Methane culpa

Methane culpa

Methane culpa

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 20 2008 10:16 PM

Methane culpa

UPDATE: Paul McNamara at Network World has written a thoughtful piece based on this blog post. It's worth reading.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Well, I blew it, and I suppose I should make it official.

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In my second video answering questions from sixth graders, I said that Titan's atmosphere is mostly methane.

Bzzzzzt. It's mostly nitrogen (specifically, N2, like in Earth's atmosphere). It's only about 1% methane.

What kills me is I knew that, but somehow reading the question got me all bollixed up, and I said the wrong thing. Twice! It's like a persistent slip-of-the-tongue, but it's really just an idea that lodged in my brain when I answered the question. I can see now why people say wrong things when talking; it can just happen. However, they should also correct it when it's found.

So here I am, saying I was wrong, and I apologize to the sixth graders at Saegert Sixth Grade Center. Even pros make mistakes. But that doesn't mean you won't get a bad grade when you make mistakes! I can't be used as an excuse to your teacher. :-)