You know, there's black holes and what -- could there be wormholes? Could -- might there be a multi-verse? These are all fascinating frontiers. What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy? And what was around before the universe? And do we have access to higher dimensions?
If there's some kind of rock star status, would I be irresponsible if I didn't somehow use it for a continued greater good? I'm always involved in some way with reaching the public.
On some issues, I'm a staunch Conservative -- like curtailing greenhouse gas emissions so that we can Conserve the environment.
I'm not as famous as Stephen Hawking, but certainly in the U.S., I have a very high profile for a scientist. It is an awesome responsibility, one that I don't shoulder lightly.
Today secular philosophers call that kind of divine invocation God of the gaps-which comes in handy, because there has never been a shortage of gaps in people's knowledge.
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.
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.
My only hope is that every other alien civilization isn't doing exactly what we are doing because then everybody would be listening, nobody would be receiving, and we would collectively conclude that there is no other intelligent life in the universe.
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
If you need to invoke your academic pedigree or job title for people to believe what you say, then you need a better argument.
For me, the most fascinating interface is Twitter. I have odd cosmic thoughts every day and I realized I could hold them to myself or share them with people who might be interested.
For decades, we've been trying to cook up the building blocks of life, in the lab, and recreate the origins of it all, but the parts didn't seem to fit together, until now.
If there's something that someone else can do, let them do it. If I couldn't do it uniquely, let someone else do it and I would get back to the lab.
I don't want to make a member of Congress do something that that member of Congress's constituents would not approve of, or would not agree to. So in that regard, I'm kind of the opposite of a lobbyist.
No one is saying you're possessed by the devil anymore except the most ignorant of people in modern culture.
As the plow pushes through a parking lot of light fluffy snow, the snow clumps together in bigger and bigger chunks. Out in space, pressure hitting a gas cloud has a similar effect, except, instead of snowballs, you get stars!
Spin-off technologies are changing the culture. Even if you don't become an engineer you could be a poet, a journalist, a lawyer, but you will be thinking innovation and your actions within society, who you vote for, what you value, all become a participant in an innovation economy.
My goal is not to shove information into your head. It's to find ways to reignite the curiosity that we all had as children for the natural world. You don't have to tell a child to explore the backyard.
Long ago Mars was an oasis of running water.Today the Martiansurfaceis a sterile,barren desert. Here on Earth, who knows what climactic knobs we unwittingly turn,which might one day render Earth as dry and lifeless as Mars. (From the cover of Old Poison by Joan Francis).
I'm an educator, and I'm a scientist, and I speak what is objectively true. And if that offends you, I can try to have a conversation with you to ask why it offends you, and tell you why objective truth should not offend you because that's how the world works.
I don't want to go into space because of war. I think we would if it was triggered. If China said they want to put military bases on Mars, we'd be at Mars in two years. That would be quick. I don't want that to be the reason.
Right now people think God is dark energy and dark matter, the spirit. Go ahead and think that, but the day we can tell you exactly what it is -- that it's gremlins in the vacuum of space or whatever -- then what's your recourse at that point?
Quantum physics fluctuates all the time. But now the fluctuations are not just particles coming into and out of existence, which happens all the time. It's whole universes coming into and out of existence.
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.
Our history, in the cosmos and on planet Earth, was shaped by countless events, some obviously epic, some seemingly trivial, yet all vital in getting us to this point, here and now, the people we are today.
When a coincidence seems amazing, that's because the human mind isn't wired to naturally comprehend probability and statistics.
(Space programs are) a force operating on educational pipelines that stimulate the formation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians... They're the ones that make tomorrow come. The foundations of economies... issue forth from investments we make in science and technology.
You innovate in ways that stoke your economy. Because innovations in science and technology are the engines of 21st century economies.
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.
We hunger for significance, for signs that our personal existence is of special meaning to the universe. To that end, we're all too eager to deceive ourselves and others, to discern a sacred image in a grilled cheese sandwich or find a divine warning in a comet.
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.
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.
Down there between our legs, it's like an entertainment complex in the middle of a sewage system. Who designed that?
Ever since there have been people, there have been explorers, looking in places where other hadn't been before. Not everyone does it, but we are part of a species where some members of the species do, to the benefit of us all.
I agree that we should go back to the moon and on to Mars. We should treat all objects in the solar system, including comets and asteroids, as exploration targets.
But one of the coolest things about meteorites is that most were formed four-and-a-half-billion years ago, during the birth of our solar system, when, for reasons not yet known, a cloud of gas and dust was transformed into a sun with circling planets.
Luckily, there are some rocks left over from our earliest days, asteroids formed during our solar system's birth. Occasionally, some of them drop in on Earth, and when they do, they're called meteorites.
For me, one of the most fertile consequences of the space program is the extent to which it stimulates people to innovate because they want to create a different tomorrow than what they're living in today. And it's that culture of innovation that spawns entirely new economies.
Some claim evolution is just a theory. As if it were merely an opinion. The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened. Accepting our kinship with all life on Earth is not only solid science. In my view, it's also a soaring spiritual experience.
To get an Emmy nomination for a show that was the first-ever science talk show on television to us was an affirmation that there is an appetite for this content in the mainstream public, not just the erudite public. So we're all completely thrilled by it.
What scientists want next is a thorough comparison of what we and exosolar planets and vagabonds look like. Only in this way will we know whether our home life is normal or whether we live in a dysfunctional solar family.
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?
When your reasons for believing something are justified ad hoc, you are left susceptible to further discoveries undermining the rationale for that belief.
Today, scientists sound the alarm on other environmental dangers. Vested interests still hire their own scientists to confuse the issue. But in the end, nature, will not be fooled.
Ignorance is a virus. Once it starts spreading it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.
I think if everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionaries and brilliant.
To learn more about science, turn off your electronic device and go outside and look around a bit. Nature is calling you. Go on. The internet will still be here.
Emotional truths woven by lawyers in the court of law are apparently more important than the truths of actual events. I have grown to fear for those whose innocence became trapped within the legal system.
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.
If Pizza sizes were given in area not diameter, you'd see instantly that a 7 inch is less than half the size of a 10 inch pie.
On Venus you could cook a 16-inch pepperoni pizza in seven seconds, just by holding it out to the air. (Yes, I did the math.).
Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).
He invited people to sign a petition that demanded either strict control of, or a total ban on, dihydrogen monoxide.... Yes, 86 percent of the passersby voted to ban water (H2O) from the environment. Maybe that's what really happened to all the water on Mars.
Why can't Pluto be a planet? Some people like Pluto. And if it doesn't exist then they don't have a favorite planet. Right? Please write back but not in cursive because I can't read cursive.
I bet most of the crowd does not know that there are six moons in the solar system bigger than Pluto.
When I shop for fruit and melons I like to hold a grape next to a cantaloupe and think of Earth next to Jupiter. Then I eat Earth.
If Neptune were analogized with a Chevy Impala in mass, then how big is pluto compared to that? Pluto would be a matchbox car sitting on the curb.
This fear factor, this war driver is a very strong one and it's been with the species ever since the beginning and it motivated the Great Wall of China. War can be aggressive or defensive, right? So it motivated the Great Wall of China. Our space program was reactive to Russia.
Science literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance.
Claiming there is no other life in the universe is like scooping up some water, looking at the cup and claiming there are no whales in the ocean.
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.
If something comes up that is completely freaky, it's spiritual-looking to the scientist, the first explanation is not going to be that it's God, because the history of that has failed. It would have to be, like, the hundredth explanation.
Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
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.
One thing in life is for certain, the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas.
We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out--and we have only just begun.
I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don't.
If you're really successful at bullshitting, it means you're not hanging around enough people smarter than you.
Aliens might be surprised to learn that in a cosmos with limitless starlight, humans kill for energy sources buried in the sand.
There's something about witnessing something in the sky that makes people think they're seeing something unique or special. I don't really understand the psychology of it, to be honest.
There's an old saying in the space community: 'If God wanted us to be a spacefaring species, he would have given us a moon'.
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.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.
If your belief system is not founded in an objective reality, you should not be making decisions that affect other people.
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.
If we have the power to turn another planet into Earth, then we have the power to turn Earth back into Earth.
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.
So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.
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.
In five billion years, the sun will expand and engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes. Have a nice day.
Need a distraction today? Not only does 12 + 1 = 11 + 2, but the letters twelve plus one rearrange to give you eleven plus two.
Just to settle it once and for all: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg, laid by a bird that was not a chicken.
Whether or not you can never become great at something, you can always become better at it. Don't ever forget that! And don't say I'll never be good. You can become better! and one day you'll wake up and you'll find out how good you actually became.
Math is the language of the universe. So the more equations you know, the more you can converse with the cosmos.
If each dead person became a ghost, there'd be more than 100 billion of them haunting us all. Creepy, but cool.
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.
Publicly and among themselves biologists rightly celebrate the diversity of life on Earth... At the end of the day, however, their confession is heard by no one: they work with a single scientific sample-life on Earth.
If there were biologists among the extremophiles organisms that live in extreme conditions, they would surely classify themselves as normal and any life that thrived in room temperature as an extremophile.
Wow, monitor lizards are pretty gnarly creatures. I want to go with the monitor lizard. That's just weird enough to be true. No?
There is no true understanding of Biology without Chemistry. And there's no true understanding of Chemistry without Physics.
When you organize extraordinary missions, you attract people of extraordinary talent who might not have been inspired by or attracted to the goal of saving the world from cancer or hunger or pestilence.
To govern a society shared by people of emotion, people of reason, and everybody in between--as well as people who think their actions are shaped by logic but in fact are shaped by feelings or nonempirical philosophies--you need politics.
Miniaturization of electronics started by NASA's push became an entire consumer products industry. Now we're carrying the complete works of Beethoven on a lapel pin listening to it in headphones.
I was born the same week NASA was founded, so we're the same age and feel some of the same pains, joys, and frustrations.
No one with a living room radio that was a piece of furniture at the time would say, gee. I want to carry that around on my hip pocket. That was not a thought until NASA initiated this whole exercise. So there's an influence that's not just spinoff.
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.
In just one year, the expenditure of of the U.S.'s military budget is equivalent to the entire 50-year running budget of NASA combined.
Would a NASA reality show Lunar Shore be more popular than Jersey Shore? Civilization's future depends on that answer.
The history of exploration has never been driven by exploration. But Columbus himself was a discoverer. So was Magellan. But the people who wrote checks were not. They had other motivations. And there's Columbus -- he couldn't even get Italy to pay for his voyage so he has to go to Spain.
There's as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe.
Does the full moon affect people's behavior, you ask? Yup. It makes people think the full moon affects people's behavior.
The number of people in the world engaged in this search for catastrophic impactors totals one or two dozen. How long into the future are you willing to protect Homo sapiens on Earth? Before you answer that question, take a detour to Arizona's Meteor Crater during your next vacation.
On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.
Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.
We spend the first year of a child's life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There's something wrong there.
The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams.
I think of space not as the final frontier but as the next frontier. Not as something to be conquered but to be explored.
Dinosaurs are extinct today because they lacked opposable thumbs and the brainpower to build a space program.
Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.
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.
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.
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.
The problem is that many people operate on the assumption that NASA should go to Congress every year with hat in hand and justify it every year. Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.
You can't come away with this cosmic perspective thinking that you are better than others and want to fight. That's why you'll never have astrophysicists leading nations into war.
Just think for how long humanity was controlled by mystical, magical thinking -- the diseases and suffering that led to. We managed to survive, but just barely. It wasn't pretty.
We explore our environment, more than we are compelled to utter poetry, when we're toddlers. We start doing that later. Before that happens, every child is a scientist.
It's the great tragedy -- people employed in ways that don't fully tap everything they do best in life.
I think the greatest of people that have ever been in society, they were never versions of someone else. They were themselves.
The methods and tools of science perennially breach barriers, granting me confidence that our epic march of insight into the operations of nature will continue without end.
The universe is almost 14 billion years old, and, wow! Life had no problem starting here on Earth! I think it would be inexcusably egocentric of us to suggest that we're alone in the universe.
NASA has spin-offs, and it's a huge and very impressive list, including accurate and affordable LASIK eye surgery.
As a citizen, as a public scientist, I can tell you that Einstein essentially overturned a so strongly established paradigm of science, whereas Darwin didn't really overturn a science paradigm.
There's a lot of memorization that goes on in school. You memorize vocabulary words and all these sorts of things.
Private enterprise can never lead a space frontier. It's not possible because a space frontier is expensive, it has unknown risks and it has unquantified risks.
Mars once was wet and fertile. It's now bone dry. Something bad happened on Mars. I want to know what happened on Mars so that we may prevent it from happening here on Earth.
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.
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?'
Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That's a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don't know what you're doing. That's what scientists do every day.
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.
The humblest person in this world is the astrophysicist. Because we are face to face with our ignorance every single day.
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.
If you slid Pluto to where Earth is right now, heat from the sun would evaporate that ice, and it would grow a tail. Now that's no kind of behavior for a planet.
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.
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.
In nature, when you conduct science, it is the natural world that is the ultimate decider in what is true and what is not.
Computers have proved to be formidable chess players. In fact, they've beaten our top human chess champions.
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.
The only driver stronger than an economic argument to do something is the war argument, the I-don't-want-to-die argument.
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.