Radio Podcast

The Cosmic Boondocks- Episode #1, May 15, 2011


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“Our time is burdened under the cumulative weight of successive debunkings of our conceits…. We live in The Cosmic Boondocks.”

~Carl Sagan

The Cosmic Boondocks is a podcast promoting science, freethought and humanistic values in India.

Episode #1 (15/5/2011) Shownotes

News Stories:

1. Sai Baba’s Death:

2. God’s banks In UP:

3. USCIRF puts India on religious extremism watch list:

4. National Technology Day:

5. Lisa Burke Lakshmi

Science stories

1. Ozone hole is getting smaller faster than predicted.

2. Einstein’s General Relativity holds for large scales such as galaxies and super clusters.

3. Harbor seals used whiskers to determine the size and shape of objects.

4. Tasmanian Tiger extinction news.

Superstition of the week

Fear of Friday the 13th.


Quiz question

When is National Science Day in India, and what is its significance?


nirmukta_radiosRising Legends, by Epic Soul Factory

Get back in line, by Julandrew

Painted Dream, by The Green Waltz

Tortuga, by Talco

Sitarial, by DJad

Grandmaster Turtle, by Anitek

Pueblo Duerme, by La Barca De Sua

Between Light and Shadow, by Triplexity

Je cherche Mon Chemin, by Et Pourtant

All music is distributed under Creative Commons non-commercial, attribution, sharealike license.

About the author

Ajita Kamal


  • Terrific piece Ajita.
    Re: National Science Day, I must confess that I had no clue and had to google. Feb 28, in honour of the day CV Raman discovered the “inelastic scattering of light”. I dont know when it percolated to all schools around the country, but I was out of school by then 🙂

    Re: Gods Banks.. Its just incredible how Hinduism convinced its people to do this “chanting XXX tens of thousands of times”. I see it as society stagnating and finding a way to keep the senior citizens (and even some younger people) occupied. i.e mental death way before physical death. Its great that in modern societies we have access to many forms of media, as this can be an effective replacement to the older process. Discriminating seniors can still be mentally active.

    The thylacine story is interesting. I was under the impression that its extinction story was quite settled.. with european settlers being the cause as they systematically hunted it down (because it was attacking their livestock) to very low populations, below the critical mass. Anyways.. readers might like watching this fascinating animal

    • Hey thanks astrokid.nj. I haven’t received any other feedback, so I really appreciate your comment. Of course, this also means yours is the only answer to the quiz question (despite the fact that nearly 100 people have downloaded the show and more than that have listened to it online), and I will mention that in the next episode.

      I’ve decided to make a change regarding something I said about the quiz question. Since I’ll be doing the show on a weekly basis and receiving the answers from listeners during that week, sending out a reply to the person who answers first, and then receiving the next week’s question from that person, will leave little time for research and preparation. This week I’d love to ask a question that you may have, but I think starting next week on I will just announce the winner and leave it at that.

      I will still take suggestions for quiz questions, news stories, science stories, logical fallacies, superstitions etc from you or anyone interested in writing to me 🙂

      I was surprised by the Thylacine story as well, having also always believed that the European settlers did them in. But if you think about it, Australia is huge and there was plenty of room because the early colonialists didn’t venture much into the outback. I found this link:

      “The Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was Australia’s largest carnivore when European settlers first arrived in this country. Even at that time, it was a rare animal — the first one was not captured until 1808 (five years after the settlement of Tasmania). By 1820, only four had been collected.
      Perhaps few more than 3000 Thylacines ever existed. The animals were soon considered as unwanted. In 1888 a bounty of £1.0.0 was offered for each one killed.
      This was more pressure on the population than it was able to withstand. By 1900, more than 3000 Thylacines had been killed. Population numbers had decreased to below the number required for survival of the species. Thylacines were now extremely rare. In 1909, just 101 years after the first capture, only two bounties were paid.
      The last Thylacine to be shot met its fate in 1930. The last Thylacine to be captured was sold to Beaumauris Zoo in Hobart in 1933, where it died, three years later.”

      Thanks for the video, I had watched one like it a while ago and it was a good reminder. You’d look at it and think that thing has gotta be related to dogs. But the Thylacine, along with other marsupials, is most closely related to rodents like rats. Also, it is more closely related to cows, pigs and cats than to the entire dog family. Its incredible how convergent evolution works!

      • 1) Yes convergent evolution is just absolutely fascinating (what in evolution isnt, for that matter). And if thylacines (with teeth appropriate for carnivores) are closest to rodents (which gnaw mostly!!), thats just mind boggling. Either way, I have lots to read up on the taxonomy front. I had picked up The Ancestors Tale over an year ago, but had to stop quarter way through because of my unfamiliarity with the animals themselves, and realized that I need to study more about tetrapods first (the TOREAD list keeps growing)

        2) Re: suggestions for Quiz questions, some I have been pondering of late after reading Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel.
        a) rice is supposed to have been domesticated in China and wheat in the fertile crescent (~6K BC), and then diffused to other regions of the world. When in prehistory did India start growing rice and wheat?
        b) wheat grows in wet-winters climate. how did Indians manage to adopt it to Indian climate of wet-summers?

        • One wishes to live in a world where we can devote all the time we have to the second half of the Cosmic Boondocks podcast, which would mean a world where there is no fodder for the first half! Perhaps many potential subscribers can get worn out by the ‘weekly superstitions digest’ in the first half before the real fun stuff begins. One way to deal with this maybe to put in a comment saying that the science digest begins at 10m34s say. Or maybe the science stuff could come first so that those who aren’t in a mood for superstition-bashing have the option of tuning out. What I’m suggesting is not a donning of kidgloves but just a cosmetic change to get the subscribers we need.

          • Thanks for the input, Arvind. I definitely agree with you that the first half of the show can turn off most of our listeners. I think I should have not done the Saibaba piece. Everyone knows the details already, and its a boring story anyway.
            I’m still working out the format and its bound to evolve as I get better at this. Your idea to switch it up is a great one. Also, I hope to get better in a number of areas. I’ve noticed that the stuff that I record at the top of the session are usually where my broadcast voice is at its worst. Confidence is extremely important for this kind of stuff and that should also get better as I keep doing this. I’m learning small tricks here and there.
            I just posted this week’s show and it came out longer than the first one. I made the same mistake as last week, going with the big lead story that everyone is already bored with. My voice also sounds terrible for that story because I recorded late Saturday night. Won’t make these 2 mistakes again.
            Lastly, since I’m getting some much-needed feedback, I would like to talk about this format in general, discuss its potential with you guys, and talk about how this can eventually become a team effort (which Im hoping will happen). But I think I’ll do all that on the forums.

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