The difference between ten and infinity

By Grania Spingies

Brian Cox is Stateside at the moment, and was on The Conan Show promoting the US run of BBC 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage, the science podcast brainchild of Robin Ince and Brian Cox that cannot be praised highly enough (it’s funny, it’s got science in and a whole lot of smart people who are passionate about their subject – what more could you possibly want?) and one which  our congenial host will be a guest on when the show reaches Chicago.

You can watch bits of the chat with Conan here.

oppo

 

Of course, the really important part of the discussion is Deepak Chopra’s glasses. Are they diamonds? Are they rhinestones? Will we ever really know?

Of course, it doesn’t matter because as we all know the definition of a Real Scientist is whether they take Dr Chopra seriously or not, so Brian Cox and his Ph.D. in high energy particle physics are disqualified straight out the gate.

 

h/t: Ant

100 Comments

  1. Jeff Rankin
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Are they diamonds? Are they rhinestones? Will we ever really know?

    According to the Deepak quote generator they’re nature inspired ephemeral possibilities.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Awesome. That’s amazing. I can’t even.
      I’m 110% done.
      For realz.

      • Jeff Rankin
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Literally!

  2. GBJames
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    sub

  3. Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Blood from Stone.

  4. merilee
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    love Brian Cox! Brains, wit, looks…

    • Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      How I hate him…

      /@

      • Brygida Berse
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Based on the information from Wikipedia, I’m supposed to hate the TV presenter Gia Milinovich.

        Brian: the looks of a rock star (and he plays, too!) and the brain of a particle physicist. And a sense of humor. What else can a girl ask for?

        • Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          Drooooool:-)

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted February 12, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            He was in some terrible bands though.

            That’s it. That’s all I can say against him. There’s nothing else. I think the guy even supports Manchester United. He’s impossible to dislike.

            • barlofontain
              Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:33 am | Permalink

              He supports Oldham Athletic. No one actually from Manchester, supports Manchester Utd

              😉

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        He is a great straight man to Robin Ince and Robin often talks about how they are the same age but Robin is ravaged by time or that everyone thinks Brian is hot.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        “How I hate him…”

        Oh, c’mon, two out of three ain’t bad.

        😀

        (Obviously I’m kidding–I’ve never seen you. 😉 )

        • Posted February 13, 2015 at 1:41 am | Permalink

          Search “ant allan” on Google Images. (If you dare.)

          /@

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 2:31 am | Permalink

            OK, 2.02 out of 3…

            J/K!!

            Very handsome…I don’t suppose you play keyboards?

            • Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:24 am | Permalink

              ☺️

              Only the qwerty kind. I have no musical talent whatsoever.

              /@

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

                Playing the qwerty keyboard well is a much better path to financial security than playing the other kind.

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

                But maybe not as emotionally satisfying.

                My biggest regret is that I didn’t take up my dad’s offer to by me a proper drum kit when I was in my late pre teens. I was a Desi Arnaz Jr. fan. Of course, I could have been crap.

                * looks at bonus statement *

                But it’s OK, though.

                /@

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

                What’s a bonus?

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

                😁

                Something that proves your point.

                /@

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

                *sigh*

                yep

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                (Sorry.)

                /@

              • darrelle
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

                It is a portmanteau of “bone” and “anus.” Depending on your employer.

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

                @darrelle

                LOL

                Yeah, my employer must have the same dictionary.

            • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

              That’s not you stripping in the jumpsuit, though, is it?

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

                I’m not sure what picture you mean. Maybe, if it was from _The Crystal Maze_ …

                /@

              • merilee
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

                I just googled ant allan images and it’s way near the bottom…

          • darrelle
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

            Hmmm. Very interesting. The suggested search returned this image for me. Have you been holding out on us Ant?

            What’s funny is, I just introduced my kids to this fine gentlemen just last night. I was playing old videos of him, trying to properly enculturate them, and we were dancing around the living room with near total abandon. The cat thought we had gone crazy.

            • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

              😀

              Of course, not *all* of the results are me. The dino pictures are mine though.

              This is the one I like best, in the main football stadium in Warsaw (but it could have be anywhere): http://goo.gl/UGY1TL

              /@

              • darrelle
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

                You look quite comfortable speaking to a crowd. I envy you that. I’d be sweating and making no sense. Never have gotten over that stage fright.

                Well, that’s not entirely true. As friends and family would be happy to attest to, if you give me a few drinks I’ll talk all you want. And likely more.

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                Up to a few hundred is typical (the Warsaw gig was about 200, in one of the meeting rooms, not the stadium itself!), but my biggest audience was 2000+, in the main auditorium in the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes. That *was* nerve wracking!

                I might exceed that this summer.

                /@

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

                Oh, such gravitas! Cool tie! And I think I want to pet that jacket…

                I’m with Darrelle–petrified of public speaking. (Apologies, Darrelle, if that’s too strong a verb for your case.)

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                My son calls it my “old-man jacket”.

                /@

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

                Well after all, the only reason we have kids is to keep us from getting too full of ourselves…

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

                That’s probably why Ant wears the jacket – the hope of pettings. 😹

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

                😮

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

                Adjective, for crissakes.

            • Diane G.
              Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

              “You look quite comfortable speaking to a crowd. I envy you that. I’d be sweating and making no sense. Never have gotten over that stage fright.” –darrelle

              Along the same lines, sitting down to play a concert, as Musical Beef does, would be equally terrifying to me.

    • Posted February 12, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we are a rare breed.

      😉

      • merilee
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

        searching, searching…for a clever riposte;-)

      • merilee
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        not-so-clever riposte: Your name’s not Brian Cox;-) There, no-one was offended…

        • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

          Well, does

          • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            …Brian accidentally hit “post” too early?

            Damn touchscreens.

            • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

              (I considered making a “suggestive” joke about doing things too early, but for some reason I’m feeling prim and proper today.)

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

                I was thinking the same thing but could not come up with anything that “scanned”…

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

                Just another shortcoming.

                /@

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

                lol
                You should consider hiring a drummer to follow you around. 🙂

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

                Yeah…

                /@

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

                @ Ant

                rofl!

        • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

          Well, does Brian sport an immaculately kept perruque?

          I didn’t think so.

          • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            Yup, you got him there-LOL

          • darrelle
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

            Damn, never seen that word before. Hold one.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            Ahh. Just as I had guessed from context and your bust.

            • Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

              Very, very proud of my bust.

              • darrelle
                Posted February 13, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

                I’d be proud too if I had a bust like yours!

                I hope that’s not too familiar.

              • Posted February 13, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                Hey, I did say I was proud of it. Just glad folks are noticing.

  5. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    One must wonder how many have told Deepak where to stick that consciousness.

  6. tombesson
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I will forever refer to Deepak as ‘The Rhinestone cow dung’.

  7. merilee
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    forgot to sub

    wooooonderful (as Brian says it) little clip with Conan;-)

  8. Posted February 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Deepcrap prefers omnipresent, ayurvedic zirconia for all his eyewear accessories.

  9. gluonspring
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The title is evocative, but is there another connection with this show that I’m missing? Is it something they talk about on the show?

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      By title, I mean this article title: The difference between ten and infinity.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes, one of the clips in the link is a short discussion of the angry mail TIMC gets about monkeys and cages and typewriters and infinity. Really actual angry mail.

      • gluonspring
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Ah, thanks. I hadn’t watched that far.

      • Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        I loved Brian’s answer to the animal right’s complainer: an infinite monkey cage is really pretty roomy:-)

        • Posted February 13, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          Unless it is only denumerably large and one has greater than denumerably many monkeys to put inside 🙂

      • gluonspring
        Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        OK, watched all the clips now. The best part was when he asked the audience if science was popular and got a big response.

  10. Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    He’s the rhinestone that thinks he’s a diamond.

    /@

  11. Brygida Berse
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I love the maple syrup analogy in his explanation of the Higgs boson. I think I finally understood what it’s about (at the kindergarden level, for sure).

    • Alex
      Posted February 13, 2015 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      An important aspect where the analogy fails is that the Higgs field doesn’t brake stuff which is moving through it due to the energy loss from friction, as opposed to the syrup where movement is stopped this way.

      • Brygida Berse
        Posted February 13, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Just when I thought I understood particle physics…

        • Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

          Well, with syrup, it’s viscosity not friction.

          /@

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            I thought that too but it’s almost hairsplitting in terms of the analogy. I suspect any analogy between ‘quantum things’ and the normal world is going to be very loose.

            • Alex
              Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:37 am | Permalink

              That’s the thing, too – one can write down the Higgs mechanism in a classical form without quantum, in which case the presence of the Higgs field mainly changes the relation between frequency and wave length of matter waves. What that has to do with Inertia is even less intuitive.

        • Alex
          Posted February 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          I’d say the better you understand the limitations of the commonly used comparisons, the more you know about it!

          • Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            “I can’t explain it to you in terms you’d understand, because *I* don’t understand it in terms that you’d understand.” — Richard Feynman (from memory)

            /@

            • Alex
              Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:51 am | Permalink

              Exactly. Although I think Feynman meant something slightly different in that famous video. Sure, If one learns the math one has a language with which to understand it, in terms of mathematical objects, but usually not in terms of everyday experience. With a bit of luck you find something in everyday experience which closely mimicks the mathematical situation in question. What Feynman means, I think, as far as I understand it, is that such explanations can’t truly be a fundamental explanation of the phenomenon, and are actually in danger of being circular, because the everyday objects used for the demonstration depend on the phenomenon itself (such as a rubber band working with electromagnetic, therefore being a circular explanation for magnetic attraction). That’s to me a complaint on a slightly deeper level than the analogy breaking down because it reflects some properties (such as viscosity) incorrectly.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            Just a personal question, if I may – you wouldn’t be the same ‘Alex’ who was commenting at length in a God-friendly way in the recent thread ‘Stephen Fry on God’?

            • Alex
              Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:27 am | Permalink

              No, I’m certainly not God-friendly. Should find the settings for user name and change it to something recognizable!

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:25 am | Permalink

                I did think there was a difference in posting style between his and yours.

                With the number of posters on here, duplication of name is quite likely to happen. (Though not, I hope, to me 😉

              • Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

                For folks without a WordPress account and a gravatar, I suspect WP generates icons based on the email address, so a different icon indicates a different person (or at least a different email address!).

                /@

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:44 am | Permalink

                I went back to the ‘Stephen Fry on God’ thread to check. And that ‘Alex’ had a WP-generated icon almost the same colour as the Alex we’re conversing with here. Hence my query. (On close inspection it is different, but close enough to trick my memory).

  12. rickflick
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I notice that Brian seems to know his audience (or Conan’s) and is wary of throwing insults or criticizing to sharply. Conan’s audience is pretty broad, but can take some teasing. He laughingly condemned homeopathy and astrology, but avoided calling Deepak a fraud directly. He only suggested Conan provide him a blackboard and ask if could solve Schrodinger’s equation.
    Amazing what you can get away with, though, behind an agreeable smile.

    • Chris
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Actually he is being pretty harsh about all of them. What he’s saying is absolutely dismissive, it may just be how this comes across as he’s said similar on British TV and had complaints. That were also dismissed as before.

      Very dry humour, and he keeps up with pro comedians like Robin Ince and Dara O’Briain!

  13. aljones909
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Before you praise Brian too highly. You should be aware…..he has a barely concealed contempt for philosophy.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, god forbid, right?

    • Posted February 12, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      …and what is his downside?

    • GBJames
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Oh, no! Not that!

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      Be still my heart!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:53 am | Permalink

      Perfect. The icing on the cake. What’s not to like?

    • BillyJoe
      Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:33 am | Permalink

      I’m sure he supports philosophy that takes its root in science, that is lead by the scruff of the neck by science, that allows science to correct it when it goes horribly wrong….

  14. Posted February 12, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    OK guys, I’ll do the chorus and others can tackle the verses:

    “Like a rhinestone guru
    Riding out on a horse into a quantum woo

    Like a rhinestone guru
    Getting barbs and tweets from scientists I don’t know”

  15. jeremyp
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Minor correction: TIMC runs on BBC Radio 4 (usually shortened to “Radio 4” in the UK). BBC 4 is a TV channel.

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Never mind Deepak, the second of those clips (don’t know if the link will work) ends with a marvellous exposition by Brian on the history of life in a blade of grass.

    http://teamcoco.com/video/professor-brian-cox-scooby-doo?playlist=x;eyJ0b3RhbCI6NCwidHlwZSI6InRhZyIsImlkIjo2MjQ1fQ

    He is just brilliantly eloquent.

    • Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      I’ve seen most of Wonders of Life ( plus his other two Wonders series) on TV and he really does express the wonderment so well, as well as the science so clearly. He must be an incredible professor.

  17. Dermot C
    Posted February 13, 2015 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Seriously, I had no idea that the Chopralite was supposed to be dead calm. I have only ever seen him going ape at Harris, Shermer and Dawkins, as well as trolling our good host. The universe has raised my consciousness. x

    • bric
      Posted February 13, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      lol chopralite. I see what you did there

  18. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The difference between ten and infinity

    To misrepresent the old joke, isn’t that the difference between people who can count in decimal and those who count in Octal and can’t tell up from sideways?
    OK, maybe they’re counting in Nonal. Which would be credible if you had a 3-fold axis of symmetry. If we want to play SF games, give them Pauling (triple-strand) DNA. There’s a challenge for Craing Ventner and the “synthetic biologists”!


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