Blue Dot 02: Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer

Feb 11, 2016

       

Phil Plait pens Bad Astronomy for Slate and is an all-around science guy. He hosted the astronomy season of Crash Course on YouTube and regularly takes on pseudo-science.  

Phil Plait, good astronomer, writes Bad Astronomy
Credit Bad Astronomy

On the most exciting discoveries going on right now in the solar system

We are discovering water everywhere. We knew that comets were made of water. We knew some of Jupiter’s moons and some of Saturn’s moons — these outer moons in the solar system — very shiny, very reflective, so they must be made of water ice, have a lot in them. What we weren’t expecting until relatively recently is that that water might be liquid under the surface

So now there’s a huge amount of evidence of an under-surface ocean on Europa. We have direct evidence of this on Enceladus, Saturn’s moon, because of the plumes coming out of the south pole. And now we’re starting to see more evidence of this in some of the rockier ice moons like Ganymede because of the way they rotate, the way these moons behave.  And it’s looking like there’s liquid water all over the solar system. It’s a little nuts!

On trying to address anti-vaccinators

I have my full course of vaccinations. So does my wife, so does my daughter. So when I write about vaccinations, I can say “There was a Dutch study that shows that this vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and there was this other study that shows this and that” — that’s not going to sway people. So when I say “I have my vaccines. My daughter has her vaccines. Here’s a family I know whose child got deathly ill because they didn’t get their vaccinations,” that is going to sway somebody way more than any study I can quote.