Tag: qna

This 80-Year Old Shipwreck Could Explode At Any Minute | Lightning Round

For the last Lighting Round video of the year, I tackle topics that I missed earlier this year like eye color, fusion stuff, and an 80-year old shipwreck that could wipe out a city.


Hey everyone, we’re kinda settling in here at AWJHQ, which is a phrase I’ve never uttered before and being it’s the end of the year, I dug through the Lightning Round questions that have been submitted and found some of the questions I never quite got to, so I’m going to tackle them here today. Enjoy.Hey everyone, we’re kinda settling in here at AWJHQ, which is a phrase I’ve never uttered before and being it’s the end of the year, I dug through the Lightning Round questions that have been submitted and found some of the questions I never quite got to, so I’m going to tackle them here today. Enjoy.

Thales of Miletus – November – Patreon

Your Ikea bookshelf behind you has many objects. And we imagine there’s a story that goes along with each.  Pick any one of the questions below:

Actually they all kinda have the same story. These were a way for me to honor long-term Patreon supporters. These are the superanswerphiles. I kinda stopped adding people because it was getting too crowded. Good problem to have but I had to stop doing that. But this whole background may change soon. Might be changing up the set in the next year
1. How many destinations have you visited from your Atlas Obscura? What was the most memorable?

2. Does your Tron Identity Disc light up and where did you get it? It does. I probably bought it off Amazon, because I’m lazy.

3. We see you have a Tardis. Who’s your favorite Dr. Who? and why? Again, the Tardis was to reflect someone else’s interest. I was into Doctor Who for a while, it had already been rebooted for a while and I went back and started from 2005 when Christopher Eccleston took over.  I followed it until Peter Capaldi became the Doctor and then I just kinda lost interest. Not because of Peter Capaldi, I just kinda moved on. But in the limited time that I did follow, I liked David Tennant the most. That’s not a unique take or anything. And did I see that he’s coming back? What’s that about?

4. Is that a Professor Proton action figure? Who’a Professor Proton? 5. Where’d you get your Mjölnir? Amazon!

Oh, someone thinks they’re the best. Psht.

Thomas F Boulden – Patreon – November

What is the percentage of people working in the visual media who have blue eyes compared to the general population? I suspect it’s much larger.

…Why? I can only assume that you’re suggesting people with blue eyes might see better, and that’s why they go into visual media? Because as someone with blue eyes, I can assure you that’s not true. It got me curious so I looked around and everything I saw said that eye color doesn’t really affect the quality of eyesight.  I saw that darker pigments that absorb more light might reduce night glare but a lighter eye color might have more sensitivity at night.

So yeah, I don’t think eye color would have anything to do with it… Now if you want to talk about the ethnicities associated with different eye colors and the socioeconomic conditions that would cause one group or the other to be drawn to or have opportunities in visual media, that’s a whole different conversation.

Brian Beswick – Discord – November

Science Mom and Dad are heading towards a divorce, who do you want to live with? And your crazy Uncle Science is also an option.

Brian likes to make me read things. Ugh.
About Pantheon+ largest dataset of its kind, featuring over 1500 Supernova Type 1A explosions Given that the supernovae blaze with nearly uniform intrinsic brightnesses, scientists can use the explosions’ apparent brightness, which diminishes with distance, along with redshift measurements as markers of time and space. The discovery that the universe’s expansion is accelerating was in 1998 using the same technique.

This has been expanded on ever since and Pantheon+ is the largest collection ever. Taking the data as a whole, the new analysis holds that 66.2 percent of the universe manifests as dark energy, with the remaining 33.8 percent being a combination of dark matter and matter. Pantheon+ and SH0ES together find a Hubble constant of 73.4 kilometers per second per megaparsec with only 1.3% uncertainty. Stated another way, for every megaparsec, or 3.26 million light years, the analysis estimates that in the nearby universe, space itself is expanding at more than 160,000 miles per hour. However, measurements of the cosmic microwave background, when combined with the current Standard Model of Cosmology, consistently peg the Hubble constant at a rate that is significantly less. This discrepancy has been termed the Hubble tension. In fact, the tension has now passed the important 5-sigma threshold (about one-in-a-million odds of arising due to random chance), so there’s definitely something weird going on here. The paper talks about an inflection point where the force of gravity, especially from Dark Matter, controlled and constrained the universe, flipped over to Dark Energy taking over and pushing everything apart. They’re now working to understand why that happened.

Talks about how some astronomers think that cosmic inflation might not have been a thing Cosmic inflation is really what we think of when we talk about the big bang While most people see Planck images of the CMB and see proof of the big bang, they see potentially the opposite. They propose a similar Cosmic Graviton Background image would show the opposite because the force of gravity was formed in the first instant of the big bang This technology doesn’t exist, it’s a theoretical argument. Still haven’t proven gravitons exist.

From earlier in the year:

Robin – October – Patreon (I am just “Robin”). The SS Richard Montgomery (the Doomsday shipwreck at the mouth of the Thames) is, according to a number of experts, a precarious situation,  whereas the UK government is downplaying the risk. If the government  is wrong, YIKES?  And isn’t it an attractive opportunity for terrorists?  

Okay, I knew nothing about this story and it has officially blown my mind. Maybe people in the UK are well familiar with this but holy hell man.
Okay, so the SS Richard Montgomery was a Liberty Ship built by the US in World War II. Liberty ships were these quickly constructed cargo ships that ran supplies to troops and battle areas.
Anyway, in August of 1944, this ship was loaded up with cargo and sent over to the UK where it was going to join a convoy to Cherbourg France, where the Allies had just established control after D-Day.

And once it got there, right at the mouth of the Thames near the town of Sheerness, it got accidentally steered into a shallow area and it ran aground on a sandbank. And uh… It’s still there.
The ship kinda just broke and couldn’t be repaired so it stayed there. The only problem is that cargo I was talking about? Included over 6,000 tons of munitions.
Those have never been removed.

Apparently they tried to unload the cargo for about a month but the ship started cracking apart, literally splitting in half and became unstable, so it wasn’t safe to go down there anymore.
So they decided to just deal with it later. Later has still not happened yet.
It has had an exclusion zone around the wreck since 1973 when the Protection of Wrecks Act was passed. (Wrexx-n-Effect joke)
That might have been because a BBC News report in 1970 estimated that if the wreck were to explode,  “it would throw a 300 metre (1,000 feet)-wide column of water and debris nearly 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) into the air and generate a wave 5 metres (16 feet) high. Almost every window in Sheerness (population circa 20,000) would be broken and buildings would be damaged by the blast.”

Estimations have come down a little since then but still it would be bad. According to an article from New Scientist, it has the potential to be one of the largest non-nuclear manmade explosions ever – made even worse by the fact that there’s a liquified natural gas terminal nearby.
And there have been plans made to build a few airports in the area and they’re being stalled because obviously right next to a ticking time bomb is not a great location.

Again, according to New Scientist:In 1999, the UK government asked consultants to carry out a risk assessment. The consultants said the wreck would start to collapse in 10 to 20 years and the explosion of one bomb could start a chain reaction. Doing nothing was no longer an option, they said. In 2001, senior officials met to discuss this report and agreed the time for procrastination was over. That was 21 years ago.

So yeah the worry is that this thing has continued to deteriorate and if it something were to shift or collapse, all it has to do is set off one unstable bomb and the whole thing goes up.
For this reason they trimmed the masts that have been sticking out of the water this whole time to reduce the weight on top in hopes of preventing a collapse.
By the way there was a similar scenario that happened in July 1967, they were trying to dismantle a Polish ship called the Kielce that had sunk in the English Channel in 1946, and wound up setting off its explosives.
It exploded with a force equal to a magnitude 4.5 earthquake, and it was a lot further from land, sunk a lot deeper, and only had a fraction the explosives that the Richard Montgomery does.
So yeah… I don’t know how they’re gonna fix that but I’m not going down there.

Brian Beswick – Discord – September

Is NASA going to able to launch the SLS or is this going to end up as the billion dollar blunder that ends the organization?

I’m gonna bet that they launch it. (smirk) Whether it ends the organization I guess we’ll see. But I doubt it.

Mark Hoffman – March – Patreon

The ITER project seems to be making decent strides, yet how plausible can incorporating nuclear fusion be, given the complex infrastructure of energy distribution even in developed nations?

I’m not an expert in this but I don’t know what would be different between a fusion plant going online or any other electricity generation going online…
I feel like when it comes to fusion there are a lot bigger problems to solve than that. Even ITER won’t be generating energy if I’m not mistaken, it’s still a test plant. Correct me if I’m wrong though.

Mark Hoffman – March – Patreon

Also, aren’t magnets fun?!?


Thomas Lovse – March – Patreon

Can you talk about feudalism and the feudal system?

Can we talk about how we’re kinda headed back into a feudal system of sorts?

John Regel – March – Discord

Skippy or JIF, crunchy or smooth?

Are we talking about peanut butter or a graphics interchange format that’s pronounced GIF?

Joe Scott’s Beautiful Hairline – Feb – Discord

Will you make anymore history topic videos in the future?

Of course! I love history topics. Lots of Forgotten Atrocities on the way too.
So hey, that concludes the Lightning Round videos for 2022. And with the exception of one video next week, that kinda brings this whole year to a close.
I wanna say thanks to all the Patreons who submitted questions for lightning round videos, any Patreons or members in general who have supported this channel, and any of you who have stuck around and watched me try to make sense of things this year.

But as the great philosopher Smash Mouth once said, “The years start coming and they don’t stop coming.” So I’m gonna keep this train going in 2023. I’ll probably change some things up, try some new stuff – I may have to take it easy for a couple of months in the spring to implement some of these changes but I think it’ll be worth it.

But ultimately I just want to say from the bottom of my heart how much I appreciate you guys for making it possible for me to do this. I am just so grateful and so lucky.
So if you celebrate it, have a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate something else, I wish you all the joy in that as well. And if you celebrate knowledge, well you might like today’s sponsor, Brilliant.

Was The Universe Designed For Life? (And Other Questions)

Today’s Lightning Round video features questions about the fine structure constant, the future of the internet, and a mystery around the Titanic. Enjoy!


This week is Thanksgiving week here in the States so it’ll be a bit of a light week here because you know, we wanna spend time with families and what not, but there should be something special dropping on Thanksgiving day. Keep an eye out for that.

But today, we have a lightning round video featuring questions from my lovely supporters on Patreon so without further ado, it’s question time.

Thomas Lovse
Did a senior officer actually commit suicide on the Titanic? Like when Officer Murdoch shot himself in the movie. Or was it just for the aforementioned movie.

Okay, so before I get into the specific question, I want to point everyone to this awesome video by the channel Oceanliner Designs.

Oceanliner Designs video

Basically, he wanted an answer to the question of why some people saw the ship break in half and some didn’t.

Like the way it’s depicted in the movie is this dramatic crash, it seems impossible that anybody wouldn’t see that, but literally half of the accounts after the fact claimed that this didn’t happen.

So he decided to do an animation of what the ship actually looked like that night, because the fact of the matter is, we always see the event depicted like this: (clip from the video 3:16), which is clearly dark, but you can still see everything from this blue light source, now that’s obviously because the audience needs to be able to see what’s going on, but it also just looks like the ship is lit by a full moon.

The thing is… there was no moon out that night. We know this, we know the date, you can look and see.
So once the lights flickered off on the ship, there were no sources of light. At all. They were in the middle of the ocean. Meaning the ship looked a lot less like this (11:19) and a lot more like this (13:24). So that really the only shape you can make out is the negative space where it blocks the stars.
By the way, that was true of the iceberg too, they didn’t see the iceberg with light reflecting off of it, they just noticed that the stars… weren’t there.

But again, James Cameron had to light it in some way because the concept of shooting without any lights at all wasn’t pioneered until House of the Dragon.

The point is, there is a lot of room for confusion in a situation like that, and the darkness is only part of it, there were literally thousands of panicked people scared for their lives, it was utter chaos.

So the question of whether First Officer Murdoch shot himself like it’s portrayed in the movie, is probably not 100% answerable. But it does look like an event like that did occur.

Maybe the first question to answer is whether or not Murdoch would have even had a gun, well to answer that, I’ll refer to a blog post by author Tim Maltin, who has written several books and TV series on Titanic.

In this blog post, linked below, he recounts the testimony of Second Officer Charles Lightoller, who said… (read from blog)

So yeah, he had a shiny new gun.
I’ll get back to Murdoch in a minute but that guy Charles Lightoller? That dude had a life.
First of all, he survived the Titanic. I’m sure he did things before that but he survived the Titanic.

Then he fought in the British Navy in World War 1. Survived that.

In World War II, he was retired from the Navy but used his own personal ship to evacuate 127 soldiers from Dunkirk. Survived that.

Eventually died at the age of 78 in London in 1952. What killed him? The Great Smog of 1952.

It was this unusual weather event in December of that year that basically trapped all the pollution from cars and factories and power plants over the town for an entire week.
A lot of people with respiratory conditions died because of this, some put the number as high as 12,000.

Lightoller had chronic heart disease so yeah… he was one of them.

Survived the Titanic. Survived World War 1. Survived World War 2. Died from smog.

Anyway, they had guns, and there were multiple reports of using their guns to try to bring order to the situation. Lightoller said he used his to stop a group of guys from swarming a lifeboat but he said his gun wasn’t loaded.

There are reports that 5th Officer Lowe actually fired some warning shots at a group of people for the same reason.

As for Murdoch, it’s believed at at about 2:15 as the water was rising above the forward deck, he was trying to load the last of the lifeboats called Collapsable A. And being the last lifeboat, a lot of people were swarming it.

There is one contradictory account that claims that Murdoch did shoot himself, but he was on the bridge. This came from a crew member named Jack Williams. (read)

The only thing about that story is that there is no Jack Williams on the White Star Line crew list. So… yeah.

There is also one other account that disputes this and that’s our old friend Charles Lightoller who wrote in a letter to Murdoch’s widow, (read)

Now this may have been an attempt to conceal the suicide and paint him as a hero to his wife, but that’s the version that many people prefer, especially from his hometown of Dalbeattie, Scotland, he’s a bit of a town hero there.

Yeah, they kinda demanded an apology from the producers for that, which they never got, but James Cameron would later say that he kinda regretted that choice, that he didn’t like that it painted him in a negative light.

So yeah… Thanks for that rabbit hole.

Earthbound Martian
The internet has been a sea change in the way humans communicate. This is not unheard of. Movies, the telephone, radio, the printing press, even writing itself have been disruptive. What are the possible outcomes good or bad for our culture in this newest disruptive event?

So I don’t think I’ve ever done a specific video on this but I do talk about it a lot. It just seems to pop up in a lot of the subjects that I cover.

To put it bluntly, I think the internet could be a Great Filter. Like the reason we don’t see any alien species in the universe is they get to the internet stage and just annihilate themselves.

I didn’t come up with this but I like to say we’re a tribal species trying to be a global species. That we’re not evolved to be connected in this way.

There is this number, it’s called Dunbar’s Number, it suggests that humans are only capable of maintaining 150 relationships.
This came from studying other primates and apparently there’s a correlation between brain size and group size, and looking back in anthropology, groups and tribes tend to splinter around 150.

Others dispute it and have put that number up to 290, but it seems to be agreed that there is a number beyond which groups become unsustainable.

And I imagine that was the optimal group size back when we were just hunter gatherers for the first, you know, ninety five percent of our existence.

And now, we’re all being connected, which itself is unnatural but add to that the fact that it’s all being guided by algorithms that are designed to boost information that activates emotional response over anything else and it doesn’t look good.

Let’s just add a little extra kerosene to that bonfire.

I mean you watching me right now, this is weird. This is unnatural. If there was no internet, you wouldn’t be seeing me right now.

But on the flipside… If there was no internet, you wouldn’t be seeing me right now.

We do get to sort-of find and make our own tribes now, and be a part of multiple tribes, and that’s amazing.

One of my favorite things is watching people in this channel’s community start to interact with each other and make friends with each other, that’s just so cool.

But I think eventually we’ll get the balance right. But even the optimist in me thinks it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Every communication revolution is followed by a period of unrest and this is the biggest one of them all, by far. So we’ll see.

What’s your take on remote viewing and other trippy CIA psychic tactics?

There are schools for this

So I did a video this summer about secret military drug experiments with psychedelics and I thought about doing one on this topic because yeah, it’s pretty kooky.

But then that drugs in the military video didn’t do that great so it didn’t happen but yeah… I think I wanna do a full video on that. Let me know if that’s something you guys want to see.

Brian Beswick
Joe, how do you think Twitter might change with Elon owning it?

I miss the old days…



Refer to the golden ratio video:
Arvin Ash’s video

So he shares a link to the video over at PBS Spacetime where Matt talks about the fine structure constant, which is a universal constant that seems to come up a lot in physics and it kinda gives off “Golden Ratio” vibes.

To the point that a lot of people apply almost spiritual significance to it.

In fact, Wolfgang Pauli, a famous Austrian physicist, was quoted as saying, “When I die, my first question to the devil will be, what is the meaning of the fine structure constant?”

Which I think was his way of telling everybody that he was a naughty boy.

So, I do have some thoughts on it, but I won’t spend a lot of time explaining it here because Matt does a great job on that video, Arvin Ash has a great video about it as well, I’ll put both of them in the description, but here’s the abridged version.

Okay, the fine structure constant is also called Alpha and is signified in physics by this character. (α) And the numerical value of Alpha is 1/137.

Or much more specifically, 1/137.035999206

Dimensionless, not measurable, like pi

It refers to the ratio of the speed of an electron to the speed of light, again, go see the other videos for details but it kinda makes it possible for atomic particles to interact with each other and form atoms.

No atoms, you don’t have much of a universe.

But yeah, basically if the fine structure constant were just a little stronger or a little weaker, we wouldn’t exist. Matter wouldn’t form, it would just be a universe of particles flying around.

So that’s why some people look at it in almost a spiritual way because it kinda suggests that the universe was fine-tuned for life.

Like because of this constant, particles would form atoms and atoms would be able to combine into molecules, chemistry happens and hoocha hoocha hoocha… Florida.

So if the universe is literally designed to create life… Who designed it? (bink-bink)

I mean even if you go with simulation theory, someone created the simulation; anytime you start talking about the universe being designed in any way, you’re talking about some kind of higher power.

Which, let’s face it, when you get to this scale of cosmology, it’s not out of the question.

Because the other option is that when the Big Bang happened – whatever that was – that out of the infinity of possible fine structure constants, in the most amazing coincidence imaginable, it just happened create the right one for life.

That is a coincidence so improbable that it is the science version of a miracle.

Or our universe isn’t special, there’s actually infinite universes constantly popping up all the time in a kind of multiverse foam, each of them with different physical constants and this one just happened to get the number right so that matter and life can form.

Yes, I just said “multiverse foam.” You’re welcome.

Any of those options are mind-blowing. So yeah, it’s an interesting topic.




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