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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 1, 2012 8:30am-11:00am EDT

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he argues that the exploration of space benefits americans more than they may think. this is just over two hours. >> good evening, everyone, and welcome. thank you for your patience. my name is suzanne morris, and i am the senior manager of public programs here as the museum, and we are thrilled to have you all here tonight. so give yourselves a round of applause. [applause] the american museum of natural history has been home to some of the country's greatest thinkers, scientists and citizens who have changed the way we understand scientific and natural phenomenon and have brought that understanding to the national consciousness. from theodore roosevelt who generated seminal american conservation and preservation practices to margaret mead who changed the way we view and value other cultures. neil degrasse tyson brings his unique intellect and force of
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personality to help us understand the beauty and the importance of space science and exploration. the frederick p. rose director of the hayden planetarium, born and raised in new york city, dr. tyson attended the bronx high school of science and later earned his ba in physics from harvard and then his ph.d. in astrophysics from columbia. >> [inaudible] >> that's right. [laughter] he has been an adviser to nasa and to three presidents on matters related to space exploration and has been awarded 16 honorary doctorates. he even has an asteroid named after him. widely known as a friendmy of flew toe, he -- of pluto, he joins us to discuss his latest book, "space chronicles: facing the ultimate frontier." please join me now in giving a warm welcome to dr. neil degrasse tyson.
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[cheers and applause] >> thank you for that warm introduction. just is so you know -- just so you know, this is the only public talk anywhere that i'm giving on this book. so you are here, here and now, for it. just so you know. i'm just saying. [applause] you're not missing it somewhere else. let me get ready up here. here we go. let me tell you how it all began. there was the big bang -- no.
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[laughter] it was the 1990s, i was approached by columbia university press to write a chapter in an encyclopedia they were preparing to celebrate the end of the 20th century. and it was called, quite simply, the columbia history of the 20th century. and i might even have it here. this was it, okay? now, what's significant about it is the person originally scheduled to write that -- i was approached in 1996. the person originally scheduled to write that was carol s -- carl sagan.
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he had been asked to contribute a chapter to that volume. he had been ill, he died in 1996. my name was put up as one who would then write in his stead. and i was honored to be asked, although the size of the project was bigger than what i was really accustomed to. at the time i was writing monthly columns for "natural history" magazine coming in the at 2 or 3,000 words. that's pretty much what i could pump out in a month. this chapter was asked of me to be 10,000 words, and i just -- so i almost declined. and then i said, no, maybe i can do something different, a little more creative. and i thought, okay, why not, why not think of discovery not in the 20th century, not even in terms of the discovery of objects of places, but maybe the
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discovery of ideas. and i would track the transition from the discovery of places going back to the era of the great explorers to the score of ideas -- discovery of ideas. once you've mapped the whole earth, what is left for you to discover? yes, there's the bottom of the ocean, but philosophically what's left for you once that you know the whole earth is there? you have the exploration of ideas. and those ideas then take you to new places beyond earth. they take you to space. and i thought to myself at the time, you know, i really want to go to mars. like, with people. that's an uncommon view among my colleagues, my astrophysics colleagues. by and large, maybe 3 to 1 ratio, see no value in sending humans into space. now, that sentiment, by the way, is held by an entire generation of my colleagues who grew up in the 1960s wanting to become a
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scientist because of the manned program. and so there's a little bit of hypocrisy there, and i've taken them to task on it. not only that, it's in my judgment politically naive to think that nasa is simply your private science funding agency. more on that later. so i said to myself, well, how much would it cost to go to nasa -- to go to mars. let's say it cost -- i mean, we could do it tomorrow if it cost half a billion. let's say it costs a half a trillion dollars, let's say. [laughter] or even a trillion. that's expensive. that's a lot of money. actually, it's a small percent of our budget when spread out over many years, but nonetheless, it's a lot of money. pleasure and so for this chapter what i said to myself was i'm
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going to go back throughout the history of time and ask of the greatest projects ever undertaken by human beings what did you do to compel your community to invest in this way in and i'd make a whole chapter, maybe even flush it out to a book of all the things that drove humans to do great things. and then i'd like at the mission to mars, and i'd line it up in the matrix, and i'd say, okay, mars is this percent of our gdp. who else spent that percent of their gdp and what did they do about it? in my analysis contained in this chapter, the chapter's called paths to discovery. by the way, don't tell columbia press this, but you don't have to buy this book because that chapter was excerpted for the space chronicles book. [laughter]
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so i brought this just for historical continuity so you know what's behind all of this, how it all began. so i made a list of the most expensive things we've ever done as a species. we could agree with most of what appears on this list. the great wall of china. expensive in terms of human or financial capital. the great wall of china, the manhattan project, the apollo project, the cathedral building as an enterprise during the renaissance. the -- what else might we put there? how about the columbus voyages? very expensive to queen isabella and king ferdinand. the magellan voyages, the whole episode of those voyages. the pyramids. let's make our list. any gripe about that list that i've just tossed up there? sure. we'd all agree, major investments in human and financial capital. then i asked, what was the motivation for those?
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and in my list of the most expensive things we've ever done, i came up with only three drivers. three, no more than three, no fewer than three. the number one driver of them all is war. you can call it defense. that gets you the great wall of china. that gets you the manhattan project. in fact, that also gets you the apollo project. it's the i don't want to die driver, okay? [laughter] if you feel threatened and you're at risk, you will spend money without limit to not die. [laughter] okay. that's kind of an obvious one in retrospect. what's next? the prospect of gaining great economic wealth. not quite as potent as the i don't want to die driver, but it is really powerful operating on
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the motivations of nations. that's what gets you the columbus voyages. columbus himself was a discoverer, but somebody had to write the check. and the people who wrote the check said, oh, by the way, chris, while you're going, take these spanish flags with you and put them wherever you land. declare the land for spain. see if there are any riches there. you know, queen isabella didn't say to columbus with, oh, tell us what new things you learned about the botany of where you land. [laughter] no, no. he might be interested in it. his crew might be interested in it. but not the people who wrote the checks. third greatest driver, we see much less of this today than what was common hundreds of years ago, and that is the praise of royalty or deity. this ises the effort to appease -- this is the effort to appease an entity that is either perceived to be or is, or literally is more powerful than you are. so that's how you get the
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pyramids, that's how you get, um, you get the cathedral building. so today you don't have kings and gods motivating major funded projects of nations, but there was a day when we did. okay. so i said to myself, if we are going to go to mars and mars is expensive, it's going to have to satisfy one of those two criteria. otherwise we're just never going to mars. and this was my revelation. and that is the centerpiece of that chapter. and all the rest of what went on in human culture orbits that revelation in that chapter. and i said to myself, my gosh, i wonder how many people know this. because you hang around space enthusiasts, and what do they tell you? they'll say, oh, the reason we stopped going to the moon, we didn't have leaders.
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we needed visionary people. we stopped being risk takers. a whole list of arguments people will give you for why we are not in space right now, why we are not -- why the space frontier has not continued beyond humans landing on the moon. there's a whole list. i deduced that every -- without exception -- every item on this list was delusional. [laughter] it doesn't -- include other things. oh, we need to explore space for science because it's in our dna, because we're americans, and americans are explorers. all these reasons are given. my read of history tells me that none of those reasons matter to those who are writing the checks. that's the difference.
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and so i thought, well, i've got to tell people this. because if we're going to go to mars, then we have to motivate people in a way that's either militaristically driven, but nobody really wants that to be the reason, or economically driven. and so i started exploring in what ways our presence in space can satisfy one or the other or both of those criteria. i was even invited after that article was published, that chapter was published to a space development conference in washington. i was positioned between buzz aldrin and the fellow -- forgive me, i forgot his name -- who wrote "october sky." anybody remember the fellow's name? homer, yes, homer hickum. so these are like rah-rah folks, okay? one of them has actually been on the moon, the other one was
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inspired, so there's a lot of inspiration talk in front of me and behind me. but that's not what i talked about. i said any ambitions in space, if you expect them to be driven just by the will to want to go or by the longing for a charismatic leader, you are deluded. that was, i was blunt. said it right to buzz aldrin's face. [laughter] i mean, i was a little more polite about it at the time, but i just said, you know, i think you might be a little misdirected in your thinking. that's the polite way to say you are clueless about what's actually driving human motivation. [laughter] and so, okay, couple years would go by. i get a phone call. it's the white house. this is april 2001. the white house.
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it's the george w. bush white house. i get a phone call. they say, oh, is this neil degrasse? i say, yes. they say, oh, we want to check your interest to see if you would serve on a presidential commission. i said, a commission on what? i don't even know what a commission is. what, what -- first of all, i'm an academic, i don't hang out in washington. i don't know anything about washington. in academia politics is the barrier between where you're standing and where you want to go. whereas in washington politics is the currency of all interactions. so this is not my culture. they want me to come to washington to serve on a commission. i say, well, what's the title of the commission? the commission on the future of the united states' aerospace industry. and i said, you got the right tyson? you know, i fly in airplanes, i don't fly airplanes. [laughter] no, we know who you are, we've
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read your writings, we -- i said, could they have read, what, how -- and i said who else? so they read me the list of other people there, buzz aldrin was going to be on that commission. [laughter] and just in case you don't remember, buzz aldrin was apollo 11 astronaut, the second perp to walk on the moon -- person to walk on the moon of the first mission to the lunar surface. so, all right, there are 12 commissioners appointed to this. all right. now, i'm from new york city, born and raised. now, in new york you can go all day without ever even seeing a republican, okay? [laughter] [applause] am i lying? right? i'm not -- [laughter]
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it's always there goes one, he's in the corner, i think. [laughter] so i'm getting called by a republican president, and i'm an academic, and i've learned that george bush at yale did not do well in his astronomy class, you know in and they were still counting dimpled chads in florida. and so they said, well, we just have to ask you a few questions. and out came a series of questions. all the questions that are, like, illegal on a job application i got asked. [laughter] well, because it's not, it's an appointment, it's not a job, right? so the rules don't apply. what's your sexual preference? what's your religion? have you ever protested? have you ever been arrested for anything? have you ever protested and almost got arrested? [laughter] you know, it was this whole long series of questions. then, then towards -- i answered
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the questions, fine. and then it said are you familiar with the president's politics and policies? and i said, well, yes, but just from what i read in the paper, you know, i don't -- i'm not a politician. so, yeah, i think i'm familiar. and then they said what do you think of them? [laughter] so, um, as i said, how do i answer this? and what probably was only ten seconds of thought felt like it was many minutes before i uttered my reply. at the time george bush was appointing members of his cabinet, and some of them looked quite promising at the time. this was early 2001. colin powell was just announced as one of his chief advisers and condoleezza rice who was, like, provost at stanford, right? so these are educated people. he's appointing people smarter
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than he is. that, okay, there's some hope there, i thought to myself. [laughter] so i said -- what i really wanted to do was reach through the phone and say -- [laughter] dimpled chads and the -- and i said, but that would not be productive. they're trying to do good here. [laughter] and be so i gained my composure, and like i said, it was probably only ten seconds although it felt like minutes, i replied. i said, i applaud the president's efforts to surround himself with talented people so that he can make the best decisions he can in the interest of this nation. [laughter] [applause] that was thursday. by monday i was appoint today a presidential commission to study the future of the united states' aerospace industry. i would learn that i was the
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lone academic on this commission. i would learn that coming from my left-of-liberal postures having been born and raised in new york coming from a liberal family, i would learn that in order to have a conversation with those who are not you cannot stand there and have that conversation. it doesn't work. because there's actually a smoke screen there. and way on the far right -- [laughter] there's a smoke screen too. you can't have that conversation. this is what the television news talk shows do. they get people with hot air on both ends, and at the end there's just more hot air. you actually have to crawl out of those zones and stand in the middle and then have that conversation. and over the period of that commission, that's what i did. and upon doing so i would learn things about the far right. i would not have known or even
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seen or understood. and so, in fact, it was quite illuminating for me to have this experience. i'll give you an example of a liberal spoke screen bias. because there are biases on each extreme, and it's hard to see them when you're there. you have to step out and look back. here's a bleeding liberal, a bleeding heart liberal bias, you ready? because nobody in new york liked bush, right? so i said, well, i was appointed to a bush commission. they said, oh, they appointed you because you're black. [laughter] okay. um, actually, there's another black person on the commission. a four-star air force general. so the argument evaporates immediately. it is no argument. okay? there were, there were two well
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on the panel -- women on the panel. one of them an aerospace analyst for wall street, another a former member of congress who had air force bases in her district in florida. other people there, there's the head of aerospace at lockheed martin. there was, of course, buzz aldrin who's been on the room. you know, as we go around introducing ourselves, it's tough to follow buzz aldrin. i've been on the moon. okay, we're done. i got nothing to -- [laughter] i can't, i got nothing on that, okay? [laughter] you know, um, what was in that meeting what i know is that everybody there reeked of testosterone because they were captains of industry, heads of agency, former, you know, security advisers. even the women had testosterone. like i said, the curts analyst for wall street -- securities analyst for wall street anything she would say or write about
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your company would effect your stock price. you know, they treated her kindly. [laughter] now, why did i, why am i even taking you down this road? i'm just trying to share with you my baptism into this world of aerospace and nasa and what i've done about it since then. all right. that commission was formed because -- oh, back up one moment. twelve members of the commission. a white house commission, but the rules are six members are appointed by congress. six members are appointed by the white house. of the six members appointed by congress, what was it, there was a mix that reflected the partisan split in congress at the time. okay? so this is, they're trying to be politically fair as they construct this, but since it's a white house commission, the white house appoints six people.
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bush could have appointed six republicans, but he didn't. i am not a republican. that was one of the questions they asked me, what is your political affiliation. you know they're going to ask me that if they're going to ask me what religion i am and what's my sexual preference. so i said i'm a registered democrat. so that was known to them. i was, nonetheless, hired. so the talk that bush, they'd never -- no, this is false. it's part of the smoke screen that exists at the limits of each of the political spectrum. so i'm there and, apparently, in the previous 15 years the aerospace industry had lost half a million jobs. there'd been huge consolidation from dozens and dozens of companies down to just four or five. that's why these aerospace companies have joint names; lockheed martin. all right, where'd that come from? it used to be just lockheed. these companies started collapsing down into just a few.
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congress was worried what effect this would have on the aerospace industry of the nation. because aerospace is responsible for military airborne security, it's responsible for our transportation, for commerce. they recognized it was a fundamental part of what it is to live in america in the 21st century, and they wanted to get to the bottom of it. and many of the, many of the aerospace companies they not only make the airplanes, they make the spaceships. and so we had aero people on the commission and space people on the commission. i was counted as one of the space people. one of the trips we took was around the world. this was -- this is late 2002. around the world to key places that have burgeoning aerospace industries to find out is there some competition that we're not living up to, what are they doing that we're not. we visited china. i went to beijing in 2002, my first time there. i went there with a complete
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portfolio of stereotypes about what i would expect. boulevards of bicycles, right? this is what i expected. that's what was on the film loops that i saw growing up. we arrive in beijing, yeah, there are bicycles, but that's not what's filling the boulevards. there's mercedes and voc a wagons and -- volkswagens and bmws. it's not like any picture i had seen. we meet with captains of industry there, heads of agency there, and i look carefully, and i see on their hand college rings, graduate degrees from american universities in engineering. almost every one of the leaders of, that were shaping the future culture, the future industrial culture of china were trained
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and educated here in america in engineering schools. we took an excursion to the great wall of china. i'd never been there, all right? i'm on the great wall, the wall just goes -- [laughter] and then it disappears in the mist, right? you can't see the end of it. there it is. i look in every direction, there's only bricks that made the wall, okay? oh, by the way, do you know what defined the distance between the turrets? there's a set, there's a reason for the distance that was set between where the turrets are. that's exactly right. it had to do with the precision with which an archer can kill you at a distance. so the turrets are twice that distance. so anyone climbing over, they can take you out. it's a military project as we've already agreed. oh, not only that, the stairs
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within the turrets turn in a particular way so that if you're right-handed, the side where you're carrying the bow doesn't rub into someone coming up the stairs in the other directionment military thinking at the time. anyhow, had nothing to do with -- that's just an aside. [laughter] so i am on the great wall of china, and i don't see any technology anywhere. this is out in the middle of the boonnies. oh, by the way, there were, like, chinese peasants that had come in from -- i'm guessing they were pez santas because they were very sun-darkened and not very well dressed, but this is, nonetheless, a tourist trip for them. none of them were looking at the wall. they all wanted to photograph themselves next to me. [laughter] apparently, i was more interesting than the wall. [laughter] the only black person they've ever seen in their lives. [laughter] so i said i'm going to just try
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something. i went to a friend of mine, i said can i borrow your cell phone for a minute, they had a gsm-enabled cell phone. i called my parents in westchester, new york. dialed the number. my mother answers. i said, mom? she said, oh, are you home so soon? that's how good that connection was. [laughter] i'm on the great wall of china. there's no antennas anymore, i don't see any electricity, i don't see anything, and i'm having a conversation with my mother, and she thinks i am back home. [laughter] there was nobody in china saying, can you hear me now? can you hear me now? [laughter] something was underfoot in china. something was going on there that we were in denial of.
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visited russia, star city. the head of star city. we're there, we had buzz aldrin with us. there's a book in their offices signed by folks who have been to orbit. and so it was a nice ritual ceremony where buzz aldrin comes out and signs the book. there's a statue of uri get garon standing out in front. it was 10:30 in the morning, and we all crowd into the head of the center's office. he says, oh, it's 10:30, he opens up the cabinet, time for vodka. [laughter] ..
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we visited all these countries. but here's russia to i don't even know the alphabet. i recognize, some of them look like the letter pi, that's about it. but when we started talking about space, there was a bond there that i did not share with any other community around the world. even though we were sworn enemies during the cold war, we alone embarked on that grandest adventures. to explore space. there was a camaraderie, a kinship. even though we did not speak the
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same language, but i felt it and it was deep. it was in the culture. it was in the timber of our interaction. i'll never forget the feeling that i had been in the presence. and in the gift shop where all these trinkets that are inspired by space achievements. one of my most cherished possessions in my office, it might be in one of the youtube's emma office if you stumble on it, it's a set of dolls, norman what do you find rex secrets of heads of state usually, or some, or people you don't recognize, right? this set of dolls had russian spacecraft. the biggest of which, the international space station. our partner. and the littlest of which was what? sputnik, of course. thank you to set of dolls.
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[laughter] somebody said i'm tired of looking at gorbachev space on my dolls. give me technology. gave me the frontier of space. in brussels we meet a coordinated set of the european union's representatives because they're getting together to explore space together, embark on space adventures together. and one of the issues was we were perfecting our gps. yes, it was a military funded project, but once it became part of our commerce, then the ownership in a way kind of shifted from the military to the public. our planes are equipped with gps. gps receivers, so they can find their way around the world. europe was planning a competing system to gps system, called galileo. it's extremely expensive to do
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this. we are there, remember, this is the aerospace commission. we said you could use our gps, what's the matter? we want to build our own. our worry was that if they build it then they will require every one of our airplanes to be equipped with their galileo receivers, upping the cost of equipping all of our airplanes which is already in a bad economic state. so we are at the table, and i remember the guy sitting across from me. he was kind of smug. we were saying we want you to use this, and they were just doing this on their own. we were almost begging actually because we had economic issues that we had to protect, and this guy was kind of smug. and i think his chair might've been a little higher than mine, you know? sometimes people do that, you know? and i had an epiphany that
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moment. i said to myself, i am angry. i am just off -- pissed off. not because this guy was smug, not because here is an industry, here is an enterprise that we and the russians i neared, and we are sitting -- pioneered, and we're sitting at a table bargaining as with soybeans, as though it is some kind of trade that we have to resolve. and i said, i don't have experience in this state of mind as an american. certainly not with regard to technology. i grew up, he grew up at a time when america led technology and when you leave the world, you never find yourself at a bargaining table. begging for somebody, no come
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you're so far ahead of the world they don't even know how to sit at the same table with you. that's the america i grew up in. and for me to bear witness to this exchange, i was angry at america. because we had lost our way. we were coasting on the investment of the previous generation. coasting. when you coast you eventually slow down. and stop. you can coast for a while, and you think everything is going well, because they're still the time delay between innovations and whenever themselves economically in another. i was angry. meanwhile, i come back to america and i try to share some of these ideas with people, and everyone is talking about -- i love me some saturn five, don't
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get me wrong. i even have a saturn five tie which i did not wear today. i worry different i. [laughter] that's okay. six of you like my tie, that's fine. [laughter] i have about 100 ties. this is one of them. anytime people talked about this page, they kept referencing the golden era of space. i don't have a problem with that except another republican ordered observation came upon me. have you ever seen the saturn five up close? there's like four of them. one is standing vertically in huntsville, alabama, where the saturn five was invented. actually they have to, how greedy of them. one is standing vertically and it's among. another one is in captivity in a museum space with each segment
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is an actual rocket part, segments that would have been flown had we continued making the saturn five the on the apollo 17. and so you have the rocket with pieces separated so you can stand between them and observe them. so there's two in huntsville. there's one in florida. there's one in houston. so i think that's a total of four. someone in the audience agrees. so you go visit these saturn five rockets and you just can't believe it. you look at one of the engine nozzles out of the five at the base, engine nozzle big enough to have a tea party for five in a single nozzle, and to walk the length of the. it is 32 stories long, reduced restore. you see the tiny little capsule at top with the astronauts were. this is the famous rocket equation manifest mars, the rocket equation tells you that
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for every sort of little bit of payload you want to put up, you need that much more fuel to launch the fuel that you haven't burned yet. okay? so this rapidly runs away from you and your spaceships have to get exponentially large. depending on the size of your payload. so that's why the saturn five rocket is 31 stories of fuel, for stories of astronaut, and lunar lander. so here we are genuflecting in front of this piece of hardware saying look how we did it back then, my gosh. revelation number four, why am i genuflecting in front of the saturn five rocket? it was the first rocket ever to leave low-earth orbit and go someplace. and we did it how many times? eight times. is that right? don't have the time right?
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was that? thank you. a politician. so we did it nine times. apollo 10 went to the moon, descended towards the lunar surface, and then back out. if you are that astronaut -- [laughter] i would've said houston, i can't hear you. [laughter] no come you're breaking up. okay, we've got to land. [laughter] so, where was i before interrupted myself? [laughter] genuflecting in front of the saturn five, the first spaceship to take people out of low-earth orbit and go somewhere. and i said well, is there any piece of technology that you can name where you were genuflecting
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in front of the first version of it? wondering how they did it. the first cell phone. [laughter] are you saying, wow, look at that. i wonder how they did that. the first television, a little circle this big. the first computer was half the size of this room. you say yet complete in a museum but i don't want to do that. every former technology, the first version of it looks more and more quite. so you dusted off and put it in the corner of the museum and forget about it. yet we are still cherishing the saturn five rocket, the rocket that is 40 years old. 45 years old. so i knew something else was wrong with america. if you keep raising the first of something, it meant nothing came after it.
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more evidence that we stopped dreaming. we stopped exploring. so what happens? the apollo era ends, 1972 apollo 17, the last of the apollo missions to the moon. oh, by the way, if size really mattered to nasa, how many scientists would have gone? we would have scientists and every nation. we didn't. one scientist went to the moon. harrison schmitt, jack schmitt. and that was the last mission to the moon. let's not kid ourselves. kennedy's speech, may 25, 1961, 6 weeks after uri had gone into orbit and come back safely, we didn't yet have a vehicle that wouldn't deliver astros going into orbit. john f. kennedy stands up in the second state the union address
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of the year, may 25, 1961, and others these prophetic words, we will put a man on the moon and return safely to earth. we collectively have cleansed our memory of that era and of that speech. and in the cleansing we think it can be as a visionary. as a charismatic leader who dreams of space like the rest of us. and some of the rhetoric around the part of speech. he talks about exploring space and the value of that to mankind. back then is okay to say mankind. this was 1961. so go to paragraphs earlier in the same speech. what did he say there? how about that? i'll tell you -- by the way, kennedy space center, there's a bust of him right in the front
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entrance. there is a whole granite wall behind them and they have the excerpt of his speech when he says we'll put a man on moon and bring safely back to earth but it's right there. to paragraphs earlier if events of recent weeks, he's indirectly referencing yuri gagarin, if events of recent weeks are any indication of the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, that we must show the world the path of freedom over the path of tyranny. it was a battle cry against communism. that's the war driver that led to checkwriting that created the nasa centers, and garnered the fraction of the federal budget that getting to the moon required. why isn't that part of his speech on the granite wall at kennedy space center? plenty of room there. i checked.
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[laughter] you could summarize and they killed economies, go to the moon, okay? it will fit just fine. [laughter] [applause] >> that's part of the delusional thinking that goes on. so we stopped going to the moon, upon learning essentially that russia cannot get to the moon, russia is not going to get there. they stop their moon program. by the way, russia beat us in practically every space achievement in tilden. first satellite, first living thing in for the first human in order. first woman in orbit. first black person in orbit. remember, cuba was friends with soviet union. first space docking, first space station. just go down the list. in fact how else do we remember ourselves back then? as space pioneers?
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no. in practically every decision we made regarding space was in reaction to something the soviet union did, or reaction to something they said they were going to do. we didn't lead any of those achievements. we trailed them. another delusional point from that era. so now we stopped going to them and. the space enthusiasts are saying we just need another leader here and now to continue this, because mars is in reach. let's keep going to mars. no. there's no reason to go to mars, because russia is not going to mars. so the whole program ends. it just ends. and people are looking for things to blame, other than the fact that the soviet union did not commit to the moon.
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it's that simple. really. i promise. let's go forward on little further. 1989, july 20, depths of the museum in washington, d.c. george herbert walker bush, president of the united states uses this auspicious moment to stand on the steps of that auspicious, of that, one of the greatest museums on earth, the museum of national air and space museum. on the 20th anniversary of the apollo landing. he says we will build a space station and a colony on the moon and go on to mars. he wanted to give like a kennedy speech. well, in his speech there was more driver? no. he just took the glowing rhetoric part. he referenced columbus and the
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discoveries in our genes as humans and as americans. he went down that path, that delusional path. he went down, and so he says let's do this. it will take 30 years but let's do this. so than some folks at johnson space center costed out this plan, half a trillion dollars. it was doa in congress. half a trillion dollars, so we did and it. are people saying he didn't have the charisma of kennedy. he certainly had an auspicious occasion. he didn't have the charisma, they say. it's got nothing to do with charisma. what happened in 1989? peace broke out in europe. that's what happened in 1989. you want to do a half a trillion
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dollars logic in your not even at war? who are you kidding? what he was missing was not kennedy's charisma, which, that may be true but that's not what industry with anybody following his plan. not only that, nasa's budget in constant dollars so you can compare this accurately was, $17 billion a year. multiply that by 30 years, you've got half a trillion dollars. the half a trillion was already in the flow of money into nasa. so does it cost half a trillion, we can't afford it, that's a lie. that's how much money you've given us in 30 years anyway. so all this delusional thinking going on out there. the original title of this book,
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submitted to the publisher was failure to launch, the dreams and delusions of space enthusiasts. and they said no, no, no. that's too depressing. we can't have the word failure in the title because that would just be bad. i may try to wrap up here because i am just ranting now. i will be deleting from my eyes. [laughter] don't get me started. all right, in the decade of the '60s, that was arguably the most turbulent decade in american history since the civil war. 100 years earlier. there was a cold war, there was a hot war. we were losing 100 servicemen a week.
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in southwest untangle southeast asia, vietnam. campus unrest, protests, students, people getting arrested. the one shining beacon of that decade was the apollo program. the end of 1968 apollo eight, the first mission to leave low-earth orbit. it did a figure eight loop around the moon. coming around the backside of the moon, one of the astronauts picked up his camera, saw the beautiful lunar landscape, folded up to take a photo, and there rose earth. earth has never before seen by human eyes.
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that picture called earthrise is one of the most recognized pictures there ever was. earthrise. i have a gripe with the title because of course -- [laughter] relative to earth, the moon doesn't rotate. it always shows the face towards us which means earth is always in the sky from the near side of the moon. the earth doesn't rise to the moon but it is either never there are always there. so it leads people to believe -- the rose on the moon because they were moving around the moon. that's why. when you do that, stuff comes up that doesn't belong, doesn't it? it's not supposed to come up, all right? what else happened in the 1960s? people dreamed about tomorrow. you didn't have to go along, there's folks old enough and you to remember.
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you go a week at most, an article in "life" magazine, look magazine, "time" magazine, talk about the city of tomorrow, the home of tomorrow. transportation of tomorrow. no, we never got the flying cars. i'm still angry about that, but nonetheless we were dreaming. we were imagining a tomorrow, and he would enable that tomorrow, but scientists and technologists and engineers. they are the enablers of tomorrow's dreams. that was understood in that decade. we had and innovation decade. what do you think the world's fair was all about right here in flushing meadows? it was about tomorrow. 1964, we are on our way to the moon in 1964. the gemini program is testing pieces of the moon voyage, one by one, each next mission more ambitious than the next. 1964 was all about tomorrow.
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the unit sphere, that's not just a global of the earth. it has three rings around. where do you think they got that idea? john glenn's three orbits around the earth. space was inspiring a nation to dream about tomorrow. it was inspiring innovation. steve jobs and bill gates with a 14 and 13, i think i've written here, 13 and 14 when we landed on the moon. i submit to you that in spite of the moon voyage being driven with military motives, that the return on that investment is huge economically. and i'm not talking about schedules, i could but i'm not. we love spin-offs, okay?
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there's some great spinoffs from nasa. among them is the capacity to perform lasik surgery accurately inexpensively. lasix surgery predates nasa but it was expensive and it didn't always work. the algorithms and the laser guidance that enable the space shuttle to dock with the space station accurately without bumping into having to try four times, how many people here who have had lasik -- one person and the whole place has lasik surgery? [laughter] and she's not wearing glasses. and you know of course hang predates nasa but it became the choice for them to this day. i know not know why. the point is, you know, if you're into spinoffs, every
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year, every couple years nasa comes out with a spinoff. each product that was patented because of space motivation that became a product is described here in every one of these volumes. this is 2009, i think there's been some since then. it's beautifully composed and written. some interesting ones. there is an integral clear device that enables deaf people do. even low-tech solutions like grooved payment. have you ever seen turns on highways that have groups? nasa figured out that is a good thing to do. you might say why didn't anybody else think about it? they were not motivated to do so. if someone says i don't want the shuttle skipping down the runway, the shuttle does not have propulsion on the runway as it lands. it is a glider, and so you want that stuff to stay straight.
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they think about the shuttle that went into the space more than they care about your car. that's an important fact here. so yes, there are spinoffs and they go on and on. in the book i write a paragraph carefully compose what talk about removing everything from your home that was inspired by the directly or indirectly by space technology, and you would wake up with technological popper, in a deep state of poverty, technological poverty with bad eyesight. [laughter] and you'll go out and get rained upon because you would not have gotten an accurate weather forecast. i claim that this is not even the best reason to do so. and dare i say, science has never caused any governance to stand huge sums of money. there's a radar level below
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which will pay for such. hubble telescope sort of kiss that boundary. but above that independent on the wealth of the nation determines how much science will do. above that level, it takes multiple years to fund it, and the checkwriting agencies, the checkwriting political entities, interest to do it has to survive changes in political leadership and fluctuations in the economy. that's what advice do let's go to mars so we can do science, if there's a downturn in the economy the press goes to the unemployment line and the person says, i can't feed my family, my house has been foreclosed and the reporter says, but we are going to mars. it doesn't play well. that's why only two drivers work. the i don't want to die driver,
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and i don't want to die before driver, okay? i claim that in the 1960s, not only did nasa innovate because you have to innovate when you advance a frontier, we created ourselves and innovation culture. steve jobs and bill gates did not end up working for nasa. they ended up innovating, okay? is a culture of innovation. you are inventing tomorrow. i now claim, i'm almost done here, i now claim that nasa is an engine of motivation, such as the world has never seen. not only do you benefit from the innovations of advancing a space frontier, if you advance a space frontier in a big way, writ
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large across the headlines, we are going to mars, we're going to the backside of the moon, we're going to stop the asteroid. by the way, there might be geopolitical reasons to go into space. i'm not going to debate that. there could be future arrested reasons, scientific reasons. it could be exploited reasons for going into space, like we want to mine the moon. i insert that if you want to create a healthy space, space platform where you strapped rockets and whatever you need for the task at hand, you don't make a destination driven space program. no, i'm not going to say let's go to mars, because then you get to mars, then what? if you're laying out the interstate system in the united states, you don't say let's only go to l.a., you know? that's not how you do it. you put roads everywhere and people choose what you want to go in when they want to go, for
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whatever reasons they come up with. so for me a healthy space program is one that can choose to go anywhere. there could be military reasons, economic reasons, what ever are the reasons that confront us. all right, so now when you innovate, and its writ large, you have brand advocate ventures that echo through the educational pipeline. how might it do it? i stand up in front of an eighth grade class and i said who wants to be an aerospace engineer? so that you can design a plane that is 10% in your fuel efficient than the ones your parents flew? that's one scenario. who wants to be an aerospace engineer so that you can design an airplane that can navigate that rarefied atmosphere of mars, i will be getting the best
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students in class. not everybody cares about fuel efficiency. we want them to, but that's not how you get smart people to express their smarts. we tell ourselves we live in a free country. is a smart person is interested, whatever they're interested in, they ought to be able to do that because when they do, everybody benefits. there's all this talk, why get advances this roundabout way? let's put money where the properties. no, it doesn't work that way. walk into a hospital with a ledger, make a list of every machine in the hospital with an on off switch. every machine that was brought into the service of diagnosing the condition of your body without cutting you open. you will learn that everyone of those machines is based on the principle of physics discovered by a physicist who had no
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interest in medicine. write him back to x-rays themselves. the very first nobel prize in physics went to him. that nobel prize was not in physiology. it was in physics. its physiological applications were manifest immediately, of course. i see my bones on the photographic plane to take it over to the hospital. go, go for it. i want to get the next thing going here in my lab, right? so you need medical technologists to create these machines, the crossbones vision of disciplines. the entire radiology department of a hospital is based on nuclear physics. the magnetic resonance imaging come probably the most useful machine in the hospital today, is based on a principle called nuclear magnetic resonance. it's got the other inward,
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nuclear. so they remove it from the hospital device because it spokespeople here get into this nuclear machine. i'm not getting -- [laughter] i'm fine, okay. that's based on a principle discovered by physicists who happened to be my college physics professor. basically he was doing astrophysics, concerning itself with the behavior of atomic nuclei in the interests are medium, interstellar space. so you want to fund all the frontiers. now, how are you going to motivate that? all i'm saying is when you go into space, everybody knows about it. if you just fund the national science foundation, those same kids in eighth grade class, has anyone ever stood up and said, when i grow up i want to be an innocent researcher.
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i've never seen that, i'm sorry. but they have heard of nasa. so has the rest of the world. so i see a healthy nasa i say double its budget, dublin. right now it's a half a penny on your tax dollar, did you know that? 100% of everyone who tells me why are we spending money up there and not down your? we're spending too much up there. 100% of us did not know that nasa's budget is one half of 1% of your tax dollar. and i have measured this out. you can take 1 dollar bill and cut horizontally one half of 1% of that with. it doesn't even get you into the ink. [laughter] [applause] so, double it, then we could go to mars in a big way.
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yes. we can check that asteroid that has us in our sights. we can go back to the moon and yes put a colony on the moon. just because gingrich is republican doesn't mean he doesn't have an okay idea about this. [laughter] what might be the motivation? it could be economic, whatever is the reason. if you're advancing a front to you innovate, and when you innovate you invent things that drive to mars economies because right now america is sliding backwards. the rest of the world is passing us by. we are practically, we are in a recession. jobs are going overseas. there's not enough scientists in the pipeline. everybody wants to put a band-aid on each problem. jobs going overseas? let's change the terrace and give tax incentives to companies who want to keep their jobs here. oh, we need better, more scientists, make better science teachers. okay, and you are all these
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band-aids going around. if you double nasa's budget and we going to space in a big way and it is writ large across the newspapers, we resurrect the innovation culture that prevails 40 years ago. nobody day is thinking about tomorrow. nobody is thinking about a world's fair. i don't member the last time i saw an article training about the city of tomorrow. they all ended. do you know when it ended? after we stopped going to the moon. so i submit that a healthy nasa is a healthy america. and the two, as nasa's future goes, so too does that of a america. and if nasa is healthy, then you don't need a program to convince people that science and engineering is good to do because they will see it writ
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large on the paper. there will be calls for engineers to help us go ice fishing on europa where there's an ocean of water that has been liquid for billions of years. we are going to dig through the source of mars and look for life. that will get me the best but i'll just. look at the nasa portfolio today. it as biology, chemistry, physics, geology, plan a geology, aerospace engineers, electrical engineers. all the stem fields, science, technology, engineering and math represented in the nasa portfolio, a healthy nasa pumps that. a healthy nasa is a flywheel that society task for innovation. i don't know of another force of nature as powerful as nasa. and in this next-generation we going because when you do stoke our economy and that's one of the two big reasons in nation has ever done anything. and i'm not so naïve as to say let's go for science. science will piggyback it.
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we have done that forever. right on back to charles darwin. did the beagle go to the galapagos island for charles darwin? no, he hitched a ride. you to pay the avoid? no. and other motivation. science piggybacks the stuff pretty well, and i'm cool with that. [laughter] one last thing before the end. this book came out only like two weeks ago, all right? thank you. thank you. [applause] because what i just told you touches on politics and on economics, what has happened is the interest in this book has crossed over and out of the
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circle of space enthusiasts, and has gotten the interests of economists and politicians. to the point, i'm just, i'm enchanted by this. so, foreign affairs magazine excerpted the first chapter of this for a cover story, the case for space. this lands in the lap of every single congressman in washington. in a week of this book being released in this article appearing, i get a phone call -- [laughter] i get a phone call to say we want you to testify in front of the senate. now, generally i don't like speaking directly to politicia politicians. [laughter] i don't mean it in any insulting way. no. what i mean by that is i'm an
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educator, i'm a scientist and it's my preference to speak to the electorate, to highlight, to inform, educate, to eliminate. in that way you choose the representative that you can and the best interests of your communities. for me to go straight to a politician who is representing 1 million people, or an entire state, i'm not comfortable doing that. so i testified. it's on you to. my testimony is six minutes of testimony. and i said, i don't know if anybody is listening, i don't know, it ended up on youtube. and the past week it has 200,000 views. and so i realized, and some the comments are very moving. people said they almost started crying because in their i am appealing, i am appealing for all of us to dream about tomorrow again. i don't know another force that
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will enable that, but the pathway that i just described. so i would like to believe that we are tapping something deep within us all, that once tomorrow to come again, and will certainly enjoy the economic benefits that come from it. because it shifts our vision from worrying about where your jobs are, to creating the jobs that issue forth from innovations. jobs that are high level jobs that are so innovative they can't go overseas because they haven't figured out how to do it yet. that's the state of the country i want to enter. [applause] [laughter] i just like messing with the sound people. [laughter]
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sorry. ghana have a little more volume? the sound guy over there. thank you, a little more. more. more. more. thank you. this is the only part of the book i'm going to read verbatim, and i will end with this, with your permission. i wrote this in the spring of 2008. dear nasa, happy birthday. perhaps you didn't know, but we are the same age. the first week of october, 1958, you were born at the national aeronautics and space act, the civilian space agency. what i was bored of my mother in the east bronx. [applause] thank you.
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so the year-long celebration of our golden anniversaries, which began the day after we both turned 49 provides me a unique occasion to reflect on our past and the present and her future. i was three years old when john glenn first orbited earth. i was eight when you lost astronauts and a tragic fire in the apollo one launchpad. i was 10 when you landed armstrong and alden on the moon. i was 14 when you stop going to the moon altogether. over that time i was excited for you and for america, but the vicarious thrill of the journey, so prevalent in the hearts and minds of others, was absent from my emotions. i was obviously too young to be an astronaut, but i also knew that my skin color was much too dark to picture me as part of
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that epic adventure. not only that, even though you're a civilian agency, the most celebrated astronauts were military highlight pilots. the civil rights movement was more real to me than it surely was to you. in fact, it took a directive from vice president johnson in 1963 to force you to hire black engineers at your prestigious marshall space flight center in huntsville, alabama. i found the correspondence in your archive. do you remember? james webb, then head of nasa, rugged german rocket pioneer who headed the center and was the chief engineer of the entire manned space program, the letter boldly and bluntly to address the lack of equal employment opportunities for negroes.
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and to collaborate with the area colleges, alabama, and him and his geeky to identify, train and recruit qualified negro engineers into the nasa huntsville facility. in 1964 come you and i have not yet turned six when i saw picketers outside the newly built apartment complex of our choice in the riverdale section of the bronx. they were protesting to prevent negro families, mina clute, from moving their. i'm glad their efforts fail. these buildings were called, perhaps prophetically, the skyview apartments. on his roof 22 stories above the bronx i would later train my telescope on the universe. my father was an activist, working under nuke cities mayor lindsay, to create job opportunities for youth in the ghetto. as the inner city was called back then.
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year after year the forces operating against this effort were huge. for schools, bad teachers, assassinate leaders. so while you were celebrating your monthly advances of space exploration, mercury to gemini, apollo, i was watching america do all it could to marginalize who i was and what i wanted to become. i look to you for guidance, for a vision statement i could adopt, to fuel my ambitions. but you were not there for me. of course, i shouldn't blame you for societies woes. your conduct was a symptom of america's habits, not a cause. i knew this. but you should nonetheless know that among my colleagues, i am the only one of my generation who became an astrophysicist in spite of your achievement in space, rather than because of
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them. for my inspiration i instead turned to the libraries, and my rooftop telescope, and the hayden planetarium. after some fits and starts were becoming an astrophysicist seems at times to be the path to most resistance, i became a professional scientist, i became an astrophysicist. over the decades that followed you've come a long way. including most recently the presidential initiated congressionally endorsed vision to fight it is out of low-earth orbit. whoever does not recognize the value of this adventure to our nation's future soon will ask the rest of the developed and developing world passes us by in every measure of technological and economic strength. not only that, today you look much more like america. from your senior level managers
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to your most decorated astronauts. congratulations, you now belong to the entire citizenry. examples disavow but i especially remember in 2004 when the public took ownership of the hubble telescope, your most beloved unmanned mission. they all spoke loudly come ultimately reversing the threat that the telescope might not be service to extend its life another decade. hovel transit and images of the cosmos. it spoke to us all, as did the personal profiles of the space shuttle astronauts, and the scientists benefiting from its datastream. not only that, i even joined the ranks of your most trusted. i served dutifully on your advisory council. i came to recognize that when you're at your best, nothing in this world can inspire the
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dreams of the nation the way you can. dreams carry by a river of ambitious students, eager to become scientists, engineers and technologists in the service of the greatest quests there ever was. you have come to represent a fundamental part of america's identity. not only to itself, but to the world. so, now that we have both turned 49, and where well and/or 50th orbit around the sun, i want you to know that i feel your pain and share your joys. and i look forward to seeing you back on the moon, but don't stop there. marrs beckons, as do destinations beyond. birthday buddy, even if i've not always been, i am now your humble servant. thank you.
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[applause] >> hiwe ran a little long, sorr, but i wanted to devote some time for questions. we have a microphone right at the front of each file. i welcome comments about anything or everything that has
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been bugging you or eating you, or critical, or supported, just. let's start here. >> you're talking about education automatically once people get more involved in the space program, but this seems to be a movement in this country to suppress education. your state legislatures saying that education isn't an investment in the future but some sort of program for welfare. and they're cutting back education eight and at the same time universities are cutting sides. every possible president can this is going to college is only for snobs and the only thing you learned there is to be brainwashed by liberal professors. in new jersey of a governor who's taking apart teachers -- >> i think we get the point. [laughter] but he is cutting back education and using the money to give tax benefits to millionaires. what's going on and what do we do about this and why is this
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happening? you think people would be looking for the future, not trying to distort. >> that's what i try not to speak to politicians. the question, you heard the question, there is a movement that is kind of anti-intellectual. >> at the educational. >> which is even worse. worse for the state of the nation, whose economic health and security depends on innovations that could be ride from being educated. and so my sense of this is what we need to do is to compel the nation itself to want to become educated, to want to go into space, to recognize that there's economic values, and once it becomes part of what we want for ourselves, it is in a fundamental part in dimension of who our elected officials are. we don't have to wait from one
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official to the next to see you as an education idea. it is our idea. i will give you an example. i've been asked, what would you do if you ahead of nasa? i don't want to be head of nasa. do you know why? because the head of nasa reports to the president and the president and the head of nasa a budget and that's what he's got to spend. i kind of like the fact that if i'm not in the command chain to the president, i'm just a citizen, that means the president works for me. and under those conditions -- [applause] -- you could motivate, under those conditions you motivate the electorate to demand that which is the best use of this nation and to the extent that we failed to act, our leaders will fail. >> how do you get past this will paid propagandist that is and education? you just can't get news coverage. >> i am happy to say that there
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are more youtube videos of me, one of them that went viral the last few days with 2 million views that is celebrating what it is to know about space. this is a measure of the appetite that people have for this adventure. and i tweet, right, i tweaked creepy weird things sometimes but i tweet, okay? and every tweet that resonates with every people, not every tweet but they sent to their followers. i have like 360,000 twitter followers. it's not just because i smile at them. it's because there's something that they are reading, that i'm feeding them. and i'm feeding them the universe. there's a cosmic appetite out there that remains to be fully served. and i'm just a piece of that puzzle. and there are others of my help out there.
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brian cox in the uk. he is more popular in the uk than carl sagan ever was here in america. they are is, in fact, hope for this world. and it's represented by the electorate, not by our elected officials. [applause] in my humble opinion. yes, sir. >> good evening. the way i see it, the 20th century belongs to america and russia, as well as space exploration. and not in hushed base station, i see that as one effort that has been some collaboration at the international level. you talk a lot about war and economies of the motivations for countries do it alone. but what about cooperation globally? when china coming into, japan, russia, america, we don't all go in the same direction, but come together to do something, a grand vision so to speak. and despite being a very big
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skeptic of you in and how the international system of functions, but is there some hope for us? >> the international space station is the greatest collaboration of nations, other than the waging of war. in terms of the size, the scale, the investment, the number of nations that participate. so it is quite a model for the cooperation of space as we go forward. but i'm reminded of the scene in the film 2010, which ostensibly was the sequel to 2001, where the russians and americans collaborate in space trying to find life on jupiter. and there some cold war incidents at an embassy or at an allied country, and it gets really ugly and nuclear weapons, then, the silos are opening. it gets so bad they have to into
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each other's embassies from their respective countries. and up comes the phone call at jupiter and it said, the russians have to leave the american ship, and the americans have to leave the russian ship. because we're having these problems down here on earth. that's just stupid, okay? and you know that's how it would happen. because there's politics driving all of us. so i'd like to believe that collaboration keeps nations at peace with each other, and since we're being economically driven in this idea rather than militaristic, then everybody could have a piece of that pie. all the nations of the will, some of which are in desperate need, greater need of an economic boost and even we are. so i agreed and the contacts of economic growth it would be a boon to everyone. thank you. >> thank you. >> i have a real estate question. spent real a state or realistic?
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>> real estate. i am a new york city resident, and a sore you, right? >> yes, i am. >> all right. as it pertains -- >> i have no idea where this question is going. no idea. [laughter] >> all right. as it pertains to sea level rise, i feel more comfortable knowing that -- >> so i can drown alongside you. >> so if i were looking to buy an apartment right now, which is advise against a ground-level apartment? what for which is that i should be looking at for the minimum. [laughter] >> i would advise that you -- [laughter] here's the problem. we now live in a culture, this is so not the '60s in this regard, we now live in a culture where disaster is in pending come and the first people, the
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first thing people think of is run. or, buy out the toilet paper. clear out the water from the shelves. the hurricane is coming, the tornado is coming. hide. if you're surrounded by scientists and engineers, that's not their first reaction. the first reaction is, how can i stop this? how can i deflect a? how can i prevent this from ever happening again? ..
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>> i see them as interesting challenges to solve. and so why not view this as an occasion to solve the problem of the melting icecaps rather than to distract yourself with what apartment to buy to avoid it? [applause] yes, sir. >> hello, dr. tyson. >> hello. >> i just had a question. you cited economic incentives as one of the main drivers of future exploration in space. i was just wondering if you could see corporations being at the forefront of space exploration as opposed to the governments of the world. >> that will never happen, ever. [laughter] another delusional point that i make in the book. all these people say let corporations do it. even newt gingrich while he's pandering, as politicians do regionally, to the space community of florida where you find kennedy space center. he says let's get corporations up there, and it was a rah-rah,
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all right? no. no. no anytime this is important -- you all seated? you're seated. except the people lined up. if something is expensive, which space exploration is, if something is dangerous, which space exploration is, if something has unmeasured risks, which space exploration is, it cannot be done by private enterprise because you cannot create a capital markets valuation of it. you can't -- i'm just saying, the way it works is i'm looking for investors. what's my return on my investment? here's the risks, here's the cost, here's the rate of return. you cannot do that for something that expensive and that dangerous that you've never done before. you cannot get investors for that. you could never have gotten investors for that.
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columbus was paid by governments. he drew the maps. he found out where the tradewinds are. he found out where the hostile folks are where he landed and where the happy tokes are. he found out where the wood supply was to fix his boats. then he goes back, the maps are understood, then comes the dutch east india trading company. the railroads across the country, somebody had to acquire that land. it was called the government. somebody had to figure out where the good indians were and the bad indians were. somebody had to figure out where the mountains and the valleys were. that was spotted with thomas jefferson and lewis and clark and other expeditions that went out there. you draw the maps, then private enterprise comes. so what role would or could likely private enterprise play? where the patents have already been granted and the risks are
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assessed and the dangers are understood. that would be low-earth orbit. nasa's been there and done that. it's still dangerous, but we understand the dangers, we can quantify them. sure, let nasa pay a private enterprise to take us to the space station. let private enterprise take tourists to space, i don't have a problem with that. we live in a free market society. free markets should go wherever an investment pays a return. and if that includes space, let it be so. but my read of the history of human conduct tells me it will never be the frontier of space. that will always need to be reserved for the wisdom of governments. [applause] thank you. yeah. >> hi. two-part question based on my trip to huntsville almost 12 years ago with my son. one is the saturn 5 was awesome,
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but the stuff they were talking about where space travel could go and what they could do, that was really awesome. what happened to all of that stuff that was sort of happening and sort of fell apart? part one. part two, that son -- >> why did we stop dreaming? >> yes. >> okay. >> part two, my son wanted to work for nasa. he spent two years math, physic, good at it, be talented. do you know what he wants to do now? be a math teacher. which is not a bad thing, but we're losing our best and brightest because all that is gone. >> it's not good enough just to have a better science teacher in the classroom because when the science teacher is gone because you move on to the next year, maybe a flame was lit, but something has to fan that flame. occasionally, you have to reignite it as anyone who barbecues knows -- >> but -- >> so as you move forward if there's a grand vision there, it
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becomes self-driven. >> what do we do with the generation of kids who were so into it -- >> i wouldn't say wind is out of their sails, the rocket fuel is out of their launch vehicle. [laughter] yeah, it's a lost generation in that regard. that's the grim reality of it. there's no polite way to put it. so a lot of them -- but they're very hire bl, they just won't be working in the fields in which they were trained. specifically those fields for which they had ambitions to work. that's the lost generation of americans in this, the 21st century. have a nice day. [laughter] okay. sorry. yes. >> yeah, hi. i just wanted to expound on your death/war/wealth hypothesis. >> uh-huh. >> and i think it's the wise mission, it's the one where they map all the killer asteroids -- >> many missions have the capacity to map killer
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asteroids, and so wise would be among them, yes. wise is an acronym. >> okay. so then that actually, because of what you said, that might be a driver to have, actually, knock one out. >> yeah. so it's a defense project at that level. >> yeah. >> you want to, you know, so while we are visiting the solar system which now becomes our backyard, oh, there's an asteroid coming. well, trap on this combination of rockets and take it out. i don't want the reason to fund the space program to be so that we can deflect an asteroid. because once we inventory them all and we find out the next one that needs deflection in 100 years, the funding goes away. >> but wouldn't that not create spin-off? and also what's the amount of unknowns? >> all of this can create spin-offs. but you get spin-offs. i'm not arguing the spin-offs. there are always spin-offs. but these are not the spin-offs i'm talking about. i'm talking about the effect on a culture where everybody wants
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to innovate whether or not they're in the space program. that's the real economic driver. >> but you don't, you don't think saving the world is -- >> it will, it will quadruple nasa's funding. and then we get a better measurement to the asteroid, and we find out it's not going to hit us, and all the funding dries up just as it did after we landed on the moon. that is the wrong starter information to get a healthy space program. >> okay, you don't -- >> it'll work, but it'll be a one-off. >> but isn't that not a bridge too far? i mean, that's a way to gap. >> it is. the problem is our data on asteroids are on time scales longer than the re-election time of our representatives. [laughter] [applause] 88% of congress runs for re-election every two years. 88%. of senators and congressmen are on the block every two years. and i say there's an asteroid that's going to come in 100
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years? i'm not, i'm not going there. it'll work when the time comes. fine. but, you know, it might not work because if we don't do space between now and then, it might be too late to start a new space program to make that happen. and you know something? if we go extinct by an asteroid yet had a space program available to us to have deflected it, we would be the laughing stock of aliens in the glax -- galaxy. [laughter] what? they had opposable thumbs and they had a space program, yet they went extinct? [laughter] like the pea-brained dinosaurs before them? [laughter] they had an excuse. they didn't have opposable thumbs. [laughter] we're running long. we'll just take a few more questions, and i don't know if we'll get to everybody on the line. sir, love the hat, by the way. >> thank you. >> yes. >> my question is it seems to me that competition is what kind of drove the space age.
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the competition between the united states or capitalism and competition between the soviet union and communism. that doesn't seem to be, it doesn't seem to be a need for competitive -- there ises no competition now. >> oh, okay. so today, so the question is back then we were in competition. it was a military contest. right now we have a kind of an economic competition going on with china. um, and i wouldn't quite say there's a military conflict there, but i can tell you this, i've actually fantasized about this getting back to the military driver. i wanted to go visit the heads of state of china and whisper to them, psst -- [laughter] i need you to leak a memo. doesn't even have to be true, just leak a memo that says you want to put military bases on mars, okay? [laughter] [applause] we'd be on mars in two years. and you know how easy that would
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be in china? because, like, mars is already red, right? so you can mark it that. [laughter] that would, you got that one. so competition does sort of fuel fires, yes. and with regard to the collaboration on a space station, um, collaboration, i think, is better than noncollaborating, but if you see any of those other companies as your economic competitor, it may be greater incentive for you to not join with them and try to beat them. all right? this is what humans do. all right? we can be in denial of it, but, in fact, it's some of the greatest drivers there ever was. so i try to be honest with ourselves about what it is to be human and what it is to get the job done. yes. here is what i'll do. um, we'll end the line with who's standing now, and i'm going to give you sound bite answers. i'm going to prevend i'm on jon stewart, okay? and that way we'll get through you quickly, and then we'll call
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it a night, okay? rather than whole, flushed-out answers. >> my question is, granted, you gather enough collective will of the people to give the motivation, economic driver to actually make this happen and get the budget going, something longer than the particular term of congress or a president. what is the next step in you mentioned that instead of focusing on one-off particular destination or killing asteroids, um, to create a platform in which we can do anything that we dream of at that time. what is your idea or what would your proposal be for that platform? is it a launch loop, a space elevator? >> no, i'm not going to prescribe the next steps that people take. that'll be a function of the creativity of the engineers and technologynologists of the day. maybe they want to build a space elevator, all right?
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that's a cheap way to get to geosynchronous orbit. by the way, as you visit our space exhibit here, beyond earth is the name of exhibit, created by my colleague, mike shara. so you build capacity to go anywhere and let scientists decide i need to go here and there, and geopolitics says we've got to do this. the military says we've got to put a laser beam over here, and the tourist folks said i want to visit them. it'll just run its course. as long as you're advancing a frontier, our economy gets stoked, and i don't care what the -- >> but you don't have a particular preference? >> i have no preference. all of space is my preference. [applause] >> okay. >> yes. >> i wanted to ask about colonizing the moon. now, i really don't think i could ever vote for newt gingrich, but -- >> but. remember, you're in new york city speaking now. >> let's say obama said, let's
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do it, we're going to the moon, what are the actual realities of a moon colony, and what would that entail, and could we do that? >> i think a moon colony's a little bit ambitious because, like, there's no air on the moon, and there's no cattle. [laughter] you know, there's no grass. so it's a little ambitious, i think. >> is it crazy? >> no, it's not crazy. it's not more craze is si than -- crazy than queen isabella saying, here, columbus, go find the edge of the earth. >> not having an atmosphere -- >> yeah, that's a sticking point right there. [laughter] wherever columbus went he could still breathe, you know? [laughter] so these are challenges. and maybe a moon colony won't pan out because you can't get enough interest in it. but there'll always be science you can do on the moon, and the military today have used the moon as a strategic place. lunar space is a word new to you tonight is the new high ground, the entire space between earth and the moon's orbit.
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so there could be military reasons for doing that as well. and i don't, you know, i don't like war, but i recognize that war's not a new conduct among nations and among people. and so -- and just because, you know, people say, oh, let's make space -- no war in space. if you're that committed, why are we having wars down here? what are you saying? if you can manage to not have war in space, why not manage that down here? and we fail at that, badly. so i'm not even hopeful to think that there won't be space wars. i wish i could be hopeful. i don't have that much confidence in human conduct. so maybe the colonies won't pan out, but there'll be plenty of stuff to do in space. i promise. maybe the colony's just a place to go, it's a one-week tour trip. >> i want to do, i just want to go. [laughter] >> yes, ma'am.
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>> hi. where does space x fit in all this? >> space x is, they're trying to make a vehicle with the pisht si of private -- efficiency of private enterprise that will substitute for nasa's vehicle to go back and forth to low-earth orbit. >> are they going to enhance that? >> what happens is nasa gets a budget, and instead of having to spend more to send their own people, they'll just do it with private enterprise the same way the postal service rents belly space on airplanes to move your mail. >> so it's a good thing. >> we presume that when you go private enterprise, they'll do it more efficiently and more intelligently, more reliably than what a government program would have done. so that's the goal. and space x, founded by musk of paypal sold it to who? ebay for a billion dollars, and he was, like, 32 or something. one of the space billionaires who decide -- who loves space so much he's trying to now make his
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own spacecraft. yes. how old are you? >> 8. >> you're 8, that is so cool. [applause] is this past your bedtime? it's so past my bedtime, i don't know what to tell you here. [laughter] so go on. >> i want to go to mars. i was wondering -- [laughter] [applause] >> let the record show our 8-year-old want toss go to mars, and no one else has yet to ask that of themselves. go ahead. >> and i was wondering what it would take to get there. >> well, you are the age right now of who we would -- so, in other words, when we go to mars which i would like to think is in the next couple of decades, you will then become the age of those astronauts. so you're -- i'm too old. i'll be maybe dead by then. [laughter] but you, you'll be just right. and so the urge to want to go to
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mars is just right for an 8-year-old. okay. so it's dangerous, you'll be a long time away from home. so probably, you know, want to get, you know, take some videos with you, you know? and some books. [laughter] and, um, nasa puts a lot of effort into making the space journey very much feel at home. so you get to still have an e-mail account, and you get to make phone calls, video calls with your friends and, plus, nasa's talking to you all the time, right? so it's a long voyage, and there's still some challenges. there's radiation from the sun. we don't yet know how to shield it from you. but i see those as engineering problems, not physics problems, and we have a lot of clever engineers out there. and it's nine months to mars. then you have to wait until earth and mars line back up in their orbits to come back. so that's a couple of years. so the whole round trip is about three or four years. you'll be three or four years away from home.
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so as long as you're okay with that, we'll send you to mars. you sign up. [applause] thank you. yes. >> well, she gives me hope. but my question for you, dr. tyson, is how can we get our o sons and daughters who are so wrapped up in the fruits of technology that they do nothing else? they don't innovate, they don't create, they don't have a passion, they just stay on facebook and ask for another telephone? [laughter] [applause] >> so, so the problem is not that they are looking down in their technology. the problem is that we are not engaged in a project that is grand enough to compel them to look up. [applause] that is the challenge. >> okay. >> can i give you an example? it's a quick -- i said i'd be quick on these, but i'm not being quick. [laughter] do you know what tweet-ups are? in the twitter verse companies or agencies have a launch, and
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you invite a certain number of people who are active on twitter, and you give lectures to them, and they're tweeting everything. so the twitterverse lens about what's going -- learns about what's going on vicariously. i, at one of the nasa launches, gave a talk to the tweet-up community. and do you know what i said to myself? i said, this is the biggest test of my life. i want to be so come pelling -- compelling in my delivery to this audience that they will not even want to tweet because it will distract them from what i'm saying on this stage. [laughter] and so i started speaking, and i reserved my best stuff. it's flowing, it's going. and nobody's looking down at their device because what was coming out from up here was a greater message than anything they could have possibly been doing on their smartphone. so don't blame the technology, blame the absence of vision. [applause]
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yes. >> hi. i have a philosophical question. >> okay. >> would you rather die now or live forever? [laughter] >> um, i kind of, you know, bought into the concept of a natural life. i mean, i -- so, so i know philosophers like having those kind of debates, but i never believe that the options available to a creative person are ever limited by the choices offered by a philosopher. [laughter] [applause] so, for example, if there's the lifeboat and there's only a certain amount of food for four but there's six people, so do you throw them overboard otherwise everyone dies, would you eat them? so these choices. and i'm saying maybe we can invent a way to draw fish from the ocean.
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[laughter] so that we don't have to throw them overboard, see? i like solutions to problems rather than the blunt do a or b, all right? and part of this is because i think we grew up in a multiple choice school system. [laughter] sometimes answers exist -- [applause] where beyond the choices that you have thought up as the person who wrote the exam. so that is my, perhaps, unfulfilling answer to you. [applause] yes. >> indeed, and that's why we don't have a hash tag post for tonight's events, so we don't get distracted by twittering about it. the early observation about the politicians talking about a need to be anti-science and anti-education is very entertaining, particularly since they're doing it in front of video cameras with smartphones. which wouldn't exist had they had their way. >> yeah. this is part of the hypocrisy of it all, especially to people who say i don't need the space
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program. you know? i don't need that. i've got my gps and my weather channel, so what do i need to spend money on space for? you get a lot of this going on. yes, sir. >> okay. dr. tyson, the big expense of space, i believe, is getting off the surface of the earth. it's the rockets, the big rockets which is really world war ii technology. has the state been looking seriously at anti-gravity just like in the early h.g. welles, earth to the moon or whatever? >> from earth to the moon. yeah. good question. among the propossession research going on, it does not include antigravity. antigravity is a pretty remote notion with respect to the laws of physics. and so you don't find people who are ready, who are physics fluent, ready to devote their lives on antigravity. the people who tend to do
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antigravity are people who think that laws of physics are only guidelines rather than laws. [laughter] and so these are the same community who would do, for example, perpetual motion machines. it violates known and tested laws of physics. so, okay, maybe you'll succeed, but i am so confident you won't that i'm not, i'm just going to go about my way. so don't expect a lot of money to be devoted to antigravity devices. but nonetheless, there are other challenges of propulsion. there's ion drives, and we are way behind. you're absolutely right. it is world war ii propulsion technology, and we are so far behind that it's embarrassing. it's embarrassing. i tweeted recently, i said, um, what'd i say? i said the state of the country now is that i'd be embarrassed if an alien landed. i'd just be embarrassed to show them what our technology is. [laughter] you know, you want to sort of do
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a one-upsmanship on the alien. and i'm just like, no, i got nothing for you, alien, i'm sorry. hello, yes. >> hello, thank you. a couple of comments and a question -- >> you've got to make them quick because we're running long. >> thank you for the index, a tweet, a long list of -- [inaudible] civilization's future depends on -- >> okay. i have to -- say that louder. okay. so thank you for this -- she, like my pr agent here. she's saying thank you for the index, that it's very rich and flushed out. also since i've tweeted on the universe often and on space, i've tossed in many of those tweets through the book. they're kind of like biscuits. if you've earned your way to that point, i'll hand you a tweet. and this one tweet -- >> would a nasa reality lunar
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shore be more popular than jersey shore? civilization's future depends on it. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you for that. a lot of effort went into this, and the organization of this effort was made possible, there's an editor's name on the cover of this book, my long-time editor from "natural history" magazine, and this is every thought i've ever had about our past, present and future in space, and to coordinate those thoughts into something coherent requires an editor. but did you have a question? >> i love the sentence, "the business of saving the planet requires commitment." my question is, we're all asking you questions. do you have a question to bounce back at us to take with us when we leave for further thought? >> yes. my question for you to take back with you would be, why aren't you spending more energy trying to convince others of the value of this epic adventure? finish and you can do that by letters to the editor, op eds,
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any of the above. if you have an opinion, you share it. so thank you, thank you for that. we'll go real quick. we have six left and we're done. yes. >> hi there. so, um, let's say i came here tonight and i was kind of new to this whole space thing, and i wanted to learn more. is there some kind of podcast, maybe somebody where you had some comedians in there on a sunday, i can check this thing out and engage further in this conversation and maybe learn a couple things? >> oh, so you want to learn more about space? [laughter] [applause] >> something that i could, perhaps, tweet out to my friends. >> okay, not everyone is a reader out there, i understand. so i'm trying to hit every angle here. so i tweet, right? and i'm also host of a radio show called "star talk radio" where we -- [applause] it's a little irreverent, you know? i have a immediate ya as a co-host, and my guests are not
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scientists, and we explore ways that science influences their lives. and i recommend you check it out. i've had morgan freeman as a guest and whoopi goldberg and jon stewart and joan rivers. can i tell you, i said to joan, so, joan, what do you do if aliens come? so she said, i don't care if they come just as long as they're single and jewish. [laughter] so it's a celebration of science, and i'm just trying to get it out there so people are not, don't fear it. but, yes, in modern times it takes many media to be fluent because not everyone is doing the same thing at the same time as we were in the 1960s all watching walter cronkite tell us what the day's news was. >> and so to clarify, i would check out star talk radio. >> star talk radio .net. thank you for the -- [laughter] yes, sir. >> i will try to make this introduction as brief as i possibly can.
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i am one of the lost generation you just spoke about. i am 32, i will be 33 next fall, i went out myself with my father, the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper, and watched the missiles go up until challenger happened and the shuttle happening in my town was canceled. i have an 8-year-old daughter who sings along with your voice and with others talking about -- [applause] >> thank you. >> symphony of science where it takes publicly-available clips and puts it into a beat. it's very creative, and they're hugely popular. >> she sings along, among other things, her favorite is a case for mars, and she talks about going to mars herself. i wanted to say thank you to the other little girl who is exactly my daughter's age. >> okay. >> coming back from that, there is a deep understanding on my part as a physics major and a physics educator of our connection to the universe and,
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as much as i want to believe in life elsewhere, as a scientist i want to see it. and until we have seen that somewhere else, i feel like it is part of that defense motivation that you think of and mention. for us to get off the planet. i don't care if it's an asteroid. i don't care if it's the sun going red giant in five billion years. if we stay here, we're doomed. and as far as we know, we're it. >> all right. so this is a point that is, was made by stephen hawking where he said we have to be a multiplanet species otherwise we're doomed because something bad could happen to everett, a virus, an asteroid or what have you. here's my rebuttal to that, if i may -- >> may i finish the question? >> yes. [laughter] >> do you feel that a motivation like that is valuable as a component?
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the economics are part of feeding the species, part of feeding our country, part of feeding ourselves. >> ioink it is a good enough driver because i don't believe it. >> okay. >> and i'll tell you why. >> yes. >> and hawking made this point. we've got to be a multiplanet species, otherwise all the eggs in one basket, you go extinct. all right. what might be that which threatens earth? is it an asteroid? a killer asteroid the size of mount everest, the one that rendered 70% of all species extinct 65 million years ago? hit the yucatan peninsula of mexico? it wasn't mexico back then, by the way. i don't know -- [laughter] whatever the dinosaurs called it is what it was. [laughter] so here's the thing. if we're going to be a multiplanet species, and i hinted this before, we'd have to teraform some other planet. it would have to be mars. teraform mars. if we have the power to teraform
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mars and the technology to ship a billion people there, we can deflect the asteroid. [laughter] i mean, i mean, the scale of that operation relative to whatever it would take to protect us, i think there's no contest. you deflect the asteroid. you find the cure for the virus. you stop the volcano. you realign the plates of the earth. i don't see that as a realistic solution to an impending problem that we might face. what i do see as the solution is the solution to that problem. rather than running away to another planet so that earth can become toast. and then you have two planets, and the asteroid's heading to one of them, what do you do with everybody on that planet? sorry, we're the safe ones. good-bye. it's not a practical -- [laughter] if you have the power of geoengineering on that scale,
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you don't need to leave earth. you make earth exactly as you want it to be. if you have the power enough to fix mars, you can fix earth. in any way you choose. this is my contention. >> if you have the power enough to fix mars, don't you have power enough to get somewhere outside the solar system? >> possibly, yeah. so we'll go there too. [laughter] but the motivation wouldn't be so that we won't die on earth. i just don't see that. >> okay. >> i'm not convinced by the arguments. real quick, yes. >> okay. so, um, you started out with kind of the three motivators, and one of them dropped out really quick. um, but isn't the whole kind of glorification of kings and what not, isn't that really just fear of death and sort of wanting to have your name in the history books alongside buzz aldrin so long as there are history books? isn't that still with us? >> it could be be with the
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individual, but you don't control that much money. >> it's not big enough for human thety? >> right. i'm talking about large-scale projects that divert a major fraction of your gross national product, gross domestic product. in human capital or financial capital. and just because you want a tombstone, that doesn't -- the cost doesn't -- your tombstone and a pyramid are not the same thing. [laughter] so the pyramid, yeah, they want to live forever. but they have the power to do it. and it's an expensive tombstone, and people did it in the service of the pharoah. he has the power. the people who built the pyramid didn't. so it's a power thing. and it's a, it's a fear factor as well. so -- >> we're all too small to -- >> we're too small as individuals -- unless you were king. in fact, our version of a king to do this would be bill gates. say, bill, take us to mars.
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>> [inaudible] >> he would do, that would be like a vanity project, and he'd be like our king, and he'd be spending the crown jewels to do this. i'll talk to him. half laugh i'll call him up, and we'll find out. >> okay. >> yes. >> i have two questions. >> sure. >> did you celebrate pie day yesterday? >> i did celebrate pie day yesterday. [applause] for those of you who aren't geek enough to know what that sentence just meant, on march 14th if you write it out in american style it'd be 3/14, and it's pi. and so the pi geeks out there celebrate it. and in my daughter's school, she attends the bronx high school of science, they have a pi day there. and they serve pies, and there's a pi recitation contest. so it's a really geeky thing to do, and i tweeted. there was pressure for me to tweet something on pi day. so i tweeted it, and i said i'm
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not out of control, i got pi to 12 decimal places, and that's good enough to, that's good enough to get the circumference of the earth to a thousandth of an inch. so that's good enough for me. but, yes, i did celebrate pi day. >> and my second question is, like, what's your favorite three numbers in pi? >> my favorite three digits in pi? [laughter] i like the first three because that gets you most of the way there, okay? okay, thank you. [applause] yes. >> how is the historian important for our future? >> how is the historian important? everything i know about human conduct that we need to put into play going forward comes to me from an analysis of history. so if you don't know the conduct of humans and what motivates them and what -- and the
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relationships between nations, just, you know, go back home. you're not useful out there. if you want to bring real solutions to real problems. so historians are really important in this. particularly historians who put things in context rather than -- which is what most of them do -- rather than just retell a time line of events. context matters, cultures matter. and so, yeah, i don't want to know just what war you fought and what king replaced whom, i want to know what was in the hearts and minds of the people in that country, the attitudes they had. what led one country to war against another for a thousand years? what led one country to not have wars? what's going on in their culture n their minds? so by all means, want to major in history, go for it. >> thank you. >> be harder to find a job, but other than that -- [laughter]
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yes. the last two questions. so these better be awesome questions. the pressure is on. yes. >> so i just have a quick question and a quick comment. my question is you often talk about the whole government factor of big government has to do it first and then private enterprise -- >> not because i want it to be that way, that's just my read of history, yes. >> exactly. but do you believe to get further than the edge of the solar system we need to unify as, like, one government, one people, as humanity to get out there? >> no. you need another law of physics. [laughter] the problem is harder than just whether you combine governments. if you want to leave the solar system and visit the nearest star and do it on the fastest spaceship we ever launched and you hitch a ride on that craft, you would arrive at the nearest star to the sun 50,000 years later. so you need to be really
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fertile -- [laughter] or we need some other way, some other understanding of the fabric of space time because travel on those time scales are incommensurate with the longevity of the human species, of the human individual. so to the moon is a few days. mars is a few years. that fits within our 80-year life expectancy. traveling to the other stars does not. so for the moment i'm good with the telescope to get me there. and there are plenty of destinations, including a whole new swath of dwarf planets -- pluto included, get over it -- to visit. [laughter] [applause] nobody says you have to visit a traditional planet. there are many rocky surfaces that would welcome our foot prints. >> and i just have a quick comment. i read this calvin and hobbs strip once, and it said the way right now that we know there is
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intelligent life out there is that it hasn't tried to contact us yet. [laughter] and i gotta say i'm completely, i completely agree with that. >> yeah. i, i've said that same thing, but in a more severe way. [laughter] what i -- i said aliens have actually visited us, okay? well, there are two branches of that comment. one is they've actually visited us, but they landed in, like, times square and no one noticed, okay? [laughter] or in hollywood, right in and no one noticed. but another one, a more terrifying prospect is that they have visited us, they have inspected who and what we are and have concluded that there's no sign of intelligent life on earth. [laughter] yes. now, i have to ask how old you are. >> 11. >> you're 11. okay, welcome. is it past your bedtime? >> no. >> no, okay. good. [laughter] you have a question. >> yes. your tweets in your book, are they just random, are they for
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fun? because, like, um, in chapter four you're talking about aliens, you say any suspicions that they will be evil is more a reflection of our fear about how we would treat an alien to be -- [inaudible] if we found them than any actual knowledge about how an alien species would treat us, and then you go to space tweet 7: how to shield teenagers in space, you ask. how to block 0,000 mucus droplets so aliens are safe. then we're listening for them right now. [laughter] >> yeah. okay. [applause] i warned you about my tweets, didn't i? i forgot why i talked about sneezing inside of a space helmet, because that's a really kind of nasty thing to think about. you don't want to have a head cold while you're space walking. yeah, the tweets, they're just random thoughts that come to me. i don't invent them for the
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tweet, i have them anyway. [laughter] and then i make them a tweet and share these random -- another one i had was if human, if our blood were based not on iron turning it red but instead on copper turning it green, then what color would the stoplights be? [laughter] i'm just saying. it was a thought i had, so i tweeted it. and people were tweeting back, mind blown, i can't figure it out, oh, my gosh. [laughter] or i had one other one, this is the last thing. so there's a url shortener called bit-ly, it's a url shortener. so you put it in there, it's easy to e-mail. so i decided to just test it, and i took which is the
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name of the web site, put that into the url shortener, and it got longer. [laughter] so i had to tweet that, right? the url shortener made its own url longer. and it has nothing to do with astrophysics. here's one for you. this one will keep you awake at night, you ready? if pinocchio declared, my nose is about to grow, what would his nose actually do? [laughter] because if it began to grow, it meant he was telling the truth, and it shouldn't have grown. if it doesn't grow, it meant he was lying, and then it should have grown. [laughter] i tweeted that one time. people said, mind blown! [laughter] thank you all for coming tonight. [cheers and applause]
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>> next, from little rock, arkansas, we talk to grif stockley. mr. stockley introduces us to the elaine race massacre of 1919, a little-known but devastating story in jim crow-era arkansas. the author uses letters, interviews, newspaper and trial transcripts from 1919 to help reveal the tale of at least 20 african-american sharecroppers who met about and protested unfair settlements if for their cotton crops from white plantation owners. booktv toured little rock with the help of our cable partner, comcast of arkansas, to bring you some of the literary culture of the city. little rock is best known as the home of the clinton library and the home of little rock central high school, the site of the 1957 racial protests that
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quickly became national news. >> red summer of 1919 involved over 20 incidents, racial incidents, race riots throughout the united states. and part of this had to do with the fact that african-americans were coming back from the first world war and felt like they were entitled to be treated better than had commonly been the practice. and this bitterness toward african-americans, not much really had changed. blacks would come back from the war, they had been over in france where they had been treated as equals. but coming back to places like arkansas, they weren't. and so by 1919 in that summer, there had been the formation of a labor union by an
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african-american named robert hill. and robert hill was african-american, and he began forming these labor unions -- really it's just one labor union, but they were organized into lodges. and the purpose of the union was to get better prices for their cotton. it also was to get fairer settlements from plantation owners. because this was constantly a problem that african-american sharecroppers were being cheated relentless by by the white power structure and by plantation owners. what actually happened in elaine in 1919 during the summer was that whites began to get
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suspicious of these lodges that were all over then in phillips county. some whites pulled up outside this lodge in hoopsburg where blacks were meeting, and a shootout occurred. no one knows who fired the first shot, but by the time that event was over you had one white man was killed in this shootout between people who were, basically, there to learn what was going on inside the lodge. that shootout that night, as i say, resulted in the death of a white man.
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but at that point blacks began to run just pellmell out of the church and into the cane breaks in phillips county. and just as had happened in the past, you had calls, telephone calls going all up and down the mississippi delta and saying that blacks were now in revolt. and between the next morning, which would have been october 1st, you had between 600 and a thousand men, white men, pour into phillips county to begin shooting down blacks. and at the same time, governor broth was contacted in little rock and asked to send troops in
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which they got permission to do that. and so over 583 troops came to elaine. these were battle-tested veterans of the second battle of the marne. they came over with ten machine guns, and so when they got there, they began to take the arms away from both blacks and whites. but at that point there was that belief that african-americans were going to kill plantation owners and, in fact, there was said to be a list of planters who had been marked for assassination. none of that would be true. more likely, in my view, i
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basically is accept the naacp estimate that 250 african-americans were killed during this race massacre. and my belief is even though it's secondhand, my belief is that the soldiers also participated in the indiscriminate killing of african-americans. governor broth had told newsmen originally that he was just coming over to elaine to investigate and see what actually was happening, but he immediately took the side of the authorities in elaine and believed that this was going to be an insurrection that was nipped in the bud by the premature meeting or the attack that a occurred at the hoopsburg
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church that night. governor broth immediately met with this group called the committee of seven, and it was the white power structure of elaine including officials like the county judge and the prominent planners and businessmen in elaine. and part of the deal was that if they had no lynchings, he was going to let them do what they wanted in settling this, the violence that had occurred. in other words, he was going to go back to little rock and just not try to really dictate what else happened in elaine. you had, you had blacks taken into the jail, and it was just almost overflowing at that point. you had a number of people who had been placed in a makeshift
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jail at elaine. but as it turned out, elaine was never attacked as it was feared. in fact, there were only five whites that were killed during the entire incident. after all this finally ended, began the trials of the elaine people who had been known as the elaine 12. but it would involve many more people than that. the prosecuting attorney for that district was a man named john miller who was not from helena but would later become a u.s. senator and then a federal district judge. but at that time his interest was in satisfying the whites of helena and the surrounding area that people would be prosecuted.
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and, of course, no whites were prosecuted at all. he -- they convened a grand jury and charged at the direction of john miller over 100 people with crimes ranging from first-degree murder to prime of night fighting. and almost immediately, just really three days later, the trials began in helena. well, the lawyers for the defendants almost did nothing to represent only the 12 individuals who were eventually convicted and sentenced to the electric chair. for example, they did not question anyone who was on the jury panel. of course, there were no blacks on the jury panel.
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they didn't raise that issue. they didn't subpoena any witnesses for the defense, and their, basically, their tactic was to do some cross-examination of witnesses. but these trials which only lasted a couple of hours and, of course, these men were put on trial for the murder of w.a. adkins, the man who was killed at the hoopsburg church and then the two other men, white men who had been members of the posse who had come out there. of course, nobody -- they didn't raise the issue of self-de, the lawyers for the -- of self-defense, the lawyers for the blacks who were on trial. and so you'd have a trial that would last maybe a couple of hours. the jury would go out and within
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two to ten minutes would return with a verdict of guilty. and these individuals would be sentenced to die in the electric chair. so the next really two days later you had a spct cl of over -- spectacle of over 60 individuals entering plea bargains that range from second-degree murder to being sentenced for three years in jail. and so this ended the participation of the white lawyers from helena. and, but the naacp, the national naacp was very much aware of what was going on in little rock and, in fact, had assigned walter white who would later become head of the naacp himself
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to go over and investigate what had happened in elaine. he even, walter white was almost white himself and could pass for white and actually got an interview with governor bruth. and he went to elaine and talked with some individuals about what was occurring then. and then the rumor got out that there was an official from the naacp there, and he barely got out on a train to escape a lynching himself. at the same time this was going on, the black community was engaged in raising money and hiring a leading black attorney in arkansas at the time. jones was the general counsel for the mosaic templar's burial
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insurance company. jones also had a reputation for representing poor african-american defendants. jones went over to helena later and filed a motion for a new trial and got the judge eventually to allow them to appeal the case to the arkansas supreme court. and that meant that scheduled executions were taken off the docket until this was resolved. by 1925 jones could claim that, and rightfully claim in the arkansas gazette in the an article recognized this that he had gotten, you know, the men out of jail, and they were all released. we don't know where they went.
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some, i think, moved to chicago. this was, basically, the end of the race massacres. there will always be a question of whether the soldiers did participate in the massacre. my research found secondhand stories that indicate that they did. but that, that's still up for debate. what's not up for debate is that african-americans were massacred by whites and tortured and put on trial and not given adequate defense. and this was rather typical of arkansas justice at the time. race relations didn't necessarily improve as a result of this. in fact, they really didn't
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particularly change even though we didn't have another episode of mass killing of african-americans like there was in 1919. >> coming up next, booktv presents "after words," an hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week craig timberg and his first book, "timider box: how the west sparked the aids end demic and how the world can finally overcome it." in it, the former washington post johannesburg bureau chief promotes the theory that western powers unwittingly sparked the epidemic in africa and present-day attempts to stem the outbreak are ineffective because they don't ip corporate home-grown african initiatives. mr. timberg discusses his assertions with scott everet


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