Where Grey Matter meets Dark Matter

List of episodes

Episode 30

26 March 2011

Bushfires are bad, but it looks like they might have been much worse in the distant past. The dinosaurs faced some veritable infernos, which just may have been the end of them.

The silicon revolution is more than just the latest in adult entertainment, it's why we can carry around phenomenal computing power in our pockets for the sole purpose of tweetbooking. We look at semi-conductors and how we turned the innocuous into the indispensible.

A very femme quiz this week.

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Episode 29

9 November 2010

We look at bushfires (or wildfires) and how fire-prone ecosystems respond to being burnt to a crisp.

Black holes aren't cosmic vacuum cleaners, but they are pretty freaky. The Disney movie 'The Black Hole' got a lot of it right, and the score is excellent.

Jah, quiz.

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Episode 28

11 July 2010

Don't lasers just burn stuff? Nope. They make stuff cold too. So cold they become a new state of matter.

Mega-shark vs Giant Octopus. Self-explanatory.

A mouthful of quiz.

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Episode 27

20 June 2010

Can't get enough of a good (or bad) thing? Then you might be addicted. Get your fix here.

"Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry, we will deal with your rebel friends soon enough." Ever needed a laser? We talk about how they work.

Quiz et al.

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Episode 26
Extras

21 April 2010

More musings on the nature of knowledge from General Relativity.

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Episode 26

21 April 2010

"General Relativity!"
"What is it, private?" replied the General.

Actually, GR (as those in the biz call it) is not a person at all, but the awesome theory of how gravity works. David Paganin (aka The General) fills us in on what it all means.

"I've invented a new number! Pie!" Mathematicians have been coming up with crazy stuff for years, but are they actually crazy? Films like A Beautiful Mind lead us to expect they are. We look at some famous (real) maths guys.

Quiz. Go figure.

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Episode 25
Extras

18 March 2010

Your ipod runneth over.

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Episode 25

18 March 2010

As players of Civilzation will know, Charles Darwin went on a voyage (and granted you two free technologies, but remember: it requires railroad). Then he wrote a book called The Origin of Species. Good book. Still important, although we've improved on his ideas since then. We look at Darwin's theory of evolution as it was back in the good old days.


Planetary scientist Chris McKay.

When you first move away from home, you know that you want your first place to be as homely and welcoming as your childhood home was. However, you inevitably end up in a broken down death trap, but you can at least spruce it up a bit. If we do this on a planetary scale it's called terraforming. We talk to NASA planetary scientist Chris McKay about humanity's hopes for first time home-owning/renting.

No quiz this episode... kidding.

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Episode 24
Extras

21 February 2010

More hot stuff!

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Episode 24

21 February 2010

Bob Spicer is a Professor of Earth Sciences who likes asking fossils what the weather was like back then. He tells us about how the climate has changed throughout time and what the past can tell us about the current and future climate.

The film Dante's Peak is more than just a movie. It's an exposé on what life would be like living in a small American town underneath a dormant volcano, and how sometimes things will just happen with no warning. Alright, it is actually just a movie, but it does have both James Bond and Sarah Connor in it. Volcanoes, on the other hand, are real, and there's lots of cool science gushing out of them.

Q: What's made of wood and will stump you? A: A quiz. Written on paper.

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Episode 23
Extras

6 February 2010

Bonus Buziness. Surplus Shuffling. More Maths! You know you want it.

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Episode 23

6 February 2010

Shuffling is what you do to quickly put a deck of cards in a 'random' order. But there are many methods of shuffling - which works best? How can you tell if the deck is random yet? How long should you shuffle for? How easy is it to survive a saloon poker-room brawl? Some of these questions are answered in this episode, with help from mathemagician Persi Diaconis.

Buzz: Buzz buzz buzz buzz, buzz buzz? Buzz buzz buzz - buzz buzz bees buzz; buzz buzz. Buzz buzz buzz buzz. Buzz buzz buzz, buzz buzz Barry B. Benson buzz buzz buzz buzz! Buzz buzz Beavis buzz buzz buzz.

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Episode 22

17 December 2009

The annual CTP holiday extravaganza (duly delayed as per tradition).

Christmas doth come but once a year. But the first anniversary of founding CTP City only comes once in a lifetime. Amongst some reminiscing we discuss favourite christmas presents and a particularly memorable christmas film.

We have ourselves a merry little quiz.

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Episode 21

9 December 2009

What is it about old people that makes them smell like mothballs? Nobody really knows. But some folks do know how to calculate the ages of various rocks, fossils and trees.

It seems like the world only just recovers from one end-of-the-world event and then we're onto another one. How do we keep up? This time it's the sinister Mayan calendar and the blockbuster film 2012.

Quiz. Yep.

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Episode 20
Extras

15 November 2009

Unlike normal, you'll probably want to listen to these extras. They include the reading given to Nadine by Lynne Kelly. Listen for the tricks she mentioned.

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Episode 20

15 November 2009

Ever been to a psychic, read a horoscope, or had a tarot reading? Well, Nadine has. We interview tauromancer Lynne Kelly about the techniques she uses to give readings.

Ants are weird little critters. They barely have a brain, but between them they have managed to take over the world. We look at what makes them so great.

We all bow down to the mighty Quizmaster.

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Episode 19.1
Extras

18 October 2009

Extras! Extras... Hear... all about it.

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Episode 19

18 October 2009

Shockingly enough, we continue our series on electricity from last week. This time we look at how batteries and power stations work - the information will be conducted right into your brain. Don't bother to insulate yourself, you know you can't resist.

Lawrence Krauss wrote the book on the physics of Star Trek. We talk to him about stuff including time travel, 'warp' drives, negative energy, dark energy, the transporter and the tricorder. So much fun packed into such a short space of time - it's a singularity of awesomeness.

Our continuing mission is to have a quiz at the end of each show.

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Episode 18

11 October 2009

The magic of the internet is brought to you by the letter E, for electricity. This deserves a thanksgiving sacrifice, so we've offered up the first half of this episode to electricity.

We all love alien movies, and District 9 is no exception. However, we can't spend half an hour just gushing about the movie (and expect to keep our listeners), so this section is about the possible mechanisms behind the alien technology.

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Episode 17.1
Extras

16 August 2009

Episode 17 couldn't handle all the hip, so it overflowed into this little baby.

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Episode 17

16 August 2009

What did Sir Mix-a-Lot mean when he said, "I'm down to get the friction on"? We're not exactly sure, so we thought we would look into the world of friction for answers.

What would it be like to be two dimensional? Well you might fall through a sewer grate. But what if the whole world were two dimensional? In Flatland our hero A Square gives us a view of what it is like in his two dimensional world.

Ask and ye shall receive - of the quiz.

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Episode 16.1
Extras

28 July 2009

More of the same from Episode 16. Enjoy!

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Episode 16

28 July 2009

40 years ago the first earth-based humanoids stepped on the surface of the white marble that orbits the earth. We look back at the awesome achievement that was the moon landing - from rockets to rock!

Chris finally finished Fallout 3, and returned to his loved ones. We can't let this continue, so we dedicate this section to the deleterious effects of long term exposure to fallout.

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Episode 15

4 July 2009

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). We all knew kids at school who would be classified under this heading today, in fact,...that's it, I'm changing the subject.

"Is there anybody out there?" Not only is this a song from the world's greatest album, it's also the mantra of the gang at the SETI Institute. They're looking for the signs of aliens somewhere in this universe of ours.

A thrilling quiz about the late, great MJ. Who's bad?

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Episode 14.1
Extras

22 June 2009

You may or may not have asked for it, but here's some extra stuff from episode 14.

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Episode 14

22 June 2009

Humans are infested with microscopic bacteria, and some of us with swine flu. We talk to Dr. Mark Crislip about the walking, talking pathogen factories that we are.

Board games are what people played before computers were diverted from the business of business and science to the business of gaming. We look at some of our faves.

2 quiz or not 2 quiz? We quizzed.

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Episode 13.1
Extras

10 June 2009

Who thought it was possible that there could be more awesomeness in episode 13. Well they were wrong, but here's some extra stuff anyway.

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Episode 13

10 June 2009

Special Relativity may seem like exclusive territory of eggheads and Einsteins, but it really stems from just two basic principles of the universe. 1. rock, 2. roll.


Tie Interceptors, undoubtedly going near the speed of light relative to that moon over there.

The movie 21 tells us that you need to be a mathematical genius on par with Rainman to be able to count cards in blackjack. Nevertheless, we ask Marty Ross to stretch our brains and make us understand this mentally taxing technique.

Quizzzzesss.

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Episode 12

17 May 2009

The Bad Astronomer graces our podwaves this week. We talk to Dr. Phil Plait about his book, Death from the Skies - which is about the many and varied ways the universe is trying to kill us lonely humans. Universe: 3. Humans: 0. Film at 11.


Phil at our very own radio telescope in Tidbinbilla, near Canberra.

Let's say humans don't bite the big one for at least a few ten thousand years. Then the grandest plans of sci-fi might be realised - including Asimov's Seldon Plan. In the Foundation series, Isaac Asmiov tells us about one Hari Seldon. According to Hari, the galaxy is destined for thousands of years of backwardness (with endless repeats of Big Brother), unless he can harness the ultimate power in the universe: Mathematics!

Quiz and stuff.

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Episode 11

3 May 2009

Bigfoot and Yowie and Lake Monsters, oh my! Cryptozoology is the study of creatures of questionable veracity. We talk to Ben Radford, Managing Editor of The Skeptical Inquirer and co-author of the book Lake monster mysteries: Investigating the world's most elusive creatures.

The pollution of one's precious bodily fluids is a subject close to the heart of one Jack D. Ripper in the film Dr. Strangelove, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. But now the international communist conspiracy of water fluoridation has extended its red tentacles into the Australian state of Queensland, and is making quite a splash. We look at the issues involved, and whether WWIII is coming.

Kwiz.

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Episode 10

17 April 2009

Some people are said to have a magnetic personality - and that has nothing to do with this week's topic. Magnetism is awesome, it's like telekinesis for rocks. From ancient Greek dirt to modern magnetic monsters, we talk about the phenomenon of magnetism.

If you want to know basic facts about the combustion engine, obscure trivia about a science-fiction franchise, or you just like to watch people argue back and forth without anybody seeming to learn anything, then Wikipedia is the place for you. And it's free.

RVJA.

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Episode 9

9 April 2009

From accretion disks to gas rings, we talk to Andrew Prentice about solar system formation.

Gattaca is a cyberpunky film about a world ruled by genetic discrimination. It didn't look like the sort of place that would be full of flowers and ponies. But is our world far off this scenario?

Q + (Merlin) + H – (!soft)

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Episode 8

25 March 2009

iMARS: Apple's latest offering in its pantheon series this is not. A group to develop a mission to bring stuff back from the red planet this is. We talk to Marion Anderson, one of the members of the group.

Cybernetic implants are cool - if they work according to plan. Unfortunately for one bungling detective, this was a rare occasion. We look at whether Inspector Gadget is a realistic option for the law enforcement of today.

Go go Gadget quiz!

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Episode 7

15 March 2009

We welcome a new member to the Tea Party: Nadine Phillips.

Depending on who you talk to, the words "cold fusion" are synonymous with government and big business cover-up, or with poor science. A documentary from 2000 gets us talking about the ins and outs, and what would be needed to fuse this idea with the rest of science.

TekWar - William Shatner's sci-fi series - may not be all things to all people, but to at least one of the Cosmic Crew, it provides needed escape from this reality. Tek is the drug of the future, where you hook yourself up to a 'brainbox' and let it take you away on a fantastic journey. We look at whether this is possible with current Teknology.

GOTO quiz.

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Episode 6

8 March 2009

The words "global warming" are words that people just cannot say often enough these days. We wanted to add to the cocophany. We interview Tim Cowan from CSIRO on the complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, and how it affects climate in Australia. [Note: This interview was recorded before the bushfires of Saturday 7 February.]

"What light through yonder window breaks? Tis but the flash of photons that heralds the approach of alpha and beta radiation. Make haste into the pool with ye, ere the arrival of the burning heat and the tumultuous shockwave." Many of us stay up late developing plans to survive the coming nuclear holocaust and the subsequent degeneration of society, without developing the associated mutancy. The Fallout series lets us act out some of these plans, suffering only minor CRT radiation poisoning.

You know, the quiz, like totally.

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Episode 5

19 January 2009

The Cosmic Crew were recruited to investigate the nefarious doings of a sinister spook. So we brought our instruments and our fearful hearts to spend a night in a haunted apartment. Who you gonna call?

It seems that irresponsible governments just won't give up. Now they've gone and disrupted the earth's magnetic core, leading to the breakdown of the magnetosphere, and the inevitable torrent of microwaves bursting though. Yes, we discuss the sci-fi classic of our time, The Core. "What's that you say? Microwaves aren't charged particles?! Oh well, roll camera. Action!"

Quiz - the usual.

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Episode 4

13 January 2009

This week, we thought we might take a look a look at some things that are fundamental to it all: prime numbers. "Those numbers that can only be divided by themselves or 1? Who cares about that?" Like, totally get hip, dude.

What the #$*! do we (K)now? purports to explain psychic phenomena using the science of quantum mechanics. While they may have used a lot of the right words, their interpretation shows a lot of wishful thinking, which is what they aim for.

Initiate quiz. Engaged!

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Episode 3

3 January 2009

This being the holiday season we thought we might look at some of the hurdles that jolly old St. Nick must overcome but once a year. And if humans ever leave earth, the problems get even worse. Fusion reindeer and black hole bar fridges are some of the hypotheses we put forward.

Yet with melting sea ice at the north pole, competition for ownership of Santa's backyard has become more serious. We look at what the squabblers are fighting over.

We discuss just a few of the seemingly endless Santa films, and what they say about the fat old man.

The merriest of quizzes closes the show.

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Episode 2

22 December 2008

In last week's show we briefly mentioned anti-matter and PET scans; we think the topic deserves a fuller treatment, and here it is.

Some slimy, single-celled balls have been found rolling around the sea floor. These things could help could explain how fossilised tracks were being left hundreds of millions of years before multi-cellular life came about.

Anterograde amnesia is a condition where a person cannot form new memories after a particular event. This is the basis for the films 50 First Dates, Memento and Clean Slate. We look at at classic case study, a patient called H.M.

The traditional end-of-show quiz is at the end of the show.

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Episode 1

30 November 2008

In the beginning we cover some recent science news: the first visual look at exoplanets, an exploding Canadian meteorite, and a deep vein thrombosis treatment using ultrasound.

Then we take a more thorough look at the The Large Hadron Collider and its doomsday potential, and wild rumours of wild Australian panthers.

Spore is a new evolution simulator from SimCity creator, Will Wright. We look at how it conveys the science behind it.

We finish with the traditional (meaning 'first') CTP quiz.

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