I don't know anybody who said, 'I love that teacher, he or she gave a really good homework set,' or 'Boy, that was the best class I ever took because those exams were awesome.' That's not what people want to talk about. It's not what influences people in one profession or another.
Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers - poets, actors, journalists - they, as communities, embrace the meaning of what it is to be scientifically literate. They embrace the concept of an innovation culture. They vote in ways that promote it. They don't fight science and they don't fight technology.
Innovations in science and technology are the engines of the 21st-century economy; if you care about the wealth and health of your nation tomorrow, then you'd better rethink how you allocate taxes to fund science. The federal budget needs to recognize this.
The caricature of science is that we hold tight to the theories we have, and shun challenges to them. That's just not true. In fact, we hold our highest rewards for those scientists who can prove others wrong. And by the way, they are famous in their own lifetimes. We don't wait until they're dead.
I think that intelligence is such a narrow branch of the tree of life - this branch of primates we call humans. No other animal, by our definition, can be considered intelligent. So intelligence can't be all that important for survival, because there are so many animals that don't have what we call intelligence, and they're surviving just fine.
When we see animals doing remarkable things, how do we know if we're simply seeing tricks or signs of real intelligence? Are talented animals just obeying commands, or do they have some kind of deeper understanding? One of the biggest challenges for animal researchers is to come up with tests that can distinguish between the two.
Most of what Einstein said and did has no direct impact on what anybody reads in the Bible. Special relativity, his work in quantum mechanics, nobody even knows or cares. Where Einstein really affects the Bible is the fact that general relativity is the organizing principle for the Big Bang.
Let's say intelligence is your ability to compose poetry, symphonies, do art, math and science. Chimps can't do any of that, yet we share 99 percent DNA. Everything that we are, that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that one-percent difference.
Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we're still at the mercy of nature.
You can't train kids in a world where adults have no concept of what science literacy is. The adults are gonna squash the creativity that would manifest itself, because they're clueless about what it and why it matters. But science can always benefit from the more brains there are that are thinking about it - but that's true for any field.
If you get asteroids about a kilometer in size, those are large enough and carry enough energy into our system to disrupt transportation, communication, the food chains, and that can be a really bad day on Earth.
Keep in mind that if you take a tour through a hospital and look at every machine with on and off switch that is brought into the service of diagnosing the human condition, that machine is based on principles of physics discovered by a physicist in a machine designed by an engineer.
Carl Sagan spoke fluently between biology and geology and astrophysics and physics. If you move fluently across those boundaries, you realize that science is everywhere; science is not something you can step around or sweep under the rug.
Most religious people in America fully embrace science. So the argument that religion has some issue with science applies to a small fraction of those who declare that they are religious. They just happen to be a very vocal fraction, so you got the impression that there are more of them than there actually is.
The history of exploration across nations and across time is not one where nations said, 'Let's explore because it's fun.' It was, 'Let's explore so that we can claim lands for our country, so that we can open up new trade routes; let's explore so we can become more powerful.'
My parents didn't know much science; in fact, they didn't know science at all. But they could recognize a science book when they saw it, and they spent a lot of time at bookstores, combing the remainder tables for science books to buy for me. I had one of the biggest libraries of any kid in school, built on books that cost 50 cents or a dollar.
I've spent quality time in the aerospace community, with my service on two presidential commissions, but at heart, I'm an academic. Being an academic means I don't wield power over person, place or thing. I don't command armies; I don't lead labor unions. All I have is the power of thought.
Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.'
Any time scientists disagree, it's because we have insufficient data. Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem. Either I'm right, or you're right, or we're both wrong. And we move on. That kind of conflict resolution does not exist in politics or religion.
The partisanship surrounding space exploration and the retrenching of U.S. space policy are part of a more general trend: the decline of science in the United States. As its interest in science wanes, the country loses ground to the rest of the industrialized world in every measure of technological proficiency.
We think scientific literacy flows out of how many science facts can you recite rather than how was your brain wired for thinking. And it's the brain wiring that I'm more interested in rather than the facts that come out of the curriculum or the lesson plan that's been proposed.
Part of what it is to be scientifically-literate, it's not simply, 'Do you know what DNA is? Or what the Big Bang is?' That's an aspect of science literacy. The biggest part of it is do you know how to think about information that's presented in front of you.
You've never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another. What the laws of physics say.
I'm constantly claimed by atheists. I find this intriguing. In fact, on my Wiki page - I didn't create the Wiki page, others did, and I'm flattered that people cared enough about my life to assemble it - and it said, 'Neil deGrasse is an atheist.'
There is no example of someone reading their scripture and saying, 'I have a prediction about the world that no one knows yet, because this gave me insight. Let's go test that prediction,' and have the prediction be correct.
So the history of discovery, particularly cosmic discovery, but discovery in general, scientific discovery, is one where at any given moment, there's a frontier. And there tends to be an urge for people, especially religious people, to assert that across that boundary, into the unknown, lies the handiwork of God. This shows up a lot.
I can't gather around and talk about how much everybody in the room doesn't believe in God. I just don't - I don't have the energy for that, and so I... Agnostic separates me from the conduct of atheists whether or not there is strong overlap between the two categories, and at the end of the day I'd rather not be any category at all.
If the United States commits to the goal of reaching Mars, it will almost certainly do so in reaction to the progress of other nations - as was the case with NASA, the Apollo program, and the project that became the International Space Station.
There is always a place I can take someone's curiosity and land where they end up enlightened when we're done. That's my challenge as an educator. No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don't ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.
We didn't build the interstate system to connect New York to Los Angeles because the West Coast was a priority. No, we webbed the highways so people can go to multiple places and invent ways of doing things not thought of by the persons building the roads.
Darwin's theory of evolution is a framework by which we understand the diversity of life on Earth. But there is no equation sitting there in Darwin's 'Origin of Species' that you apply and say, 'What is this species going to look like in 100 years or 1,000 years?' Biology isn't there yet with that kind of predictive precision.
I always try to get people a different outlook. When you do that, people take ownership of the information. They don't ever have to reference me because, I'd like to believe as an educator, I'm empowering them to have those thoughts themselves.
There's a lot to do in space. I want to learn more about the greenhouse effect on Venus, about whether there was life on Mars, about the environment in which Earth and the Sun is immersed, the behavior of the Sun.
There are a lot of things you can do in space, and space essentially is unlimited resources. We are climbing over ourselves here looking for the next source of energy. The universe has an unlimited source of energy.
With regard to robots, in the early days of robots people said, 'Oh, let's build a robot' and what's the first thought? You make a robot look like a human and do human things. That's so 1950s. We are so past that.
You will never find scientists leading armies into battle. You just won't. Especially not astrophysicists - we see the biggest picture there is. We understand how small we are in the cosmos. We understand how fragile and temporary our existence is here on Earth.
Fortunately, there's another handy driver that has manifested itself throughout the history of cultures. The urge to want to gain wealth. That is almost as potent a driver as the urge to maintain your security. And that is how I view NASA going forward - as an investment in our economy.
One of the greatest features of science is that it doesn't matter where you were born, and it doesn't matter what the belief systems of your parents might have been: If you perform the same experiment that someone else did, at a different time and place, you'll get the same result.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, investments in science and technology have proved to be reliable engines of economic growth. If homegrown interest in those fields is not regenerated soon, the comfortable lifestyle to which Americans have become accustomed will draw to a rapid close.
If you think of feelings you have when you are awed by something - for example, knowing that elements in your body trace to exploded stars - I call that a spiritual reaction, speaking of awe and majesty, where words fail you.
One of the symptoms of an absence of innovation is the fact that you lose your jobs. Everyone else catches up with you. They can do what you do better than you or cheaper than you. And in a multinational corporate-free market enterprise, it is the company's obligation to take the factory to a place where they can make it more cheaply.
When Kennedy said, 'Let's go to the moon,' we didn't yet have a vehicle that wouldn't kill you on launch. He said we'll land a man on the moon in eight years and bring him back. That was an audacious goal to put forth in front of the American people.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of 50 or 100 billion other galaxies in the universe. And with every step, every window that modern astrophysics has opened to our mind, the person who wants to feel like they're the center of everything ends up shrinking.
Philosophically, the universe has really never made things in ones. The Earth is special and everything else is different? No, we've got seven other planets. The sun? No, the sun is one of those dots in the night sky. The Milky Way? No, it's one of a hundred billion galaxies. And the universe - maybe it's countless other universes.
Do you realize that if you fall into a black hole, you will see the entire future of the Universe unfold in front of you in a matter of moments and you will emerge into another space-time created by the singularity of the black hole you just fell into?
The problem is not scientifically illiterate kids; it is scientifically illiterate adults. Kids are born curious about the natural world. They are always turning over rocks, jumping with two feet into mud puddles and playing with the tablecloth and fine china.
There are thousands of asteroids whose orbit in the Solar System crosses that of Earth. And we have a little acronym for them - NEOs: near Earth objects. And our biggest goal is to try to catalogue them, so we know in advance if one is going to put us at risk.
Not enough books focus on how a culture responds to radically new ideas or discovery. Especially in the biography genre, they tend to focus on all the sordid details in the life of the person who made the discovery. I find this path to be voyeuristic but not enlightening.
I'm baffled all the time. We don't know what's driving 96% of the universe. Everybody you know and love and heard of and think about and see in the night sky through a telescope: four percent of the universe.
I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I'm doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world - the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.
Private enterprise in the history of civilization has never led large, expensive, dangerous projects with unknown risks. That has never happened because when you combine all these factors, you cannot create a capital market valuation of that activity.
Let me tell you something about full moons: kids don't care about full moons. They'll play in a full moon, no worries at all. They only get scared of magic or werewolves from stupid adults and their stupid adult stories.
Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect. I kind of want to know what happened there because we're twirling knobs here on Earth without knowing the consequences of it. Mars once had running water. It's bone dry today. Something bad happened there as well.
I was transformed by picking up a pair of binoculars and looking up, and that's hard to do for a city kid because when you look up you just see buildings - and really, your first thought is to look in people's windows. So to look out of the space - out of living space - and look up to the sky, binoculars go far, literally and figuratively.
If your ego starts out, 'I am important, I am big, I am special,' you're in for some disappointments when you look around at what we've discovered about the universe. No, you're not big. No, you're not. You're small in time and in space. And you have this frail vessel called the human body that's limited on Earth.
I claim that all those who think they can cherry-pick science simply don't understand how science works. That's what I claim. And if they did, they'd be less prone to just assert that somehow scientists are clueless.
Cosmos' is an occasion to bring everything that I have, all of my capacity to communicate. We may go to the edge of the universe, but we're going to land right on you: in your heart, in your soul, in your mind. My goal is to have people know that they are participants in this great unfolding cosmic story.
As an educator, I try to get people to be fundamentally curious and to question ideas that they might have or that are shared by others. In that state of mind, they have earned a kind of inoculation against the fuzzy thinking of these weird ideas floating around out there.
I don't care what town you're born in, what city, what country. If you're a child, you are curious about your environment. You're overturning rocks. You're plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you're doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.
It was unthinkable not long ago that a biologist or paleontologist would be at the same conference as an astrophysicist. Now we have accumulated so much data in each of these branches of science as it relates to origins that we have learned that no one discipline can answer questions of origins alone.
You can't have people making decisions about the future of the world who are scientifically illiterate. That's a recipe for disaster. And I don't mean just whether a politician is scientifically literate, but people who vote politicians into office.
We have bred multiple generations of people who have not experienced knowing where you are the moment a news story broke, with that news story being great and grand and something that elevates society instead of diminishes it.
There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It's the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end.
I'm perennially intrigued how people who lead largely evidence-based lives can, in a belief-based part of their mind, be certain that an invisible, divine entity created an entire universe just for us, or that the government is stockpiling space aliens in a secret desert location.
I like to believe that science is becoming mainstream. It should have never been something that sort of geeky people do and no one else thinks about. Whether or not, it will always be what geeky people do. It should, as a minimum, be what everybody thinks about because science is all around us.
Cosmos' wouldn't deserve its place in primetime evening network television were it not a landscape on which compelling stories were told. People, when they watch TV in the evening, want to see stories, and science simply tells the best stories.
Those who see the cosmic perspective as a depressing outlook, they really need to reassess how they think about the world. Because when I look up in the universe, I know I'm small but I'm also big. I'm big because I'm connected to the universe, and the universe is connected to me.
Big ideas, big ambitious projects need to be embedded within culture at a level deeper than the political winds. It needs to be deeper than the economic fluctuations that could turn people against an expensive project because they're on an unemployment line and can't feed their families.
Scientists in different disciplines don't speak the same language. They publish in different journals. It's like the United Nations: You come together, but no one speaks the same language, so you need some translators.
I claim that space is part of our culture. You've heard complaints that nobody knows the names of the astronauts, that nobody gets excited about launches, that nobody cares anymore except people in the industry. I don't believe that for a minute.
When you put money directly to a problem, it makes a good headline. It makes a good campaign slogan. You get to claim that you've engaged in these activities within an election cycle. But certain investments take longer than an election cycle.
You have people who believe they are scientifically literate but, in fact, are not. And I don't mind if you're not scientifically literate, but just admit that to yourself, so that you'll know, and perhaps you can take a first step to try to eradicate that.
In all civilizations we've studied, all cultures that we know of across the Earth and across time have invested some kind of attempt to understanding where where, where they come from, and where they are going.
Where there's water on Earth, you find life as we know it. So if you find water somewhere else, it becomes a remarkable draw to look closer to see if life of any kind is there, even if it's bacterial, which would be extraordinary for the field of biology.
Typically, when you look for role models, you want someone who has your interests and came from the same background. Well, look how restricting that is. What people should do is take role models a la carte. If there's someone whose character you appreciated, you respect that trait.
... informed ignorance provides the natural state of mind for research scientists at the ever-shifting frontiers of knowledge. People who believe themselves ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos."
If an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader.
People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah's ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.
The great tragedy is that they're removing art completely, not because they're putting more science in, but because they can't afford the art teachers or because somebody thinks it's not useful. An enlightened society has all of this going on within it. It's part of what distinguishes what it is to be human from other life forms on Earth - that we have culture
You should chose your heroes a-la carte. Picking and choosing from one and then another, thereby assembling a kind of composite hero. That way when you discover something reprehensible about any one of them it matters nothing to you because that's not the part of them that piqued your interest.
On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death.
The chunks of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 were so large, and were moving so fast, that each hit Jupiter with at least the equivalent energy of the dinosaur-killing collision between Earth and an asteroid 65 million years ago. Whatever damage Jupiter sustained, one thing is for sure: it's got no dinosaurs left.
It would be great if we were on multiple planets, but I think that's unrealistic. Hawking says we have to be on multiple planets so an asteroid could come and you'd still have some humans left. It's a nice idea. It satisfies the multiple-eggs-in-multiple-baskets concept.
Like no other science, astrophysics cross-pollinate s the expertise of chemists, biologists, geologists and physicists, all to discover the past, present, and future of the cosmos-and our humble place within it.
With one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) that all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world
I remain fearless of airplanes after 9/11. But during a trip to Los Angeles on a Boeing 767, I couldn't keep my mind from drifting: What's the largest piece of this airplane that could crash into the World Trade Center, explode out the other side, and survive intact? The landing gear? My computer battery? My belt buckle? My wedding ring?
Every account of a higher power that I've seen described, of all religions that I've seen, include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.
While I'm a big fan of science fiction, especially as rendered in expensive Hollywood blockbusters, it's the real universe that calls to me. To fall into a black hole, that is more amazing than anything I've ever read in a science-fiction story.
That the north star is the brightest in the night sky. I'd guess about 9 out of 10 people think this. But it does not require a grant from the National Science Foundation to learn the answer. The North Star is not even in the top 40 in the night sky. It's the 49th brightest star. Rather dull and boring by most measures.
Not enough of our society is trained how to understand and interpret quantitative information. This activity is a centerpiece of science literacy to which we should all strive-the future health, wealth, and security of our democracy depend on it. Until that is achieved, we are at risk of making under-informed decisions that affect ourselves, our communities, our country, and even the world.
We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That's kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It's not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
But you will hardly ever read about them. Why? Because once again, the media has predetermined what is not worthy of coverage, even when the news item is something as uninteresting as the cosmic origin of every element in your body.
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body...are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically.
A common way to compute density is, of course, to take the ratio of an object's mass to its volume. But other types of densities exist, such as the resistance of somebody's brain to the imparting of common sense....
I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime
Some morning while your eating breakfast and you need something new to think about, though, you might want to ponder the fact that you see your kids across the table not as they are but as they once were, about three nanoseconds ago.
I don't like trying to influence politicians, who are themselves representative of huge numbers of people. As an educator, I'd rather enlighten the people and educate the people and let they be the ones who put the pressure on their elected officials.
I [do not know] when the end of science will come. ... What I do know is that our species is dumber than we normally admit to ourselves. This limit of our mental faculties, and not necessarily of science itself, ensures to me that we have only just begun to figure out the universe.
I'm optimistic. I see no longer people accepting fuzzy thinking in the world. The change is not that people aren't still saying under-informed things. The change is that if you're in power and you say something under-informed, there are people out there with a voice who will take you to task for having done so
I'm not a scientist, I was not a good science student, I felt effectively alienated from science throughout my young life, and it was only when I became an adult that I began to really appreciate from a completely different angle the power of science.
After your first job, is anyone asking you what your GPA was? No, they don't care. They ask you: Are you a good leader? Do people follow you? Do you have integrity? Are you innovative? Do you solve problems? Somebody's got to do that homework and redesign the educational system so that it can actually train people to be successful in life
The people talking on their cell phone and following GPS instructions to where grandma's house is saying I don't need space - excuse me, that's how you know where grandma lives, and when to make the left turn.
Something bad happened on both Mars with its dried-up watercourses and Venus with its runaway greenhouse effect. Could something bad happen on Earth too? Our species currently turns row upon row of environmental knobs, without much regard to long-term consequences.
What are the lessons to be learned from this journey of the mind through the universe? That humans are emotionally fragile, perennially gullible, hopelessly ignorant masters of an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos. Have a nice day.
But to measure cause and effect... you must ensure that a simple correlation, however tempting it may be, is not mistaken for a cause. In the 1990s the stork population of Germany increased and the German at-home birth rate rose as well. Shall we credit storks for airlifting the babies?
The problem in society is not kids not knowing science. The problem is adults not knowing science. They outnumber kids 5 to 1, they wield power, they write legislation. When you have scientifically illiterate adults, you have undermined the very fabric of what makes a nation wealthy and strong.
As a child, I was aware that, at night, infrared vision would reveal monsters hiding in the bedroom closet only if they were warm-blooded. But everybody knows that your average bedroom monster is reptilian and cold-blooded.
Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem.
Intelligent life can't be all that common because it's really rare on Earth and especially since we define ourselves to be intelligent. But in the eyes of an alien coming here who has the technology to make it here, they might observe us and conclude that there's no sign of intelligent life on Earth.
If all that you see, do, measure and discover is the will of a deity, then ideas can never be proven wrong, you have no predictive power, and you are at a loss to understand the principles behind most of the fundamental interconnections of nature.
When you're a hammer (as the saying goes), all your problems look like nails. If you're a meteorite expert pondering the sudden extinction of boatloads of species, you'll want to say an impact did it. If you're an igneous petrologist, volcanoes did it. If you're into spaceborne bioclouds, an interstellar virus did it. If you're a hypernova expert, gamma rays did it.
When provoked, the itsy-bitsy invertebrates known as tardigrades can suspend their metabolism. In that state, they can survive temperatures of... 73 K for days on end, making them hardy enough to endure being stranded on Neptune. So the next time you need space travelers with the right stuff, you might want to choose yeast and tardigrades, and leave your astronauts, cosmonauts, and taikonauts at home.
When asked about which scientist he'd like to meet, Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "Isaac Newton. No question about it. The smartest person ever to walk the face of this earth. The man was connected to the universe in spooky ways. He discovered the laws of motion, the laws of gravity, the laws of optics. Then he turned 26.
Part of knowing how to think is knowing how the laws of nature shape the world around us. Without that knowledge, without that capacity to think, you can easily become a victim of people who seek to take advantage of you.
You say you're worried about kids? I'm not worried about kids, I'm worried about grown ups... Children are not the problem here... We spend the first year of their lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.
You will never find people who truly grasp the cosmic perspective such as the entire community of astrophysicists leading nations into battle. No, that doesn't happen. When you have a cosmic perspective, there's this little speck called Earth and you say you're going to do what? You're on this side of a line in the sand and you want to kill people for what?
When I needed to overcome the low expectations of others or the bias that would be expressed in one circumstance or another, I'd keep on keeping on. And I climb over the obstacle, go around it, dig under it, fly over it. That's what kept me going. Otherwise I would have never been an astrophysicist.
By the way, how much does NASA cost? It's half a penny on a dollar. Did you know that? ... The most powerful agency on the dreams of a nation is currently underfunded to do what it needs to be doing, and that's making dreams come true ... How much would you pay for the universe?
We account for all the matter and energy that we're familiar with, measure up how much gravity it should have, it's one-sixth of the gravity that's actually operating on the universe. We call that dark matter. It really should be called dark gravity. We don't know what that is.
It's quite literally true that we are star dust, in the highest exalted way one can use that phrase. ...I bask in the majesty of the cosmos. I use words, compose sentences that sound like the sentences I hear out of people that had revelation of Jesus, who go on their pilgrimages to Mecca.
The word smart is not applied to all professions, even if you are smart in that profession. No one talks about smart lawyers. They may say a brilliant lawyer. They'll talk about a creative artist. Smart is saved for scientists. It just is. It's not even really applied to medical doctors. It applies to scientists in the lab figuring out what hadn't been figured out before.
If you are that person, you are more likely to believe that God cured you, this invisible force, creator of the universe, cured you, than that you had three idiotic doctors diagnose you. ... I taught physics to pre-med students who became doctors. Not all of them are smart, I assure you.
Science is not just 'Here are some facts, learn that'. There's a thread through these stories that, if you know how to tell it because you know how they connect, then it's a thread that will land right in your mind, body and soul.
I simply go with what works. And what works is the healthy skepticism embodied in the scientific method. Believe me, if the Bible had ever been shown to be a rich source of scientific answers and enlightenment, we would be mining it daily for cosmic discovery.
In the movie, the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky-one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?
Here's the problem, when you're stargazing on a mountain top you are partially oxygen-deprived and you're in command of million dollars worth of hardware. So as much as I would like to sip wine under the stars, it's contraindicated in the instructions on operating telescopes.
Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes.... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.
The greatest of people in society carve niches that represent the unique expression of their combinations of talents. If everyone had the luxury of expressing the unique combination of talents in this world, our society would be transofrmed over night.
The universe has really never made things in ones. The Earth is special and everything else is different? No, we've got seven other planets. The sun? No, the sun is one of those dots in the night sky. The Milky Way? No, it's one of a hundred billion galaxies. And the universe--maybe it's countless other universes.
I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I'm doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world-the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.
And extracting one molecule's signature in spectral analysis from the rest of the signatures is hard work, sort of like picking out the sound of your toddler's voice in a roomful of screaming children during playtime. It's hard, but you can do it.
Your parents don't like it because it gets the pots and pans dirty and because it's noisy, but for you it's fun and you're doing experiments. ... Just tell your parents that they're experiments and you want to become a scientist, and they won't stop you from doing anything you want.
You don't want to raise a kid in a culture where the kid who asks the most questions is annoying. You want a culture where the kid who asks the most questions gets awards and gets another piece of cake.
If Earth ever suffers a runaway greenhouse effect (like what has happened on Venus), then our atmosphere would trap excess amounts of solar energy, the air temperature would rise, and the oceans would swiftly evaporate into the atmosphere as they sustained a rolling boil. This would be bad.
Like the microscopic strands of DNA that predetermine the identity of a macroscopic species and the unique propertires of its members, the modern look and feel of the cosmos was writ in the fabric of its earliest moments, and carried relentlessly through time and space. We feel it when we look up. We feel it when we look down. We feel it when we look within.
Whether or not people go into space or serve the space industry, they will have the sensitivity to those fields necessary to stimulate unending innovation in the technological fields, and it's that innovation in the 21st century that will drive tomorrow's economies.
Science, enabled by engineering, empowered by NASA, tells us not only that we are in the universe but that the universe is in us. And for me, that sense of belonging elevates, not denigrates, the ego.
Some people think emotionally more often than they think politically. Some think politically more often than they think rationally. Others never think rationally about anything at all.No judgment implied. Just an observation.
If the whole world shared such experiences, we would then have common dreams and everybody could begin thinking about tomorrow. And if everybody thinks about tomorrow, then someday we can visit the sky together.
The miniaturization of electronics, which ultimately was driven by the marketplace, was started by NASA, because it costs money to get something into orbit. So you want to trim your electronics, miniaturize your electronics, miniaturize your satellites.
I am convinced that the act of thinking logically cannot possibly be natural to the human mind. If it were, then mathematics would be everybody's easiest course at school and our species would not have taken several millennia to figure out the scientific method.
I want to create the airplane that flies in the rarified atmosphere of Mars. This is what galvanizes a generation to want to become scientists and engineers in the first place, not we need a scientist to develop a plane that's 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the one your parents flew.
Now imagine a world in which everyone, but especially people with power and influence, holds an expanded view of our place in the cosmos. With that perspective, our problems would shrink-or never arise at all-and we could celebrate our earthly differences while shunning the behavior of our predecessors who slaughtered each other because of them.
It's actually the minority of religious people who rejects science or feel threatened by it or want to sort of undo or restrict the... where science can go. The rest, you know, are just fine with science. And it has been that way ever since the beginning.
The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.
In science, if you don't do it, somebody else will. Whereas in art, if Beethoven didn't compose the 'Ninth Symphony,' no one else before or after is going to compose the 'Ninth Symphony' that he composed; no one else is going to paint 'Starry Night' by van Gogh.
We can trace the elements. They were forged in the centers of high-mass stars that went unstable at the ends of their lives, they exploded, scattered their enriched contents across the galaxy, sprinkled into gas clouds that then collapsed and formed stars and planets and life.
Perhaps these ancient observatories like Stonehenge perennially impress modern people because modern people have no idea how the Sun, Moon, or stars move. We are too busy watching evening television to care what's going on in the sky.
The urge to miniaturize electronics did not exist before the space program. I mean our grandparents had radios that was furniture in the living room. Nobody at the time was saying, 'Gee, I want to carry that in my pocket.' Which is a non-thought.
I don't have an issue with what you do in the church, but I'm going to be up in your face if you're going to knock on my science classroom and tell me they've got to teach what you're teaching in your Sunday school. Because that's when we're going to fight.
Science is a cooperative enterprise spanning the generations. It's the passing of a torch from teacher to student to teacher. A community of minds, reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars.
All Plutophiles are based in America. If you go to other countries, they have much less of an attachment to either the existence or preservation of Pluto as a planet. Once you investigate that, you find out that Disney's dog Pluto was sketched the same year the cosmic object was discovered. And Pluto was discovered by an American.
Everything we do, every thought we've ever had, is produced by the human brain. But exactly how it operates remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries, and it seems the more we probe its secrets, the more surprises we find.
The universe is hilarious! Like, Venus is 900 degrees. I could tell you it melts lead. But that's not as fun as saying, 'You can cook a pizza on the windowsill in nine seconds.' And next time my fans eat pizza, they're thinking of Venus!
Astronomers do not commonly use Venereal, in favor of the less contagious-sounding Venutian. Blame the medical community, who snatched the word long before astronomers had any good use for it. I suppose you can't blame the doctors. Venus is the goddess of beauty and love, so she ought to be the goddess of its medical consequences.
I want and need the artist to take me to new places, and the new place that Van Gogh took me not the sky as it is but the sky as he felt it. And the more of us that feel the universe, the better off we will be in this world.
We account for one-sixth of the forces of gravity we see in the universe. There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.
Stephen Hawking's been watching too many Hollywood movies. I think the only kind aliens in Hollywood are the ones created by Steven Spielberg - 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'E.T.,' for example. All other aliens are trying to suck our brains out.
I was an aspiring astrophysicist, and that's how I defined myself, not by my skin color. People didn't treat me as someone with science ambitions. They treated me as someone they thought was going to mug them, or who was a shoplifter.
Asteroids have us in our sight. The dinosaurs didn't have a space program, so they're not here to talk about this problem. We are, and we have the power to do something about it. I don't want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy, to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not, and end up going extinct.
I don't want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not and end up going extinct. We'd be the laughingstock of the aliens of the cosmos if that were the case.
What you need, above all else, is a love for your subject, whatever it is. You've got to be so deeply in love with your subject that when curve balls are thrown, when hurdles are put in place, you've got the energy to overcome them.
Half of my library are old books because I like seeing how people thought about their world at their time. So that I don't get bigheaded about something we just discovered and I can be humble about where we might go next. Because you can see who got stuff right and most of the people who got stuff wrong.
When you innovate, you create new industries that then boost your economy. And when you create new industries and that becomes part of your culture, your jobs can't go overseas because no one else has figured out how to do it yet.
Some asteroids have us in their sights. Be nice to sort of go near them and find out what they're made of, possibly tag their ears so they're always broadcasting to us their location. In case one of their trajectories head straight for us, we'll know well in advance to do something about it.
To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen. If people are not within your midst who dream about tomorrow - with the capacity to bring tomorrow into the present - then the country might as well just recede back into the cave because that's where we're headed.
When an industry matures, it means it's not advancing, and of course the jobs go overseas. That's the obligation of the multi-national corporation: to put the factory where it can make the widget as cheap as possible. Don't get angry when a corporation does that; we've all bought into this concept. We live in a capitalistic society.
I think the greatest of people in society carved niches that represented the unique expression of their combinations of talents, and if everyone had the luxury of expressing the unique combinations of talents in this world, our society would be transformed overnight.
Let's find a new way to think about the entire taxonomy of solar system objects, and not clutch to this concept of 'planet,' which, of course, only ever meant, 'Do you move against the background stars, regardless of what you're made of?'
If God is the mystery of the universe, these mysteries, we're tackling these mysteries one by one. If you're going to stay religious at the end of the conversation, God has to mean more to you than just where science has yet to tread.
Pluto's orbit is so elongated that it crosses the orbit of another planet. Now that's... you've got no business doing that if you want to call yourself a planet. Come on, now! There's something especially transgressive about that.
If we find life out there, and it's not us, we will deem it not intelligent. But what may be equally as likely is that we find life that's vastly more intelligent than we are. If that's the case, we are putty in their hands.
When a president promises something beyond his years in office, he is fundamentally unaccountable. It is not his budget that must finish the job. Another president inherits the problem, and it becomes a ball too easily dropped, a plan too easily abandoned, a dream too readily deferred.
If you're going to lead a space frontier, it has to be government; it'll never be private enterprise. Because the space frontier is dangerous, and it's expensive, and it has unquantified risks. And under those conditions, you cannot establish a capital-market evaluation of that enterprise. You can't get investors.
Every day, I wake up and I say, 'Why... how... did I end up with 1.7 million Twitter followers?' It's freaky to me, every day, but that tells me that there's an appetite out there that had previously been underserved. There's an inner geek in us all, an inner bit of curiosity that people are discovering, and they like it.
As a scientist, I want to go to Mars and back to asteroids and the Moon because I'm a scientist. But I can tell you, I'm not so naive a scientist to think that the nation might not have geopolitical reasons for going into space.