In the first half, Professor at the University of Manchester and BBC science presenter, Brian Cox, joined Ian Punnett to ponder the Wonders of the Universe. Cox commented on newly discovered evidence for flowing liquid water on the surface of Mars (article). Though usually extremely cold, Mars can approach milder freezing temperatures seasonally, he explained, noting that frozen salty water would likely thaw and flow at such temperatures. Methane levels increase seasonally as well, Cox continued. He suggested this could mean that primitive organisms, like some found on Earth, lay dormant in the Martian ice and reanimate during each thawing.
As an example of the potential hardiness of these organisms, he reported on life forms found a mile underground in a South African gold mine. According to Cox, the organisms had been isolated in pockets of water within the rock for at least 10,000 years. They were able to survive by tapping into energy derived from the radioactive decay of uranium in the rock, he revealed. Cox further suggested that most of the water found on Earth, as well as the beginnings of compounds that are building blocks for life, may have come from the outer solar system during it's early development.
Cox also briefly covered other topics, including the two moons theory and how it helps explain some of the Moon's oddities, the history of humanity's fascination with the stars, and astrology. "There no evidence [astrology] works and there's no conceivable mechanism," he opined. Crediting Carl Sagan, Cox jokingly noted that the moment one is born the gravitational influence of Jupiter on him is less than that of the midwife.
During Open Lines, John in Bellevue, Washington, railed against high-level government spending and the Keynesian model of economic policy. John blamed Keynesian economics for prolonging the Depression. Instead he promoted the idea of government non-interference. "When nothing is done by government, the economy, the market recovers itself," he explained. Dave from Irvine, California, attempted to convince Ian that the Illuminati was behind the downfall of ex-IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as well as the dot-com and housing bubbles, and will be active in the forthcoming decline in gold prices. Justin in Orlando, Florida, recalled seeing a "white ball of light" about 30 to 40 miles from where he was located at the time. According to Justin, the light changed color from white to green to red, circled the general area for a little while, then moved beyond his line of sight and disappeared.