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Brilliant….and bonkers

Sad to hear of the passing of Patrick Moore.

A real English eccentric with his polished accent and monocle. He explained astronomy in a way that mere mortals without a great grasp of physics (eg Yours Truly) could find interesting. I remember one particular thing he did on The Sky at Night, which was to tap the table in front of him twice, a few seconds apart and explain that during those few seconds the sun had lost tens of thousands of tons in weight.

Of course his political views were as strange as his persona. He was a member of UKIP and campaigned for them.

However as an astronomer and broadcaster he was without equal and he was the main reason that this blogger got a telescope for Christmas one year (1969 or 1970 I think) and learned about Ursa Major and Minor, Orion and the Milky Way.

He was also the source of many a playground joke at our school, as kids would impersonate him with the immortal line “Last seen heading for Uranus”

Here he is (below) from 1997 in an interview with Brian May, himself an astrophysicist.

One of the most interesting wee thoughts he throws in about possible life on Mars is the notion that if it were proved that life had existed there it would highlight the theory that life will occur where it can.

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16 Responses

  1. Quote:
    “highlight the theory that life will occur where it can.”

    Occur? As in: the mathematically impossible proposition that life “occurred” on earth by means of “evolution” out of nothing? Even if one mutation occurred every single second, for the entire 20 billion years that the universe has existed – there are not enough mutations even to create simple life from nothing!

    (Not forgetting that the earth has only been in existence for 6 billion years, and not 20….)

    He may have been a popular astronomer, but mathematics was definitely not his forte! Maybe we can ensure that he’s our next chancellor? :)

    • Having checked again his word was actually ‘appear’.
      As far as I am aware maths has to be a forte for an astronomer. I don’t have enough knowledge to know exactly how life appeared on this planet but I do have enough critical faculties to be fairly sure that it wasn’t the work of some superior being looking for a hobby.

    • Dead people are occasionally elected to public office — at least they can do no harm!

    • Ummm…

      The universe is between 12 and 14 billion years old and the earth something like 4.5 billion.

      Who’s to say multiple mutations weren’t taking place all around the planet during its formative years, as I understand it; that’s how evolution works. You’re conviction about timescales vis a vis creation is I’m afraid; a load of rubbish.

      Evidence for this? Have a look around yourself.

      On other hand, if you want to hide behind the notion of a supreme puppet master with a wooden spoon in one hand the strings in another, then fair enough.

  2. His racist, homophobic, misogynist views left me feeling rather unimpressed with his other “talents”, in much the same way that Polanski’s art, Glitter’s songs, and Schicklegrubber’s paintings were never quite the same once I’d gotten a measure of the man

    Bonkers … but bonkers might be a better headline

  3. Sounds like he was one of those broken clocks who was right twice a day. Anyone who can instill a love of science in youngsters deserves some sort of accolade.

  4. We were all created by The Flying Spaghetti Monster…so there!!!

  5. A great man, during a live broadcast in 1957, no recording available then, a bluebottle flew around the studio and into his mouth as he spoke. He swallowed it and carried on speaking!
    So he is ‘homophobic’ and ‘right wing’ if he thinks sexual perverts are perverts? Such ‘tolerance’ from those who demand ‘toleration eh?’

    • My distaste was for Moore’s right-wing political views, nothing to do with his comments on sexuality.

      But whilst we’re on the subject, I’m always suspicious of those who protest or denounce too vehemently; a case of trying too much to be ‘one of the boys’ when that is perhaps precisely the issue. Try the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church for starters.

  6. Tolerance of racism, homophobia, sexism, and right-wing spouting is not “tolerance” – it is asking to accept the unacceptable, or
    simply playing word games, as in the case of your question here, Tynecastle.

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