tv Going Underground RT April 4, 2021 11:30pm-12:01am EDT
i'm afshin rattansi we're going underground on easter monday for a very special episode looking at some of the biggest questions posed by both science and religion from the very beginnings of life to our place within the universe pentagon advisor neil de grasse tyson has just published cosmic queries and i asked him about myths from people believing the earth was flat to the n.t. vacs as of the coronavirus pandemic age at the time people long ago thought earth was flat it's because because to look that way and it felt that way and it kind of made sense and there's no reference for example in the bible that identifies perth as a spherical 3 dimensional object and all references that it does make have it as a flat disk all right and in one case perhaps metaphorically referred to corners
but the point is the methods and tools of science that we now embrace that involve bipasha says then testing the hypothesis no matter what your senses might otherwise tell you it became so important that in the era of modern in that era from about 1600 onward we don't find ourselves in these pickles where everybody is certain something is true and then later on we find out it's not so so back then the flat earth years was everybody we had no way to test it no one thought about it we just kept it then we start testing it know your senses are lying to you or they're deceiving you and one of the great features of science is that the methods and tools to. supplant the the highly susceptible physiology that we bring to bear on decoding the world around us and that's what civil. nation as we now think of it the science the technology all the trappings of
the future all of that is in the last several centuries but not from a millennium ago and history lifted with examples of our inventions work in ways they might not have been intended to work you say that the invention of the telescope made the earth less cozy. you might have to explain that. yeah i mean just some you just gotta get over it you know so here we are on this planet and we think it's the biggest thing in town of course because it's big relative to our senses the other one of these problems and we have this curious thing about being human and i guess hubris is the world it's the urge the need to feel special. and we equate feeling special with being distinct and different and so we're earth but those other dots in the sky those are just
dots we'll call them planets but we're not a planet where earth those are planets and they're just these little dots that move in the sky so putting us in the center now we invent a telescope and it says oh my gosh the universe is much larger than we ever dreamt of and if the universe is large it means that large earth means we are smaller and as every decade in the centuries went by the telescope would discover more and more and more of a universe not only that we have developed telescopes that could observe other bands of light that your retina cannot even detect like if they were familiar with these bands or we don't think of them as light because we use them in ways that are different the infrared ultraviolet x. rays gamma rays radio waves all of this is the electromagnetic spectrum it is light and the universe is talking to us in each one of these bands yet we only see this
narrow section that we call visible light so not only are we not the center of the universe and we're smaller than we ever thought we were before our physiology only exposes us to the tiniest slice of what is actually going on out there and that is hard to take if your ego matters in that conversation. you might be halfway to the odd thing this the editor deputy editor him let me ask you this but i'm going to ask it to you what do you mean if it's infinite out there infinite amount of snow is why is a dog and my. oh well sexy that's a good question i mean it sounds like a stupid question like do this son just said ok this is an elementary school and. so but here's the point if the universe is infinite but this is called old ber's paradox it's a fascinating. this is it's a centuries old paradox where if the universe is infinite and there are stars
scattered throughout this infinite universe then a sight line in any direction will land on a star well if it lands on a star you ought to see the brightness of that start ok coming towards you and we don't and so this is a big problem and we did not have a good answer for that until we learned that the universe is expanding and as the universe expands it dilutes the intensity of starlight and in the larger scale we're talking about galaxies it dilutes that intensity and in so doing you don't get this some mation of all the light of all the universe coming towards you making the nighttime sky as brilliant as the daytime sky so so it's a fascinating simple question that had a complex answer. and and i suppose that that's an example of how these very simple questions can have more complex on thers as scientists work
on these problems but i would also think means also it means also don't ever listen to your producers ok yeah yeah i never do that i never do i know you don't do that because maz and all your many t.v. programmes i mean you never listen to them i don't even know powerful elites come up again and again in your latest book trying to trying to stop science as it was very aware about the power of astrophysics physics and philosophy is as it was the natural philosophy and it is it always going together revolutionary politics with revolutionary science you know because you talk about galileo yeah i think of it like a dam you know the dam can only hold the water back so much and as the mass of the water increases or as the area grows at some point it spills around the sides it
might spill over the top it might even break the dam entirely and then follow it forwards so it's one as people remain curious about the operations of nature and as long as that has a voice so that others can say hey i never thought about that let me help in that research or let me do some more thinking so more philosophizing some more experiment becomes a point where you cannot hold it back and if your discoveries conflict with prevailing political cultural religious forces these are forces that historically have always controlled society they controlled what you did how you lived resources if you have ideas that override that or conflict with it yeah they'll be resistance for you have to expect that because people in power do not relinquish power. our easily but at the end of the day we're at the end of the decade or the century or
the millennium nature is the ultimate judge jury and executioner of any idea yeah but no one's burning you at the stake like get out of bruno also there and that they don't see that a problem problem with you and that makes you happy about that and so the worst i get are some grumbly people in it in a twitter thread and so that's fine i some very loyal trolls and so if they didn't jump in i worry they weren't paying attention so yeah so times are different but still whether or not someone is burned at the stake thereby becoming martyred in a cause of whether or not i was burned at the stake you can still have forces that delay very important decision making that society needs to benefit from and smith is in tools of science have been exquisitely tuned in developed to serve in that role to empower us to become better shepherds of our own civilization and if you
stand in the way of that it's society's doomed as we know it and cosmic queries is a celebration of what it is to ask questions and by the way some questions you can ask but he's going to slip this in there some questions we have good answers for and there there established by experimental experimentally verified other questions there little rattie here we're not quite all there are we know about dark we call it dark matter dark energy but we don't know what it is then there are questions by the way and this is not just today throughout time questions people have asked where you can rightly say do we even know if asked the right question in the 1st place. and so to celebrate that entire panel plea of human curiosity is what got us out of the caves in the 1st place and religion it is around easter time at the moment the religion in this new book i should say i've got to say one thing
about you though you seem happier slightly i don't know i mean you rise above politics of course in your in your hard science and it was climate change was an issue under the trumpet ministration are you happy happier with some choices made by by the james webb telescope just tell us what the point of it is and i'm not sure that biden is going to cancel the white were you know his friend sam a delicate no i you have to provide. well i mean there were some people on in the science well then happy with trump's decision making of course does it make him particularly on climate change which i presume is one of those it's not my way that would be untrue with almost every president of the united states because you know as abraham lincoln said you can satisfy all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but not all the people all the time so one of the big concerns was right when trump got elected you there was
a protest march is one of them was in support of women and another one was in support of science and then i thought about oh they've been women's marches before there been civil rights marches for scientists ever much more is this kind of what. i had. and so one of my favorite posters that someone called up was you know when the geeks have to march you need to be worried about civilization. so so so i can say that the james webb space telescope which you ask directly about think of it as sort of a next generation of inquiry by a brain telescopes into space which affords amazing unique platforms for access to questions that we asked about what went on in the early universe the james webb space telescope is exquisitely tuned to observe for the formation of
galaxies right when the universe began the hubble telescope can't see that far back in time the james webb telescope can so there is there are pieces of this puzzle that we are assembling by the way we don't have a picture of the fully assembled puzzle which could we don't know what the thing is that we're we don't know that's what it means to be on the frontier i mean i always ask you this question a journalist always a scientist this question but i suppose most efficiently now we've seen dead people in texas freezing what is the boy of spending money on a telescope the gumby repair being sent off like that let alone what's happening on mars in the freezing cold martian surface when there are people in your country freezing to death literally in texas that on the 40000000 on food stamps yes so so it's one thing you could compare that way i don't have a problem with that and i have a i want to offer
a reply or response to it but maybe the real answer is that nasa should run texas. if nasa can put a probe on mars they could run texas in a way that people will not be without heat i guarantee it all right so i think the problem is not do we do this or that it is our the right people making the right decisions in the right place but another comparison because there's a very important point you raise that many people ask. you know why we spending money up there but we have all these problems out here that's a perfectly legitimate sensible question one might ask and the best way i can reply because i can't guarantee that this next funded research in space is going to put food on your table i can't guarantee that but i can do is offer the insight of let's go back 30000 years and we're all in a cave who are huddled around the fire right and one member of our little cave
tribe goes up to the front door of the cave and peeks out i don't know they had doors but it was the entrance to the cave and they peek out and they see a mountain and streams and and trees with fruit on it and flowers in a in a valley and then they go back in and say i want to explore what's out there and then the cave elders say no we have cave problems and you have to solve the cave problems 1st. then we have the luxury of going outside the door. that's what you sound like to me was the me i let em all for the little crap well from the other guys ties up to this short break including the future for war amongst the stars.
a very serious matter given that that question keeps on being up asked that nasa seems to have destroyed its educational oh i'm to save money what do what do you make of the fact that it's nasa education work in schools is being cut is i mean the budget was only one $110000000.00 i think your your apartment cost that your apartment cost that neal. i thought about of al. well and at the end of the day jeff bezos could just pay for everything right rates so. i try not to get in the weeds of funding priorities instead what i like to do is compel the electorate i turn and face them and i the public the electorate and i say here's the benefits of thinking this way here's what it has to do with your past present and future and here's what happens if you don't do it then i go home and then i want them to think about it and then they will vote for who they want to vote for
or right if you really don't want nasa and it's a representative democracy and you want to ok but i want you to vote that way from an informed platform but i can say that. nasa has education program. over the decades has systematically grown to my delight in the delight of school systems that get sort of free nasa tools to think about science stem fields in general and so what's missing in our society and perhaps in other places around the world is people see it in some cases as some kind of handout here's a handout to nasa here to keep the scientists happy without thinking of it as an investment in the economic stability of your future because the fundamental pivots of tomorrow's economy will ride on innovations in science and technology
engineering and math and if you do not feed that pipeline from the beginning and keep it going throughout you are sowing the seeds of bankruptcy well major set of economic hardship of your nation because you are of your priorities have valued things that do not think about the future the way stem investments do well i mean i had to bet they say on the chopping block is that the pay satellite not on the chopping block and this is while china as you said last time on the show is building the largest radio telescope in in the world maybe made me maybe the universe space force space for us i mean by has certainly not said anything reversing trumps plans for a new space force is this about shooting satellites down. or is this the real impetus if they can cut down the stem cell stem and you can ssion resources american schools and yet spend 15400000000 on on weaponry
so allow me to to adjust some of your commentary there because your commentary sort of aggressive aggressive we liberalize it's always aggressive. i don't mind that i was just questioning if. if i placed myself on a on a political spectrum. i would say broadly i'm left of liberal but what i noticed is i've had to do many things in washington i've been i was brought i was on commissions working with people as i say across the aisle and as i stepped closer and closer to the middle and look back to the liberal faction i noticed they were saying things and thinking things that just aren't true but they feed a state of mind that foments so so so just want to put that out there so 1st of all there has always been a space force it was
a branch they don't call it that though it was a branch of the air force it was called the u.s. space command so this is been going on so for now to say this is trumps space force is like that's not the it's not proper reckoning of the historical timeline not only that because it preexisted within the air force it's at least for now mostly an accounting shift of activities that $15000000000.00 was already being spent on the space. efforts within the air force now it's in the open clear so so want to make that clear something that you could have known but if you're deep in that deep in the in the in the liberal trenches you're not looking far enough out to see all that's what's actually happening here another one on the dense defense innovation board and that i know and you know yeah that's right so but not only that the 147. 2 years after 2nd world war
what happens here in the united states we decided you know something the u.s. army air force maybe they should split out the air force from the army because the command and control is different and the soldiering is different and the expertise is different to fix and know about airplanes than to fix and know about tanks so the u.s. air force was born as an independent branch of nazis were brought from germany for your rocket program anyway yeah i must get back to such so some germans who fought with the nazis were by the way they were both directions some went to russia others came to united states of course the top of which was werner von braun who pioneered the v. 2 rocket that terrorized london. do you know what he said after he was asked about it he said it was the v. 2 rockets successful he said yes it was except it landed on the wrong planet but
we've come away from your book a book a little you know the book has it's not there why do it different books i want a book on war and astrophysics but that's right that's right in this book cosmic queries when you start to get into particle physics is it has a wide net and as usual it has that neil de grasse tyson that ability to communicate complex ideas but just the word quark comes from a line in james joyce's most difficult to read book i bet you haven't read i haven't read finnegans wake i mean doesn't that just show where scientists are at even when they pick pause because they pick it from a novel and they pick it from an all then few people have ever read so a couple of things 1st. it's. james joyce only some of what james source has written is sort of easy to read a lot of it if not most of it is is a challenge so no doubt about that there's
a line in one of in one of his book. looks that identifies the number 3 and where quarks were 1st proposed there were 3 of them and so they said well let's call them name them after this and the physicist was sort of joyce literate and so there it became we don't know there are 6 corks not 3 but fine so you you worry that we're taking it to scare a topic it labeling it with an obscure word from an exterior author from an obscure book i can't defend that but i can't but i can say in my specific field astrophysics we have the coolest names of stuff in any sense what's the beginning of the universe big day the place you fall in light doesn't come out of a black hole ok big red stars red giant maybe that this is. you know i've got to ask about and you mention in the book the this this problem of r.n.a. and d.n.a.
everyone now in nato nations arguably think that there are epidemiologists everyone's an x. but now that they're on the news all the time you might just have to explain what you say in the book about the chicken and egg problem of this is d.n.a. people know the term r.n.a. because in one of the vaccines yes a great it's a great question so so in the book there's an entire chapter again it's organized around deep questions that. some of us have asked all of them all of us have asked some of them but they've been with us ever since we've been human how did it all begin how will it all end is there life in the universe and so there's a whole chapter just focused on life and there remains the problem again here's a question we can ask but we don't have an answer for it how did organic molecules become self replicating life. how to how do you make that transition and it's stumping our top researchers right now but it barely didn't stump earth earth
managed managed that within 100000000 years or so it sounds like a long time but it's short compared with the full timeline that earth has experienced for have 1000000000 so 100000000 years earth started with the organic molecules which you get for free because the atoms that make organic molecules are everywhere in the universe so you get that for free so now somehow stuff happens so that now you can self replicate life and so how do you get something that helps make a molecule when you need something that helped to make that original molecule to begin with think about this object the coronavirus r.n.a. vaccine and it relates to is rather like the space it's 1000000000 as undemocratically accountable 1000000000 as that seem to have the power in all of this what concerns do you have about these democratically account i'm accountable 1000000000 as seen i don't know is that romney's any different from
a century ago when you had the oil billionaires and the railroad billionaires in the steel building carnegie's the rockefeller's they were in charge of society they shaped society whether we liked it or not they were in control and they're politicians in their pocket i don't believe we're living in unique times i'm happy to report that at least some of those billionaires have very progressive ideas and agendas bill gates whether or not you like exactly what he's doing his heart is in the right place nobody doesn't love evil as attempt to go into space even if you don't love the rest of what he's doing the fact that he's pushing electric cars so so i don't have a problem. in a free society knowing that there's some rich people who want to shape society ok at now so so the problem comes. back out of course you get a really rich people that once it has an affair is plans and so now we need laws to
protect against that is that the nefarious plans or i mean you must have heard the phrase the road to hell is paved with good intentions where if the road to hell is paved with good intentions then what is the road to heaven paved roads the can't cherry pick your expressions and oh so is the road to heaven paved with bad intentions of course not so of all the good intentions some of them and having unintended consequences but you would hope when all is settled that more of your intentions have good consequences and that has been the case with every advance and every wielding of power there ever was just very quickly i have to us because it is a big issue eschatology in the end of this book right now. before now in the credits of this show a whole kaino or a religion could destroy the science says that right now it is very possible that can happen so i see that's hubris talking again i want to strike earth earth will be just fine it would destroy life on earth ok so earth will just shake it off
but you and me we are at risk of going extinct if we don't protect ourselves from asteroids who by the way is what we would find with a well funded space program ok i bet the dinosaurs if they had a space program they would have deflected that asteroid 65000000 years ago but the brains were this big they didn't have opposable thumbs and they certainly didn't ever space program so if you care about the long term future and what your children's children's children's descendants inherit from us or as they say in native american cultures we are borrowing earth from them and their future present in the grass path and that. happy to be with you again that's neil de grasse tyson his book cause mcqueary is out now will be back on wednesday 18 years to the day of the fall of baghdad to u.s. troops to talk about the future of civilization here on earth and the end of the
mega machine until then join me on the ground all of us will meet each other. so what we've got to do is identify the threats that we have it's crazy to confront to let it be an arms race off and spearing dramatic development only personally i'm going to resist i don't see how that strategy will be successful very critical time time to sit down and talk. the world is driven by shaped by one person or those great.
military thinks. we dare to ask. in the stories that shaped the week the french president acknowledges a stark admission of failures in the handling of the covert price just as the country imposes a tough new national lockdown. fears of a nursing exodus in the u.k. as a poll reveals a quarter of n.h.s. workers are more likely to quit now than last year with many citing exhaustion from the pandemic downs a major reason we speak to one british nurse. we've. increased . the cost of living. increase in much of the nurses and i feel the government need to help increase the way. the purge of.