The Poetry of Science: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Without further ado, here’s Professor Richard
Dawkins and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Well, Neil, we’re here to talk about the poetry
of science. I would say that science is the poetry of reality, and one of the things that
I feel a bit humble in your presence, biology being a kind of junior science to physics,
I suppose we both have something to learn from each other; but I can’t help feeling
I’ve got rather more to learn from you than you’ve got to learn from me. Maybe we’re both
a bit naïve about each other’s subject, but I think I’m a bit more naïve about yours
because there’s more to be naïve about. I forget who it was that coined the phrase
“physics envy,” and I think this shows itself in lots of fields, perhaps less so
in biology than others, so what we’re going to try to do is to have a conversation between
a biologist, an evolutionary biologist and an astrophysicist, a kind of mutual tutorial
without a chairman to get in the way. I thought we might begin by noting that what
we can see with our sense organs is an extremely narrow band of what there is to see, and this
is particularly so with the visual sense. We can see a tiny, narrow band of the electromagnetic
spectrum, the rainbow; but the rainbow’s width is tiny compared to the vast expanse of the
electromagnetic spectrum. I see that as a kind of symbol for how limited
our understanding of the universe is, as well, because after all, we are evolved beings who
evolved to understand the interactions between medium-sized objects moving at medium speeds.
And this ill equipped our brains to understand the very small quantum theory and the very
large, which I supposed is covered by relativity. So, I find myself, as a mere biologist, baffled
by some of the things that physicists talk about, and jut to throw out one example, in
the expanding universe, we are told (and I have to believe it) that everywhere is as
it were the same as everywhere else. There’s no one place which is the edge of the universe.
How can that be? Well, Richard, first of all, you’re told it
so you have to believe it. I will never require you to believe anything. Good for you. It will only ever be about how compelling
is the evidence to you, but you started with our sensory organs and landed in the expanding
universe. Can I take us back to the organs and then, perhaps, land in the universe? Yes. The urge to think of our senses as being powerful
or good is strong because, first, that’s all we have; second, we like having nice thoughts
about ourselves, rather than miserable, depressing thoughts, so we’re prone to talk around celebrating,
for example the power of sight or of taste or of smell, when of course, when you really
smell something, you bring a dog, and they smell…their nose smells much better than
your nose smells. I was going to say the dog smells better than you, but that would insult
you. So, we already know that our sense are feeble,
and we reach to other creatures in the animal kingdom, cite them as having better examples
of our sight, of our taste, of our smell; but little did people know much before a century
and a half ago that our sense of vision is limited only, as Richard said, to the colors
of the rainbow, and it’s quite extraordinary to realize that, for example, beyond red,
there’s something called infrared; and beyond infrared, there are microwaves. And beyond
microwaves, there are radio waves. Go the other direction, you go beyond violet,
ultraviolet. Beyond that, x-rays and gamma rays. Energy goes up as you approach gamma
rays, with dramatic consequences if you have gamma-ray exposure, by the way. Of course,
we all know you turn big, green, and ugly as The Hulk had experienced. But the point
is the visible light part of that spectrum is a tiny slice, and the universe doesn’t
only communicate with us through that slice, as we had taken for granted for so long. Most of the history of the telescope, which
is itself an extension of our eyes, extended the power of our eyes but not the range of
our eyes. It wasn’t until we first understood that maybe we’re missing something in the
19th century, the 20th century came decade by decade, new telescopes in each newly-discovered
band of light. Only then did we learn about black holes in the universe or remarkable
violent forces operating in the centers of galaxies, discovered by radio telescopes. So, yeah, we’re practically blind out there,
and it’s humbling, by the way, but that’s the whole point of the methods and tools of
science, to not only extend your senses in the domain in which you understand, but to
take them to places they’ve never been before. On top of that, we have methods and tools
that detect things that are not even extensions of your senses. You have no clue what the
magnetic field is around your body right now. You have no clue whether or not you’re being
bathed in ionizing radiation right now. You’ll eventually figure that out, as limbs start
falling off; but while it’s happening, you actually don’t know. There are other things that are more subtle
like polarization of light. So when I think of the scientist’s tool kit, especially the
astrophysicist’s tool kit, it’s all about how many different senses can you bring to
bear, technological senses can you bring to bear on decoding the universe. One of the things we have discovered, now
getting to your horizon question, we look around the universe, and it looks like we’re
in the center. What an ego-supporting concept that is! You can either go around continuing
to think that, feeling good about yourself, or study the problem and learn that, in an
expanding universe, where the speed of light is finite at 186,000 miles per second…forgive
me using miles per second… I’d prefer miles. You do. You got that on tape? An Oxford professor,
I prefer… No, it’s true. Nobody talks about kilometers
in Britain. Oh, good. All right. We share not only most
of our language, we share miles still. And inchworms. What do they call them? They’re
not centimeter worms, right? They’re inchworms. We don’t have that sort of stuff in Britain.
That’s Europe. Of course, Britain is not Europe, as we are
constantly reminded. That’s right, here we have the English breakfast and the Continental
breakfast. They’re very different breakfasts that you can order here. So, this horizon problem is actually quite
simple; and rather than explain the full up nature of it, let me just give a simple example
that is entirely analogous. When you’re a ship at sea, and you look out, your horizon
in every direction is the same distance from you. It depends on your height above the sea
level. That’s why ship decks are high. They see farther beyond the curvature of the earth
than you do just standing on the main deck. So, your horizon is a perfect circle centered
on you. You can conclude that is the extent of the entire earth, or you can imagine, suppose
I’m in another spot. Well, that horizon is still true for whoever happens to be in the
middle of it, but now, you’ve moved to a new place, and you will see a horizon corresponding
with that spot. So, everybody has a horizon at sea; yet no
one at any time is thinking that that’s the full extent of the ocean or the full extent
of the earth. We have a horizon in the universe, so does the Andromeda Galaxy, the galaxies
with names that look like phone numbers. If you travel to those galaxies, they will see
the edge of the universe now in three dimensions in every direction at the same distance from
them, just as we see for ourselves. That does it for me, provided that the horizon
is that which we are capable of seeing. I could follow that if you said that, for any
part of the universe, the horizon is the bit before the expending universe has disappeared
over the horizon. Yes. It’s just no longer visible, but it’s still
there, even though we can’t detect it. That’s true of the ocean when you’re at sea. Yeah, but…anybody on my side here? You want it to be a harder problem than it
is. I’m just simply saying… So, here you go. Here you go. The radius to our horizon is about 14 billion
light years. Got it. Okay? If we sat here or returned to this spot
a billion years from now, that horizon will be 15 billion light years away. It’s actually
an expanding horizon because the light from 15 billion years, light years away, will have
had time to reach us. Right now, it’s still en route. I have no problem with that, but beyond the
14 billion year… The problem is the universe wasn’t born yet. Yes, okay. That’s the problem. I know. Okay? So, you can’t see the universe before
it existed. So why doesn’t somebody… …invent the kind of telescope that can? No, no, no. Okay, I’m getting out of my depth
here. Let’s get back to… Just to clarify. It takes light time to reach
us, and the universe hasn’t been here forever. You combine those two facts, you get an edge
of the universe. And so, the universe has been here for 14 billion years. The farthest
thing that could send us any information is 14 billion light years away. I get that, but what about the guys who are
on the edge of what we can see? How can they see beyond the other side? Oh, because…here’s an interesting point.
They don’t know whether or not the entire universe is infinite. The universe could be
twice our horizon or infinitely larger than our horizon. Same with the ocean. You don’t
know how much bigger the ocean is than your horizon is. You can keep sort of wandering
around. Maybe you’ll hit land as we’ve done, of course. So, now you go there. If the universe is really,
really big, that will be the center of their own horizon. And whatever is the age of the
universe is, for them at that time, that will be the radius to their horizon. Yeah, okay. I just want to make a remark.
You drew the analogy of the sense of smell, and what a poor sense of smell we have. It’s
a fascinating fact that, although dogs, for example have a much better sense of smell
than we have, as you mentioned… That’s why I say sense of smell. That’s what
I should say, not that dogs smell better, but they have a better sense of smell. Thank
you for that. But we have the genes that would have once
enabled our ancestors to have as good a sense of smell as dogs, but the genes have mostly
been turned off; so we have vestiges. We have historical relics of those genes. It’s like your hard disk on your computer
that’s cluttered up with remains of old chapters you’ve written here and there and things that
have now been cut off. Those genes have been turned off, but they’re still there. Isn’t that the premise of X-Men? I don’t know. They’re human, but they have a genetically
different…different genes are turned on and off within them, giving them special powers.
So, are you suggesting the day might arise, we go inside the human genome and flick the
dipswitches on and off, and we come out as superheroes? Put it this way. It’s not as unlikely as it
might have appeared before we realized that we do have those genes still. You don’t have
to import the genes from dogs, although the technology of this coming century may enable
that to happen. I’d still rather it be the dog that sniffs
the bomb than me. But we would probably have robots to do the
sniffing. What about this point about the difficulty of…maybe I chose too easy an
example. The brain, how is it that the human brain, which evolved to do really rather mundane
things… …to not get eaten by lions. To not get eaten by lions in the Pleistocene
of Africa because, as you’ll learn this evening, we are all Africans. We all come from Africa,
and our brains were shaped by natural selection on the African plains to do things that involve
objects like this. Medium-sized objects. Macro-sized objects. Macro-sized objects that don’t move anywhere
near the speed of light. It’s a tremendous tribute to our species that we are capable…at
least some of us are capable…of understanding things that don’t belong on that ordinary
macroscopic, slow-moving scale. Yeah, and so therein is the value to us, not
only of the methods and tools of science, but also of the language of the universe that
we call mathematics. Remarkable thing, a point first advanced by Eugene Wigner that math
has an unreasonable utility in the universe since we just invented it out of our heads.
You don’t discover math under a rock, as you might find grubs. You invent it out of whole
cloth, yet is empowers us to provide accurate the predictive descriptions and understandings
of the universe. So, what comes of this is you learn to abandon
your senses. That’s a like from the Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera…abandon your…never
mind, sorry. I want to write Broadway lyrics one day in another life. You train yourself to abandon your senses
because you recognize how they can fool you into thinking one thing is true that is not.
You abandon them. You use your tools that do the measuring to say, okay, that’s the
reality. Then you make a mathematical model of that that you can manipulate logically…because
math is all about the logical extension of one point to another…and then you can make
new discoveries about the world that, frankly, you’ll just have to get used to you. No longer do you have the right…right is
not the right work, but no longer are you justified saying that idea in science is not
true because it doesn’t make sense. Nobody cares about your senses. Your senses came
out…forget the Serengeti, just growing up. As a kid, something’s in your hand, you let
go of it, it falls. You tip a glass, water spills. You are assembling a rule book for
how nature works in the macroscopic world. The microscope takes you smaller than that;
the telescope takes you bigger; and the other laws of physics manifest themselves in those
regimes that you have no life experience reckoning. It’s math that allows you to take these incremental
steps beyond the capacity of your senses and perhaps even the capacity of your mind. Yes,
it’s the mind that’s taking the steps, but your mind was not deducing that by just looking
at the world with your senses. It was helped out. It was aided by these tools that, yes,
we invented. And at some point when you get so used to
doing the mathematics, it becomes kind of intuitive in rather the way that I’m told
that pilots get used to flying a plane, and they start to feel the wings of the plane
as being almost part of their own bodies. They develop… Before or after the drinks before they took
off? Is this a common sensory perception of pilots. Yeah, I think it is. It’s a common thing that
I think that, when people get skilled at using micromanipulators where they’re using their
hands, and what actually going on is tiny little miniscule movement going on under a
microscope… …so it becomes their hands. It becomes their hands. The plane becomes the pilot, or the pilot
becomes… Just as you said, the telescope is an extension
of the eyes. My advisor in graduate school…one of my
advisors, I spoke to him one morning. He was doing research on star clusters that have
these huge orbits around the center of the galaxy. He said he had a dream the night before
where he was one of these clusters, and he was orbiting the center of the galaxy. I thought
that was so cool. Yes, yes. If you start becoming in your cosmic dream…I
want to have those dreams because then, you think creatively about what remains to be
discovered. Absolutely. I sometimes wonder about whether
surgeons, maybe even surgeons of the present who are using micromanipulators inside a body,
something like when they stick that thing up you, and it goes… They stick a lot of things up you, the last
I’ve heard. Okay, and already you have surgeons driving
an endoscope inside and turning left to get round the intestine, turning right. I imagine
the time will come when a surgeon will have virtual reality goggles on, and the surgeon
will actually feel herself to be inside the body of the patient and will turn left and
literally walk across the room, and that will be translated into the micromanipulators,
the endoscope, moving. This sounds really cool. I like this idea.
And you know what you’d have to do? You would have to alter the dominant laws of physics
in that regime because, if you’re small enough a la Fantastic Voyage, the 1960’s film, when
you’re that small, capillary action and surface tension and all manners of other forces take
over and that then becomes your new reality, your new sensory standards. That’s right. You would have to become sensitive
to surface tension. D’Arcy Thompson made the point, I think in 1919, that to the world
of an insect, gravity is negligible. A completely…it’s who cares? What matters is surface tension, and you’d
have to be…I never thought of that, but what I’d do… That’s because you didn’t see the move Bug’s
Life, okay? Okay. In Bug’s Life, they serve up a cocktail to
an insect that goes up to a bar, and all the bartender does is pour out water from a spigot
and hand him the ball of water, like that, and the surface…this was brilliant of the
cartoonist, of the illustrator, and then, he sticks a straw into the sphere and sucks
it out. No receptacle needed. You got to get out more. Well, I imagine my surgeon of the future being
armed with a virtual saw, one of those…what are those things you cut trees down with…band
saws, and what’s really going on is a tiny little micro scalpel inside, but the surgeon
is wielding an axe, and it’s all done by virtual entity. I’ve got a question back to you. I lose sleep
over this, and I’ve always wanted to be in the company of a leading biologist to get
insight into this. As an astrophysicist, we’ve seen throughout time the hubris that comes
with any discovery that gets made, or the hubris that prevents the acceptance of a discovery
that might demote your sense of self from whatever you previously imagined it to be. Among them is where is earth? Is it the center
of all things? No. It’s not even a significant planet in orbit around an ordinary star in
the corner of an ordinary galaxy, one of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe.
And so, here we are saying let’s search life in the universe, intelligent life like us.
Well, who are we to say that we’re intelligent? I pose that not as a joke questions, but as
a very serious question. We define ourselves to be intelligent in ways that no other creature
can rival. Okay, now, what do we credit that intelligence to? So, you look at the genome,
and let’s take the chimp. I guess that’s a really close relative of ours, and we have…what
is it? High 90’s percent identical, indistinguishable DNA, and the chimp does not build the Hubble
telescope, and the chimp does not compose symphonies. So, we must then declare that
everything we say about us that is intelligent is found in that one-and-a-half percent difference
in DNA. First, is that a fair statement to make? Yes. Okay. Let me invert that question. If the
genetic difference between humans and chimps is that small, maybe the difference in our
intelligence is also that small. Maybe the difference between stacking boxes and reaching
a banana, putting up an umbrella when it rains, whatever are these rudimentary things a chimp
does that the primatologists roll them forward and boast about, which of course, our toddlers
can do, maybe the difference between that and the Hubble telescope is as small as that
difference in DNA. I pose the question: suppose there was another
life form on earth or elsewhere that, in that same sort of vector, that one-and-a-half percent
difference we are to chimps, suppose they were one-and-a-half percent different from
us? Then would then roll the smartest of us in front of their hematologists and say, Hawking,
there’s Hawking. Oh, this one is slightly smarter than the rest of them because he can
do astrophysics calculations in his head. Like little Timmy over here. So, I wonder if we’re just blithering idiots
in the presence of even a trivially smarter species than us. Therefore, who are we to
even assert that, number one, we are intelligent, and we’re looking for others at least as intelligent
as us out there to talk to. By the way, is there any other species on
earth that we can talk to? Can we have a conversation with a chimp? That has identical DNA, and
I don’t think we can actually say, hey, what movie do you want to see tonight? You don’t
have that conversation with a chimp. Yet somehow, we believe, we want to believe that an alien
on another planet that’s not even based on DNA and, even if it is, it’s not nothing like
us, that we could communicate with it. I’m screaming at you. I’m sorry. So there!
Are we as stupid as I’m saying? Well, I’m all for deflating hubris; but it’s
also true, of course, that our brains are anatomically very, very much bigger than chimps,
and so that also must be contained in some sense in that tiny little percentage of DNA.
I think the way to sort of look at the DNA problem is to say that the sort of DNA that
has been sequenced, and the sort of thing on which we base that calculation of the 98
percent…again, look at a computer, and you will find that most of the programs that are
written at the machine code level are calling out the same set of subroutines. There’s a subroutine for pulling down menu
bars and a subroutine for moving windows and so on. That’s what we’re looking at in this
98 percent. What we’re not looking at is the set of sort of high-level instructions that
say call this subroutine now, now call this one, now call this one, now call that one.
It’s not just humans and chimpanzees; all mammals have pretty much the same repertoire
of genetic subroutines. The difference between a man and a mouse,
like the difference the difference between a man and a chimpanzee is the order in which
they’re called, the sequence in which they’re called during embryology which causes the
really quite substantial anatomical differences between a human and a mouse and the quite
big differences in brain size. If we assume we’re not some measure of things,
then as I said earlier, that tells me that the day might come where we could go in, understand
which sequences are called in what way, and invent whole new sequences never before dreamt
of by biology? Yep, absolutely. Empowering us in ways never before… It’s very, very difficult. It’s much more
difficult than it sounds; but still, it’s in principle possible. But the other point
about intelligent life in the universe, never mind how we define intelligence. We’re only
going to encounter them if they are intelligent enough either to come here, which is very
difficult indeed, or to send radio transmissions to us, which is a lot easier but still requires…let’s
just define it as the quality that you need in order send information across the universe. Now, you don’t have to call that intelligence,
but whatever it is, that’s what it needs in order to get here, in order for us to apprehend
it. And I wonder, you know, surely you’ve walked
past a worm that had just crawled out of the earth; and when you did so, you weren’t saying
to yourself, gee, I wonder what that worm is thinking because you just simply didn’t
care. You’re so far beyond the…I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I’m imagining
you simply really don’t care what the worm is thinking; and conversely, the worm has
no clue that you consider yourself intelligent. You’re just this thing that went by. So, can you imagine a species that has such
high intelligence that the prospect of communicating with us is simply of no interest to them? Yeah, I can. Yeah. And they go by, and their intelligence is
on such a level that we can’t even recognize it as intelligence. Yes. Moreover, I think it would more or less
have to be that much ahead of us if we were ever to meet them because we’re never going
to get there. Yeah, we sure as hell ain’t getting there.
See the massive budget lately? If not… So, anything that gets here has got to have
a very, very highly-developed technology, far more than we’ve… That brings us to Stephen Hawking’s concern
about any civilization sufficiently advanced to visit us, what does that say about the
consequence of that encounter? And he’s worried, of course, because he’s taking his cue from
the history of humans. When one has a more advanced technology than the other, and they
visit, it almost is always bad for those with the lesser technology. South America, one
of the more obvious examples, in their first encounter with the Spaniards…so, I don’t
know if I want to be the first one to shake hands…shake whatever appendage…whatever
they’re sticking forward, I don’t know… I want to do it, but I still have my concerns. What do you think are the odds that there
is life elsewhere in the universe? They must be high, and I’ll tell you why.
People say, well, have you found life yet? No. Well. That’s like going to the ocean…this
has been said before…taking a cup of water, scooping it up, and saying there are no whales
in the ocean. You know? Here’s my data. You know? You need a slightly bigger sample. If you look at, for example, what we call
the radio bubble. This is the sphere around earth, centered on earth, which is the farthest
our radio signals have reached in the galaxy. They’re about 70 light years away. We’ve been
transmitting radio signals, inadvertently leaking into space, for about 70 years. Seventy
light year radius sphere. Well, how big is the galaxy? Well, shrink
that sphere down to maybe the size of a BB, and then, the galaxy, on that scale, would
be the size of this stage. That’s how far our radio signals have traveled, and those
aren’t even the ones we sent on purpose. The ones we sent on purpose have traveled much
less. So no, we haven’t actually reached as far into the galaxy as we’d like before we
would say definitively that there’s no one intelligent living today. But here’s some very simple facts. I can review
them in 90 seconds. You look at the formation of the earth and the earliest sign of fossil
life. Subtract a few hundred million years at the beginning of earth when earth was a
shooting gallery, earth was still excreting the birth materials of the solar system. It’s
hostile to complex chemistry over that time; not fair to start the clock then. Wait a couple
of hundred million years. Now start the clock, and wait around and see when you have the
first signs of single-celled life. At most, 400 million years. At most. Earth
has been around for four-and-a-half billion. So earth, without any help from us, with basic
ingredients found throughout the universe, managed to create life, simple though it was.
And earth, one of eight planets…get over it…sorry. Earth around an ordinary star? To suggest…and what are the ingredients
of life? The number one atom in your body is hydrogen. Number two atom is oxygen, together
making mostly water that’s in you. Next is carbon in this order. Next is nitrogen. Next
is other stuff. My favorite element, other. Yeah? You look at the universe, the number one element
in the universe is hydrogen. Next is helium, chemically inert, couldn’t do anything with
it anyway. Next is carbon. I think I left out oxygen there. Next is oxygen. Next is
nitrogen. One for one. We’re not even made of odd things. The most common things in the
universe are found here on earth, and we’re made of them. And carbon? The most chemically fertile element
on the periodic table? It’s not a surprise we’re carbon-based. Life is just the extreme
expression of complex chemistry. That’s what biology is. All these people who want to imagine,
because they remembered the chemistry class that silicon sits right below carbon on the
periodic table, so it bonds similarly to carbon, so they want to imagine silicon-based life. I’m saying, okay, fine; but you don’t have
to. There is five times as much carbon in the universe as silicon. There’s no need to
even have to go there. We’ve got enough to imagine just simply with the carbon atom at
the center of these huge biological molecules. Point is, it happened relatively quickly with
the most common ingredients in the universe. To now say life on earth is unique in the
universe would be inexcusably egocentric. Yeah, I agree with that; and I would go further
and say that, if ever you meet somebody who wishes to claim that he believes or she believes
that life is unique in the universe, then it would follow from that belief that the
origin of life on this planet would have to be a quite stupefyingly rare and improbable
event, and that would have the rather odd consequence that, when chemists try to work
out theories, models of the origin of life, what they should be looking for is a stupendously
improbable theory, an implausible theory. If there was a plausible theory of the origin
of life… …it wouldn’t be it. That’s right because then life would have
to be everywhere. Now maybe it is everywhere. My hunch is that there’s lots and lots of
life in the universe; but because the universe is so vast, the islands of life that there
are are so spaced that it’s unlikely that anyone of them will meet any other, which
is rather sad. It’s sad. However, let me make you happy a
little bit more from that. We’ve learned now that we can model the formation of the solar
system, and this period of time where earth was being bombarded heavily…that’s called
the period of heavy bombardment in the early universe. We call it like we see it in astrophysics,
let the record show. I don’t know if I’ve ever in my life ever
understood the title of a biology research paper. I just want to say that. The words
just…I’m not feeling them, you know? They’re too big, too many syllables. I’m off topic
here, so… The period of heavy bombardment and, with
computer simulations you can model what happens when an impact hits a planetary surface. It’s
not much different from if you sprinkle cheerios on a bed, which you would never do on purpose,
but your kids would do this; and then, you smack the surface of the bed, there’s a sort
of recoiling effect, and cheerios pop upwards. It turns out Mars may have been wet…we know
at some point, it had water…and fertile for life before earth. At this period of heavy
bombardment, if it had started life, surely it would have been simple life. There’s no
reason to think otherwise. We’ve learned that bacteria can be quite hardy, as you surely
know. So, we imagine a bacterial stowaway in the
nooks and crannies of one of these rocks that are cast back into space. In fact, if you
do the calculation, there’s hundreds of tons of Mars rocks that should have fallen to earth
by now over the history of the solar system. Maybe one of those rocks carried life from
Mars to earth, seeding life on earth. My great disappointment would be going to
Mars and finding Mars life based on DNA. Then it would not have been a separate experiment
in life. We would just all simply have to get over the fact that we are Martian descendants. What we need is a second sample of life. We
have only one at present. Why have you only given us one? It would be a disappointment, as you say,
if we found life on Mars based on DNA; but at least, if we found life on Mars based on
the same DNA code, just about imagine DNA evolving twice, but you couldn’t imagine the
same four-letter code evolving twice. But I wanted to make a point that your calculation
that it took only about 400 million years at the most for the first life to arise. For
the first life capable of broadcasting radio waves capable of being detected elsewhere
in the universe, it took approximately just under four billion years. Well no, about four
billion years, which is about half the life that we can expect the solar system to exist. Sure. An important point, by the way, because
we were human before we had the technology to broadcast. So if your criterion for whether
a planet has intelligent life, and if we are the measure of intelligence, then there could
be plenty of planets out there with Roman Empires and whatever else and them not sending
radio signals; but any close enough observer would surely declare them to be intelligent. The time interval between Roman Empires and
radio signals is negligible compared to the total time we’re talking about. It’s an interesting
question, how long it takes once you get language, once you get civilization, once you get culture,
how long does it take to get radio waves? Indeed, how long does it take to get self-destructive
weapons that blow the whole lot up? That’s the next… And you’re even…there’s an implicit assumption,
that you’re making inadvertently possibly, that intelligence is an inevitable consequence
of the evolutionary record, and I’m skeptical of that because, if that were the case, what
we call our intelligence would have happened multiple times in the fossil record, and it
hasn’t, whereas other things have shown up plenty of times, like the sense of sight and
locomotion. There’s some rather inventive ways things
can get around the world. My favorite is the snake, of course; no arms, no legs, yet it
gets around just fine. I’m imagining an alien visiting earth, stumbling on a snake, the
only creature it sees, right? And then, it goes back and tells its home people, you’re
not going to believe what I saw. There’s a creature on that planet, no arms, no legs;
it can still get around. It detects its prey with infrared rays and can eat things five
times bigger than its head; and they’ll think the guy was on drugs. It’s an ordinary snake,
sitting here on our earth. While I’m on the subject, a big disappointment
I have are Hollywood aliens, and I don’t know who to blame for this, Hollywood or biologists
that advised them. Hollywood aliens are way too anthropomorphic for me. Even ET, he had
a head, shoulders, arms. Okay, he had three fingers instead of five; they’re still fingers
at the end of a hand. He had legs; he had feet. That’s human. And look at the diversity
of life on earth to draw from? If you want to think about the ways of being alive? I’m
just so disappointed. Not even that I know I can help them, but
one of my favorite aliens ever was the Blob. Did you see that movie? No, I don’t see as many movies as you. Blob is classic. So, that alien was a blob.
That’s what it was. And it would just kind of move along, and it would grab onto you
and suck out your blood, and keep moving. It was non-anthropic in concept, and it came
from space. I just thought that was an attempt to try to create some kind of way of being
alive. That’s a very laudable attempt. It is very
interesting to look around the animal kingdom and count up the number of times that some
things have evolved. I mean, eyes several dozen times; ears quite a large number of
times. Echo location, that’s finding a way around by sonar, only four times. A bat and who else? A bat, whales, and two different groups of
birds, cave-dwelling birds. And a few rudimentary examples in some shrews and sea lions, but
really four different times. Intelligence and language of a human kind, only once, as
you pointed out. So, it can’t be that important for survival.
If natural selection is at work, it should have shown up many more times. You’d think so. It’s a genuinely interesting
point that I think biologists haven’t thought about enough is to go around the animal kingdom,
counting up the number of separate arisings of something because that does tell you something
about what you might expect elsewhere in the universe. You’d expect eyes. You might expect
echo location. Hypodermic syringes, stingers. About a couple of dozen…I’m talking about
independent evolutions now. You talk about spiders… Our version of that would be called guns.
Yeah. What? Our version of the hypodermic stinger would
be called a gun, allowing you to sting someone with… Yes, okay. But I’m talking about it as something
that penetrates the body and injects poison. That’s an interesting question. Another relevant point is look around the
world at different island continents and say how similar are they? Look at Australia. The
Australian mammals, for example; and there are very, very power similarities between
Australian mammals, which evolved entirely independently of mammals in South America,
independently again of mammals in Asia and Africa. Again, that gives you a kind of a clue for
how predictable evolution is. Other worlds are going to be very different, but we perhaps
shouldn’t write off the possibility that the Hollywood aliens might not be that unimaginative.
I mean, my colleague Simon Conway Morris has even suggested that it’s very likely that
there will be, if not humans, at least bipedal, big-brained, language-toting, hand-toting,
forward-looking eyes for stereoscopy, pretty much humans. He thinks it’s highly likely.
He’s got a religious agenda, I’m sorry to say, for that; but like him, I appreciate
the power of natural selection. By the way, I think if he were a creature
other than a primate, he might be giving a different list of things that matter. I think that’s probably right. The horse doesn’t have two eyes facing forward,
but the horse damn near can see directly behind it; and so, the horse would be valuing that
fact. Oh, I’m not denigrating horses at all. I’m just saying your first sign that there’s
bias is you start listing the human features that you would want in an alien. No, no, no. I don’t want to say that I’m not
picking on humans because they’re superior but because they’re us. I mean, we have stereoscopic
vision. We have three-dimensional vision. Horses don’t. They have a different kind of
vision. Insects have a different kind of vision. Bats have echo…I mean, it’s not vision,
but it’s using sound to produce what I would guess inside the bat’s brain is probably perceived
rather the same way we perceive visually because why wouldn’t you use the tools of the brain,
the mammalian brain to create an image, to create a model of the world. They show that in the, forgive me, movie Daredevil. Do they have bats…? He’s blind, and he likes when it rains because
the rain hits people, and he hears the different sort of reflections of the sound, and he saw
his girlfriend for the first time in the rain. There’s the image of her… Okay, but my speculation is that bats hear… This is America. I’ve got to talk about our
movies here, you know. My speculation is that bats hear in color
because why wouldn’t you use color? Color is just a hue, a perceived hue. It’s nothing
more than a label the brain uses. Precisely. That’s all it is. Color, you attach
it to some sequence of changed phenomenon. So, bats would usefully use color as a sign.
For example, if you’re between a furry moth and a leathery locust, it might be perceived
as red versus blue, and that would be a very useful way for natural selection to have tied
the labels of hue onto something that would seem very strange to us. We’re coming to the end of our time. Did we just begin, like a second ago? Well, that’s rather what I felt. If we want
to have some time questions… …which I would very much like that, but
I had a couple more bones to pick with you. Okay, well, let’s go quickly through those
bones. Okay. And if you start formulating questions
in your head… Some years ago, 1994 was it? Or 1996, there
was this rock in Antarctica, a meteorite discovered ALH84001, which had tantalizing evidence…by
the way, that rock was from Mars, one of the tonnage of rocks that we know are out there,
and there was evidence in one of the nooks of that rock for possible life, traceable
not to earth but from Mars. The evidence was very circumstantial but interesting,
nonetheless. There was chemistry there that could only happen in the presence of oxygen,
and there was chemistry there occupying a similar spot that could happen only in the
absence of oxygen. Well, you might say who cares? Well, life is just such a machine.
When you breathe in oxygen, you oxygenate the hemoglobin, that oxygen gets used for
your metabolism, and it goes back without the oxygen. In the same body, you have oxygenating
and deoxygenating forces operating within you. So, life does it for free. If you don’t appeal to life, you have to have
the rock hang out over here for a while and then roll down a cliff and go anaerobic for
a while. You have to sort of patch it together. So, it was all the news, page one story. They
even had an electron microscope photo of what looked like an itty, bitty worm. It had little
segments on it. It was intriguing. That was not the lead evidence of the authors, it was
just kind of interesting. It was about one-tenth the size of the smallest worms on earth but
interesting, nonetheless. I’m invited to comment on this. In fact, it
was Charlie Rose. He had four people. I’m the astrophysicist. They had a biologist.
They had a philosopher. And a picture of the worm comes up. The biologist, who is piped
in by screen said, “That can’t possibly be life.” So, I said, wow, what have I missed?
“So, tell me, sir, why is that?” “Oh, because the smallest life on earth is 10 times
that size,” and I’m still waiting for him to give me the reason why it can’t be life. Then I pause and reflected at that book. That
is the reason he’s giving me that it can’t be life…his comparison with life on earth.
And then I said, “Last I checked, we’re talking about a rock from Mars. Why are you
using earth to constrain your capacity to think about what exists out there?” My question to you: are biologists closed-minded
or open-minded about what is possible in terms of biology in this universe? Because at the
end of the day, you go behind closed doors, and you confess to yourselves that you only
have a data sample of one because all life on earth has common DNA. Yeah. Well, he was being closed-minded. Most any other sciences, we would say that’s
not…how do you make science out of a sample of one? No, that’s right. He was being closed-minded,
no question about it because he was using his experience of life on this planet to make
that generalization. On the other hand, one could make sure a statement by using the laws
of physics, and you could say that there are certain things that wouldn’t work for physical
reasons. I’m not saying that a tiny worm wouldn’t work
for physical reasons, but I could imagine somebody making an argument that said you
cannot have…for example, maybe there’s a certain minimum size of eye that could form
an image, for purely physical reasons. That would be a good reason why. And I’m there, all the way. It’s just that
he cited earth as his measure of what is possible. Well, he was just wrong. Okay. You don’t align yourself with his closed-mindedness.
That was the biggest thing I had to get off my chest here. Okay. Shall we bring up the lights, and see
if there are… Are there microphones…? In the aisle apparently,
so if you’ll just line up in the two center aisles behind those microphones. I guess we
can pick left and right for what questions you might have. Professor Dawkins, we’re very pleased to hear
that you’re writing a children’s book on the beauty of science. We’d like both of you to
write one for adults or a video special on TV because we don’t want this wonder and awe
that you all have been discussing today to be co-opted by religious people in the world,
and it is really wonderful. What can we do to spread the word that science is not something
to be afraid of, but something to really be in wonder of? Right. Can I just slip in there? You commented that
there’s a children book, and we need one for adults. Indeed, we need one of those for adults.
Interestingly, we probably don’t need it for children because children are born inquisitors
of their natural world. They turn over rocks. They jump in puddles. They pour water down
your back. They do things that are odd by…you can look
at it as wreaking havoc in the house, or you can look at it as a long series of science
experiments, some of them gone playfully wrong, but nonetheless, explorations into the natural
world. What happens is, over time, that gets beaten out of them because that is not the
behavior of…not the sign of obedience. That’s the behavior or disarray, plus adults far
outnumber children, so I think the real problem in the world is adults, especially since they
control the world, not the kids. What I would say about how we convey the wonder,
which you and I are both extremely interested in doing that, and following your mentor Carl
Sagan, for example. I like to make a distinction between what I call these two schools of why
we should pursue the space race, space exploration. The nonstick frying pan way, which is it’s
useful because you get spinoffs like nonstick frying pans, and it’s wonderful. I go for
the wonderful part, and I find that one of the problems with people who attempt to convey
science to lay people, whether it’s children or adults, is that they tend to be obsessed
with bringing it down to earth and making it ordinary and mundane and the sort of thing
you might meet in your own kitchen. I’m glad somebody’s doing that, but for me,
I prefer the wide open spaces of space, the wonder of looking down a microscope at the
very small and thinking about it from a sort of more poetic point of view rather than from
a more utilitarian point of view. Hi. First, I’d like to say thank you. This
is very stimulating, and it’s wonderful to have this here at Crampton Auditorium, at
Howard University. I have a practical application question for technology and its impact on
humans, specifically cell phones, cellular cell phones. I’m in healthcare, and I’d like to know where
you stand on the effects…and I know we’ve come a long way since the first cell phones
came out, but I get particularly apprehensive when I see young people putting cell phones
to the heads of little infants and saying, “Talk to Daddy,” or something like that.
That’s my first question, the impact of the waves and things like that, which is out…I’ve
look at some studies on human beings. Then, my second question is about the references
for the origins of calculus in the Egyptian culture. Thank you. Okay, given how many people are in line, I
think we should try to answer as quickly as possible to do this, and I’ll take a first
stab, and if you want to try that as well. I don’t know of any first efforts at calculus
in the Egyptian culture. Perhaps Richard does. And with regard to cell phone use, there’s
a very important fact of science, and that is the active measurement…it’s a fascinating
thing, measurement. Because you can never measure anything precisely, that is, with
unlimited precision. You can only measure it with the uncertainties of your measuring
device. And all you can do in the lab is try to constrain
how uncertain that measurement is; but at some level, it will always be uncertain. And
here’s what happens. If you’re trying to measure a phenomenon that does not exist, the variations
in your measurement will occasionally give you a positive signal, as well as a negative
signal. If that positive signal is the idea that maybe
A causes B, in this case, cell phones cause cancer, a paper gets written about that result,
and then, people get concerned that cell phones might cause cancer or power lines might cause
cancer. This goes way back. In fact, if you look at the full spate of these studies, even
those that they fought not to publish because there was not a positive effect, there are
some cases where, in fact, there is less cancer. And so, these are the phenomenon of a no result.
When you actually have A causing B, the signal is huge. It is huge, and it’s repeatable in
time and in place. With cell phones, that repeatable signal is yet to emerge from the
total experiments that are done on it. That being said, if you are worried, almost every
cell phone you can have…you know, they have the cell phones on your hip, and you’ve got
an ear piece, so just do that if you’re worried. Otherwise, I can either say the jury’s still
out, or the experimental results are consistent with no effect at all. I have nothing to add to that. About the calculus in Egypt… Can we have this one now? Yes, I was interested when you were speaking
about the bubble of radio waves, as far as the limitation of our communication. I read
recently that the Large Hadron Collider had some crazy experiments, but there apparently
are particles that are seemingly unconnected but they react to each other in symmetrical
patterns of some kind. I’m very amateurish on this, but what do you think would be the
possibility of instantaneous communication across vast distances using some kind of particle
manipulation? That’s exactly an example of the kind of thing
I meant when I said it’s beyond me, so… Yeah, so quantum physics is the physics of
the world of the small. In fact, quantum rules apply macroscopically, but they don’t reveal
themselves as exotically as what happens with single particles. A particle can pop into
existence, go out of existence, what we call tunnel from one place to another, instantly,
with no time delay between the two. It could exist in all places at once and then show
up instantaneously here when you make the measurement. These are quantum rules that don’t make any
sense to us because we don’t live in a quantum world. If we did, these would be phenomena
that would be quite natural. So now, can we exploit the quantum world for faster-than-light
communication is what you are suggesting here; and there’s no known way to do that, given
the laws of physics. In other words, you can have what’s called a wave form, a wave function
of a particle, and it’s everywhere. You make a measurement, and the particle instantly
shows up here, even though the wave had a probability of existing…the particle had
a probability of existing over here. And so, it’s just odd, and we don’t know how to exploit
that fact to our advantage; but as far as we know, no, you cannot have faster-than-light
communication, which we would desperately need to get bigger than the bubble to talk
to the rest of the galaxy. Again, I’ll try to make my answers even shorter
than that. Making the distinction between life in the
universe, which I think is inevitable, and intelligent life in the universe, which I
question or challenge at least the probability of, given our planet being in the right location,
the star being the right type of star in the right location, etc., what are the odds that
you would…and given the time it took, four-and-a-half billion, 4.6 billion years…for us to get
to the point where we can ask the question is there intelligent life in the universe.
What do you think those odds are? The universe is huge, in time and in space
and in content. So, the good thing about the universe is extraordinarily rare phenomena
happen every day someplace in the universe. So however rare we might calculate it would
be here for life as we know it, you multiply up the numbers…stars in the galaxies, galaxies
in the universe…these are staggeringly huge numbers, 1021 stars, 1,000 times bigger than
the number of grains of sand on an average beach, itself 100 times bigger than the number
of words ever spoken or uttered by all humans who have ever lived. These are staggeringly large, stupendously
large numbers, to use Richard’s word, that give us the confidence that, even if intelligent
life is only short lived, grows up, and then, grows so smart it kill itself, that there’s
bound to be one out there that we’re hitting it right at the right time that they are happy
to have a conversation with us, if we’re smart enough to have a conversation with them. This question is primarily for Professor Dawkins.
I come from a family where there are two skeptics and three religious fruitcakes. You can guess
which side I’m on. Anyhow, I was just wondering, with your experience, if you’ve ever found
a good way to hit the fruitcakes upside the head with some rational thinking and actually
get them to pay attention. It would be nice to say that all we need to
do is to expose them to scientific evidence, and that’s certainly a very important part
of it is what Neil and I both are trying to do. Unfortunately, there’s a certain amount
of evidence that there’s a certain kind of mind which is so dyed-in-the-wool wedded to
a scriptural version of the world that they more or less admit in advance that, no matter
what evidence comes, they will refuse to budge. My favorite example of this is the geologist
Kurt Wise, who is a young earth creationist, but who knows very well all the evidence for
an old earth from geology. He has actually said, in these very words; I think I quote
him approximately right, “If all the evidence in the universe pointed to an old earth, I
would be the first to recognize the evidence, but I would still be a young earth creationist
because that is what Holy Scripture tells me.” Somebody who’s actually prepared to come out
and say that, and at least he’s honest…somebody who actually comes out and says that is pretty
much advertising himself as beyond reason. He’s absented himself from the rational discussion
which the rest of us are having by announcing in advance that scripture is going to take
precedence over evidence. And here’s a man who knows the evidence. He has a Ph.D. from
Harvard in geology. He knows the evidence, and yet, he’s announced in advance, so there
are certain people who are unreachable; but my hope is that the vast majority of people
are imminently reachable and just simply haven’t been exposed to the evidence which is plentiful
and wonderful. Next question here. Thanks for the great job on the Poetry of
Science. I wonder if you could say just a few words, both of you, on the philosophy
of science. I just read Stephen Hawking’s book, The Grand Design. The first page, philosophy
is dead; and here at Howard, our administration is proposing the abolition of our philosophy
programs. Could you say a few words? I have a couple of words to say about that.
Up until early 20th century, philosophers had material contributions to make to the
physical sciences. Pretty much after quantum mechanics, remember the philosopher is the
would-be scientist but without a laboratory, right? So, what happens is the 1920s come
in. We learn about the expanding universe in the same decade as we learn about quantum
physics, each of which falls so far out of what you can deduce from your armchair that
the whole community of philosophers that previously had added materially to the thinking of the
physical scientist were rendered essentially obsolete at that point. I have yet to see the contribution…this
will get me in trouble with all manner of philosophers, but call me later and correct
me if you think I missed somebody here, but philosophy has basically parted ways from
the frontier of the physical sciences, when there was a day when they were one and the
same. Isaac Newton was a natural philosopher. The work physicist didn’t even exist in any
important way back then. I’m disappointed because there’s a lot of
brain power there that might have otherwise contributed mightily, but today simply does
not. The philosophy has other…not that there can’t be other philosophical subjects. There’s
religious philosophy and ethical philosophy and political philosophy, plenty of stuff
for the philosopher to do, but the frontier of the physical sciences does not appear to
be among them. Even in biology, I think, is an interesting
point that the idea of evolution by natural selection, which came independently to two
traveling naturalists in the 19th century. It’s a simple enough idea that any philosopher
could have thought of it from the depths of an armchair anywhere back to the Greeks, and
none of them did. I don’t really understand that. It seems to
me to be a strange thing that it had to wait to 19th century scientists, living 200 years
after Newton did something that seemed a lot more difficult. Check Anaxagoras, first theory of evolution
in pre-Socratic Greece. Oh, well, okay. But natural selection is something
that came in the 19th…not just to Darwin and Wallace. I mean, there were a couple of
other scientists who thought of it. The philosophers that I really respect in
the world today are philosophers of science, are ones who have actually taken the trouble
to learn some science, and there are some. And they’re very good, clear thinkers, and
they do help other people to think clearly; but they’re really the same as scientists.
There are scientists who are also trained in philosophy. Sir. Thank you both for coming. There’s a group
of scientists in Europe that have developed a Large Hadron Collider, and they’re trying
to recreate the conditions of what has been known as the Big Bang, slamming antiprotons
and protons to try and find a particle known as the Higgs boson, which has been misnamed
the God particle. It’s a particle that gives matter mass. Could you guys talk about the conditions of
the universe at that time? Will this prove anything? This experiment? The interesting thing about physics is that
there is very little physics left to be discovered on a tabletop. The way physics works is, the
way discoveries in physics, by and large, work is you need to go someplace you’ve never
been before, either in scale…large, small, energy especially, speed…once you’ve explored
these extremes, you’re at the hairy, bleeding edge between what is known and unknown in
the universe. So, if you want to discover something you’ve
never done before, build an accelerator that hits an energy level that’s never been hit
before. And the early universe is our best particle accelerator we know, so now we have
the very large tabletop version of the early universe, large and expensive, and it allows
us to test our ideas about what was going on. And so, yes. It’s regime of the early
universe that we have theoretical understanding of but we have yet to have experimental verification
for it. I have visited the Large Hadron Collider twice;
and on both occasions, I was more or less literally reduced to tears. I was moved so
much by this stupendous effort of human ingenuity, human cooperation, multinational; and I attempted
to express my poetic fascination and interest in this terrific enterprise in my latest book.
There was an unfortunate misprint. It came out as the large Hardon collider. Just the D and the R, right? I spotted the misprint, and of course, I left
it in; but alas, the publisher’s proofreader also spotted it. She removed it. I begged
her on my knees to leave it in. She said it was more than her job was worth. Just a quick social comment. The 1990’s cancelled
superconducting supercollider that was to be built in Texas had peak energies three
times as large as the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Congress voted to not continue
its funding. The project was scrapped, and now, the center of mass of particle physics
is no longer in the United States. It’s in Europe. Now interesting to the scientists, while we’d
rather it be here in America, we really celebrate the fact that science continues to advance,
and it’s just a matter of whose nation’s priorities values it; and I saw that as the beginning
of the end of America’s leadership in this realm. Sure. All right. Thank you so much. I probably have
a question which is rather mundane in this setting, but one doesn’t get these opportunities
very often. I wanted to see what you thought about this. Life that’s been discovered at
the point of sea floor spreading on earth is, I assume, because I haven’t heard otherwise
also DNA based, as is everything else we know of. My curiosity is whether there is a hypothesis
or an explanation that has been, in fact, devised as to how DNA can have this effect
with the distance of 5,000 or 6,000 miles in the ocean itself between that point and
the surface. Not miles in the ocean. I mean, the diameter
of the earth is only…you mean feet down? I’m sorry. Five or six miles. Yes, thank you. Exclude the thousand. Okay. I can give an astrophysicist’s view,
but I’d welcome the biologist. I didn’t actually hear the question, so you
start off by… Sure. So, these extremophiles…these are
creatures that thrive under conditions that would kill the rest of us instantly, under
high pressure, high temperature. In fact, at the ocean vents, they’re thriving at 300
degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure of the water is high enough to prevent boiling, but the
temperature is high enough that it would cook anything else. One of the great advances in exobiology was
the discovery that life on earth is hardier than anyone had ever previously given it credit.
We no longer need the room-temperature pond water to have life thrive. The more we’ve
looked in the earth, the more we have found life doing the backstroke under extraordinarily
hostile conditions, hostile to humans that is. What that has done for us, astrophysically,
is allow us to cast for life with a much wider net than we had previously thought we had
available to us. Whereas before we would look in the habitable zone, the Goldilocks zone;
not too close to a host star, you water would evaporate; not too far away, water freezes.
You’re looking for that liquid water zone made liquid by sunlight. We find out all we
really need is an energy source. It doesn’t have to be the sun. Jupiter keeps Europa warm, one of its moons.
It has a liquid ocean. It’s been liquid for billions of years. You want to look for life
armed with this diversity of life, the hardiness of life, even we find here on earth. It has
only broadened our search for life in the cosmos. Among the many theories of the origin of life,
recently people have started thinking about life might possibly have started under what
we now think of as extreme conditions of high temperature, and it could be that we are now
in the cold zone, which was not the way it was when it first started, and that’s an interesting
possibility. So, they would look at us like we’re the extremophiles. Exactly. They look at us as though we’re the
extremophiles. MS: My department chairman said that he wants
you to go and ask your question. I’m not going to tell him no, so please ask your question.
Keep it brief, and this is the last one before we go onto the book signing. Thank you, Howard, for making this free. Anyway,
I read a book Consolation of Philosophy. The main guy, Boethius, is condemned to death.
He has everything taken from him. All he has is his reason and his sense of self, not even
that; but he attempts to console himself to this execution by reasoning that the world
has order, that there is something that keeps things together. He uses his reason to try
and get to the root of why he should be at peace with death. The problem is his source
of origin is a belief in God. What would you do? Well, I don’t know if I fully understand the
question. I do know that, if he’s about to be executed… How about you are about to be executed? Oh, I’m about to be executed. You have nothing except your knowledge, your
knowledge of science, your experience. 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’ve dined upon flora and fauna throughout my life. What about you, Professor Dawkins? END OF AUDIO FILE

100 Replies to “The Poetry of Science: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson”

  1. Such silliness. If there was a big bang, then there will be galaxies close to the outer shell of expansion. Those observers in those galaxies may see the outer edge of expansion into nothingness.

  2. Arcaana Speaks: “… space, across galaxies, beyond shadows of conic rings, we greet you earthlings. From time travelers of Ishentar, Quahara, Zolon, and Bachtenar, we greet you. As we passed by, travelers looking through windows, we heard you on a call. We have come to save our friends, the dolphins. They play peacefully in your oceans. We heard their call. Presently, they seem to be the most intelligent species on your planet. Bangara is traveling with us. Destruc…sel…….energ…ligh…” Arcaana has spoken. END OF TRANSMISSION

  3. To really impress your girlfriend;

    Find a beach below a bluff, or a bridge, or even a parking garage or multiple story building, and sit on the sand, watching the sunset.

    Then, when it's done, turn and ask her, "Wanna see it again?"

    And, while she still has that puzzled look on her face, take her hand and run up the trail, or the ramp, or take the stairs or the elevator to the top floor really quick, (as fast as you safely can lol that is) and you'll be able to watch the sunset ALL over again. 👍

    You can actually lie down, head on a pillow and watch the sun set, and then stand up really quick and watch the sun set again, too. It's the same concept.

    Use it as a tactic to prove to a "flat earther," that the Earth is curving away from you at the horizon.

    (Hey! What are the comment sections for lol if not shit like that, eh?! 😂👍)

  4. The big bang theory is a theory.heres another,imagine a extension cord, now imagine all the electricity in the world going in the cord at imagine controlling the amount of power going through. Maybe that's the universe .so maybe the big bang was a strike,like a match and we are the fire

  5. The monkey human 1.5 percent is imagine know the earth has been spotting alot of unexplained sightings lately.maybe they are just waiting for us to catch up to share what they know

  6. The sun has the strongest gravitational pull.whos to say there was only 9 planets,perhaps there were 40 at one time.before neil killed them off.the last part I'm joking of course. Neil is awesome

  7. Wow Not gonna lie i saw an christian ad about to regret everything bad you did and ask for forgivness from Jesus or some bullshiy like that!

  8. as a published poet i knew there had to be one redeeming quality to man-made science…the word science means knowledge ( for all you parrots and worshipers of educated fools like this out there )…

  9. Neil's last comments was basically…..WE R FOOD FOR THE WORMS……………….!!!! NICE!!!!! What a badass

  10. 25:25 -Dawkins just verified for me that certain Alien sightings may very well be true. 1.5 change in DNA goes to our heads. Chimps – Humans – ?

  11. We used to think life could only exist within the parameters of human life but since then we have discovered life at 150 degrees below zero and 600 degrees above. We have also discovered life that lives on hydrogen sulfide (the "snotites" found in caves). It appears water or ammonia environments can harbor life.

  12. so basically, richard dawkins gets confronted by an an actual intelligent person who follows maths and proves how nonrigorous and weak his knowledge is

  13. A doctor saves life's and helps people heal. Why do people who get titles of know it all's end up with Dr titles. Like Dr. Edgar Mitchel, proven to be liar. Weird chit

  14. MOST sciencific discoveries are the result of 1,000's of yrs of ideas in which each gen moves to ball forward a little bit. Unfortunately science OFTEN results in a LOSS of knowledge, as science is built on the past, thus if ANY part is FALSE all the works based on it are ALSO false. Like for example antibiotics: Roman soldiers over 2,000yrs ago packed their wounds with moldy bread, BUT when science got involved they thought it was pure superstition and thus stopped the practice instead engaging in treating the "humors" through blood letting and giving ppl MERCURY, etc… Thus they went from a ACTUAL treatment to killing ppl .
    Thus be VERY careful before saying something CANNOT be true, as that's PURELY ego. Since just bc we don't understand the mechanism that it's wrong. Since scientists have proven that white's are superior to blacks, that they have smaller brains, are more disease prone and don't have empathy or experience pain. THAT all was "science" in it's day, ALL total BS as we can't even find race in DNA only LOCATION. BUT it played into our biases and our desires to prove why it's okay to treat other humans horrifically AND it developed exactly when the European powers were engaged in conquering the planet.
    This is why the ruling civilization ALWAYS calls their enemies which have different cultures, traditions, gods, tactics and especially systems of governance/belief "Barbarians". This is actually why the west NEVER tried to conquer Japan as Japan's culture was SO refined over it's 700yrs of constant war (source of MOST cultural systems) thus when the Japanese saw the Europeans THEY thought WE had horrifically ugly birth defects. While during the exact same period, when the Incas met the SAME group of ppl as BOTH were Spanish/Portugese they thought they were gods. As crazy enough when foreign ppl show up on your shores nearly 100% of the time the locals DON'T attack them, they want to know more.
    Thus Latin America ended up being enslaved to this day and Japan has NEVER had a foreign country step foot on their mainland (Osaka NOT part of mainland even though it's been a terrority for longer then most countries have existed for Japan that ISN'T that long as they've existed for 2660yrs OR the same time Greeks created the idea of democracy) and the US was scared shitless and wanted nothing more then to NOT step foot on their mainland.
    Like normal the Spanish brought priests with them as EVERY merchant vessel had a priest on board, and they wrote that they thought Japan was ripe for being converted bc of their society being SO civilized. In reality Japan has been all but immune to religion as it's the LEAST religious country on the planet with 95% saying their non religious and having NEVER developed ANY sort of religion beyond Shinto/Buddahism mix which means all shrines are independent, there's NO holy books, NO registry, NO worship etc… Same for Hinduism which was created by the British to categorize them, as you can be a atheist and be "Hindu" thus the idea of fundamental Hinduism is totally INSANE. Whatever it is it ISN'T Hinduism, more humanism. lol
    While bc of Latin America's religious zealotry they saw the Spanish as being gods as it happened to correlate with their prophecies thus they treated them as Gods. Japan having NO religious system was IMMUNE to superstition thus THEY played the Spanish NOT the other way around as they needed resources, weaponry, ANYTHING to give them a upperhand in their shogun wars, thus the shogun ordered his ppl to convert and they DID as THAT'S what a complex society is a very strong hierarchy of control. But of course they didn't actually convert, but when the leader was given a gun as a gift, (literally day one on the island as they'd LONG used their weapons to cause fear and to impress the locals) the shogun then turned around took it to his swordsmith asked him to reproduce it and asked for shooting lessons. By the following wk they'd created guns which were FAR superior to the British ones which would deform quite quickly and become super inaccurate BUT as Japan had MUCH better metalworking ability so much so that science still can't reproduce their blades and they gave the Chinese emperor a sword which took them over 800 YEARS to reproduce and it's STILL inferior. That their first guns were FAR more accurate, hardy and within a couple months the shogun had trained everyone in shooting.
    Crazy huh, THIS is the power of having a strong sense of identity as it stop you from being played by things you don't understand, things which you don't understand are NOT fear inducing as you absolutely believe that ANYTHING they produced YOU can to and BETTER. This is why Japan has LONG since been the place of legend as Marco Polo wanted nothing more then to go there, Christopher colombus was sailing to GET to Japan and ended up finding the Carribean hence calling them Indians as even when he returned he STILL thought they were Indians as his ONLY frame of reference was India.
    This is the issue of implicit and explict assumptions as until you can open your mind to different answers the ONLY answer you'll get is predetermined. Thus the reason science has exploded is the internet which was created to allow US military scientists to share their research quickly, which is still it's primary usage. Thus allowing scientists from the world over to confer and learn from each other. As the BEST answers always come when you have as many different ages, sexes, religions, cultures, backgrounds and pure numbers of ppl.
    For example as scientists are trying to create a quantum computer they created a app which asks ppl to solve the quantum problem they are struggling to figure out as Human minds are quantum. What they discovered was amazing, even though we know NOTHING about the context or what quantum even is, we ALWAYS came up with the MOST efficient and BEST solution to the problem.
    This demostrates that you don't need to be highly educated to figure something out for yourself, as group think is absolutely amazing, as education in MANY ways teaches you NOT to believe your own instincts and your eyes (religion is even worse at this), as it trains you have to see and think about things. Ie it teaches you biases, and bc you feel like you DO know something you're FAR less likely to even consider other ideas.
    The second issue is this has been used by republics from the beginning of time as a excuse WHY they should make the laws, and control the country and NOT the ppl. Thus just like the studies proving that white's are superior and thus SHOULD rule the world the same concept is still here today. This takes FAR too lightly why ppl do what they do. As humans are incredibly good at deciding what's in THEIR best interest. Thus IF we turned our country from a republic to a true democracy with EVERYONE being part of it we'd have a MUCH better society as the fewer ppl in control with the exact same beliefs and backgrounds the larger the blindspots thus we CANNOT expect the same experts who've caused the problem to find how to fix it. We need to engage in learning from EVERYONE as they ALL have something useful to offer along with all the crap which ISN'T helpful that THEY were conditioned to believe JUST like you have. As we truly we don't know what we don't know.

  15. I love the way Neil answered that last question, I'd request that my body in death be buried, not cremated, so that the energy 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 throughout my life… damn

  16. The Holy Qur'an and the Theory of Evolution are different.
    Evolution or Creation-A Comparision
    of the Argument.


    The Problem of Origin of Life :

    The theory that non-living matter could come together to form living organism, had been widely accepted. Even in the period of Darwin's ' Origin of Species ' was written, the belief that bacteria could come into existence from inanimate matter was widespread.

    A corner stone of the Theory of Evolution
    was disapproved by Louis Pasture. In his lecture at the Sorbbone in 1864. He said:

    " Never will be the doctrine of spontaneous
    generation recover from the mortal blow
    srtuck by this simple experiment." (2)

    However, as scientific progress revealed
    the complex structure of the cell, the
    idea that life could come into being
    coincidently faced an even greater

    The problem of Genetic :

    Another subject that posed a quandary
    for Darwin's theory was inheritance.Vague
    beliefs about inheritance led Darwin to
    base his theory on completely false
    ground.Darwin assumed that : Naturaĺ
    selection was the " mechanism of
    He was unable to explain how would
    " useful traits" be selected and transmitted
    to the next geneation? At this point, he
    embraced the Lamarckan theory, that is
    " the inheritance of acquired traits".

    However, Lamarck's thesis was
    disapproved by the laws of genetic
    inheritance discovered by Gregor
    Mendel. The concept of "useful traits"
    was therefore left unsupported.

    Genetic laws showed that acquired traits
    are not passed on, since no alteration in
    their genetic data takes place, no
    transformation of species occurs. This
    was a serious deadend for Darwin's
    theory, which tried to base the concept
    of " useful traits " on Lamarck.

    Mendel opposed not only Lamarck's
    model of evolution, but also Darwin's.
    Mendel was in favour of the orthodox
    doctrine of special creation.

    (1) H.S. Lipson, " A Physicit's view of
    Darwin's theory", Evolutio Trends in
    Plants, vol.2, No, 1988, p.6

    (2) Sidney Fox, Klause Dose, Molecular
    Evolution and The Origin of Life.
    W.H.Freeman and Company, San
    Francisco, 1972, p.4.


  17. You can see everything at once but you can record what you already saw, and then sum it all up to see how looks in overall.
    What sort of fool wants to see it all at once? Like see the whole universe from finite ability to see

  18. Relativity is the cause, and Dualism is the effect. Even time is a structure we created to define and measure what will always be infinite. Every moment that has happened or will happen will have an never ending set of variables that cant be replicated. Identification of limits is a naive reaction we have as humans. Embrace the unknown, because anytime we try to validate intelligence, we are limiting every aspect of it

  19. 57:00 No particles won't tunnel instantly. It takes time for them to disappear and to appear. That time period is lower than distance / speed of light.
    Otherwise it would violate the principles of nature. There is always something that prevents a particle from flying faster than the speed of light.
    This shows what i mean:

  20. At some point, you get the since that these blokes are on LSD…"So why can't I see the edge of the universe from farther than when it was born?"…"It's like when your dog knows you'll be home soon."…."No….well, kinda…" "The 'Cosmos' audiobook syncs right up with 'Fiddler On The Roof'."

  21. The great dishonesty and cowardice of The science crowd is that even if almost certainly alll religions are fake. And God is uncertain and certainly there is zero positive evidence for it. That doesn't mean that taking away religion doesn't extinguish some sort of beauty in the world. As it may well prove to undo some sort of morality in the world.

    That doesn't mean we should become a believer for these reasons. To advocate that would put humans into categories of little children to be controlled by someone, which will be morally and intellectually abhorrent in my estimation. But we should understands and acknowledge the negatives that come along with science, and some crisis we may have to reckon or even reconcile with.

    Having said this, there is no certainty that there is no God. Also science is unlikely to ever answer everything. The first cause may simply be unknowable and some other such things. Beyond our grasp forever.

  22. This degGrasse is a third rate con artist who has managed to fool people believing he is a scientist. School level chemistry is the limit of his knowledge.

  23. I'm 25, listen to rap, do illegal things and am what you class as a typical council estate thug. I still love listening to this type of stuff. Shame everyone can't be like this, the youths would be so much wiser.

  24. 39:20 – It could be that we are at the pinnacle of evolution with a new idea that will turn up again and again in other species to follow, but 'intelligence' might also be a fail for nature. Only nature can decide – we have a 99.999% chance that nature will wipe us out – but we'll probably do it ourselves first.

  25. Whenever i see professor Dawkins i should click ''like'' immediately. Thank you for all the effort that you do always in promoting science and advertising logic thinking. You are a star ♥♥

  26. Richard Dawkins should not be saying biology is less of science than physics that’s not true because if u ever read selfish gene vs any other physics book how clear /refined thought this scientists have is mind boggling

  27. pair of 'I read it in a book and i have a good memory' devious narcissistic showman.
    Not one truly useful original thought between them. But don't the sheeple love being taken.
    It is so sickening.

  28. pair of 'I read it in a book and i have a good memory' devious narcissistic showman.

    Not one truly useful original thought between them. But don't the sheeple love being taken.
    It is so sickening.

  29. A-That 'past emergent' now 'technologically superior' civilisations exist within the Galaxy, in vast numbers, is beyond reasonable doubt.

    B-Near light speed [ if not exceeding ] 'interstellar propulsion' of a 'self sustaining' 'artificial planet' is now considered totally feasible and most likely will be accomplished by humans.

    C-'Quantum entanglement' experiments have now proven 'instantaneous transmission' of Information, independent of distance. Contrivance of such 'data feeding' initiation of 'self replicating' 'self advancing' entities is an obviously logical extrapolation [ DNA/Life -like ? ].

    That one of A- has utilised B- to 'in the fullness of time', visit here and elsewhere, is completely viable. Their dominant mission would undoubtedly be to accomplish C-.

    BUT, these two clowns slyly pretend to be oblivious to this Elephant standing on their necks.

    Dangerous buffoons!

  30. I'm not sure what to make of Tyson……..he's very sharp & clever but he didn't really answer Dawkins first question about how we perceive our place in the cosmos & in the same way i'm not really sure about his place in the scientific community………hmmm??

  31. Is it just me or does anyone else hate how egotistical Neil is and how he interrupts Richard with the most idiotic comments:
    Richard: Hyperdermic syringes, stingers, about a couple dozen times….
    Neil: GUNS, Guns would be ours!
    Richard: Uh, what?

  32. It's so cute to watch Dawkins fangirl over meeting Neil.
    It shows his humility when he sees someone working in a field he isn't experienced in.

  33. I remember an SF story where a black astronaut lost in deep space encounters a giant being he can't communicate with. It takes him back to Earth and sets him down in Africa.
    Later, he sees a child stoop and pick up a grasshopper and return it to the tree it came from, and nearly goes insane. Anybody know that story; I'd love to read it again.

  34. I just so wish prominent people who provide good description on their subject would learn to stop interjecting with the UM phrase, which you will find most children fall back to.

  35. god called [I sent you habeeb fredie
    . mercury ] ,and you come up with affirmative anal reaction. they created aids of off him ,2 down non to go.

  36. Anyone else find that cellphones and calculus in ancient Egypt combo very odd ? Richard obviously did as he (percepively) declined to engage at all.

  37. This is the Neil that I like. Not the super hyper interrupting Neil I saw in the recent Joe Rogan podcast. Anyone else thinks so?

  38. Hmmm (5:30 or so) What is the smallest and largest EM wavelength that we can see though optics
    (I am assuming this mostly means glass technology, although I haven't instinctively considered going up the "lambda" spectrum, maybe glass isnt the way to go up), hopefully someone can give me a better guess than mine

  39. Thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. It takes me back to my days of youth, and the wonderful conversations that I had with my young friends. Oh the wonderful, and curious innocence, and curiosity of of youth. So lost with with troubles, and hardships of living.

  40. How can you, as a Fistasist (lol, a Fistasist), not like the metric system where everything is uniform and scaleable, you much rather prefer the abomination of a measurement system attempt, Imperial, over uniformity… Damn Mericans…

  41. Mr. Dawkins doesn't care about our childish American movies. The more you read his works and learn his personality, you'll see that he prefers the classical arts.

  42. Always spend your internet and social time with people who are smarter than yourself. Time spent with Kim K., Hollywood, stupid NBC etc is time wasted. Run your social life like that also – have smarter friends than yourself. Less ego, more learning.

  43. humans will definately need the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy if we are ever manage to stow-away or hitch a ride with (x) and get off planet… unless we are taken as specimens of life on this planet or as… slaves, food?

  44. how do we know there isn't intelligence at work in a squid brain? consider how well they are able to adapt to new environments ie lab mazes andhow well they have adapted to their usual, open-sea environment.

  45. The greatest obstacles to understanding God, and life, are; impenetrable skepticism, intransigent relativism, and scientific humanism. This idea that we can't really know anything intuitively – certainly not God – and the sure belief that everything will ultimately have a scientific explanation wrings spiritual from our hearts and blinds us to a deeper Truth.

    These ideas are taught from the pulpit of every school, college and university, and echoed in the halls of government – and, as such, are difficult to overcome. However, unless we can accept that there is Absolute Truth, and that it can be known, all that remains is the dark and hopeless road of eternal, intractable subjectivity where all ideas, religions, opinions and philosophies are equal, and are therefore equally without meaning.

    If this road is followed to its end, past the blind tolerance of relativism, through the gray mists of agnosticism and beyond angry atheism, the road finally ends in the blackness of nihilism; a meaningless void where nothing has purpose or value, and existence itself is called into question.

    The only way to avoid this humanist road is to accept the reality of the alternative path, and take the first step upon it. You will be sorely tempted to quit at every crossroad saying, "We can't really know which is the right and true road. I must return to the road more traveled." You can, and must go on. Remember, logic, reason, perseverance, and conscience will take you far – these are the tools and compass provided to you by God – don't cast them aside and take the easy road. Follow your God given light to see the right.

  46. This stuff is so interesting, I wish I had become a physicist. I'm just a software engineer. I wonder if it's too late to switch careers

  47. Wait until they come face to face with the God of the Bible. Their silly little faces contorted with pride , fear and confusion pulsating with anger and hate – ‘ I wanted proof , proof , “ God may say – ‘ I gave you the world, the universe , the Bible, the resurrected Christ and you are still deliberately blind’ . No wonder there is a hell. These folk s would be unhappy in heaven. Hell awaits these intellectual modern day educated morons. You are so smart – your pride has made you more stupid than you can imagine. Now watch the rabid saliva dripping atheists come out from the woodwork. lol

  48. Dispite the similarities in the chemicals in the universe that sustain life there might be other factors that influence the initiation of life. Like other chemicals, temperature, gravitational force etc. I'm more inclined to believe that there is no other life form out there based on the characteristics of the other planets unless what we're told is not true. Who knows maybe everything out the multiverse might be just to sustain life on earth.

  49. What makes you think that in that one and a half per cent difference there isn't life on earth? We just can't see it. Maybe that's the difference, they're able to be invisible and are around us all the time. Would we know there are other, more intelegent life forms on this planet if we can't see them? If they don't require all the junk that we need to survive?

  50. I want tell you guys one thing just think deeply about it.we believe there is a god who created universe and everything in it including human like you and he told us to worship him alone and if you do so he will send us to paradise .and if you dont. you will go to hilfire for ever and you could not come back and adjust it.And you believe there is no God no paradise no hilfire .now if we die believing in a God. and if there is a god we will get everything he has promised us .so there will be problems for you guys. But even if there isn't a god still still nothing will happen to us .so in both case we will be ok but for you it is a big Riskkkkkkkk like we have 100%chance to be in correct side but you have 50%chance .and I think 100 per cent is better than 50

  51. "that's why ship decks are high. They see farther beyond the curvature of the earth" LOL the earth must be so small. 8:37

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