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StarTalk @ NY Comic Con: It’s About Time! (Brian Greene & Neil deGrasse Tyson)


(upbeat music) – Welcome, yes. (audience cheers) This is Star Talk at New York Comic Con and I’m gonna bring out my guest. First you’re gonna meet my co-host, the one, the only, Chuck Nice. Chuck, comedian, come on out! (audience cheers) Come on out, Chuck! – Yeah buddy. – Chuck, who’d you bring with you today? – Hey, so, you may know this. Who is another comedian and
he is also extremely funny. You probably know him from
“Impractical Jokers” on– (audience cheers) on TruTV. It’s James “Murr” Murray! (audience cheers) – Yeah, I don’t belong here. (Neil laughs) – No, you’re over here, come on. – All right, and so, did they tell you what we’re doing tonight, what topic? – [Audience Members] No. – You came and you didn’t
know what the topic is? That’s love. – Man, you really screwed up. (Neil laughs) – Let me bring out our
fourth and final guest. A colleague and friend of mine. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Brian! (audience cheers) Brian, okay. Let me tell you why we
brought out this fire power. Because tonight we are going to handle three different topics. Very specific to this
audience and our concerns. In part one we are going to talk about time travel in “Doctor Who.” (audience cheers) And in part two we’re gonna talk about the quantum physics of Ant-Man. (audience cheers) And part three, we’re talkin’ about parallel universes
in “Stranger Things.” (audience cheers) So, let’s do this, all right. So, thanks for coming. This is my first time I’ve met you here. – Yeah, likewise, I’ve been a fan of yours, literally, forever. – No, that would not be literally true. (laughing) – Expect a lot more of that tonight. – I’m just sayin’. So, we know Doctor Who’s the longest running science-fiction
franchise ever on television. (audience cheers) And the current doctor, Jodie
Whittaker, is that right? Yes, give it up! (audience cheers) Is anyone here dressed as
Jodie Whittaker, we got? Nobody, okay, fine. Okay, just checkin’. – [Brian] Wow, that is almost
a statistical impossibility. (Neil laughs) – Yeah, so, as you know,
“Doctor Who” follows the adventures of a
humanoid alien, basically. And that person travels through space and time in a wibbly-wobbly,
timey-wimey way. Yes. And so, given these facts,
what we really wanna know Brian is travel through time
theoretically possible. At least as imagined in “Doctor Who”. – You have to think about– – Oh, by the way, Brian, you know, had three best selling books
about this stuff, okay? (audience cheers) Among them, “The Fabric of the Universe”, “Fabric of the Cosmos”,
“The Elegant Universe”, and, your third of those was what? – “The Hidden Reality.” – “The Hidden Reality”,
thank you, thank you. So go on Brian, tell me. – So you have to think about time travel in, really two stages, because time travel to the future is very different from time travel to the past. So time travel to the future– – They have different consequences. – They have different consequences and they have a different standing with the understanding
of the laws of physics. So, as we know physics today,
time travel to the future is not hypothetical, it’s not some idea that people argue about. Time travel to the
future is absolutely part of the way physics is constructed. There is nobody who knows anything about what they’re talking about
who would disagree with that. – I like the way you worded that. (Neil laughs) Okay, but of course in
“Doctor Who” they go into the past, so what’s goin’ on there? – That’s a trickier one,
that’s a tricky one. – Well he’s a time lord,
so he figured it out. So, my question to you
is, in this universe, how would you make it happen such as the way we see it in “Doctor Who”? – So if you wanna travel
to the past there are a few proposals that are on the market. But I’d say the one that has attracted the greatest attention is
to make use of wormholes. – Okay. – So a wormhole is a tunnel through space, it’s a shortcut, like any
ordinary tunnel in the real world. It takes it from one point in space to another point in a more direct manner than goin’ all around. – So, rather than going over the mountain, you go through the mountain. – You go right through the mountain. Now that is a tunnel from a point in space to another point in space. But here’s the thing. If you take one of the
openings of the wormhole and you put it near a black hole, and you let it hang out
there, according to Einstein, time will elapse more slowly near the edge of a black hole because
of the powerful gravity. – Yes. – And that means that time at this opening of the wormhole will be different from time at the other
opening of the wormhole. – Which is farther away
from the black hole. – Farther away from the black hole, feeling a different gravitational force. – Yes. – Which mean now, when you go through the wormhole, you’re not
just going from one point in space to another point in space. You’re going from one moment in time to a different moment in time. – Well, why does that mean
you’re going backwards? – Well, one direction is forward,
one direction is backward. So, it’s depending on the
direction that you go through the tunnel, it tells you the direction in time that you’re traveling. – Oh. – There is another way
to travel back in time, scrap booking is a fantastic way. (laughing) Facebook memories. You see those video collections they do. You go right back in time, you’re transported there instantly. – So, so, so what– – That’s all I got. – So, what– – Oh, also, Einstein-Rosen bridges. – Of course, that’s stupid,
everybody knows that. – But everyone knows that. – So, what about the… Something conjecture, the– – Chronology protection conjecture. – Chronology protection conjecture. – [Chuck] I believe I
have a condom named that. (laughing) – That’s for when you’re
lookin’ for a good time. – All right, chronology
protection conjecture. So, that sounds like time travel backwards should not be allowed. – Yeah, this is an idea that
came from Stephen Hawking. And he– – Hawking, moment of silence. – I love how he looks at me
like I know Stephen Hawking. – Stephen Hawking. – And he asked the question,
I think all of us ask, which is, if time travel to the past is possible, where are the time travelers? – I’ve heard it hypothesized
that the reason why the Titanic sank is
everyone wanted to go back to the Titanic the first
day a time travel device was invented and then there were millions of people crammed on the
Titanic, and then it sank. – Why would you go
teleport to a sinking ship? – No, ’cause they wanted– – That’s a terrible idea. – They wanted to experience
a bit of history. And, some of you may remember,
old-timer, I’m an old-timer. The very first episode of “Time Tunnel”, they went back to the Titanic. Mmmm. Okay, five of you are over 50 in the room. – I was gonna say. – Remember it. – It’s like either they’re old, or your geek level is off the charts, that’s super cool. – [Audience Member] Why not both? – Did he say why not both? I stand corrected, you old geek. (laughing) – So, Brian, so give me
an example of the problem. – Well– – [Neil] A demonstration of why that conjecture might be true. – Well, the puzzle is, if you go to the past, you change things that prevent, for instance, your own birth. How were you there in the first
place to make that change? So, the usual example
we talk about, you see it in “Back to the Future”,
many other incarnations of these ideas. You go back to the past and
you prevent your parents from meeting, right? So, how were you there
to execute that action? If your parents never met,
so you were never born. So you run into this logical paradox if you allow certain kinds of changes to the past to take place. Now there are ways out of this. So you don’t need the chronology
protection conjecture. Which would say you
can’t travel to the past. You can simply have it that the laws of physics prevent you
from ever changing anything that was in the past. Namely, if you go to the
past, you were always at that moment, there was never a version of that moment
when you were not there. So it’s always self
consistent because moments of time just are, they can’t change. – Could it be, for example,
let’s say I figure out how to send tachyons in a text message. These are the hypothetical particles that would travel backwards in time. I see you walk, you’re
a good friend of mine, you’re walking down the street, and you slip on a banana peel. And I say, “Oh, let me warn my friend “that he’s about to
slip on a banana peel.” So I quickly pull out my
tachyon texting device and I say– – You’re a better friend than
I am, that’s all I’m saying. (laughing) ‘Cause that’s hilarious, and I’m not warning you of anything. – Oh my god, can you sext through time? That’d be amazing. (laughing) – So as I send the text, I say, “Brian, watch out for the banana peel.” So then it goes backwards in time. So then are you suggesting
what might happen is, you’re walking down the lane and then I send you a text and– (James mimics phone ringing) Thank you. And then you pick it
up to read it, it says, “Watch out for the banana peel.” And you slip on the banana peel because you were reading my text. – [Brian] Yes, exactly right. – So, what you’re saying
is, you can’t change, because no matter what,
you were there, period. Whatever that moment in time
was, you were already there. – [Neil] He fell on his
ass, no matter what. – Or the influence was there. – Or the influence was there. – Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah. – Is there another possibility
that when you go back in time, and if you change something, it splinters off to its
own different universe? – [Brian] That’s the other
possibility, yes, thank you. – That’s mind blowing stuff.
– Yeah, yeah. – [Brian] So, the other idea is that you can change the past– – I just fist pounded
with Niel deGrasse Tyson! (audience cheers) Sorry, NDT, baby! – So, you can change the past, but you can’t change the
past of your own universe. So if you go back into the past and say you prevent your
parents from meeting. You’re preventing them from meeting in a parallel copy of the universe within which you were born. So, if they don’t meet,
that means you won’t be born in that universe.
– In that universe. – But there’s no mystery
of where you came from. You were born in this universe
where your parents did meet. – See, but I have a
whole different theory. You go back in time to keep
your parents from meeting. But, unfortunately, you
get there just too late, and instead, you actually see the moment of your own conception. (laughing) And then, because you witnessed that, you take out a gun and kill yourself. (laughing) Everybody changing the timeline. – Everyone here is now thinking about their parents doing it. Everyone. (laughing) – So, were you a fan of
the “Doctor Who” series? – I’ve actually only seen one episode. – What? Security, could you–
– I’ll leave, goodnight guys. (laughing) – That is ridiculous,
’cause I’ve never seen a single episode. So sorry. – Security. All right, so let me ask, what episode? – [Chuck] Of course, everybody now wants to know what episode? – Right. – I don’t know, there was
this blue police thingamajigy. (audience laughs) And that’s all I
remember, sorry that’s it. – Does that clear it
– Security could we take him out here?
– Up for ya? Right, ’cause guess what,
as she went just like this, “That was episode 961.” (laughing) – The one with the blue
thingy, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, one of the interesting
features of “Doctor Who” is that this “blue thingy”,
it’s called a TARDIS. (audience cheers) Which is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. – Okay, by the way. – Yeah. – By the way, I gotta say, that was pretty damn
awesome what I saw here. You just went, “By the way
it’s an acronym, stands for.” And everybody else just said
it right along with you. – ‘Cause that’s how we roll at Comic Con. – They just said it
without missin’ a beat. (audience cheers) – So one of the
fascinating elements of it, and they just treated this quite casually throughout the series. Is that you walk into
this police call box, it’s a British police call box. And then inside is the entire ship. So, you’re accessing another dimension of space by entering in it. So this would be like a fourth dimension. – Yeah. So you’re saying the inside is bigger than the outside.
– Bigger than the outside. – You did say it right. – That’s what I keep tellin’ her! Wait, what? – As if to say… (laughing) – I don’t know if it works. I don’t know if the joke works. – You just have to say, the phrase is, “It’s bigger on the inside.” That’s all you gotta say. Repeat that. Just repeat it. – I’m afraid to. (laughing) – So, “Doctor Who” has just been very smartly written in this regard. It’s got good physics in
it, and yes it’s fiction, but it’s got you thinking about how events can influence for past and future. And this is why they say, time is this wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. It’s not so rigid that it’s
gonna follow what you think is a strict law of physics. It’s got some more, sort
of, chaotic elements to it. – But it has a single timeline, or it has multiple timelines? – I interpret it as multiple timelines. – Okay. – And the time-lord
can access any timeline that is necessary for the task at hand. So that he can save the
universe in every episode. – Could I ask a general question? Is time just a human construct? Do other species understand the concept of time, the passing of it,
and the future versus the past? Yes, okay, yes they do. – There you go. – They do? – I mean it’s easy, it’s
all too easy for we humans to say what we do and think,
that other animals do not. – [James] Yes. – And that’s, there’s the
human hubris deeply embedded in that assumption. Who are you to say that other animals don’t think, or contemplate,
or wonder about their fate. And maybe we are pitied by eagles because our vision sucks compared
to that of eagles. And they look, those poor
humans, they can’t even fly. I wonder if they dream
about, oh, those poor things. Do you know how much pity
we might be garnering in the minds and bodies of other animals? – Most animals look down on me, yes. – And I got another one,
here’s another one right? We can talk about and
praise certain primates. Other primates who maybe
mimic sign language, okay? So, these are animals that can speak to us using, typically,
American sign language. But no one is asking… Here, here, here, chimps
speaking to us in our language, but at no time are we ask, can we speak to them in their language? (audience cheers) – So, they’re smart enough
to speak our language, we’re not smart enough to speak theirs. So, I don’t know, I’m just, I want to… – All I know is what you said
is beautiful and eloquent. But I doubt if there’s
a horse somewhere going, “I wonder about the fabric of time.” (laughing) – Yeah, goldfish are
not thinking about time, they’re just doing circles in the bowl. They can’t remember their
ass from their elbow. They have neither of those
– Yeah keep telling yourself that. So, one of Hawking’s
quotes, which is related to my Titanic comment, is,
“If time travel were possible, “where are the tourists from the future?” – Yeah, I think that is the question. And one answer is, every
time they come here, we just put them in white
coats and lock ’em up. I mean that’s one possibility, right? – Ooh. – Or we put them in white coats and call them astrophysicists. (laughing) – But wait a minute, isn’t
this quote from Hawking exactly what a time traveler would say? – [Brian] Ah. – [Chuck] On that one
we just gotta meditate. – [Brian] I see where
you’re goin’ with this. – So, the people who are
way ahead of the rest of us at any given time in space,
like DaVinci, like Einstein, like Marie Curie, like Stephen Hawking. – [Chuck] Or Snooki. – [James] Snooki, isn’t
it temporal law that if you ask a time traveler if they’re a time traveler, they have to
say they’re a time traveler, like a cop or a vampire, right? – I have not heard that law, but… – Temporal prime directive, no? – So, what is the casual loop
paradox, is that somethin’? I just learned about this.
– Causal loop paradox, maybe? – Sorry, sorry, causal
loop paradox, what is that? – Yeah, so, you don’t wanna have loops in space and time in which you
can’t have cause and effect be logically consistent, right? So, we’re all used to things in the past affecting things in the future. But if time loops around, then the future actually can affect the past. So, the danger in a theory, and one of the diagnostics we use to
see if a theory is healthy, is to make sure it doesn’t have any of these closed time-like curves. In which cause and effect
would be muddled up by the structure space time. – This is a philosophical bias you are implementing on the universe itself. – It’s a little bit
more than philosophical. Because you want the unfolding of events to be internally consistent. – You’re saying you want something to be true in the universe. That sounds like you’re
begging for something– – Let me just say, God needs
it to be that way, right? Because if the laws of physics
yield inconsistent results, then everything falls apart,
everything disintegrates. – No, we just live in an
inconsistent universe. If you have a problem with that. – No, no, no, what it means is our understanding is messed up. Clearly the world makes sense. – No, not the (laughs). – I take that back, I take that back. – Oh my god. – I used to believe
that, I take it back now. – The world makes sense. – I just love that your
voice cracked like you were a teenager when you said no. Clearly, the word, “no.” (laughing) All right, so do you think one day we’ll have a machine that will
just send us forward in time? We know it’s possible, but why
aren’t we doing it actively? – Well I think we do have a
machine in principle, right? We just can’t go very far forward in time. Because every time you go into a vehicle and you undertake a roundtrip journey, you are traveling into the future. – By some calculatable amount. – Yeah, now, at ordinary
speeds you’re only going a billionth of a billionth of a second, or something like that. – Into the future. – Into the future, but
if you found yourself in a ship that is going
near the speed of light. You go out for six months, you turn around you come
back for six months, you get off that ship,
you’ll have aged one year. But depending on how close to
the speed of light you got, when you step off the ship, Earth will be 10 thousand years or a
million years into the future. You will have jumped into Earth’s future. And that is what we mean by time travel. – How important, in the future, are the survival of humpback whales? (laughing) – [Neil] “Star Trek” four. (audience cheers) – Right, because it seems
– The movie. – Like we’ve gotta solve the
humpback whale problem, stat. – [Neil] You just need transparent
aluminum and then you– – That’s it, that’s it. – [Neil] Yeah (laughs). – But, the faster you go
to the speed of light, the slower time moves, correct? So, somebody on a
spaceship would age slower than somebody on Earth. They’d come back one year later and the people on Earth have
aged 10 years, 100 years, something like that. That’s the basic idea? – That’s the idea. – And let me add, just to
close out this segment. Our GPS satellites orbit
high enough, so that there’s a measurable and important difference in its rate of time that it keeps, compared to us here on
the surface of the Earth. They’re farther away from the source of gravity Earth, so
their time ticks faster than our clock time on the surface. And we know this because Einstein’s general
theory of relativity. So, they calculated how much
faster the clocks would tick, and they correct for
that before it sends us the time that ends up on our smart phone. – So if you accelerate
towards the speed of light, time actually slows down. – Yes. – Okay, hold on. (laughing) Chuck, sell Apple, sell your Apple! (laughing) – Thanks everybody for
coming to the 2019 Comic Con. (laughing) You’ve been gone a year, Chuck. – All right, we got a break
time travel to our close. Thank you for that topic. Comic Con, our next topic is
the quantum realm of Ant-Man. Give it up for my panel for that. (audience cheers) I’ve got with me theoretical
physicist, Brian Greene. Brian, that, you can applaud, yes. (audience cheers) I got Chuck Nice, my co-host, Chuck. (audience cheers) Chuck, who did you bring? – And of course, from “Impractical
Jokers”, it’s the Murr! – [James] Hi everybody. – The mole. Alright, so in a recent movie, “The Ant-Man and the Wasp”, okay. That’s starring Paul Rudd, who we’ve had on Star Talk live before. – He is delightful. – So, Brian, what does physics
say about shrinking things? – Well, it’s tough to do, right? Because ultimately, things
are made of molecules and atoms and the quantum laws restrict the size of the individual atom. So, it’s pretty tough to imagine changing them without changing the
basic constants of nature. – Wait, wait, but Rutherford,
a hundred years ago, noticed that atoms are mostly empty space. – They are. – Why can’t you just
squeeze that puppy down? – Yeah. Yeah, in fact if you were to squeeze down, if you could do it, the space in the atoms in every single human
being that has ever lived on planet Earth, the resulting stuff would fit inside of a baseball. – [James] Wow. – Ooh. – [James] And that’s
even with the, you know, obesity problem in America? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that’s, softball then. – Softball, yeah. (laughing) – So, why is there some challenge then, to shrinking out that empty space. – It’s very hard to get
that empty space out because atoms have a
certain amount of energy. And whereas we’re used to being able to continuously change the
energy in something, right? If I take this from down on
the floor, this water bottle, and as I raise it up higher and higher, it looks like I’m
continuously adding in energy. – Yeah. – Quantum mechanics
says that is misleading. Energy comes in steps. You can’t actually continuously change it. So, for an atom, when you get down to the lowest step, the lowest energy, there is no lower step
that is in existence. So, if you have a
minimum amount of energy, you can’t actually squeeze
things down to zero size. – You telling me that we
can’t have Ant-Man then? – Well you can’t have Ant-Man,
that’s sort of the point. – All right, so, let me ask you this. What constant of nature
would need to be adjusted so that you could shrink down the atom? Is it Planck’s constant? – Yeah, Planck constant, one of them. So, that’s a, to be a little bit, that’s a dimensional
number, but the radius of the atom depends on Planck’s constant. It depends on the mass of the electron. It depends on the electric
charge of the electron. So if you change those numbers
– So if you could imagine a zone where you influence
quantum constants, you could, in principle
make a much smaller version of what existed in a larger state. – You could, now you’d
probably destroy the universe, but yes you could probably do that. – That’s all right, we’ll take that risk. – [Chuck] Well, but
it’d be worth it though. – Yeah, absolutely. – That’d be worth it, totally worth it! – Yeah, just to make it happen. – How would it destroy the universe? – What’s that? – How would it destroy the universe? – Well, the universe depends on the values of those constants in a very
specific and delicate way. You start playing this game– – The speed of light, the
gravitational constant. – Yeah, you change the
ratio of the masses, you change the strengths of the forces, you change the fundamental speeds. And, for instance stars no
longer have nuclear processes and stars don’t light up, without stars the universe is a very different place. So, in that sense, you don’t
just change the constants and look at how a bottle of water changes. You see how the entire universe changes. – No, that’s if you change the constants for the entire universe. I’m talking about changing the constants for just where Paul Rudd is standing. – Okay, well yeah, yeah. In principle you could imagine that in your wildest dreams, but yeah, yeah. – [Neil] Yeah, that’s what we do here, we imagine our wildest dreams.
– Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it. – That’s not even my wildest dreams. I live in a world where a reality TV star is the president, okay? (laughing) – Well, he’s overinflated isn’t he? (laughing) – Where am I here? – But yeah, in terms of
shrinking, yes, if you could– – Okay, so, now watch what happens. So, if you shrink. Now I made you smaller, but
you still have the same mass. And in the movie, Ant-Man is
riding the back of an ant. Now, he would still weigh
his 160 pounds, 170 pounds on the back of an ant,
but he’d be this big. He’d squash the ant. – Yeah. – So, is there any way in this universe to get rid of that mass. ‘Cause in the Ant-Man universe, I think there’s something called a pym particle that transfers your mass
out into another dimension. – Yeah, well, I mean, the quick answer is Einstein taught us that energy and mass are actually two sides of the same coin. So if you want to change
the mass of something, you just extract energy from it. So, you could have, you
have Paul Rudd there and you just watch heat and light and radiation all flying off of him as you shrink him down to a smaller size. – [Chuck] And then he’s on the ant, but he’s just really tired. (laughing) – Okay, so if they were to put a nuance in the Ant-Man storytelling, he would be highly radiant as he got smaller. – That would be one way of doing it, yeah. – [James] Sounds like you’re describing a Swanson chicken dinner. Like in a microwave. (laughing) I’m just happy to be here, Neil. – So, then, so… (laughing) Does anybody still eat
Swanson chicken dinner? Is that what you? – I don’t know. You know, I’m an old geek, I’m sorry. – [Neil] But do you have a
girlfriend or somethin’, do you? – No. – [Neil] No, yeah, that’s what I’m sayin’. Right, right. Somebody to eat with, you
just, just a TV dinner. You’re still eatin’, that the thing. So, but they described the quantum realm and just give me a couple
of minutes reflection on the George Gamow series. Where he changed the
values of the constants. – Oh you mean “Mr. Tompkins Wonderland.” – Yeah, “Mr. Tompkins Wonderland.” – Yeah, yeah, that was
from, I think the 1940s or something like that.
– Yeah. – And, yeah it was a
wonderful series of books in which he imagined a universe in which somehow human beings are the same but the constants of nature
have a different value. So, Mr. Tompkins is
doing the kinds of things that Paul Rudd is doing, but with not quite the same special effects. You know, he’s there
playing pool and he hits the pool ball and the cue
ball passes through one of the other balls on the table. And it bounces around in a chaotic manner that illustrates the many
worlds of quantum physics. And I think he had a version
where the speed of light was like five miles an hour. So, then as people are
walking by they’re shrunk and (mumbles) contracted to the size of a pancake as they’re walking by you. So, yeah that was the
kind of early version. – Just to be an early version
of just imaginary worlds. – Exactly. – You would easily fold
into a super hero universe. – That’s right. – Yeah, yeah. – So, ironically, if you were shrunk down, you would have less
energy, so you wouldn’t be more powerful than you
would be at full size, right? – [Neil] Oh, good point. – So you would be… Oh, thank you, I got two, that was two! For those who were countin’, that’s two. Jealous? – Think about it, right, right. Because if you have power as a super hero it’s in your body somewhere. If you gotta release all that
energy to reduce your mass to become smaller, you’re
a weakling at that point. You don’t have like the ant strength that people always wanna talk about. – Yeah, I think it has
to do with the ratio of the size to the, I mean you’d have to really sort of work it out in detail. But yes, in principle, you could be right. – [Chuck] Yes, unless
you’re Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In which case, you have
the power of 10 men. No matter what. (laughing and cheering) – [James] It’s true. – So, are you familiar with something called molecular disequilibrium? – No, I don’t think I am,
you wanna tell me about that? – That’s ’cause he just made it up. (laughing) – Well can you give us a moment, tell us about a quantum entanglement. – Oh, quantum entanglement, yeah. So, this is an idea that, again, came from Einstein, that all– – Is it only an idea, I
thought we’re doin’ it. – Well that’s where it began. And Einstein brought it up because he didn’t like quantum mechanics and thought this would be the
death nail of quantum physics. He pointed out to all of the
worlds quantum mechanicians that their theory predicted
that you could have a particle over here another
particle over here distant from each other. But somehow, even though they’re separated and you do something to this particle, the math said that it will
influence that particle, regardless of how far
apart they are in space. – [Chuck] I have a twin
brother just like that. – There you go. And Einstein called it spooky. The fact that you could do something here and effect something there. Spooky action at a distance. And he thought it was nuts. – In the movie there are two characters that fuse together from a distance. So, there’s a quantum thing going on. But they’re microscopic objects. You’re describing just
subatomic particles. – Yeah, I’m talking about particles, like electrons and protons. But in principle, there’s
nothing about the world that would prevent these
kinds of entangled qualities to exist on arbitrary scales, right? – Really? – Yeah, it’s just hard
to cause the particles to maintain those quantum properties. But it’s just easier. – When you have ensembles of particles. – Yeah, ’cause they’re all
banging into each other, knocking each other around and diluting the cohesion of the system. But you can have it, in principle, on arbitrarily large scales. – You know what’s the
crazy thing is that we, in our lifetimes, encryption
will completely change, right? We’re going to see it
in the next 20, 30 years because of quantum entanglement, right? Of course, it revolutionized passwords and how to decrypt things like that. But the Russians will still
find ways to hack it, I’m sure. (laughing) Could you imagine? You have
– I’m not fist bumping him on that one. – You have a quantum entangled password, but the password is like
one, two, three, four, five. Still, still stupid passwords. (laughing) – So, so, so… (laughing) So, Brian. So give me the plausibility of
Ant-Man as a story mechanism. – You know, I’m not
just repeating my answer to “Doctor Who”, I’ve not
actually seen “Ant-Man”. So I don’t really know. But, I know,
– Give the man a break! – it’s leave I’ll lead the
second guided series, really. I’ve been working, I
got things I gotta do! – [Chuck] He’s a theoretical
physicist for god’s sakes! – Thank you, thank you. – [Chuck] He doesn’t have
time to go see “Ant-Man.” (laughing) Solvin’ the problems of the universe. And you mad, ’cause he’s not sittin’ in a theater goin’, “You know
Ant-Man, this ain’t that bad.” (laughing) – Brian, a couple more
minutes in the segment. Brian. So, have we ever found a realm
in which our understanding, where quantum physics
actually breaks down? – We’ve never had a single piece of data, a single experiment that has contradicted the predictions of quantum
mechanics, it has never happened. – That’s a profound comment. – [Brian] Yeah. – Second, we know that as you get smaller the laws of physics
manifest differently to you because different other
forces dominate relative to when you’re big, right? So one of my favorite scenes
in the movie “A Bug’s Life” is when the geek ant goes to… And by the way the theme of “Bug’s life” was really just the
magnificent seven, wasn’t it? Think about it, think about it. So, the colony’s being
terrorized by grasshoppers. The geek ant goes to find a
set of roughneck other bugs to help protect them from
these evil grasshoppers. He goes to bug bar. And at the bar, there’s a
mosquito who orders a drink. And what does the mosquito order? A Bloody Mary, of course. And so, not blood, it’s a bar, of course. So he orders a Bloody Mary. So what does the bartender do, puts a blob of Bloody Mary right in front of it. – Nice, that’s surface tension. – Surface tension! Right! – That’s here for surface tension. – So, they knew, the
writers of the script, even though they gave
the ant only four legs. (laughing) They knew way more physics
in this movie than biology. But, they… (laughing) So, there’s the drink. And then the mosquito sticks its thing in, it sucks it out, and it
was a beautiful moment. So my question to you is, if you get really, really quantum small is there a point where our
tiniest organisms actually need to interact in a quantum way? Or is quantum so small
they’re not even there yet? – No, absolutely, so– – Think of a tardigrade,
think of a tardigrade. We love these little buggars. – You talking about those little– – The little, the water bears. – You know who told me about tardigrades? – Who? – The only other person in my life that’s ever mentioned the word tardigrade. Paul Rudd. It all comes together, man.
– It comes together! – It all comes together. – Okay. – But it’s the case right
now, so if you look at the molecular mechanisms that are in your body producing
energy right now, right. Anybody in organic chemistry,
they learn about ADP, ATP. The details don’t matter, but those are all quantum processes. Where these particles are coming together and allowing your body to persist only because of the laws of quantum physics acting themselves out trillions of times a second inside your body. So it’s happening now. (audience member shouts) – Wait, say that again,
what about the big what? – [Together] The big crush. – The big crush. What about it? (laughing) – [Audience Member] It’s the
opposite of the Big Bang. – [James] The opposite of the Big Bang. – Thank you, she said it’s
the opposite of the Big Bang for those of you in the
back who can not hear her. (laughing) – So, we’ll get a minute
from Brian on this but then we gotta get to our next segment. So Brian, at the Big Bang, I’m
quoting you almost verbatim, “The large was small.” And quantum physics commands the small, general relativity commands the large. When the large is small you have two very different
theoretical descriptions of the universe in a shotgun
marriage with one another. Thus is born the string theorist. – [Chuck] There you go. – All true. (laughing) – [Chuck] String theory. Yeah, no, you gonna marry my daughter and maker her a honest woman. (laughing) – All right, so just to affirm what our conclusions have been. That Ant-Man, there are ways
you could imagine it happening. You just don’t want to change the laws of physics for
everyone, the quantum constants. You would do it just in the
zone, in the quantum realm that Ant-Man occupies. – I would. – Then Ant-Man can drop. Ant-Man, if we could do it
honoring known laws of physics, it’d have to release the energy
of the mass that he loses. Because mass and energy are equivalent. – Yeah. – That would be an awesome bright light that could have made an
interesting visual effect in the film. So then he gets small, he’s
gotta get energy from somewhere but he has sort of normal, sort of bug strength at that level. So, that’s fine and
that’s still consistent. – That works. – And then, now he’s gotta get back, he’s gotta absorb the
energy back into himself. – But first he has to go
save a colony of ants. (laughing) – So that’s, some,
because he has to go back in some machine or something
to come back to life, back to his size. So you can make that work? – I think we can make that work. – Good to know that, I
wanted that affirmation. Brian Greene. (audience cheers) And we will not tell Paul Rudd that you have not seen either
of his movies of “Ant-Man”. We will not tell him this, okay? – [Chuck] Well I’ma tell him. (laughing) – Welcome back to Star Talk at Comic Con! (audience cheers) Yep. I got Brian Greene, I got Chuck
Nice, and we got the Mole. – What’s up everybody. – All right. We’re gonna spend some
time in the hit TV series on Netflix, “Stranger Things.” (audience cheers) Yeah, they talk about, sort
of an upside down world. Some parallel universe where
people can disappear into it. And it’s still lookin’
for people who went there. And, can we… – [James] Poor Barb. – [Chuck] What, what, what? – [James] Barb deserved better. – All right let me tell you somethin’. You cannot say anything in
front of this audience, okay? (laughing) I’m just saying. You’s like, “and they disappear into it.” And then all of a sudden just
dots of like, yeah forever! (laughing) And all despair! What happens to the people? And okay, now I’m gonna
be like Brian right now. Never seen “Stranger Things.” So… – [James] You what? – Let me just ask. So Brian when we want to think
about multiple universes. I’ve heard the term brane used B-R-A-N-E. Could you explain what
that is in your world? – Well that’s an idea that
does come out of string theory. And the notion is that
everything we know about should be thought of as if it’s one slice of space in a larger cosmos. – Much higher dimension. – Higher dimensional cosmos. The analogy that I like to use is imagine everything we
know about is one slice of bread in a big cosmic loaf. And the other slices of
bread would be other realms, other universes, potentially, like ours, but separated from us by a distance along the axis of the loaf. – So our entire universe
would be one slice of bread. – One slice of bread.
– That is correct. – Okay. – So, if you left this
universe but you still existed, you, in principle found some way to get to the next slice of bread. – Yes, and in fact we know,
according to the physics that we study, how one would do that. Or, how in principle,
energy can leave one slice of bread to the other. If the energy is carried by
gravity, gravitational waves. – [Chuck] Or jelly. – Then that can travel. – So gravitational waves
can leave our membrane and go to another membrane. – That’s right, so if
you want to communicate from one membrane to
another, you could have like a gravity phone that
would send out vibrations in space time as opposed
to vibrations in air. – [James] Would it be T-Mobile or? (laughing) Brian this is a, this is a– – Whoa, clearly we have some
sponsors in the audience. (laughing) – [James] Right. – Because Murr
– Verizon. – Murr just said T-Mobile
and they were like Verizon! (laughing) It’s Verizon! – When Verizon has a
gravity phone call me, okay? But can I as you an honest
question I’ve been hearing and seeing lots of videos
and reading things about. Saying that in our lifetimes
as well, we will be able to communicate with another universe. For example, you know the cold spot in space they think might be a spot where the universes are touching, you know, us and a parallel universe. Do you think that that is going to happen? That we’ll be able to develop a way to communicate with another
universe in our lifetimes. – No. (laughing) – Screw you Verizon. I’m kidding, I love Verizon. – [Chuck] I love it. – Top scientists at Verizon
are workin’ on it right now. – Can I follow that up with just, here’s a question that I hear all
the time on Twitter, okay? Which is, is dark energy, or dark matter, whichever you want to go with, we know that there’s a distinction,
but is that perhaps the other universe bleeding
over into our universe and that is why we’re not able to really understand what it is? – It’s a mysterious presence
and it’s real matter in another universe, but now it’s mysterious in our universe. – Yeah, kind of like
it’s, what we’re seeing are the effects of the
real thing some place else. – Yeah, from another universe. – From another universe. Could that possibly be the case? – Yeah, actually, this is an
idea that people have studied. And it’s a beautiful idea. I would love it if that were the answer. – I’m one of those people Brian. – Yeah, there you go, yeah. – I’ve studied this
extensively on Twitter. (laughing) – You know, if the reason
it’s dark is because the light that it might
emit simply can’t traverse from that slice of bread
to our slice of bread that would be a beautiful solution. It’s very hard to make that
idea work mathematically. So, it’s out there, it’s
worth thinking about, but I have not seen a
version that actually is able to dot all the i’s and cross
all the t’s and make it work. – Yeah, okay, so Brian,
there’s the gravity waves that can get, gravitational waves that can get across the membrane. But is there someway a
wormhole could do it? Or is there some access
to these higher dimensions that we just haven’t figure
out how to invoke yet. So, and in fact, in “Stranger Things,” this other dimension, it’s
got like monsters in it. It’s not just another
universe with me in it. It’s a different place. And, so, can you imagine a way to do that? And the reason why I ask is there’s this great example I think you’ve given which, is it the flea on the tightrope? Tell us that example. – Yeah this is a idea that
dimensions can be big and small. And if a dimension’s curled up like this circular dimension
that’s on a tightrope wire, from a distant vantage point
you and I won’t see it. The tightrope just looks
like a straight line, you only see that one dimension. But if you zoom in and
take the perspective of a little flea that’s walkin’ along it. That little flea can
go along the tightrope, but it can also walk around it, revealing that curled up portion of space that we would miss ’cause
we’re just too big. – [Neil] We’re to big. – Yeah. – So if you’re the tightrope walker, it’s a one dimensional line. You’re a flea it’s a whole world to you. – Yes. – It’s like the book “Flatland,” right? Same kind of idea? – It’s a version of
that, yes exactly right. – So the real question
is, if that flea had a phone, could it use Verizon to call us. (laughing) – Chuck is trying to save
your ass in this other thing. (laughing) – [James] I’m sorry. – [Chuck] I’m just worried about the people who pay my check. (laughing) – Oh my god, it’s literally behind me, I didn’t realize. I’m sorry. I didn’t know, nobody told me. I’m sorry, I didn’t sign a sponsorship with you right before (mumbles)
okay, anyways, let’s go. – It’s only on the sign
four hundred thousand times. Okay, so. (laughing) Zoom in on just him right now, just give me a camera
shot on him right now. See, the Verizon’s sittin’
right over your head right now. (laughing) – I’m just happy to be here, man. I’m just happy to be here. (laughing) – So Brian, what I’m asking is, can we find some portal
in our own universe, we just step through it and you disappear, what’s preventing that? I want that. – Yeah, well in principle,
these other slices of bread, these other brane universes are governed by the very same laws and
physics that we know about. And we know in our universe you can bend the fabric of space by
having a lot of energy. – You can bend the bread. – You can bend the bread by having a lot of mass, a lot of energy. That’s what a black hole does. It creates a tunnel, an
indentation, if you will, in the fabric of space. So imagine you got a
black hole in that room, a black hole in this room,
and you indent the space in such a way that they join together into this wormhole structure. Whether this could really work in this context I don’t
know, but you could– – That’s not what I’m asking you, is there law of physics that prevents it? – No, I don’t think so. – There it is. – Is there a world in which you could have two quantum entangled
pieces of information. – [Neil] Across universes? – Across universes. – Ooh. – Absolutely, so if you had two gravitons that were entangled and
one shot off our brane because gravity can freely move through the entirety of this larger cosmos, then yeah, you could have
two entangled gravitons, in principle, existing
in different universes. – [Chuck] That is pretty awesome. – That’s mind blowing. But I still can’t send a text from the Staten Island Ferry, I don’t get it. (laughing) No reception. – So, what is this multi
world interpretation of quantum physics? Do those count as parallel universes? – They do, the key idea is that multi universe theories
don’t come in a single flavor. There are various versions. And the one that you’re referring to now– – These are competing theoretical ideas. – Actually some people think they’re the same theory in disguise. – [Neil] Okay. – You know, so in quantum
mechanics, you have this idea that the equations only
predict the probability for one outcome or another. Like an electron has a
40% chance of being here and a 60% chance of being here. And the question is, when you measure the electron and you find it over here, what happened to the other possibility? And one of the notions that came out of the 1950s is that
that other possibility is just as real as the one you witnessed. It’s simply taking place in another world, another universe parallel to yours. And there’s a version of
you in that world measuring that electron and seeing
it at that position, thinking there’s a unique
outcome from your experiment but you’re completely wrong
because there are two of you each having that thought. There are multiple worlds. – Calm down, calm down, calm down. – Okay. (laughing) – He was about to blow a gasket there. – [Chuck] That was
awesome, that was awesome. The only way that could’ve been better is at the end of that little
diatribe you just went, “I’m Pickle Rick!” (laughing) – [Neil] If he just… All right, all right, so… (laughing) So, now, where were we, where
did we leave off on that? – [James] It seemed like he was about to slap Chuck, I don’t know. – No, no, no.
– He was getting very worked up. – So, so, we’re just trying to understand that the idea that you
can leave this universe and enter another one, without
any special arrangements. It’s just, there’s a place,
and you disappear there. Do I need special black
holes and wormholes and wharfs in the fabric of space-time. Or could I just pry open a hole? – No, I think you do need all those gadgets you’re referring to. Because, for instance,
the many worlds approach. You would still be in this universe. There would just be another version of you in that other universe. If you really wanna disappear– – So you’re saying Schrodinger’s cat is still alive somewhere in the universe. – In one universe, in this approach, Schrodinger’s cat is alive, in another universe
Schrodinger’s cat is dead. So, each of the outcomes happen, they just happen in different places. – [James] Talk to me about Elvis. Alive, dead in (mumbles)? That did not work, that
joke, I’m gonna move on. (laughing) – Can you undo a fist-bump,
is that possible? – Take one, I’m down to one. I’m back down to one. – [Neil] Yeah, you got docked
one fist-bump on that one. – There’s another universe where I now have three fist-bumps. (laughing) (crowd cheers) – Yeah, sadly not this one. – So Brian, holding
aside your loaf of bread. The multiverse, whether
or not they’re lined up as loaves of bread. We can still think of an
infinite number of universes and a lot of talk about,
there’s another universe where we’re all in a
stage but we’re sitting in a different order, or I have a goatee which makes me evil, you know? – So, so… – I’ve seen that episode, guy. (laughing) – All right, so, is it
plausible to imagine that in an infinite number of universes, everything is possible. Or, and I kind of want
to end on this thought, I happen to know, I
learned this early in life, that there are orders of infinity. Some infinities are bigger
than other infinities. And is the infinity of multiverses
a large enough infinity to accommodate all possible variations and all outcomes of all
molecules assembled as all life. – The answer is yes, according to the traditional interpretation. – That is mind-blowing, it’s inconceivable almost for the human brain– – [Neil] The universe
is under no obligation to make sense to you. – Yeah, I know. That’s right. – Or any of us, yes. – However, there’s another universe where it is under that obligation. (laughing) – So, what are you saying here? – Yeah, so, when you actually look at the quantum equations, the idea is that any possible
configuration of the particles, that’s allowed by the laws of physics. Which means it has a nonzero
probability of happening, is represented in one of these worlds. – If there’s an infinite number of worlds. – There has to be an infinite number and indeed there are a number of them. – What do you mean there has to be? – Because there are so many configurations of the particles that we wouldn’t be able to accommodate it otherwise. So, if you– – Because otherwise you would
limit the configurations. – Yeah, you would. I mean, imagine the universe
goes on infinitely far. That’s a real possibility in terms of the space going infinitely far. – The extension of the
universe goes infinite. – Yeah, so we could
have an infinite number of particles in this
infinite expanse of space. And each of them has some configuration that’s evolving through time. So you have to be able
to accommodate that. If this math is the right
way of doing things. – Whoo, man. – I’ma tell you one
thing, I don’t smoke weed, but I’ma start. (laughing) – Just, I’m just happy to be here. (laughing) – And now I am too. – So Brian, could you offer
us some parting thoughts on what you would like to
see treated more seriously or more authentically in the imagination of science-fiction writers based on the physics that you know. For example, we had the
film “Interstellar.” Which made great attempts
to represent black holes and wormholes and time
dilation and the like. – Yeah. – So, do you see more of
that, or should we leave a little extra room there for people to make up what the hell they want. – Yeah, I’m a big fan of
make up part of what you want because ultimately, at least when I, on the one time that I’ve
seen a film, you know, I just like it to wash over me. I don’t sit there like I
think, perhaps, you do. Or maybe you don’t, where you’re
actually constantly judging the accuracy of what you’re seeing. Just take me away, that’s all I want to happen in these things. So, I’m a little bit
different perspective I think. – [Chuck] Did you not know,
there’s no sound in space? (laughing) – So, okay, so they can tell whatever. – Well, within reason. – And by the way, wait, wait
– No, no, let me qualify – Wait no.
– Let me qualify, let me, let me. – You, I just wanna say. – You’re gonna let me qualify that though. – I will. – Yeah. – You were in a
science-fiction movie yourself, playing a professor.
– Yes. That’s true. – And you were in “The Last Mimzy?” – I was in “The Last Mimzy.” – Yes. – Yes. – You didn’t remember
him in “The Last Mimzy?” – I’m trying, ’cause I loved that– – The little teddy bear had a chip in it that was very advanced,
more advanced than anybody. And you went in and analyzed the chip. That was good. – There’s nobody who understands that. (laughing) Thank you. But… – Yeah. – But the actual way I
would describe it is this, I’m willing to buy into
a fictional setting where whoever it is, the
writer, makes up the rules. And if the rules are applied consistently and coherently, I’m willing
to go along for the ride. What I can’t stand is
when partway through, the roles change because it
suits whatever narrative– – Yeah, I think we all agree on that. (audience cheers) Right. We’ll buy your rules, but stay consistent. – Yeah. – With them. – Yeah. – Yeah, that works, that works. Let me see if I can offer
some parting thoughts. I’ll do so after, do you
have a final thought here? – My final thought is,
I’m not gonna say it, I’m just happy to be here. But thank you, seriously,
for inviting me, I think– – That’s not a final thought. – No it’s not. My final thought is this. Listening to a lot of the
conversation and thinking about the multiverse and then
how inconceivable that is. It actually makes you
appreciate how incredible and special this exact moment is and the exact life you’re living is. Because it is only here and there’s a trillion, trillion,
trillion, times other varieties of that in existence
according to quantum physics. It just makes you really treasure and value how amazing
your life is right now. – Ooh. (audience cheers) – Chuck? – Murr, that was really cool, man. – It was beautiful. – Except I’m not–
– It’s the weed talking, yes. – My final thought on
just the entire evening is the fact that isn’t it wonderful to see that science and curiosity has reached a place where
three thousand people can convene in New York City in an arena to listen to two scientists talk about the possibilities and wonder
that is indeed science. And because of people
like you, I have faith that we may indeed be all right after all. (laughing) (cheering) – Brian? – After that, I got nothin’ to add, man. – You got nothing (laughs). So, let me offer some brief reflections. It was the 1890s when Percival Lowell, a wealthy amateur astronomer,
who had enough money to build one of the finest
telescopes ever in the world and put it on a mountaintop in Arizona and his observatory’s
called Lowell Observatory. He, among other things,
launched the search that discovered Pluto. Just so you know. (cheering) There’s some Pluto lovers out there. Just get over it. Don’t get me started. (laughing) So, too soon, too soon, okay. So, he believed he saw canals on Mars and it’s because he
didn’t understand Italian. There was an Italian astronomer who wrote that he may have seen channels
on Mars with his telescope. And the word channel in Italian is canale. So he reads this and says,
“Oh, somebody sees canals “on Mars, but I have the best telescope “at the best location, let me look, “I bet I can see them better.” And so he looks and he thinks
he sees canals on Mars. And a channel is different from a canal. Why? Because a channel is just something that running water makes. A canal is something
intelligently constructed. And he published his books on this. First book was titled “Mars.” Next one “Mars and its Canals.” And he has maps of the surface of Mars with canals connecting nodes to the poles. We all know Mars has polar ice caps. Even when we will lose ours,
Mars will still have its. So, these were canals and he was imagining that these were cities that were losing their water supply and they were melting the ice caps and bringing water in this huge irrigation
system, redistributing water across its surface. This was published in the 1890s. Within a few years of this, H.G. Wells wrote “War of the Worlds.” (audience cheers) Inspired by those observations. If there is life on Mars, I’m
gonna write a story about it. I’m gonna take our
imagination to a new place. H.G. Wells was scientifically
literate and he had the imagination of any brilliant writer, that any brilliant writer should. So, when I see all of the
storytelling that goes on. The stories that we
celebrate here, at Comic Con, all dimensions of those
stories, all the creativity from the writers, the producers. One of the most beautiful
things for me about Comic Con is, yes you can bring in the actors, but the longest lines are gonna be the ones for the writers and
the creative storytellers because you know, this audience knows, that this is the source
of that creativity. And, so here we had just
within a couple of years a creative person, a creative person with the science literacy,
create this terrifying story about martians coming to Earth. I do not ever want to see an end to the creativity following
the progress of science. Giving us no end of stories
to take us into the future, so that we can have Comic Cons until all the universes may collapse. (laughing) And that, I’d like to think of
that as a cosmic perspective. I want to thank you
all, New York Comic Con, for coming out, for Start
Talk at New York Comic Con– – [Chuck] Neil. – What’s that? – Before you say goodbye,
because I don’t want there to be an official end of the show, until people recognize that
in just about three hours from now, it’ll be Dr. Neil
deGrasse Tyson’s birthday! (cheering) – I’m a old man. (laughing) What? – So, so the cool thing
is, the very cool thing is we got go do this a few years ago. We were on stage on your birthday. And it’s not officially,
but it is the coolest thing in the world to have three thousand people actually sing happy birthday to Dr. Tyson. So can we, ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday Dr. Tyson ♪ ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ – Thank you. (audience cheers) Thank you. ♪ How old are you and the universe ♪ ♪ How old are you and the universe ♪ – I was born the same week
that NASA was founded. The same week. (audience cheers) And, so NASA and I are the same age. We feel each others pains. – When NASA looks at Neil it
says, “Neil, I’m your father.” (laughing) – Here’s what I wanna do. With your permission. I wanna end, I’m gonna take
a little more time here, of your time, with your permission. (audience cheers) A few days ago I posted a
birthday letter to NASA. An open letter to NASA. I wanna read that letter to
you as we end this evening. With your permission. All right, okay. (audience cheers) Dear NASA, happy birthday. Perhaps you don’t know,
but we’re the same age. In the first week of
October 1958, you were born of the National Aeronautics and Space Act as a civilian space agency. While I was born of my mother. (audience laughs) In the East Bronx. (audience cheers) Don’t lie to me, there
ain’t that many people from the Bronx here in
this room right now. (audience cheers) So, the yearlong celebration of our shared 60th anniversary provides me a unique occasion to reflect on our past, present, and future. I was three years old when
John Glenn first orbited Earth. I was seven when you lost
astronaut Grissom, Chaffee, and White in that tragic fire of the Apollo 1 capsule on the launch pad. I was 10 when you launched
Armstrong and Aldrin. When you landed Armstrong
and Aldrin on the Moon. And I was 14 when you stopped
going to the Moon altogether. Over that time, I was excited
for you and for America, but the vicarious thrill of the journey so prevalent in the hearts and minds of others, was absent from my emotions. I was obviously too
young to be an astronaut. But I also knew that my
skin color was much too dark for you to picture me as
part of this epic adventure. Not only that, even though
you are a civilian agency, your most celebrated astronauts
were military pilots, at a time when war was
becoming less and less popular. During the 1960s, the
Civil Rights movement was more real to me than
it surely was to you. In fact, you took a directive,
from Vice President Johnson, in 1963 to force you
to hire Black engineers at your prestigious
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I found the correspondence
in your archive. Do you remember? James Webb, then head of NASA, wrote to German rocket pioneer,
Wernher van Braun, who headed the center and who was the chief engineer of the
entire manned space program. The letter boldly and
bluntly directs von Braun to address the quote, “Lack of
equal employment opportunity “for Negroes in the
region and to collaborate “with area colleges, Alabama
A&M and Tuskegee Institute “to identify, train, and recruit
qualified Negro engineers “into the NASA Huntsville family.” In 1964, you and I had not yet turned six when I saw picketers outside the newly built apartment complex of our choice in the Riverdale
section of the Bronx. They were protesting to
prevent Negro families, mine included, from moving there. I was glad their effort failed. These buildings were called,
perhaps prophetically, the “Skyview Apartments,” on who’s roof, 22 stories over the Bronx, I would later train my
telescope on the universe. My father was active in
the Civil Rights movement, working under New York
City’s Mayor Lindsay to create job opportunities
for youth in the ghetto, as the intercity was called back then. Year after year, the
forces operating against this effort were huge. Poor schools, bad
teachers, meager resources, abject racism and assassinated leaders. So while you were celebrating
your monthly advances in space exploration from
Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo. I was watching America do all it could to marginalize who I was and what I wanted to become in life. I looked to you for guidance,
for a vision statement that I could adapt, that
would fuel my ambitions, but you weren’t there for me. Of course, I shouldn’t blame
you for society’s woes. Your conduct was a symptom of America’s habits, not a cause. I knew this. But you should nonetheless
know that among my colleagues, I’m the only one in my
generation who became an astrophysicist in
spite of your achievements in space rather than because of them. For my inspirations, I
instead turn to libraries, remaindered books on the
cosmos from bookstores, my rooftop telescope, and
the Hayden Planetarium. After some fits and starts
through my years in school, where becoming an astrophysicist seemed at times to be the path of most resistance through an unwelcoming society, I became a professional astrophysicist, I became a scientist. Over the decades that followed,
you’ve come a long way. Whoever does not yet
recognize the value of this adventure to our
Nation’s future, soon will, as the rest of the development and developing world passes us by and every measure of technological
leadership and strength. Not only that, these days you
look much more like America. From your senior level managers to your most decorated astronauts. Congratulations, you now
belong to the entire citizenry. Examples of this are bound,
but I especially remember when the public took ownership
of the Hubble Telescope, your most beloved unmanned mission. They all spoke loudly, back in 2004, ultimately reversing the threat that the telescope might not
be serviced a fourth time. Extending its life for another decade. Hubble’s transcended images of the cosmos had spoken to us all. As did the personal profiles
of the space shuttle astronauts who deployed and serviced the telescope. And the scientists who
benefited from its data stream. Not only that, I had even joined the ranks of your most
trusted as I served dutifully on your prestigious Advisory Council. I came to recognize that
when you’re at your best, nothing in this world can inspire the dreams of a nation the way you can. Dreams fueled by a… A pipeline of ambitious students, eager to become scientists,
engineers, and technologists in the service of the
greatest quest there ever was. Sorry, sorry. (audience applauds) You have come to represent
a fundamental part of America’s identity, not only
to itself but to the world. So as we both turn 60 and begin our 61st trip around the
sun, I want you to know that I feel your pains
and share your joys. And I look forward to
seeing you back on the Moon. But don’t stop there. Mars beckons, as do destinations beyond. Birthday buddy. Even if I’ve not always been. I’m now your humble servant. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thank you all. (audience cheers) Thank you. – Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson,
ladies and gentleman. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. – And our panel. – And give it up for the
Murr, James “Murr” Murray. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene. My name is Chuck Nice. Thank you, and as always, we leave you with Dr. Tyson saying… – Keep lookin’ up.

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