we started talking more, and I said well, there are some stars in the sky that are very massive, have short lives. It's unlikely they would explode as supernovae in the next few thousand years, but it's not out of the question. It's entirely possible. And I named a few, and one of them was Antares, which is a bright star in Scoripus, which is up in the summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere now. So he did that, he put up Saggitarius and Scorpius, you can see it in the background, this sort of recognizable constellation shapes — and he actually removed Antares from Scorpius, so you can see the constellation but the star is just basically gone, but he threw Venus in there, which is a really bright planet — just to confuse things I guess, I'm not sure why.
26:38 But it was fun to go back and forth with him and talk about this, anything's on the table, as long as it's physically possible. And there were a couple other things we talked about, I'd have to go back to my notes and try to remember exactly what it was, but that sticks in my mind mostly, because that's what he used. And, and then he won a Hugo, so I had, you know, one pixel out of all of that, I'll take credit for. The rest of it's him. That's it, that's all I got.
27:07 Liz: Um. That's awesome, that's amazing. My brain has to reboot after every question, because there's just so much information, it's fascinating.
27:13 PP: Well, you know, since we talked about it, I'll plug it. He's got a book coming out, next week. On the 24th, I think? called Thing Explainer — where he does a bunch of science topics using the 1000 most common words in the English language, and I'm sure Molly's familiar with this, since she and Marian Call re-did Space Oddity using this language, everybody calls it "Up-Goer Five language", because Randall described a Saturn V as the "Up-Goer Five* It's a rocket, but rocket is not one of the common terms, so you have to re-write things. So Randall's got this whole book coming out, Thing Explainer, and I've seen the astronomy section, we went back and forth, we talked a little bit about that too, and I have not seen the book yet, so I'm very excited, it's going to be very cool. He's amazing, so it's going to be a great book, go buy it. But first, give all your money to Desert Bus.
28:09 Liz: "How are the goats?"
29:24 Liz: "What’s the most annoyed you’ve been at a bit of science fiction technobable (for being complete nonsense) and what was it?" And I am curious [about what you think of] The Martian, Interstellar, and Gravity.
34:05 What is you favourite science movie or show?
36:10 (Phil Plait starts describing the swag that he donated for auction)
44:04 Auction is started
55:15 Phil Plait calls the auction; sold to thinkstoomuch for $2600
56:45 "If you were a supervillain, who would your nemesis be?"