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Mostly Mozart


Mostly Mozart

Tom Clegg's radio show
(every Sunday from November 6, 2000 to April 21, 2002)
Only on Kootenay Co-op Radio - CJLY 93.5fm Nelson BC
Broadcasting fourteen watts from Kootenay Lake Hospital (since increased to 70 watts)
Audible at Whitewater, Queen's Bay, and Castlegar (depending on the weather, your radio equipment, and sheer luck)

These are scripts from past shows. Remember: they're just scripts. They're not perfect, even if the corresponding show was.

When you've read them all, take a look at the strange things that people have typed into search engines which led them to a Mostly Mozart episode.

String  (April 21, 2002)  Since there is Mostly No Mozart next season, I figure it's time to tie up some loose ends, like that elusive string theory episode I've been promising to do for the last year and a half. And the episode where I try to define what science is and what it means. [string]

Conservation  (March 24, 2002)  The law of conservation of energy is that the total amount of all the different forms of energy never changes. This applies to chemical reactions like rusting, burning, exploding, and producing electricity from a battery. It also applies to physical processes like pushing a car, lifting weights, and rolling down hill. It applies to organic processes too, like digesting food, growing, shouting, and rotting. [conservation]

Uncertainty  (March 3, 2002)  The problem discovered by Heisenberg, is that beyond a certain level of precision, the more precisely you measure the position of a particle, the less precisely you are able to measure its momentum. No matter what clever scheme you use to measure these things, if you multiply the imprecision in one measurement by the imprecision in the other measurement, that product never gets smaller than a certain fixed number, called Planck's constant. [uncertainty]

PSA  (January 27, 2002)  I have several public service announcements for you today. Or perhaps they're just self service announcements, which feel like public service announcements because they might make your life a better place to be. [psa]

Revealed Religion  (January 20, 2002)  Revealed religion refers to worldly evidence of the existence of a Creator. In short, if you find something that could only have been done by a creator, then there is obviously a creator. This sort of argument works really well until someone offers an alternate explanation. [revealedreligion]

Educatiolution  (January 13, 2002)  The thing that keeps surprising me the most about popular conceptions of evolution is that none of the critics of evolution seem to have read "The Origin of Species." If they had read it, then they probably wouldn't be making the same arguments that they made in the 1850s -- after all, those so-called mysteries and problems that they complain about, are exactly what Darwin's theory of natural selection is made to explain. [educatiolution]

Special Relativity  (January 6, 2002)  All we have to do is give up the idea that distance and time are constant, and accept that they look different from moving points of reference. The same laws still apply everywhere, so the principle of relativity still holds; the big difference is that the laws no longer agree with our intuition as well as Newton's laws did. [specialrelativity]

Scientific Survey  (November 18, 2001)  I read something on the back of a newspaper the other day that claimed to be the result of a "scientific survey" about a new recreation facility. Presumably the word "scientific" was thrown in just to make it look important. [scientificsurvey]

Light Years Ahead  (October 28, 2001)  I will be the first to admit that the term "light years" contains the word "years." But that doesn't mean it's a measure of time. People casually refer to light years as if they were really long years. Like millenia, or eons, perhaps. But of course they're not. They're not even really short years, which is probably how the soft drink industry would use the term. [lightyearsahead]

LP and CD  (October 14, 2001)  Today I'd like to settle a long standing question in the world of Hi-Fi technology. I'm going to decide for you, once and for all, which is better: CDs or records. [lpcd]

Spam  (October 7, 2001)  You've probably had just about enough of hearing about the internet, so it might be a good idea to turn your radio off for this part. Unless you want to hear about some of the technical aspects, which are a total mystery to most of the lusers who like to talk about the internet on the radio. [spam]

Infinitesimal  (September 30, 2001)  The neat trick of derivatives is to use an infinitesimal difference between the two points on the curve. You can't know exactly how big the difference is; the whole point is that you can make it smaller and smaller without disturbing your calculations. [infinitesimal]

Reaction  (September 16, 2001)  If you have some calcium carbonate -- which you might find at hot springs, or in marble, chalk, or clam shells -- you can dissolve that in acid, that is, a liquid with more H(+) ions than OH(-) ions. You end up with calcium ions and carbonic acid. Carbonic acid molecules tend to break up into one water molecule plus one carbon dioxide molecule. [reaction]

Alphabet  (August 12, 2001)  "X" is the most popular letter to use as an unknown. If you have two unknowns, you can call one X and the other Y. If you have three, you can call them X, Y, and Z. One of the common reasons to have two or three unknowns is that you're working with a two- or three-dimensional coordinate system, in which case X, Y, and Z refer to distances along the horizontal axis, the vertical axis, and the... um, other axis. [alphabet]

Logic 2  (August 5, 2001)  If you're in Nelson, you can listen to KCR. That means that at least one of two things is true: either you can listen to KCR, or you're not in Nelson. There are two things to watch out for when I tell you, "if A then B", or more formally, "A implies B". First of all, I might know that A is false, in which case I imply nothing about B. For example, if it's raining chairs, then I can bench press 120 pounds. If it stops raining chairs, then I will end up stubbing my toe all day. [logic2]

Logic 1  (July 29, 2001)  The fact that computers embody mathematical logic is a hint about the relation between logic and truth. Computers don't deal in truth, at least in the philosophical sense. What logic and computers represent is the deterministic, predictable aspect of human thought. There are some ways in which we all think alike, and that's what logic tries to capture. If you've used a computer lately, you'll probably agree that logic is not sufficient to produce intelligence. [logic1]

Mass  (July 22, 2001)  Mass is a measure of how much matter is in an object. Where weight is an extrinsic quality, mass is intrinsic. Mass measures a property of an object, while weight measures an external force acting on the object. You're just as massive on the moon as you are on the Earth, because you're still made of the same stuff. You have less weight, because there's less gravitational force acting on you. [mass]

KCR Tech  (July 8, 2001)  It so happens that we record every minute of everything that we broadcast, and keep it on hand for a month. We have to do that in order to keep our FM broadcast license. What does a modern radio station like KCR do when asked to record and store a whole month of audio? Buy a 45 gigabyte hard disk, of course. We bought one of those last October for about $400, and for the sake of tradition, we also got a computer to put it in. [kcrtech]

Senses  (July 1, 2001)  If you've ever been dizzy, you've had an encounter with the sixth sense. Dizziness definitely has something to do with the world around you, and you don't get that feeling by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or smelling anything. So where does it come from? [senses]

Refrigerators  (June 24, 2001)  Electric baseboard heaters have fins so they can release heat into the room faster. And fridges have coils for exactly the same reason. The main difference between a baseboard heater and a fridge is where the heat comes from. A fridge has to somehow cause heat to transfer from the food on the inside to the coils on the outside. [refrigerators]

e  (June 10, 2001)  To write in a textbook that something is the greatest shortcoming of the human race, you have to give some sort of evidence. The strategy used by the author was to show that that he doesn't understand it himself. There's a little sidebar -- the kind that's indicates that you should remember this if you're going to remember anything on this page -- and it says that the exponential function always increases. Which is true enough, but as an explanation, it's like explaining that an automobile is something that has a door. [e]

Normal  (June 3, 2001)  Does the number of people you need for a good random sample, depend on how many people are in the entire population? If you're trying to determine the tuning skills of Americans, do you need to include 10 times as many people in your random sample as you would if you were studing Canadians? [normal]

Unlikely  (May 27, 2001)  DNA is a molecule whose purpose is to ensure that there will always be DNA. Its strategy is simple but effective. It creates more DNA molecules, but it makes each one different. If every DNA were the same, then some circumstance might arise that would cause every single one to be broken. But if every one is different, then such a circumstance becomes less and less likely. [unlikely]

Statistics 1  (May 20, 2001)  You have to be careful with statistics. Like they say, statistics don't lie, but people lie with statistics all the time. Usually they don't realize that they're lying, because they slept through their statistics classes just like you. [statistics1]

Decibel  (May 6, 2001)  A bel is a ten-fold increase in sound pressure. A decibel, or dB with a small "d" and a big "B", is one tenth of that -- but only if you know how logarithms work. It's definitely not a one-fold increase in sound pressure. [decibel]

Binary  (April 29, 2001)  The tenth power of 2, which is 1024 in case you weren't taking notes, is close enough to 1000 that computer people use the prefix "kilo" to mean 1024. The twentieth power of two, 1,048,576, is pretty close to a million, so we use "megabit" to mean 220 bits. Except hard disk manufacturers, who are the only people on earth who claim that a gigabyte is exactly 1 billion bytes. [binary]

Pope  (April 22, 2001)  One of the best known stories in this vein, is that of Galileo. In 1632, he got into serious trouble with the Pope. He had published a dialogue about the solar system, which made too strong a case for the Copernican view. At the time, of course, the Earth was the centre of the Universe. [pope]

Eureka!  (April 8, 2001)  The trick to floating is to find how many litres of water you need to equal your own weight, then simply make sure that you take up more space than that much water. This is how boats work. A fifty pound boat filled with air takes up way more space than fifty pounds of water... so it floats. [eureka]

The Doppler Effect  (April 1, 2001)  What causes the Doppler effect in the first place? If blue shift signifies higher frequencies, why do you hear about red shift more frequently than blue shift? And what does this have to do with sonic boom? [doppler]

Towers of Hanoi  (March 25, 2001)  You don't want to be caught in your room on a sunday afternoon, staring at little piles of coins, carefully moving them back and forth without breaking the rules. People will think you're crazy. [hanoi]

Water  (March 18, 2001)  Water has some rather extreme properties. One thing you've probably noticed is that it's very heavy. Also, when it's hot, it's very hot, and when it's cold, it's very cold. Although, ironically enough, if you make an igloo out of frozen water, it can be reasonably warm inside. [water]

Warning to Humanity  (March 4, 2001)  Humanity now uses over one-half of the total accessible freshwater runoff. Freshwater is the scarcest resource in the Middle East and in North Africa. Efforts to husband freshwater are not succeeding there, in East Asia, or in the Pacific. [warning]

Fallout  (February 25, 2001)  There are various other ways that uranium can break down, besides into krypton and barium, and some give off different numbers of neutrons as a side effect, but the average number of neutrons coming out of a uranium-235 fission reaction is 2.4. Which is also the average number of babies per North American family, and that is probably not a coincidence. [fallout]

Blue Sky  (February 18, 2001)  Between the two of them, the stratosphere and the troposphere contain about 99% of the gases that surround the earth, all in a tiny 50 km skin. Which means that if you go 50 km straight up, the sky will still be blue, but it will be below you. If you look up, you won't be looking at the sky, you'll be looking at outer space, so it will be black. [bluesky]

Periodic Table  (February 11, 2001)  It turns out that there's one thing about an atom that determines its chemical properties, and that one thing is how many protons it has. Hence, the number of protons in a given element is called its atomic number. A hydrogen atom is nothing more than a single proton, so its atomic number is 1. [periodictable]

Batteries  (February 6, 2001)  Fortunately, 201 years ago, someone called Count Alassandro Volta made an interesting discovery. And if you're wondering, no, it's not a coincidence that this man's name was Volta. Somehow he had the idea of touching a piece of a frog -- that's right, I said a frog -- with two different pieces of metal, and measuring the difference in electron pressure between the two metals. [batteries]

Stars  (January 30, 2001)  There are three main things to know about dying stars. First, the Sun will most likely grow bigger and hotter until it uses up all of its fusible elements and slowly degenerates into a lump of iron. Of course, this won't happen for another 5 billion years, so we will probably find a new Sun by then, or at least invent a replacement. [stars]

NP-complete  (January 16, 2001)  Nobody has ever proved that these problems are fundamentally hard. So it's possible that there is a quick way to solve one of those NP-complete problems, and we just haven't found it yet. But then there's the fact that people have been thinking about it for 30 years now, and all they've done is find more and more NP-complete problems and not a single fast algorithm. [npcomplete]

Spacetime  (January 9, 2001)  When you move very fast and time goes slower, you don't actually gain time or youth. As time slows down, and you start to age slower than other people, your mind slows down right along with it. So you don't get to appreciate the benefits of slow time. In fact, it's impossible to tell whether time is moving slowly or quickly for you at any given moment, because you yourself are the only reference point by which you can measure time. [spacetime]

Little c  (January 2, 2001)  In a sense, time and distance are interchangeable. If light takes 8 minutes to get from the sun to the earth, then everything else takes at least 8 minutes to make the same trip. So you might as well say that the sun is 8 minutes away. The idea of measuring a distance by how long it takes light to travel between two points, is where we get the term "light year." [littlec]

70 Watts  (December 26, 2000)  I've mentioned before that light waves and radio waves are just electromagnetic waves at different frequencies. So it makes sense to compare 70 watts of radio power to 70 watts of light power. Except for one thing. A 70 watt light bulb consumes 70 watts of electrical power, but it doesn't necessarily give out 70 watts of light. [70watts]

(Music of) Resistance  (December 25, 2000)  Now, don't try this at home! 100-volt electrical sockets are not a good way to learn about electricity. Your heart and brain both run on electricity and you can kill both of them with house wiring if you're not careful. [resistance]

Waves (incomplete)  (December 19, 2000)  What is a wave? "Wave" has many meanings -- wave goodbye, doing the wave, ocean waves, heat waves, microwaves, airwaves, sound waves -- they all refer to the same concept: a self-perpetuating pattern. [waves]

Entropy  (December 12, 2000)  Today, for reasons which should be obvious, I'm going to talk about heat. The latest theory of heat is called thermal physics, or some people prefer the term statistical mechanics. It stems from quantum physics, and it explains why the laws of thermodynamics exist. [entropy]

Darwin  (November 28, 2000)  The reason I'm talking about Darwin's theory today, is that I've heard so many people misusing evolution as a metaphor lately. There's nothing wrong with using evolution to mean change, or positive change,,, but you have to be careful not to attribute the outcomes of Darwinian evolution to any other process, merely because you have just referred to that process as a kind of evolution. [darwin]

Optics  (November 21, 2000)  Two common examples of how we see refracted light, are eyeglasses and bathtubs. Eyeglasses work by bending light before it gets to your eyes; the light bends once when it passes from air into glass, and again in the opposite direction when it passes from the glass back into the air in front of your eyes. [optics]

IQ  (November 7, 2000)  One of the most popular things about Mozart's music is that it makes you smarter. In fact, there are several CDs for sale with names like "Mozart makes you smart." They're designed specifically to increase your IQ score, or your baby's IQ score. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. [iq]