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Inaccuracy in reporting astronomy and science
Ames
post Jan 11 2007, 01:10 PM
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"Comet McNaught is passing close to the Sun, whose gravity pulls material off, giving it a big and visible 'debris field'"

laugh.gif

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6251663.stm
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MahFL
post Jan 11 2007, 03:05 PM
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I just read that also and was going to post it. Another pearler eh ?
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Jeff7
post Jan 12 2007, 01:00 AM
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QUOTE (Ames @ Jan 11 2007, 08:10 AM) *
"Comet McNaught is passing close to the Sun, whose gravity pulls material off, giving it a big and visible 'debris field'"

laugh.gif

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6251663.stm


Nice.

Another favorite was the article that talked about dust on the Mars Rovers, but how the designers planned for this, and attached small fans to the top of the deck to keep the solar panels clean.
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mchan
post Jan 12 2007, 04:19 AM
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QUOTE (Ames @ Jan 11 2007, 05:10 AM) *
"Comet McNaught is passing close to the Sun, whose gravity pulls material off, giving it a big and visible 'debris field'"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6251663.stm

That caption has now been edited.
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nprev
post Jan 12 2007, 04:42 AM
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Mchan: Sadly, I think that most of these guys think that photons and (if they know of them at all) antiprotons are tangible objects about the size of a tennis ball, color-coded for easy identification and only found in mysterious labs located in European castles on cliffs surrounded by continuous thunderstorms and populated by clinically insane, cackling near-sighted old men with tangled long white hair. (If I missed a stereotype here, please feel free to fill it in! biggrin.gif )

Ed: Thanks for the tip; heard of the story, now have to read it. A fav of mine is Pohl's The Space Merchants...looks like it's almost in the same vein.

[EDIT]: Just had a weird thought, and please forgive me if it's OT. What if UMSF PIs & astronauts commanded huge salaries & led lavish lifestyles? Do you think that public attention to space would increase to the same level as "entertainment"?

This may sound facetious, but it's not. Operational analysis of systems sometimes points to very odd-seeming solutions. This conjecture is purely intuitive, but let's fantasize for a moment that fame & fortune are very visible rewards of scientific excellence; would public attention be refocused thereby? [/EDIT]


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djellison
post Jan 12 2007, 08:44 AM
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QUOTE (mchan @ Jan 12 2007, 04:19 AM) *
That caption has now been edited.


Damn right it has - should have seen the email I sent smile.gif

Doug
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edstrick
post Jan 12 2007, 11:19 AM
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"...A fav of mine is Pohl's The Space Merchants...."
I think that's a collab between Pohl and Kornbluth. Many years later, (90's?), Pohl did a sequel by himself. Kornbluth, as I recall, died of malignant hypertension induced heart attack or stroke. The hypertension was supposedly post WW-2 stress related or something. A great loss to the field. (I may be confusing this with Henry Kuttner, who also died young in the 50's)
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Stu
post Jan 12 2007, 11:28 AM
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They replied to my complaint re the now infamous "Hubble shooting a beam of light" report...

Dear Mr Atkinson

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the 'Six O'clock News' broadcast ton 08 January 2007.

I understand you found a factual error in the programme regarding the Hubble Space Telescope. Let me assure you that we aim to keep all of our reports factually accurate on all occasions, however it is inevitable that some mistakes may occur on occasion; obviously we aim to keep this as minimal as possible. We always aim for the highest standards in reporting.

Nevertheless, please be assured I have registered your comments regarding this issue and have made them available to the 'Six O'clock News' production team and the senior BBC management. Feedback of this nature helps us when making decisions about future BBC programmes and your comment will play a part in this process.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact the BBC.

Regards

Adam Sims
BBC Information


Not good enough, just a fob off letter. I'm taking it further, particularly in light of yesterday's comet caption (well done Doug!)


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djellison
post Jan 12 2007, 11:58 AM
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A total fob-off.

The problem isn't that they reported things totally factually incorrectly - the problem is that such a thing is able to happen when the facts are all set out ready to understand on multiple web-pages.

I've written to correct perhaps a dozen science stories over the past couple of years - all things that 10 seconds with google show to be wrong, but still they - the BBC - one of the most highly regarded organisation in the entire industiry - get badly wrong.


Doug
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MahFL
post Jan 12 2007, 12:12 PM
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Another one from Yahoo's slideshow.... laugh.gif

"The McNaught Comet streaks across the evening sky over Devil's Head mountain......"

pancam.gif
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ngunn
post Jan 12 2007, 12:30 PM
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QUOTE (MahFL @ Jan 12 2007, 12:12 PM) *
Another one from Yahoo's slideshow.... laugh.gif

"The McNaught Comet streaks across the evening sky over Devil's Head mountain......"

pancam.gif


Now that was indeed naughty, if true - but I could have sworn McNaught was quite decently attired in a long flowing gown . . . .
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edstrick
post Jan 12 2007, 01:41 PM
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This "Streaker" is clad only in long flowing hair, like Lady Godiva.
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Bob Shaw
post Jan 12 2007, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Jan 12 2007, 04:42 AM) *
Mchan: Sadly, I think that most of these guys think that photons and (if they know of them at all) antiprotons are tangible objects about the size of a tennis ball, color-coded for easy identification and only found in mysterious labs located in European castles on cliffs surrounded by continuous thunderstorms and populated by clinically insane, cackling near-sighted old men with tangled long white hair.



Rubbish!

I've had a haircut, ooh, not six months ago!

Ygor did it, and very stylish it was, too - the extra fingers help with the scissors.

Bob Shaw


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nprev
post Jan 12 2007, 07:27 PM
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biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif ...yeah, I'm convinced that Franky lacked the fine manual dexterity required for the job!

You know, that sure is part of the problem, though: the public fears science, in whatever form, and the media knows this & tries to make it warm and fuzzy, never placing any burden on the audience to think. Fear usually does result from (and I do not use the word pejoratively) ignorance.

Sigh...I was going to write "how do we make people less afraid of science?", but that's definitely not a morally appropriate way to frame the problem. Maybe the question is how do we make science as interesting to the general public as the latest antics of Donald Trump & Rosie O'Donnell? (Surely some of the dogfights that inevitably occur during project development could at least compete with that! rolleyes.gif )

EDIT: Got it!!! How about a reality TV series called "The Mission"? Premise here is to follow the late developmental stages of a medium-class project (say Mars 2011?) all the way until launch, complete with headaches, squabbles, joy, and triumph. If done correctly, this would be truly compelling viewing and thereby a huge boon for UMSF.


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Steffen
post Jan 19 2007, 12:29 PM
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Newspapers even get the basics wrong, adding the wrong spacecraft photo to an article etc...
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