Today we bring you a session of Ask Mr. Science, where we discuss scientific topics such as how astronomers have discovered amazing new things close to Uranus, such as Urpants and Urwallet, and how my editor told me I can never, ever write about that again.
Just like the star of public radio's Ask Dr. Science, I am not, technically, a "scientist"; in fact, I believe Einstein is the guy with the bagel shops. In our last episode, we focused on how scientists say you can tell when your "cold-activated" can of Coors Light is indeed cold:
1. Watch the mountains on this "magic can" turn blue via a complicated reconfiguration of molecules triggered by the declining temperature.
2. Touch the #$%^&@* can with your hand.
Anyway, today Ask Mr. Science will focus on the switch from analog to digital television and how, despite months of warnings and explanations, Americans' grasp of television basically consists of knowing David Letterman recently confused one daughter of Sarah Palin, the daughter who is a teen mom, with a younger daughter of Sarah Palin, the one who is not a teen mom. Yet.
But we're not here to make Palin jokes. Let's get to the serious questions.
Q. What is analog TV?
A. No one really knows. It is not believed to have anything to do with actual "logs." I had Lincoln Logs when I was a kid and I made a big house. OK, I was 42.
Q. What is digital TV?
A. No one really knows. But the benefits are enormous. Locally, on June 12, the day of the conversion, a 7-year-old got into our KOAA-TV studio, played with the buttons and knocked the station off the air during the final 10 dramatic minutes of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Thanks to digital, the on-screen notice telling us the station was off the air was very clear.
Q. Speaking of KOAA, I'm new to the area, have converted to digital, and when I watch KOAA news, one anchor has a name so long it runs off the screen, across the wall, down the stairs and out my front door. It looks like an eye chart. Who is this person?
A. That would be Georgiann Lymberopoulos, who years ago conceded to her bosses' demands and shortened her name. (It used to be Georgianne.)
Q. I bought a converter box and scanned in the channels, but it still looks like Mayor Lionel Rivera isn't telling the truth about that sweetheart U.S. Olympic Committee deal. Is there something wrong with my TV?
Q. Do I need my old rabbit ears antenna and the new circular antenna?
A. Yes. In most areas you need the rabbit ears (VHF) and loop (UHF) antenna. "Rabbit ears," by the way, is an old term referring to the way the double-pronged antenna resembles rabbit ears. Except in rural areas such as Calhan and Peyton, where TV viewers get reception by using the actual ears of a rabbit and, as a bonus, are alerted to the approach of coyotes.
Q. With the new digital system, is there still a local channel showing the meetings of El Paso County commissioners?
A. We have county commissioners? What the heck do they do?
Q. They pave miles and miles of dirt roads that no one lives on and then the county is too broke to keep inmates in jail.
A. I'm confused. Who's asking the questions here and who's giving the answers?
Q. Stop it!
A. You stop it.
Q. All right then, you two. I installed the converter box, have a new antenna, and I got a clear picture on more than 240 channels the first day. But now I can't see any picture and I'm missing my favorite program, that talk show with Maury Povich. What's wrong?
A. During the first days of digital signals, 92 percent of Maury Povich fans had this problem. Experts say you are probably in the bathroom conducting another home pregnancy test because of a visit by your "uncle," while the TV is in the living room. Move to where the TV is and the problem should disappear.
Like Bristol Palin's "fiancé."