Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson at Montclair Kimberley Academy - 2010-Jan-29

Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson at Montclair Kimberley Academy - 2010-Jan-29

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00:02
Uhm, for those of you who may not know the Academy forum is a program that is organized and funded by PAMKA. Uh, it is to bring to campus outstanding speakers who will engage our students and our faculty and our families and it is also our pleasure to be able to open it up to the larger community. So we welcome you all. We're really delighted that you've braved the elements to join us tonight Before we get going, uh, with our program tonight there are just a couple people that i want to thank for making it possible for us. Uh, first Amy South. Amy, where are you? Amy's around somewhere. Amy is our community vice president There she is, in the back she is uh, ultimately, responsible for, uh, the entire event tonight Next is Lucy [Botsick??]. Lucy is in the doorway up there. Lucy has executed every single detail for tonight. We have Trish Perlmutter Trish has sheparded this program from the very beginning
01:08
And last but not least, Judy Polonofsky and Debbie Kozak who make absolutely everything happen for us here at MKA So thank you very much So now, without further ado it's my pleasure to introduce the headmaster of the Montclair Kimberly Academy, Tom Nammack Good evening, and welcome. I'm delighted to welcome you to the Monclair Kimberly Academy And I want to also thank again our parents' association. They have made this evening possible for us while the program is free of charge it's not clear expectations for how we will conduct ourselves as an audience I have a couple things I'd like to ask of you Please, there's to be no electronic recording audio or video please don't hold your phones up to take pictures mostly because it distracts the people behind you and we'd really like to focus on our very special guests this evening
02:16
it's my privilege to introduce our guests i think they're well known to all of you but I do want to say a couple things about them Doctor Tyson has been a frequent guest on the Colbert report but, uh, or "Report" I guess is the proper pronunciation We're delighted that he's here and we are also delighted and, uh um... very grateful that mr stephen colbert has agreed to interview him for our benefit Stephen Colbert comedian, author and host of the Colbert Report is both one of the funniest and possibly the bravest comedians of our time I want you to consider his performance at the national press club dinner in 2007 as he, uh, as he stood just a few feet from the President of the United States known the rest of us as the most powerful man in the world Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
03:20
astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium author of nine books, teacher, lecturer host of Nova's four-part series "Origins" and member of two presidential commissions on United States aerospace industry and the future of our country's space exploration Dr. Tyson has a gift for working successfully within the realms of research, education, and policy formation i owe you all an explanation about our theater tonight what you see on stage is the beginning of a set for a seventh-grade production of "Romeo and Juliet" this year's selection for what is as i said an annual performance and I think it's fitting that Dr tyson is going to warmup the stage for the two most famous star-crossed lovers in all of American literature it occurred to me that there are few things that stephen colbert and Neil Tyson have in common
04:22
and I wanted to comment on them both of them share an over-arching purpose to make sense of the world They also share a common strategy They often look to the stars human or heavenly for evidence of how things work though Stephen Colbert is far tougher on the objects caught in his gaze Whereas Dr. Tyson is only known to have obliterated Pluto. they share methods in their respective fields, whether it is the search for evidence that makes sense of the world and the universe or the creative construction of questions and tests by which the truth and significance of who or what is before them are evaluated Perhaps then, they both have something in common with william shakespeare the desire to provide their audience with a lens to see the world from the previously unconsidered
05:22
point of view and not just as others would have us see it So while the stars may be dazzling training and instinct appear to have taught each of them to look away from celestial bodies i'm really sorry i had to get that bad cliche in there somewhere and to consider the effects that those celestial bodies have on everything and everyone around them In addition to the challenge of questions that each of them make us confront, their work has given the world a little more of that very rare and gem-like substance known as the truth Or in Stephen Colbert's case: "truthiness" and we are very grateful. ladies and gentlemen Mr. Stephen Colbert and Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo" Uh, I don't know Neil, thanks so much for coming Yeah ... thank you.
06:43
Mr/Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson is he's been on my show six times and often when I come out to brief the audience before I do my show they ask me "who's your favorite guest of all time?" and I say, not just for volume, but it's Neil DeGrasse Tyson but because not only uh... do I love what neil knows but uh, I love that he loves what he doesn't know always interested in the next thing to learn (Oh yeah) and always rolled to whatever idiocy my character wants to throw on him I think the only time i ever surprised you as you told me a a little while ago uh was i asked you should uh... should scientists go to Argentina or hike the Appalachian trail If they want people to talk about them it's the universe talking there the universe amplifi .. Yeah that ... I missed that one Yeah you missed that news story To go on his show
07:44
it's like the hardest interview ever I have to, like, I'm laden with current events just to mix with my science cause I don't know where he's gonna come at me and I gotta be, like, ready with seven tennis rackets to hit it back And on set with that one news story remember with that guy, was it south carolina guy who remembers He goes to Argentina and becomes well-known for having done so and you ask me straight-out should scientists visit Argentina more often to become better known and it just went.. I just you aced me on that one (You're welcome) Now, Neil, we've got a lot of talk about tonight (yeah) a lot of subjects science is a big thing but i want to start off with this is not a bribe (that's alright) I want to start off with .. with these chairs I feel myself sliding No, no This stage is not level oh welcome to the barn raising Didn't realize we were speaking before the Amish tonight That's gonna make it tought to talk about science and technology All right, Neil
08:48
i want to start uh... i want to start, in a broad way are you Tweeting now, or are you actually trying to interview me? no, i'm just looking at ... i'm just looking at photos of myself get a little work done I need a little freshen up let me ask you a very basic question: science from "scientia", Latin, meaning knowledge I didn't take Latin but I'll take your word for it is it better to know or not to know i think well my blunt answer is it's better to know (alright) but i think that is debatable though well I said "my" answer. Someone else might have a different answer for instance, Oedipus might have a different answer Yeah, I mean I think is .. is knowledge always a good thing? I have to say yes
09:53
why? because it empowers you to react and possibly even to do something about it if something about it needs to be done ok, but who we are is what we know, right? Part of who we are is what we know and our identity is often based on how we see the world yes, and uh... personality for sure and if we learn something that does not jive with how we think about the world won't we have to reexamine who we are? Yeah, it could mess you up Once again I'll go back to Oedipus He plucked his eyes out rather than know any more Yeah, well, you know people back then you know, they did stuff like that Yeah, people back then not people today so i think there are people who would not know who would rather ... remember the old days I don't know if it still happens where a doctor would find out you had cancer, they wouldn't tell you They wouldn't tell you (give it to me straight doc) Yeah and
10:57
why would even have to say give it to me straight unless there was a day when they didn't give it to you straight? If I have five years left I wanna know I have five years left Cause I wanna, like do something different in those five years if (Neil?) yeah? I have some terrible news so there are some people who don't there are some people who don't value science and if they don't value science are they valuing ignorance? Yes, and.. but I will not pass judgment on them what I will say is if they have are at maximal comfort in their ignorance.. fine except that they will not be the participants on the frontier of of cosmic discovery they will be disenfranchised Hello .. hello I'm sorry I've got a phone call... hello? I'm sorry I have to take .. I have to take this.. Hello? My mic.. my mic isn't working? Hello? that's better Now who's in control? So they won't be in control of the next.. they won't be participants in the next cosmic discovery
12:04
No they won't they won't not only will they not be on that frontier making any discoveries they're not in a position to enhance their life for having access to those discoveries themselves Can knowledge ever be a bad thing? i don't think so what about actions that knowledge takes us to? You think that Oppenheimer when the bomb went off and he said "I am become death, destroyer of worlds" do you think he perhaps questioned for a moment whether the knowledge they achieved that led to the creation of the bomb perhaps should have been left undiscovered? Do you know what he said in response to those kinds of questions? Yes? he said because people said "Have you ursurped the power of God?" and he said If God didn't want this power to be there he shouldn't have put it in the atom in the first place kind of an interesting point, I think What he was saying that the world is accessible to us so would you say
13:05
"Don't smelt the ore and make iron and make a sword out of it because you could cut yourself"? back then that's what you would .. that's the counterpart statement from the Iron Age. And if you were around back then you'd be sitting in this chair saying "Don't make the sword, because you will unleash evil on the world" OK, I'll step back from don't make the sword how about "don't lick flag pole in February" Yeah, that You will learn something you will learn something but at a price, Neil that'd be data.. it's a data cost That is a data cost for that, isn't it? Yeah Also: Adam and Eve... They ate of the tree of knowledge (of knowledge) of good and evil (Yeah) and they paid a price (yeah) so god does put things into atoms he doesn't want us to know about Yeah, I .. However, I think Yes? I don't want to blame the knowledge I want to blame the behavior of people in the presence of the knowledge so maybe we need better knowledge management
14:09
do you think that scientists .. you can applaud him.. he's the hero Well how about this: do you think that scientists should be allowed to do with anything they can I heard a big "No" over here someone just said "no" you know, uh, people made fun of him for doing this but uh... during one of President Bush's State of the Union speeches .. Bush 1 or 2? Bush 2 Uhm, he said uh... we have to .. he spoke about ... he warned against man-animal hybrids And a lot of people like me made fun of that by showing pictures of like senator alligator man going "Boooo boooo" "Yay man-animal hybrids" but if scientists could make man-animal hybrids, wouldn't they? there are scientists who want to make man-animal hybrids should we make man-animal hybrids I ask you senator tyson Or should there be any limits like that? i think there's some creepy things about that and i've met some scientists who
15:12
who would think that would be an intriguing to do yes okay So i think we as a society as a .. as a democracy what we should do is come to some understanding of what the prevailing social mores are and know science should not cross those barriers and not and by the way scientists are often ones to try to prevent that Einstein among them for example he didn't want to make the bomb after he first told Roosevelt he should make the bomb, he changed his mind because his conscience, his moral conscious descended upon him scientists are not without moral code here so as a culture and as a society we decide what should be the prevailing cultural mores and i think we should all be beholden to those. What do you think of the portrayal of scientists uh... in movies? because often often for instance the scientists who make, uh
16:14
the terminator they're the bad guys scientist leads to the terminator or they create the super bug that wipes out the world or or they enrage the monster at the bottom of the sea When you part the curtains and at the bottom of all that there's a politician funding that research Is this working again? It is? No.. He says yes, you say no we're getting we're getting bad data we're good .. That was good That's good? oooh yeah So scientists don't lead marching armies scientists don't invade other nations scientists yes we have scientists who invented the bomb yes but somebody had to pay for the bomb and that was taxpayers that was war bonds there was a political action that called for it so everyone blames the scientist. We are collectively part of the society that is passing.. that is
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that is that is using are not using to it's benefit or to it's detriment the discoveries made by science and at the end of the day a discovery itself is not moral, it's our application of it the takes that .. that has to pass that test would you agree that there's a .. there's a distrust of science on a certain level in our country I mean unless it's, you know can they grow my hair back? Yeah right science.. or do other things to your anatomy yes, exactly .. exactly science.. I've gotten those emails science science is sometimes distrusted because it is it is more complex than the average person can understand. I think that is the core of it the distrust is not because of what it can do but because of what it because people don't understand how it does what it can do. And that .. that absence of understanding or misunderstanding of the power of science is what makes people afraid of it and so
18:21
i remember back when they first split the atom you know "shouldn't split the atom" or or shouldn't .. you hear this at every discovery that happens in science there's a mystery to it for example irradiated foods in France they call it "frakenfood", alright which is kind of a cute word when you think about but it makes food last longer and your healthier for it, you don't get sick from it and so.. from it turning bad, in fact Nasa does it all the time. Nasa can make a slab of meat you wouldn't necessarily put this in your refrigerator but Nasa can make a slab of meat that will last thirty years I tasted it and? delicious? you know there's some rest.. it reminded some restaurants food reminds me of what that tasted like but i'm just saying that just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's bad for you go figure out how it works. That's why we need a scientifically literate electorate so that when we go to the polls you can make an informed judgement and you can draw your own conclusions, rather than turning to a particular TV station
19:22
to have your conclusions handed to you. Now you know Arthur C. Clarke .. Comedy Central excepted (exactly) Arthur C. Clarke's famous dictum about sufficiently advanced technology. Yes, it is .. Arthur C. Clarke had several, uhm uh, laws of culture and the world one of which was any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So.. if something gets too complex for the average person to understand it's magic .. and you have powers that i don't trust because I don't know what you're going to do with it next whereas if you understood how it worked you'd say "Hey, give me one of those" I mean, that's how that would work That's how.. that's how that plays out do you think that's where the debate over i think that's where the debate over uh... evolution and creation science comes is that the complexity of evolution is so grand that it is hard to conceive of how the incremental changes come and once something becomes so complex
20:25
that I can't understand it there's nothing between that and God saying "Let it be" Well one of the beauties of evolution is that that complexity does not come about from complex ideas the ideas are actually quite simple and you can show on a computer how those simple forces can generate complexity given enough time and enough variation in environment which is just what the history of the Earth supplies so so science literacy is an important part of what it is to be an informed citizen of society let's get away from our understanding of science, or lack thereof and get to science itself ok ok I'm with you here's a transition from talking about us mixing science and religion and getting back to science "God is truth", people think ok, some believe God is truth Truth is beauty is there anything in science to you that is beautiful or rather what is the most beautiful thing that you know of in science E=mc squared
21:27
Really? Oh it's awesome, it is so that equation doesn't just have a great publicist, it's actually.. because everybody knows it, everybody knows it but also, everybody knows Coke, you know it's like the Coca-cola of science You learn E=mc^2 before you even know what any of those symbols mean you hear it in elementary school oh, it's a gorgeous thing it's .. what is beautiful about E=mc^2 first of all tell everybody what all the pieces mean Well "E" stands for "energy" "m" is "mass" "c"-squared is just the speed of light squared, that's just ignore that for the moment. The thrust of that equation is that energy and mass are equivalent to each other which means you can transmute one into the other and back would make's it extraordinary is that that hardly ever happens in our everyday lives yet it's going on all the time in the rest of the universe and so.. so so we're in this little pocket where "E=mc^2" never happens (is not visible) it's not visible it's not happening in our lives no, no but if it did the world would be really different
22:30
light coming from that bulb would all of a sudden pop into a particle, and the particle would come by and it would pop back into light again Would it hurt? It can, yeah It can? Yeah it would sterlize you, yeah The kinds of particles that would do that they would sterilize you, yeah that'd be bad I've had my kids It goes on in the center of the sun it went on at the Big Bang it goes on throughout the universe wherever it's hot and heavy But what is beautiful about it to you? It's simple It's simple, yet it accounts for hugely complex things and for me that is where the beauty lies in the truth Now if i had to give you a complex theory to understand a complex phenomenon You know, send me home because what's the point? Now there's no tablet in the sky that said it had to be simple to end up being complex it's just a remarkable fact about the universe so why not celebrate it? The fact that pi ... pi ... that ... pi right?
23:34
Let's say the numbers together 3 point 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 .. we got a few geeks over here looks like we got a geek thing going on over there not bad, not bad The fact that you take a circle of any size a circle the size of the universe itself and divide it by its own radius and you get that number that's beautiful i have to pause, and I get misty Thinking of [???] I'm sorry that's just .. another one .. another one that the atoms and molecules in your body are traceable to the crucibles in the centers of stars that manufactured these elements over its lifespan went unstable on death exploding its enriched guts across the galaxy scattering it into gas clouds that would ultimately collapse and make a star and have the right ingredients to make planets and people which means, we are part of this universe
24:39
as i've said many times and this goes back not only are we in the universe the universe is in us that is a profound concept and it was ... i think it's the greatest gift that astrophysics gave culture in the twentieth century it was a research paper in 1957 and i say that because one of the authors just died like two days ago Geoff Burbidge.. Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler, and Hoyle one of the most famous research papers that no one ever heard of you know why? i think because it had 4 authors, not just one and it took a decade to figure out and it wasn't just somebody burning the midnight oil so it doesn't lend itself to poetry or screenplays because it's a collaboration so nobody wrote about it but we knew that we are star stuff we knew that we are stardust at the middle of the twentieth century that connects us to be universe like no other fact that's beautiful sounds like you have written poetry about it Well, once it gets in you have you know the only way it comes out is poetically .. no
25:45
You write poety, you write sonnets I don't know if they're sonnets but occassionally a word rhymes in it and I don't know what to call it but sometimes if if you feel deeply about something i think the greatest poetry not that I'm.. I'm an astrophysicist alright, that's my disclaimer but some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted that i think is the job of the poet and so the simplicity of the universe which started this part of our conversation i think if it doesn't drive you to poetry it drives you to bask in the majesty of the cosmos so what drew you.. you said that .. the beauty of astrophysics or the gift that astrophysics gave us in the twentieth century what drew you to astrophysics? Take us
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to Neil deGrasse Tyson before he's an astrophysicist take us to who you are now I'm living in the Bronx which in the vernacular would be "da Bronx" and I'm in a building ... not a lot of stars no There's like a dozen or so in the night sky so you do not have a relationship with the night sky as a city dweller and my parents .. I have a brother and a sister ... they would take us to.. each weekend we'd go to visit museums and other sort-of cultural things in the city and one of those weekends we went to the Hayden plantetarium the local plantetarium the one right there in Manhattan and I.. you sit in the chair, the lights dim, the stars come out and I said "well that's a nice hoax" you know That can't be real, that's i'll enjoy it while there, but they think there's that many stars up there what kinda.. they're pulling my leg and a couple years later i go out to pennsylvania in another trip we took and I look up at the night sky and what
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persists to this day and what is an embarrassingly urban thought i look up at the night sky from the finest mountaintops in the world and i look up and I say "it reminds me of the Hayden plantetarium" I mean, it's embarassing I beg forgiveness wow So strong was that imprint that i'm certain that i had no choice in the matter that in fact the universe called me and i wondered that if I'd grown up on a farm and the universe and the sky was just always there i wonder if that would just have become wallpaper to me and I wouldn't have then been struck by it as I was at age nine i'd never known anything of it and then it just slaps you in the face and from then on I was hooked it took two years for me to figure out you can do that as a career but starting at age eleven you ask me you know that annoying question that adults ask kids "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I heard a comedian say "You know why they ask?" "because they're looking for ideas!" Paula Poundstone said that So, if you had asked me from age eleven
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What do you want to be when you grow up i would have told you a flat-out: astrophysics astrophysicist and my whole life aligned to that got a telescope, got a camera, photographed it all my science fair projects .. one was getting the spectrum of the sun and analyzing features in the spectra I ... built the spectroscope so i was like Nerd Kid. card-carrying But I was bigger than other kids so I was insulated from a lot of what might otherwise happen to nerd kids You wrestled, too. I was captain of my high-school wrestling team I've seen you in that wrestling outfit You can rock a singlet. well done. now.. "Singlet" is what you call the one-piece ... they know So, you became.. you wanted to become an astrophysicist that leads me to another question which is you know "Is it better to not know? it's better to know" uhm Can it be beautful? yes, it can be beautiful. Is science a thing or is it a way to look at the world
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Is it a verb, or is it a noun? It is .. both. the world is not just "is it this or that?" "Is it a planet or not a planet?" It's sometimes you must choose! It's fuzzier than that sometimes.. so if i know .. if I have a lot of facts in my head if i can absorb a lot of facts, am I a scientist? Facts? no No, you're a ... fact memorizer In fact... I'll accept that as a compliment our academic system rewards people who know a lot of stuff and generally we call those people smart but at the end of day who do you want: the person who can figure stuff out that they've never seen before, or the person who can rattle off a bunch of facts? at the end of the day, I want the person that can figure stuff out. and science say, if you were trapped on an island exactly exactly well you know the professor on gilligan's island It's a not a matter of how many facts he can recite like there's a coconut, and there's a thing and you have a ham radio OK, you just (seawater) you're stirring the saltwater
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you hook the wires up to Gilligan's fillings and you listen to his ears so it's an understanding of the relationships While we're on it: Ginger or Mary ann? Totally Ginger Ginger, completely That was like .. she came around the wrong time in my life it was like Ginger, all the way for sure so it is a way ... it is .. it's a way of approaching the world it's a way, not only of approaching the world it's a way of equipping yourself to interpret what happens in front of you i think of science the methods and tools that enable it as kinda like a utility belt that you walk around with you know, and you come upon something .. Are you a superhero? In your mind, are you Super Science? Actually, when I was a kid, I wanted to be Mighty Mouse, when I was a kid really? And I wanted to sing opera as I went to save.. "Here I am to save the day!" So it's a tool belt no, it's a .. utility belt
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Utility belt, sorry. because tools.. I'm picturing you in the singlet, with a utility belt A tool belt .. the difference is a tool belt you know if you have a hammer as they say "you can hammer in the morning" if i had a hammer, the problem is If you start wielding a hammer, then all your problems look like nails and maybe they're not maybe it's more subtle than that and so your tool kit has to be able to morph into what is necessary for what it is that you confront at that moment and so yes there .. you're equipped with methods of mathematical analysis, methods of interpretation you know some basic laws of physics so when someone says "I have these two crystals if you rub them together you will get healthy" So rather than just discount it because that's that's as lazy as accepting it both of those are just lazy-brain what you should do is inquire? So do you know how to inquire? and every scientist would know how to start that conversation
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start the conversation they would say well "Where'd you get these?" "what kinds of ailments does it cure?" "How does it work?" "What does it cost?" "Can you demonstrate that it works" And you go through this whole ... and at the end the person's in tears because they weren't prepared for that level of questioning and, so, science literacy is .. vaccine against charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance of the forces of nature Neil, if you don't like the crystals I gave you you can just say it. and they're not working for you because you don't believe Is there any science fiction you admire? or that you enjoy? or do you see the holes in science fiction and go "i can't enjoy that of course he would know the effects of a neutron star! He doesn't know tidal forces?" Do you have that problem? I only have the problem if the movie is marketed for its accuracy number one. Number two .. they gotta get some basic science right. after that, I'm OK
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so for example in the latest star trek movie the had this like .. this red this liquid .. the red matter ... the red matter thank you release the red matter, and you drop it into the core of a planet and it turns the planet into a black hole? I thought that's kinda cool Now what was a little weird was Why didn't it turn the ship into a black hole? Because they had this special apparatus that surrounded it this special device And the apparatus did what? It's the anti-black-hole apparatus. hold on.. I'm OK with that See, I was not losing sleep ... That didn't bug you? ... over what held the black hole I didn't have an issue with that Oddly, what I had an issue with was they needed this drill, which is a very cool kinda .. that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen (exactly) a drill that would drill to the center of your planet and they drop the.. i'd say If that would turn a planet into a black hole, from its center it surely would turn into a black hole from its surface but.. then what would Kirk and Sulu fight on? I know, right, they had to fight on the platform so, I'm OK
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I got angry with Jim Cameron about "Titantic" that's how i got angry Did I ever tell you this story? You did not I've never seen you this angry before Hold me back I can't wait to see what you have to say about "Avatar" you might turn blue with rage go on.. so what was your problem with "Titantic"? There's a colleague of mine who saw "Avatar" and he got home and he he told his wife he wanted to paint her blue, and that didn't go over very well is she ten feet tall? So "Titantic", you may remember, was marketed as a film of "high accuracy" because Cameron had funded this submersible to go down and check out the state rooms and the wall sconces and the china patterns and so they reproduced that to detail and so here they recreate the ship for the movie, can you double check that? no because he had the submersible. You just have to trust him ok You gotta trust him. So now the ship sinks (yes) right? Did I give away the plot to anybody here? You see the movie yet? I'm sorry, ok
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so the ship sinks I do, I remember you remember, ok and there's Kate Winslet on the flow remember that (yes) and she's delirious This isn't the scene where she's naked Oh sorry.. go on No, she's on the flow.. on the.. whatever, the plank and she's looking up We know the date, the day, the time, the weather conditions, the longitude, the latitude we know all of this about the sinking spot of the "Titanic" There is only one sky she shoulda been looking at and it was the wrong sky! Worse, worse than that, worse than that the left side of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right side of the sky So it's not only wrong, it was lazy! And I was ... So halfway through they went, "Just flip it, just flip it" No one'll know and so, I was livid I got out my finest stationary and i wrote a letter to Jim Cameron
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no reply Five years later I bump into him he was on a NASA committee and my sort-of presence with NASA was growing by then and I bumped into him in a meeting and I said Mr. Cameron, I just want to .. I just have to ask you know the sky that .. is not the right.. what? what? and he says "Well actually, that happened in post-production" So .. so he's absolving himself of guilt but I wanted him to grovel in front of my feet which he did not do wait, wait .. so, I was angrier after that later on Wired magazine honors him for "Discoverer of the year" or "Explorer of the year" and they want to hold their party at the Rose Center for Earth and Space you don't come into MY house and get the sky wrong! my microphone working? you're loud enough, you don't need a microphone Can you hear me now? ok So, he's in my house and as a courtesy, they extended me an invitation to have dinner with a small group of them after this award ceremony So I said "yeah" So, we go to dinner there's six of us at the table
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the wine is pouring So I said "Jim, I don't know if you remember but I brought this up some time ago about the sky and I wouldn't be so upset except that everything else you boasted was so accurate and we can't even check how accurate that is but anybody can spend $50 for a planetarium sky program and look at the sky and know that you got the wrong sky What gives?" And you know what he said? he said "last i checked, worldwide Titanic has grossed one point three billion dollars imagine how much more it would have grossed had I gotten the sky right" Oh Oh, I'm so sorry that ... if i had a tail, it would have been like between my legs, and I would've oh I think you won that conversation No actually I did no he retreated into his bank account Here's what happened but you know that money will all eventually be gone and he would still have gotten the sky wrong Oh that's an interesting point that's right the sky will.. Outlived even James Cameron However, however as dejected as I was
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two weeks later i get a phone call forgot the guy's name he calls me up and said "Is this Dr. Tyson?" I said "yeah" He said, I forgot his name, "Johnny Smith" I work in post-production for Jim Cameron He is releasing a ten-year director's cut anniversary edition of the Titantic and will be adding new footage from the deck and he tells me you have a sky that he can use Not bad (so) Not bad you got your taste, right? You got a little taste of that, right? Yeah, it was good.. oh no no I'm a public servant, I don't need it Me too So I don't, you know if you're gonna make if you're gonna claim it's right then I'm gonna hold you to it If you're not, then I'll just sit back and enjoy it (what is) you know what I don't like? I gotta.. you know what I don't like? Is the people you go see a movie with who read the book first Get rid of them! They don't belong in the movie theater Alright It's like "Oh no the book was better" Well get the hell outta oh excuse me Get out of the movie theater go back to your book Leave me alone
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Those people I can't stand Stay home! we should not go to the movies together Now, ok, what is the what is I got three different things What is the latest discovery in astrophysics that we should all know about? Ah, one of my favorite i gotta go back maybe six months for that, eight months? may I? Uhm, okay well we discovered water on the Moon, that's kinda cool because where you're going, you want there to be water. alright that's a good thing for life but what struck me the most Earlier, in .. 2009 we discovered methane on mars Methane if you have a gas stove and you live in the city, chances are it's methane it's a flammable gas, you say "well so what? who cares?" except that methane is the byproduct it's part of the gaseous effluences of anaerobic bacteria which on Earth operates deep in the intestinal tract of farm animals
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That's a very scientific way of saying there are Mars farts That's what you're saying, right? I didn't want to say it You got a "Dr" in front of your name You can't say stuff like that I can't say stuff like that but that means that that is a possibility or is that or is that "yeah there's life" and no one will come out and say it? It means while you can generate methane other ways Such as? well it's (sunlight?) it's it's .. there a combination of pressure, temperature, and energy source you can manufacture methane (magic!) so.. but chemical magic, yes chemical magic but it is a natural by-product of bacteria that thrive in the absence of oxygen. And you don't have oxygen deep in your intestinal tract, neither do any farm animals and and if you're down under the.. Mars doesn't have oxygen, so it's tantalizing to think that maybe there is there are life reservoirs in aquifers beneath the martian soils Speak.. as I was saying before about
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is it better to know or not to know and there are things about our own identity that we take from the knowledge that we have, (yes we do) or the things that or the things that we don't know the assumptions of things that are not there to be known And I .. instead of using the word "identity" I'd say: They have an impact on our ego (yes) because the more we learn about the universe, the smaller we get in time, and space, in size and so if you go .. except not the way you just described it the way you described it you're a supernova (well I) that makes you bigger well i think if you know about what's going on then it's not mysterious and you're a participant in the unfolding cosmos otherwise you are consumed by it and you fear it and you shun it and you say "I don't want to know that I live on a speck called Earth orbiting an undistinguished star, in the corner of an ordinary galaxy in an expanding void of the cosmos There are some happy thoughts in there, like like understanding how that worked recognizing that the human brain figured that out that's kinda cool There's a lot we still don't know but what we do know, I think we can sit proudly
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and celebrate what we know about the universe maybe not everyone of us figured.. it took a few key people like Newton and Einstein but we learn what they taught us and each of them stands on the shoulders of giants that came before them just as the quote goes but celebrate not fear it but if we found out that there was life someplace other than Earth what do you think that would do to our identity or our ego It may signal a change in the human condition that we cannot foresee or imagine i think it would now, i think the issue would be not if we find bacterial life which is kinda what we're looking for now bacterial life there's no question about whether in our minds eye we reign supreme over bacteria although it can win bacteria do you know in one linear centimeter of your lower colon lives and works
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more bacteria than the number of people who have ever been born in the history of the world? so in fact we are just hosts for bacteria to lead their lives so from the point of view of a bacteria we're just a place to live a dark, warm, place to live but we're a planet and they don't believe there's bacteria in any of the other planets that'd be another that'd be interesting sci-fi so the real issue is, if we find life on another planet that's smarter than we are that would totally mess with our ego That'd be the last, like, nail in the coffin of our ego that used to be, well, we're humans and we're on Earth and Earth is small and the Sun, sun is insignificant that'd be the last one and I don't know how we'd be able to handle that do you think that there have been discoveries that have happened.. for instance I have heard discoveries that have changed our point of view about the universe that we are not aware of that they've changed; in other words the change has been so gradual we don't realize we see the world differently Has E=mc^2, because
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that's .. coming up on a hundred years I'll tell you, yes it is actually well, no, we passed it Last year was a hundred? No, 1905, so, 2005 (OK) So, I got one for you in the 1920s, which was a watershed decade in the history of science in that decade we discovered that not only our galaxy, the milky way, is not the only existence of anything in the universe that there are other milky ways out there that recently 1920s ... Was it just the optics didn't exist for that? We needed a big enough telescope and Edwin Hubble wielded all the glass that was necessary to accomplish that back in the 1920s. He's .. Hubble, before the telescope, was a man and had his own telescope, the biggest of its day and he made that discovery that there were these spiral fuzzy things in the night sky we thought they were just local to us They were whole other systems of stars hundred billion stars unto itself outside of our system not only was that discovered in 1926 1929 he discovers that the
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universe is expanding which means it may have had a (back then) it may have had a beginning if it's expanding that meant it was little-er in the past well there must have been a day when it was all together in the same place thus was born the Big Bang okay so now also in that decade quantum quantum mechanics quantum physics was discovered that is the science of the small the science of electrons, protons, neutrons, particles, nuclei at the time you'd say this is just the this is just physicists burning tax money cause who cares about the atom I got my horse to feed, I got kids, I got.. you know you got issues in society yet it's quantum mechanics that is the entire foundation of our technological revolution there would be no computers , there would be no there would be none of what you take for granted your iPod, your iPhone, cell phones the space program ... without our understanding of the laws of physics as they operate on that atomic and molecular and nuclear level
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and so the chemist has no understanding of the periodic table of elements without quantum mechanics to them it's just a list of elements quantum mechanics tells you why this column is there and that's there, why this mates with that and why that makes a molecule with that that's quantum mechanics and it's unheralded you asked me if there is any discovery that has changed how we live It is quantum mechanics and I make.. I make this point because I'm ready to today you hear people saying "why are we spending money up there when we got problems on Earth" And people don't connect the time delay between the frontier of scientific research and how that's going to transform your life later down the line all they want is a quarterly report that shows the product that comes out of it that is so shortsighted and that's the beginning of the end of your culture So it's so it's better to know That's a really long answer to my first question. My second question Let's take some questions do we have time to do that?
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Q and A? you gonna hit me in the head with a rubbed band? Ok, very quickly before we get to questions here How many can I ask? [???] Do we have microphones or are we going around the room? We can repeat the question if there aren't enough microphones to go around Uh, let's start right here with just one please, sir. Is there a brown dwarf star approaching? okay uh... dare I suggest that i think i know much more deeply about what's behind that question he's asking about "Planet X" (do share[???]) that would swing by Earth in the year 2012 and tip us on our axis and have it be the end of civilization as we know it. Is that right sir? I heard about that. Yeah, yeah. I'm digging a subterranean chamber (yeah) me and my kids are gonna be fine. Go on, when's it get here? Uh, it doesn't exist moving on, next question Yes no, there is no "Planet X" All gravity.. all principal sources of gravity in the solar system
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are present and accounted for anything discovered now would be tiny and insignificant, like Pluto's relatives What do you have to say about Apophis? Apophis Apophis an asteroid the size of the Rose Bowl discovered december 2004 headed towards Earth it's not alone, among asteroids headed towards Earth except that this one is headed, excuse me there's a whole set of asteroids that cross Earth's orbit that alone is not a problem. You cross the street all the time but at different times than trucks drive by, OK so the issue is are you crossing the street, when the truck is driving there at the same moment that simultaneity is what matters Apophis when you ran the calculations showed that there was a chance of it hitting us in the year 2036 with a close approach in the year 2029 on april 13th a Friday, by the way but here's what's significant about that. we've had close approaches before but none this close this is the size of the Rose Bowl and on April 13th, 2029
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it'll come close enough to Earth to dip below our orbiting communications satellites Do you think 2.5% is a big number, for that asteroid to come to Earth? No, right now the best estimates are seven in a million that it will hit us in 2036 and if it does, it will likely hit the Pacific Ocean plunge into a depth of three miles explode, cavitate the ocean send waves of tsunamis the first one from the impact the second one because the water splashing back into the cavity goes high into the air, drops back down and sends another pulse this will go on about forty times there will be multiple tsunamis, I was just on the Santa Monica beach two nights ago, because Santa Monica is the first city to get hit because it's it's the bee-line right up from Santa Monica 600 km into the Pacific five-story tall tsunami would take out the entire west coast of the United States but nobody has to die because we know this well in advance but i think two people will die the stupid surfer who wants to surf that tsunami
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you know, we know people like this, right? you know, you see them! And you know who else of course, the weatherman who wants to bring the camera guy closer "Can you see the waves hitting the shore?" OK, take him out too. we don't need either one of them. That would make a great James Cameron movie. Ah, yes. Tonight there's a wolf moon can you explain what that means? "What's a wolf moon?" OK, each full moon of the year has a name and there are regional variations among those names and the wolf moon it's when it's snowing and the wolves howl You can see the wolf in the light of the moon because the whole landscape is white and the wolf doesn't.. the wolves don't turn white so you can see them against this and so depending on where if you live in a region where there are wolves that would be what you'd call it other full moon names you've heard of the harvest moon is one of them the honey moon is one that's the moon that's in June. The honeymoon because that moon actually never gets very high in the sky
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and it's amber the entire time it takes on the color of honey and it's call the honeymoon and you get married in june -- that's where we get the name "honeymoon" Anyone over here? No? Yes sir Uhm, the I think, yeah, in astronomy probably dark energy was sort of a real game changer about 10 years ago, the discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up If there's a game changer in the next 20 years What is it? The question is dark energy he said ten years ago was like a game changer -- can I foresee any game changers on the horizon? Well, turns out dark energy was not as much of a game changer as you might think because that .. we already had a slot for it in Einstein's equations we already had a placeholder no one had ever measured it before so we just assumed it was zero and got on with life the moment it was discovered we said, hey now we can stick it in the equation it was like whoa, its presence in the equation shows that there's this force there's this pressure operating against the action of gravity making the universe
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accelerate in its expansion and that's extraordinary because it means the day will come when these galaxies that Hubble discovered will expand will move away from us with such speed that they will disappear beyond our horizon and the total known universe at that time will only be the Milky Way restoring the state of mind of our universe that existed before 1920 that's a spooky time, we'll have to hand down the annals of cosmology from previous centuries to hear about the galaxies that were once in the night sky so game changers going forward: if we discover the dark matter particle that'd be kinda cool if we ... if dark energy, and dark matter, cause we don't know what's causing either one of them but we measured them so they are real in their action on the universe we just don't know what it is as distinct from the ether a hundred years ago we never measured it
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we just assumed it was there there was no data, it was just dark matter, dark energy, we could call it "Fred" and "Wilma" don't think it's matter or energy we don't know what it is don't let the name fool you I'll for henceforth call it "Fred" and "Wilma" So, "Fred" and "Wilma" these two things it may be a game changer once we figure out what it is it's a new particle that then we can exploit to our benefit in the same way our understanding of quantum physics enabled us to exploit the behavior of atoms and nuclei to our benefit so a new kind of physics would transform how we live that's one way I think it might go [???] Will Pluto not only be humiliated by Neil deGrasse Tyson That's not the word she said she didn't say that word Excised from
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from the family of planets Neil was on the group that gave the recommendation that Pluto be demoted, correct? We, uh, we.. we thought differently about Pluto's identity than Pluto did and other supporters of it. we just grouped it with other icy bodies in the outer solar system that at the time were being discovered you know, don't shoot the messenger Pluto was alone for sixty-five years and so you can't have a category of one that doesn't work in science, you need a few things to make a category it was in a category it was a planet well yeah. My very elegant mother just sat upon nine porcupines Now she just sits upon nine it doesn't make any sense Yeah, it doesn't make any sense Where's the porcupine? If she's that elegant, she wouldn't have sat on a porcupine, I don't think but, so once we found other icy bodies we .. what we did is group them together we said Pluto, we found family for you
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in fact, we think you're happier there cause now you're one of the biggest icy bodies Rather than a pipsqueak planet You sent Pluto to a farm upstate to run and chase rabbits, is what you did It's much happier there, kids It's happier there and I didn't do this alone is there a super-giant beyond pluto that that pulls comets in? is there is there a chance there is something out there that's drawing There was a hypothetical star which is related a little bit to what led to this invention of this 2012 , the 2012 brown dwarf (the brown dwarf that you won't talk about) there was a come down to the bunker, too There was a suggestion that there was a companion star to the sun provisionally called "nemesis" that had this elonged orbit that would jostle comets in the outer solar system and send them raining down on Earth creating mass extinctions accounting for the extinction episodes in the fossil record but.. it was an interesting hypothesis that was never supported by data and so when you're not supported by data you discard the hypothesis that's how science works
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you don't believe something just because you want to or think something's true just because it feels good. at some point you've gotta confront the data so getting back to the point You've never been in politics so getting back to the point the recognition that Pluto's made half-ice and ice evaporates so won't Pluto one day disappear? no, Pluto's too far away from the sun for that to ever meaningfully evaporate and disappear completely What was the point of the Large Hadron Collider? "what was the plan", did you say? "The point?" "what was the point?" he speaks in past tense as though we're done with it well we just turned on the switch the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland the point of the the Large Hadron Collider was to embarrass America to make us feel bad that we didn't have our collider built back in the 1980s when it was first funded That's the whole point of the Large Hadron Collider It's Europe saying "Ha! Gotcha this time!" now apart from that ego bit, uh, it's to probe nature on levels of energy never before seen
01:00:01
and right now it's hard practically impossible to discover a new law of physics on your tabletop we've been there we've done that and almost the entire history of physics is: go to the edges, of your points of exploration and then take a step beyond that you're bound to discover something new it's like one climbing the next mountain, crossing the next valley so the large hadron collider the energy inside that particle accelerator will exceed the energy of all the accelerators that have ever been built before probing nature as never previously imagined What is the Higg's boson? Higg's boson that's a particle proposed that you can think of it as a kind of uh... it's like a think of it like molasses well, ok, not molasses, uhm it's a field through which all particles move,
01:01:04
and the interaction of those particles with that field endows them with the mass that we measure for them it is granting them the property of mass we have yet to find this particle but if we do .. so mass is not explained presently That's correct, we just measure.. we don't know why we get fat we don't know why something has mass right now (correct) and so we now, may I ask you something if you have.. if you build let's say you build an equation this way you've got an equation over here, you've built it and it's a house, ok? and you've got another equation over here that works, it's another house but in your mind you think these two houses are actually probably shoudl be one house you invent something that fits into the shape between the two houses, right? (yes) [??] Ok, there's something in universe that is the shape of the space between these two houses (yes) does that necessarily mean that thing is there the history has shown that
01:02:08
almost every time we propose something that connects one house to another .. if those two houses themselves .. work there's something in between them connecting the two for example for example the 1930s, we had this experiment .. 1930s quantum physics is in place we start probing the atom we find out there's an atomic reaction, a nuclear reaction where there's some missing energy we account for all of it and there's something missing there's this much energy here and then it's missing here and we swear we've accounted for everything Fermi comes up (a famous physicist) said I bet there's a particle that came out of that reaction that escaped with the energy before you got a chance to measure it E=mc^2 That would've endowded that particle with it's energy to do so.. the mass to do so E=mc^2 is in every one of these it's all over the place
01:03:08
it's writ with E=mc^2 the point is he hypothesized a particle gave it the properties that is would have to have to account for what was seen that's your conduit between the two houses then he said, it's gotta have this much energy and it's gotta be pretty hard to detect because we surrounded this in lead and it went straight through the lead I'm gonna propose a particle that's hard to detect and it's gotta be little, cause there's not that much mass, and it has no charge so it's neutral so, he called them neutrinos "little neutral ones" he hypothesized, he said let's look for them twenty years later they were found, neutrinos and now we [kept?] them coming out of these reactions he built the porch the walkway between the two houses practically every time you have two working understandings of the world at they have to coexist in the same universe there's something that's going to connect them it's like electricity and magnetism previously discovered as separate things
01:04:10
until Faraday and Maxwell said hey, wait a minute this works, and that works and they kinda smell like each other a little, maybe they're the same thing so a whole theory came out to put the two together, and it is the theory of electromagnetism you know this word, you just take it as a single word, but those used to be separate concepts so, we're going good with this we're on a roll here so why not continue Yes, right there Do parallel universes exist? Do parallel universes exist? we don't know, uhm parallel universes are losing favor to the multiverse we have some cogent theoretical expectations that our universe might be just one of many spawned from this, sort of, this hyper-dimensional medium which we'll call the multiverse there's no data to support it but we have good theoretical premise to think that it's there and we have philosophical precedent
01:05:16
we used to think Earth was special and unique. It wasn't, we got 8 .. 9 .. 8 planets we thought the Sun was special it's one of a hundred billion suns, the galaxy's special, no there's a hundred billion galaxies we have one universe or do we? The track record said why should there only be one? be open to the possibility that you don't live in the majority [looking?] universe that's out there Would a separate universe .. when you say "different universe" slightly different laws of physics which (that's what I'm asking) oh this is the fun part because if you find, if you manage to get a portal to another universe don't be the first one to volunteer to go through because your atoms are working in this universe if a slightly different law of physics.. you could implode, explode come out with three heads who knows? There's a different exchange rate over there Yes someone .. let's go in the back in the middle of and I think.. you have a white sweater on Is it possible to tunnel through a black hole, like, quantum mechanically speaking?
01:06:23
Can a black hole be used to travel how about that, can we say that? No no, it's a little different Steve, get with the program tunnel through a black hole (yes, quantum mechanically ) as if it creates a tunnel, in space or time? quantum mechanically is what she said quantum mechanically, can you tunnel through a black hole? I'm not gonna try to interpret this one Well I have to ask, did you want to land someplace else when you're done or are you content with being dead when it's over? I need to know before I answer I guess it's ok if I die It's ok if you die For science Stephen Hawking showed just recently that, and for me this is kinda spooky/amazing that black holes remember everything that they have ever eaten which means, it's not a tunnel to anywhere everything that it ate is sitting there at the singularity at its center now the spooky part, that's not the spooky part the spooky part is Stephen Hawking showed forty years ago
01:07:26
that black holes can actually evaporate the matter that's within a black hole can rise up out of the gravitational field that surrounds it and spontaneously birth a pair of particles that's just E=mc^2 doing it's thing E=mc^2 the gravity field has high energy density out of that pops particles and those particles escape taking matter away from the black hole from the from the gravity field of the black hole doesn't that fly in the face of.. how we think of a black hole in a black hole, gone forever because nothing escapes, because nothing has nothing can surpass the energy needed to go faster than the speed of light except quantum mechanics quantum physics from the 1920s gets you out of that problem that's a classical understanding of black holes you layer quantum mechanics on it weird stuff happens completely legitimately weird stuff happens so you birth these particles outside the thing now here's what happens That sounds like
01:08:27
science is making magical exceptions for itself quantum physics is kind of magic because none of it issues forth from your common sense particles pop in and out of existence one time it's a wave, the next time it's a particle, and it interacts with itself and you measure here but it shows up there if we were forged in that world then all that would be common sense And E=mc^2 would be a daily phenomenon you wouldn't need Einstein to figure it out You'd be learning it in elementary school but that is a foreign universe to us as to what goes on there, you are prone to say: that doesn't make sense you know something -- it's of no obligation to make sense to you because your senses didn't come out of that universe out of that universe of tiny particles we don't live there if you let something go and it drops you say "that makes sense" if you let something go and it goes up you say "that doesn't make sense" in quantum world, that happens all the time it would make sense in the quantum world
01:09:28
so I submit to you that if I take your body and dump it into a black hole, what Stephen Hawking showed is that all the particles that went into the black hole let's say it's Stephen Colbert black hole ok, no other contaminating bodies but your atoms in the center of this black hole and i wait around and out here in the gravity field particles pop into existence and I check, make a check, how many protons how many neutrons how many electrons, how many neutrinos by the time this black hole has evaporated it would have been every single particle that you were having fallen in in the first place extracted out of the energy field of the black hole so it remembers who you were, even out in the gravitational field that's spooky to me Is the black hole now gone? gone disa .. pops out of existence evaporated. it takes .. by the way it takes several trillion years for that so don't wait around for it that young man right there How do you figure all this out?
01:10:34
it's an excellent question yeah, it's a good one Isaac Newton did it all by himself he was like, really, really really smart a quick Isaac Newton story he discovered the laws of motion, the laws of gravity shows that planets don't orbit in circles as Copernicus had thought but in slightly flattened circles we call ellipses and and some friend of his said, "Ike, why ...", [ thought maybe he'd be called Ike ??] "why that shape, and not some other shape?" he couldn't answer that question, he said "I'll get back to you" goes home for two months, comes back, here's why it's that shape the conic section that cuts through the thing and said well how did you figure that out he said, well i had to invent integral and differential calculus to figure it out so some people invent their own tools and methods to discover the world most people learn the tools from someone else and then apply them to make incremental changes some people make huge changes
01:11:38
like Isaac Newton and and and and Einstein and others Isaac Newton once said, "if i can see farther than others it's because I've stood on the shoulders of giants who have come before me" But I've read Issac Newton and his stuff makes the hair .. if I had hair there rise up on the back of my neck how plugged-in he was to the universe and i'm saying to myself that quote cannot have possibly have been honest what it really meant if [i could re-give] that quote to him If I can see farther than others it's because i'm standing among midgets, that's why he could see farther than everybody else in the case of Isaac Newton I'm afraid we only have time for one more question, yes sir Actually that was a great segue to my question we organized this all for your question earlier in the evening you brought up the ideas of scientific literacy and technology [???] management I'd like to hear your opinions of where the policy needs to go to make a positive impact in that area
01:12:42
alright Neil could you repeat that for everybody the question is we were talking earlier about scientific literacy and our approach toward science as a nation in your opinion and you you serve on science advisory panels where do you think we need to go as a nation what do we need to do to increase of scientific literacy I'll answer it two-pronged one is: what do you do with your kids? and kids need to be able to explore freely and if you look at most households they're not designed for that they're designed to have the kid not explore the kid come into your kitchen and pulls out the pots and pans and starts banging on them, what's the first thing you do as a parent? stop that, you're getting the dishes dirty yet these are experiments in acoustics that's what that is okay whatever the kid is doing, if it has the chance of breaking something you're gonna to tell them to not do it
01:13:43
without thinking that that's the consequence of an experiment that they are conducting and every time the kid wants to do something provided it doesn't kill them it's an experiment let it run its course even if it makes something messy you agreed to have a kid in the first place, fine, clean up after them when they're old enough Because it's those seeds of curiosity that is the foundation of what it is to become a scientist i don't want everybody to be a scientist that'd be a boring world. i want the poets and i want musicians we need that and I don't have a ... but I'm talking about promoting science literacy and so the first step for the parents is to get out of the way allow the child to explore they start playing in the mud "don't do that in the mud I just cleaned those pants" you're getting in the way of another experiment they start plucking the petals off the flowers you just bought from the florist
01:14:46
and you say "stop that I just paid $10 for the flowers"? had you let that continue they'd find in the middle the stamen, and the pistil and they'd learn something about the flower for 10 bucks that's cheap Derek Bok, one-time president of Harvard once said if you think education is expensive, try the cost of ignorance and so that's so.. that's gotta start at home. in the schools, I don't have a problem with the fact memorizing but don't equate that with what it is to be wise or what it is to be smart smart should be some combination of that yes, but also what is your lens on the world? how do you figure things out? and you promote that by stimulating curiosity and I don't see enough stimulated curiosity in this world. this is a famous school right here, I saw the banner in the opening corridors, so you probably don't have that problem here all right, but the whole world is not educated in this building
01:15:49
so a lot of change would need to happen in that regard now getting back to policy I've tried you do a simple Google like "youtube and tyson" well, put "Neil" so you don't get "Mike", all right dining on someone's ear half of what ends up thrown onto youtube are talks I've given where I am trying to convince people not only the public but lawmakers and people in power that investing in the frontier of science however remote it may seem in its relevance to what you're doing today is a way of stockpiling the seed corns of future harvests of this nation and those seed corns what they do is whether or not you know it today advancing a frontier history has shown has advanced the culture ever since the industrial revolution got underway
01:16:50
and we can speak more hegemonistically about it that anyone who has embraced the powers of technology has enjoyed economic wealth the likes of which the world has never seen attendant with strength strength of security and so people say today they'll say suppose the next attack terrorist attack is like a chemical attack do you call out the marines, or do you get your best chemists to figure out what to do about that there's a point where your weapons are not as useful as the brain of the scientist who you could bring to bear on the problem and so i see science and technology and creative investments in it as the most significant infusion to our economy that could possibly be conceived the problem is, it's not going to boost the economy next quarter it's got a time horizon longer than most people have the patience for, and most politicians have the re-election cycle to be tolerant of
01:17:51
so what we need is a longer view on those investments I don't want to have to have NASA going hat-in-hand trying to get money to stimulate the frontier of cosmic discovery and that frontier now involves biologists in the search for life chemists, in understanding the soils of Mars uh, aerospace engineers. you know what I don't want to do, I don't want to stand in front of eighth-graders and say "who wants to be an aerospace engineer so you can design an airplane that's fifteen percent more fuel efficient than the one your father flew?" That's not going to get them but if I say who wants to be an engineer and design an airfoil that will fly in the rarified atmosphere of Mars I'm going to get the best students in the class and you know it because that's an exciting project for smart people work on motivated people to work on and when you have them, they invent stuff they discover things, they transform the culture in which we live, on a time horizon that is not be easy to just tell someone in a one-sentence sound bite and what i want is a level of science and cultural literacy
01:18:50
that will allow the public to be able to think beyond the election cycle to think for themselves and say this is a good investment how many times have you heard people say if you're not among us here why are we spending money up there when we have the problems down here. Have you ever asked how much money were spending up there? ask that question you know what the answer is? I've asked people how much money do you think we're spending there here's your tax dollar how much is it? ten percent? fifteen percent? those are the kinds of answers I get you know how much is getting spent the rovers, the space station, the the space shuttles, all the launch vehicles all the NASA centers, is 6-10ths of one penny on your tax dollar 6-10ths of one penny pays for it all and you're telling me, why are we spending there [not] down here if you need that money to solve these problems, you got some other problems going on OK? That's a whole other problem with society so I'm sorry, I'm spitting I'm getting all ... so my point is I think the greatest
01:19:53
the greatest need is to be able to have the foresight necessary to make investments on the frontier of science even if at the time you make those investments you cannot figure out how that might make you rich tomorrow Michael Faraday in 1840s was the first one to pass a wire through a magnetic field and it made a little meter tick on .. it moved uh, a meter he hooked up to it [now this guy?] you do this, and this happens. That's kinda cool if you're nerdy .. to a nerd that's a cool thing right you do this and this happens and so what was happening is it induced a current through the wire he showed his colleagues, it looked like just kind of a curiosity, a toy showed it to Parliment, they say why? this is what we're funding? we're funding this toy? this may be apocryphal but it is said of Faraday in response to this inquiry said because they asked, what value is this to the british empire and to the King he said i don't know
01:20:56
without value it is today but I know, one day, you're going to tax it and in fact that is the foundation of how all electricity is made today and it would take another sixty years before electricity would come to homes but who could've known it at the time? I don't want to be left behind I will not leave you behind last thing I'll say the biggest news story last year to me was not the methane, uh, flatulence the biggest news story happened december 22nd, something like that I forgot what day a press release comes out Russia says they want to send a mission to deflect Apophis the killer asteroid (oh yeah) by the way, I said if that hits it's gonna hit the Pacific which affects us ok, Russia says we're gonna launch a mission we're gonna start designing it now and we're gonna fund it. oh by the way
01:22:01
the United States is welcome to join us and people say oh that's nice a little international thing, I'm saying wait a minute something's wrong here aren't we the ones who are supposed to be starting missions and then advising other people to join us? isn't that how it's been? so that was a sign one of many that our significance and meaning on the world stage is fading and it's fading fast and it's not a cliff it's just a fade and the day will come, where the rest of the world just makes their own decisions about the future of their own space exploration and technologies and we're sitting back saying Hi fellas, can we join along Neil we already proved we can deflect asteroids in the movie "Armageddon" so there's our fantasy: we don't do it in the real [world], we do it on the silver screen and we're happy about that maybe we gotta fix that disconnect. last question
01:23:05
why is there something instead of nothing? ten words or less just because So, I gotta do this in haiku then ok, five seven five words that make questions may not be questions at all I am well-rebuked Neil deGrasse Tyson, it is an honor to have you here and an honor always to talk to you please, come on get up for Neil deGrasse Tyson Uhm, Dr. Tyson is going to be down here he will signing books until 9:30 so if you'd like to come down and have then signed, feel free For the rest of you, thank you all for coming and get home safe

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