Phil Plait dumps on Global Warming Deniers

No, we do not have a “record level of arctic sea ice in the modern era”   Phil Plait has the details (and a good video) here:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/09/20/arctic_sea_ice_what_s_really_going_on.html

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Astronomy Burger (updated)

In a previous post I ranted about the severe and obvious errors in a Burger King commercial that rankled me.  Well, apparently someone else pointed out the problems to Burger King as well, becuase they’ve heavily edited the commercial.

In the new version, the two men are sitting down eating their BK Steakhouse Burgers as before.  However, when the third man asks “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse Burger?” there is a cut-away to a new scene of the first man, who says simply “I discovered a new planet”.  This is obviously a new shot.  The background and camera angle are both different than the original version, and there are no identifying objects in the background of this shot.  It was probably re-shot in a different studio with as close of a background as they could get, and edited into the commercial, replacing the original (very erroneous) explanation.

Also different is the reaction of the third man at the end of the commercial, when the second man says “I helped”, the third man says (sarcastically) “You helped.  You arrogant punk!”

The commercial is quite a bit shorter than the original as well.

All I can say is ‘kudos’ to BK for immediately fixing the horrific errors in the first version of the commercial.

Astronomy burger

So, have you seen these commercials yet?  The ones for the Burger King Steakhouse Burger?  I’ve caught three of them so far, and they are all similarly annoying, but the last one ticks me off.  I’m quoting these from memory, so these are probably not exact.

The first one I saw went something like this:  Two men are sitting in a lunchroom, eating their BK Steakhouse burgers.  A woman enters the scene, and asks one man “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse burger?”  He replies “I gave half my paycheck to charity.”   She nods happily, and then asks the second man “And what did you do?”.  The second man replies “I was just hungry.”  The woman angrily slaps the second man and calls him an arrogant and selfish jerk.  The tagline is “The steakhouse burger is so special, people will think you’re special too”.

I saw another variation a few days ago, which I frankly can’t remember.  However, last night I saw this one:

Two men are sitting at a table in a room lined with rack-mounted electronics.  On the table is a small (6- or 8-inch) Newtonian telescope.  Obviously this is *supposed* to be an observatory in a university setting.   A third man enters the scene and asks “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse Burger”.  The first man replies “I found a moon around Regulus 359, in the Crab Nebula.  It may support life”.   The third man asks the second “And you?”.  The second man replies “I helped”.  The third man angrily replies “You either *find* a new star, or you *don’t* you arrogant <bleep>”.

Of course, the point is supposed to be that these burgers are really good, and that people will expect you to have done something special to earn them.  However, this commercial grates on my nerves because of the obvious errors, so the producers and directors of this commercial get no BK Steakhouse Burger!

First of all, Regulus is a star, not a constellation.  There is no star ‘Regulus 359’.   Regulus is a particular star, the brightest star in Leo. It is a triple star system, so there is a Regulus A, B and C, but no ‘Regulus 359’.

The star ‘Wolf 359’ is in Leo, which may be where the commercial got ‘Regulus 359’.  Wolf 359 is a small, dim, red dwarf star, only about 7.8 ly away.  Regulus A is about 77.5 ly away, and is a type B star, young, hot, and also spinning very rapidly.

The ‘Crab Nebula’ is not anywhere near Leo, it’s in Taurus.   It’s also a supernova remnant, so anything “in the Crab Nebula” would be toast.

So, let’s assume that ‘Regulus 359’ is supposed to be a star, then what they discovered would be a ‘planet’, not a ‘moon’.   As far as I know, we’ve only been able to discover some extrasolar planets by the wiggle they put into their host star.   There has been some spectroscopic analysis of the reflected light from some planets, but no direct imaging.   I don’t see how we could discover a ‘moon’ at this point (but I could be wrong).

Is that supposed to be the telescope that they used?  It looks like a commercial 8-inch newt.   It would be really cool if we could image extrasolar planets from that scope, but not very damn likely.

And lastly, they can’t keep their story straight for the whole 30 seconds.  Guy #1 says ‘moon’ and guy #3 says ‘star’.  Which is it?

All in all, this commercial belongs on Phil Plait’s site as an example of bad astronomy in the media.    Sorry guys, you had an opportunity to earn that BK Steakhouse Burger, but now I have to take them away.