Neil deGrasse Tyson – The Joe Rogan Experience

Key Takeaways

  • Science denial is a problem because denialists affect policy which in turn affects everyone
  • Every bottle of water you drink has pee particles in it from people who lived generations before 
    • “Given enough time… when you scoop up any cup of water… that’s water that has passed through the kidneys of Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Socrates, and Jesus!”
    • The same is true with air – “When you take a breath of air, there are molecules in that air that went through the lungs of Jesus”
  • Salt CAN be taken out of ocean water – it just takes a ton of energy (and it’s not yet economically viable)
  • You shouldn’t drink distilled water 
    • Why? – Distilled water lacks minerals. When drunk, it goes into equilibrium with the minerals in your body. You then pee it out, thus draining your body of key electrolytes/minerals.
  • “The total cost of oil is not what you pay at the gas tank”
    • Think about the costs associated with bad air quality (like treating asthma or lung cancer)
    • “If you full-cost accounted what all this really costs, then the solar option would look WAY better than it does”
  • Neil has a unique take on getting tailored recommendations and targeted ads from tech companies:
    • “If you track what I buy at a store and then send me coupons based on what you think I’m going to buy next based on what I’ve bought before… you have denied me the chance of stumbling on something that I’ve never thought of buying. That takes away my freedoms and I don’t want that.”
  • On the incoming total surveillance state:
    • “I worry that we’re sliding towards a state of total monitoring on the premise that we’re all better off for it. It’s like the frog in the water – we don’t feel it day by day, but it’s happening.”

Intro

The Starry Night Painting (Watch)

  • Neil showed up to this interview in a Starry Night blazer
  • “You know what I like about The Starry Night… It’s not what Van Gogh saw that night, it’s what he felt”
    • “This isn’t a representation of reality and anything that deviates from reality is reality that’s been filtered through your senses. I think art at it’s highest is exactly that.”
    • Another plus – the title is the background, how cool!
  • Someone recreated The Starry Night out of bacon
  • “Van Gogh painted what he saw, folded into what he felt. That’s how art should be.”
    • “Artists feel the natural world in different ways than the rest of us. That’s why they’re artists… To be able to express that is a whole other talent.”
  • Great art elevates the mundane to something that forces you to reckon it with your understanding of the world
    • “What’s Joyce Kilmer‘s most famous poem? It’s about a tree! Dog’s piss on trees! You drive by a tree and you don’t even know it’s there… yet here’s a poem about a tree.”
    • Art forces you to pause and reflect on things you’ve taken for granted that have become all too ordinary
      • “If you take something ordinary and subject it to the interpretation of an artist, it can be beatified and elevated to a level where it becomes a household recognition in regards to its importance”
  • Fun fact: artists wanted to throw an A (for art) into S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Math, and Science) to make it S.T.E.A.M. 

Science Denial (Watch)

  • “There’s hardly any economy in the world that isn’t growing not having been touched by science and technology”
  • In Neil’s upcoming book, he addresses the science denialists
  • “Not everyone embraces everything that science does… Some people cherry-pick. There are the science deniers for global warming, the science deniers for vaccines, the science deniers in regards to GMOs. There are all kinds of science-denying going on in modern society.”
    • This is a big deal because denialists influence policy when they vote (which then affects EVERYONE)
  • Check out one of Neil’s most popular tweets:
    • SCIENTISTS: “We’ve produced the first-ever image of a supermassive Black Hole, 55-million light years away” RESPONSE: “Oooh!”
    • SCIENTISTS: “We’ve concluded that humans are catastrophically warming Earth” RESPONSE: “That conflicts with what I want to be true, so it must be false”
  • “I don’t think science denial will stop the progress of civilization, but it can certainly slow it down and occasionally stall it”
  • Neil’s argument – We NEED to elect officials who AREN’T science denialists 
    • “They don’t have to be scientists. If they’re not scientifically literate, they should be self-aware of that and listen to people who are.”

Ice Science Experiments

  • When ice that’s floating in water melts, it doesn’t change the water level
    • (For background: Ice has ~10% buoyancy, meaning 10% of it floats above water)
    • Why does this happen? – When ice melts, it takes up a smaller volume than it did previously when it was ice (in simpler terms – water expands when it freezes)
      • This is why pipes break when water freezes
        • Stronger pipes allow water to freeze at lower temperatures (the stronger the pipe, the more it prevents water from expanding into ice and thus the lower the temperature at which the water passing through the pipe freezes)
  • The fact that ice is less dense than water prevents ice from sinking
    • This then allows fish to be insulated and survive freezing temperatures at deeper water levels)
  • If you take out an ice cube from the freezer and put it on a cutting board, there will be a point where it hasn’t yet melted but you can squeeze it and force it to melt (you’re forcing the ice cube into a smaller volume and the only way this can be accomplished is if it turns into a liquid)
    • This is why you can skate on ice (watch) – the edge of the skating blade applies a very high pressure to the ice (you’re actually gliding on a bead of water when you’re skating which then freezes again when you pass over it)
      • In theory, ice can actually be so cold (thought to be 10s of °F below 0) that you can’t skate on it (even the pressure your body applies won’t be enough to melt it)
  • With a higher air pressure, the boiling point of water increases (watch)
    • The lower the air pressure gets, the more the boiling point of water drops (this is why, at higher elevations, food must be cooked longer in boiling water because it’s at a lower temperature)
      • In theory, there’s an atmospheric pressure low enough at which the boiling point of water drops so low, that at 32 °F water, ice, and steam all co-exist (it’s called the triple point of water)
        • This happens at certain locations on Mars 

The Hawaii Thirty Meter Telescope Protest (Watch)

  • Natives of the Mauna Kea mountains are protesting the planned build of the largest telescope ever
    • Why protest? – They view it as an invasion of sacred land
  • As background:
    • The bigger the telescope, the more light that’s collected and the dimmer the object you can detect (and the further away it can be)
      • “For every generation of new, larger telescopes that have been built, it’s increased and deepened our understanding of our place in the universe.”
  • Here’s what Neil would tell the natives:
    • “What we learn as astrophysicists from those mountaintops gives us a deeper understanding of who and what we are in this universe” 
    • “Wherever your concept of God is… the discoveries of astrophysicists bring you closer to it”
    • And if they choose not to build it, the telescope will be built on some other mountaintop 
  • To help you wrap your head around the native’s logic, imagine…
    • If a group of people wanted to climb the walls of the Vatican for sport
    • If a group of people wanted to climb the walls of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London

This Will Make You Spit Your Water Out

  • Every bottle of water you drink probably has pee particles in it from people generations before us. Here’s why:
    • When you drink a bottle of water and pee/sweat it out, the molecules within that pee/sweat then travel back into the environment and scatter into the world’s water sources. There’s enough of those molecules to occupy every half liter of water that covers the surface of this Earth.
      • “Given enough time… when you scoop up any cup of water… that’s water that has passed through the kidneys of Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Socrates, and Jesus!”
  • The same is true with air
    • With every exhale, there are enough molecules of air within that exhale to scatter into every breath of air that’s inhaled worldwide
    • “When you take a breath of air, there are molecules in that air that went through the lungs of Jesus”
      • “We’re all connected and there’s no way around it”

Neil Likes Water…

  • The water we have is the water we have – none is added to the Earth
    • When glaciers melt, the water (which is fresh) mixes with the saltwater of the ocean
      • Saltwater is heavier than freshwater (so the freshwater stays to the top)
  • Salt CAN be taken out of ocean water, it just takes a ton of energy (and it’s not economically yet viable)
    • How? – Just evaporate the water (by boiling it) and the salt is left behind (the water is then distilled)
      • Because of this, all table salt is sea salt which came from evaporated seas
    • Right now, it’s cheaper to bottle water in Fiji and ship it to the U.S. than desalinate the ocean water
      • There will be a day when this is no longer the case – “Future wars will be fought over who has access to fresh water”
  • You shouldn’t drink distilled water 
    • Why? – Distilled water lacks minerals. When drunk, it goes into equilibrium with the minerals in your body. You then pee it out, thus draining your body of key electrolytes/minerals.

That ENERGY

  • Essentially all of our electricity comes from heated water which creates steam which then turns a turbine to generate electricity
    • It’s all about where you get the energy to boil the water – coal, oil, wind, hydro, etc.
  • Wind energy is really = solar energy
    • Wind currents are formed from the unequal heating of air on Earth’s surface 
  • Hydro energy is really = solar energy
    • Why? – The water in the dam got there through the process of the sun evaporating ocean water and turning it to rain
  • “I have high hopes for tidal energy”
    • There are certain places on Earth where the tides are very powerful
  • “The total cost of oil is not what you pay at the gas tank”
    • Think about the costs associated with bad air quality (like treating asthma or lung cancer)
    • “If you full-cost accounted what all this really costs, then the solar option would look WAY better than it does”

A Fact That Will Probably Get You Laid at a Party

  • The rainiest places on Earth (like the Amazon Rainforest) are at the equator
  • The driest places on Earth are at 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South 
    • The Mohave, Sahara, and Gobi deserts are all at around 30 degrees North latitude
    • India, due to its location, would be a desert if it weren’t for the seasonal monsoons

The New Porsche Taycan Electric Vehicle

  • Check out the comparison to a Tesla Model S
  • It supposedly allows you to charge the battery to 80% in just 15 minutes 
  • Joe has a Tesla Model S (and a supercharger at the studio)
  • Perhaps the future of electric cars involves the ability to swap out batteries
    • Imagine – you pull up to a charger, swap out your dead battery with a fully charged one, and you’re off!
  • Check out the documentary – Who Killed the Electric Car?

Digital Privacy (Watch)

  • Google Home and Alexa devices listen in on your conversations (the Instagram/Facebook apps also listen in to do the same)
    • They then tailor ads/recommendations to your liking
  • Here’s Neil’s take:
    • “If you track what I buy at a store and then send me coupons based on what you think I’m going to buy next, based on what I’ve bought before… you have denied me the chance of stumbling on something that I’ve never thought of buying. That takes away my freedoms and I don’t want that.”
      • “If you help me find what I’m looking for, it’s a guarantee that I will never find what I’m not looking for”
    • “I want to experience this world by stepping where I’ve never stepped before and buying something I’ve never thought of buying. If you know my previous habits, you’re assuming I’m going to stay that way for the rest of my life. Maybe most people do, and maybe I might do that, but if I do it’s because I chose to, not because it’s you that decided that’s the way I should be.”
  • “I worry that we’re sliding towards a state of total monitoring on the premise that we’re all better off for it. It’s like the frog in the water – we don’t feel it day by day, but it’s happening.”
    • We all think it’s totally normal that we have to show an ID to walk into an office building
    • We’ve all accepted that it’s okay to be patted down and have our luggage x-rayed before we get on an airplane 
    • We’re starting to be okay with security cameras in the street

Joe is Hooked on Gravity (and frustrated that no one knows WHY it exists) (Watch)

  • “One of the things that confuses me most is that we don’t really understand what gravity is. We know it’s effects and can measure them. We know how to measure them, we know that mass is involved, but we don’t really know what it is.” – Joe
  • Neil explains:
    • Gravity is the curvature of space and time 
      • Matter tells space how to curve, space tells matter how to move
    • “Answers to the how… when you understand the how enough, are tantamount to having answered the ‘why’ question”

Additional Notes

  • “At least once a day you need your mind blown”
  • “Fishes” is a double plural and grammatically correct (AKA many kinds of fish in the same place)
  • Check out this freak incident where fish froze in a wall of ice
  • “Decisions based on partial information are bad decisions no matter what”
  • The average cost to garage a car for a month in Manhattan just surpassed the average cost of a 2-bedroom home in the United States (~$600/month)
  • BMW painted one of their cars vantablack
    • It’s not available commercially (you wouldn’t be able to drive it at night)
  • Neil recalls a quote – “As the area of our knowledge grows, so too does the perimeter of our ignorance”
    • Joe has heard it described slightly differently – “As the bomb fire of our knowledge grows brighter, the area of our ignorance is illuminated”
Bookmark

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.