5 years ago
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, and host of "StarTalk Radio." His newest book, "Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization," is available now. www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/
And by the way, the Trump Space Force, you know, there are many, a whole lot of Trump haters out there. But if you want to hate Trump rationally, you want to not hate him no matter what he says, you want to evaluate statement by statement what he says, right? That's what you need to do. He says, I want a Space Force. Well, let's think about that. Okay. In the Second World War, there was the Air Force, except they were not their own branch. They were part of the Army. It was called the Army Air Force. And then we realized that command and control in the air needs different kinds of soldiers because they have to be pilots. It's a different kind of decision making, different kinds of tactical actions you would have in the theater of operations. And so it was sensible to spawn off a new branch of the military called the Air Force. No one today would question whether that was a good idea. Today, you should know that operations in space in the vacuum of the universe is a different regime that you're operating in from moving through the air. Your hardware looks different. Your strategies are different. Your decision, your command and control is different. So it's not a crazy, just because it came out of Trump's mouth doesn't make it a crazy idea that you might want a Space Force. In fact, I had proposed a Space Force in 2001 when I was on a commission appointed by George W. Bush to explore the future of the United States aerospace industry, a commission of 12. So I put it on the table. We have Air Force generals there, former members of Congress, people from Lockheed Martin. And people said, well, the Air Force is currently overseeing space, United States Space Command. So everybody was happy with it. And so I said, fine. I said, okay, let's not worry about it. But as long as this needs of our presence in space grows, but more importantly, the size of our assets, as long as that continues to grow, what else would a military do beyond protecting your borders? They would protect your assets. And our space assets by day, day by day, are growing by leaps and bounds. So it's not assets, meaning like satellites, satellites, and the value of those. That's not just the cost of the satellite, it's the value of the satellite to you. The military is now creating a whole other GPS system that will be exclusive to them. And then they're going to see the current GPS too. And what have we done with GPS? This hard earned engineering and physics and orbital mechanics. What have we done with the GPS? We now use it to find out who you want to mate with. Oh, someone's in your area. Yeah, this is Tinder. This is Grindr. This is show me mateable people within 20 square blocks of where I am. That's a GPS. I think they mate on Grindr. I did look up the definition mate implies you're making a baby. Who are you going to have sex with? Fine. Yeah. Yeah. So that has a certain economic value to society. So does Uber. So do all the things that, so does UPS tracking their trucks. So it's not the cost of the satellites, the value of the satellite to our economy. You'd want that protected. Makes sense. Is there a space force currently? Like, is it real? Have they recruited people? There's United States Space Command. So is there anybody who's a general? If we make a space, there's generals in the Air Force overseeing Space Command. So if you're going to make a Space Force, you would offload, you would offload the space activities of the Air Force. Space Command. To this US Space Command primarily. To the Space Force and then add or subtract from that in whatever way is sensible given the need. If we have a Space Force, you know what I want to see? I want them to protect us from asteroids. How about that for a defense program? That makes sense. Okay. Do you want the government involved in that? Shouldn't it be someone a little bit more thorough? That's not how it works. It's not. Scientists. Yeah. You just made, you made a blanket anti-government decision because you were just an anti-government guy. That's what people say. Okay. That's what people say. Private enterprise is not good at doing expensive things that have never been done before. Right. You need government money. Government. Government does it first. Okay. Right. Then you learn where the hostels are, where the friendlies are, what patent did you need to make this happen. Then the venture capitalist meeting about whether I'm going to make a buck on it has some teeth in it. They say, how much will this cost? Well we know because the government did it and we think we can do it for half that price. Is it dangerous? Yes. The government did this and they lost two people, but we will put protections in so we won't have that risk. What is the return on the investment? The government got no return because they didn't, that wasn't the objective, but here's how we can bring them. So I'll do it second. I won't do it first. This is how you get the Dutch East India Trading Company. They were not the first Europeans to the new world because where's the edge of the earth? Will you find India? Will you? What? You don't know any of this. I'm screaming at you, sorry. You don't know any of this. Columbus does it first. And he can tell you where there's food and where there isn't, where there isn't and where they want to kill you and where they don't. Then you hand that information to the mercantilists and they make a buck after the fact. So they come in. They come in. That's how you do it. That's how modern airplanes came about. People were making planes in their garage. The government said this could be a cool thing. Let's pay them and have them compete to carry air mail. New kind of mail. Mail delivered by air. Oh, that's cool. So now I make an airplane because I want that contract. You say, no, you want the contract. You make an airplane that has more cargo. A better engine. You're a cleverer. Now you just took the contract from me. Now I make a bigger airplane. So I said, oh, I see what he did there, but now I can improve on that. Now wait a minute. I don't need to carry mail. I can carry people. And thus is born commercial airplane. Government basically bankrolled it. As did prize money for accomplishing certain achievements. Like Lindbergh. No one talks about the fact that there was cash money available to him for having done a flown across the Atlantic solo first. Cash money. No kidding. Yeah, he did it for the money. Yeah. As most of them did. Fly the longest, the highest, the fastest. Each of these had money associated with it. So this drove the marketplace. It was not whether you could make a product out of it initially because you got to get over the early humps. You got to get through, you got to know what it is that works and what doesn't. So is there a plan with the Space Force? Like are they going to make space weapons and spaceships? There's a treaty in 1960s to which we are signatory. Okay. And I talk about it in accessory to war. It's again, I hate, I feel so bad doing this. Plug it baby. No, I feel so. Let me hold it then. No, yeah. You can you hold it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military. You look beautiful with that book. Thank you. Primarily because there's a bow and arrow here. Oh, there is. Being shot by Sagittarius that became a weapon and a missile that attack. You're a bow and arrow guy. Yeah. Last I checked. Yeah. You've got a freaking bow and arrow in the back room here. Yes. What are you afraid? I practice. When the zombies come, they run out of bullets. Zombie some I'm pulling that sword out like the chick from Walking Dead. Oh, seems to be the best weapon. Everybody runs out of bullets. Right. Zombies are slow. And her weapon is in fact a samurai sword. Totally. Yeah. So what was I saying before I interrupted myself? Space force. Who's paying attention out there? Weapons. Asteroids. Oh, weaponizing space. So there's an outer space. Treaty. Treaty for the peaceful uses of outer space. I mean, it was in 1967. There's some modification since then. But that's the basic one. And we are a signature to it. And so are the other major countries of the world. Yeah. Didn't we just break out of the Paris Accord? Just break out of that goddamn space pussy shit. It's a beautiful document. It tries to be very forward looking. If there's an astronaut from another country who is at risk, then you will go to help them without question. It's very kumbaya. Okay. So one of my sort of, now that I'm old and tired and I just am a realist, it's why should we promise to not kill each other in space when we are not successful at doing that here on Earth? And we don't even promise to not kill each other here on Earth. We don't even promise to do it here on Earth. Who are we to say, oh, well, we'll kill each other here, but in space we'll all hold hands. Well, maybe they don't do that. But I don't have that much confidence in human conduct. I become cynical over my years and I'm angry. Demonstrate to me that on Earth you know how to not kill one another. Then I'll believe your space treaty. That's all I'm saying here. Now, given that there is a treaty, it says you can't put heavy weapons in space. As I detail in one of the, oh, by the way, I have a co-author on this. I started doing this 12 years ago and it was like, I will never finish this for a thousand years. So I brought in a co-author, Avis Lang, who is a long time editor of my essays that I had written for Natural History Magazine. Just give a shout out to my co-author. How does that work? So the co-author sort of takes your stuff and stitches it together? In this particular case, there are a lot of ways we collaborated. Some of them I just dictated entire chapters to her, but leaving out certain details that would require a nitty gritty of sort of research just to get the right numbers and the right year and the right commander and the right this. But I know broadly how it happened and what sequence. And so then she would take that and shape that into a chapter. Other places I would say, you know, this happened, this happened, and that happened. She would say, well, that wouldn't fit the narrative as it's coming together. Let's drop the middle one and take the other two. And I'd say, great. So I'd write that up and she would stitch it. She would graft it, is a better word, into the rest of what was going on. So this is even though there are places here where I speak in first person, it's actually a co-written project. It's not ghost written. It's not, I'm just putting my name, but somebody else wrote it. I mean, I write. I know how to write. So we're co-authors on this. But thanks for asking. That was good. So here's a problem that we detail here. People say, I don't want weapons in space. Okay, there's nothing more useless than a space weapon relative to Earth's surface. Okay, if you're in space, you're in orbit. Think it through. If I use your skull here, that's kind of cool. Okay, if this is Earth. Okay. Do you have anything more spherical here? I guess not. I'm using your skull. I don't think so. Okay. All right. So this is Earth. And I've got a satellite in orbit around the Earth. Right. Okay. And I say, okay, I want to weaponize the satellite, put a bomb in it, and I want to drop over some city. Some bad person wants to make that decision. Right. Well, what's the city you want to hit? Well, it's up here somewhere. So you got to drop it halfway there. So you got to... Well, no, it's not just that. These are not very high above the planet. And so you have to change the orbit to align it so that it goes over your target. Satellites don't go over every spot on Earth. They only go over the orbit that had been preset for it. Okay. We can already destroy a city with an intercontinental ballistic missile. And we can aim that. We can aim a missile to any place on Earth. And it'll get there in less than 45 minutes. And destroy the whole city with nuclear weapons. We can already do that. There is no advantage to putting nukes in space if that's your objective. Not only that, suppose there's a rogue satellite and it's messing with you. It's beaming energy particles at you and you want to take it out. How are you going to take it out? You're going to destroy it? Oh, now you break it into a million pieces, a thousand pieces. Now each piece is moving 18,000 miles an hour and puts your own satellites at risk. That's the modern equivalent to in the first world war when they said, oh, we have a good idea because we can't shoot them in the trenches. Let's gas them out. So they have the mustard gas. Oops, the wind changed directions. And all of a sudden you become a victim of your own weapon, such as what happened in space if you go in and start exploding satellites out of orbit. So war in space is a different thing. It's not what you think it would be. So what would they do? So the peaceful use of outer space treaty allows you to have defensive things in space, not offensive for defensive purposes. It allows that. So. Treaty aside though. But what could you do? Could you, I mean, could you have space war? A rogue state could take out our GPS satellites. Okay, but what if like. And render the military blind and then you won't be able to pick up your Uber. You won't have anyone to have sex with tonight. That's the range of stuff the GPS applies to. Right. And so it'll affect our economy and it'll affect our security. And then our Navy can't talk to the Air Force. The Air Force can't talk to it. And that would be bad. Um. Armies, wars are no longer fought just by how many soldiers have you lined up at the border. It's what have you done strategically to render your opponent. Uh. Just to render to weaken your opponent or render them incapable of fighting you. This is why the attacks on September 11th worked. Because we had a policy that if someone wants to hijack a plane, you follow their instructions. You do not deny them their requests. Because the assumption was that if you deny their request, they will start harming people. And if you follow their requests, it will delay when they harm them if they harm them at all and maybe everyone will end up safe. It was not in the game plan that they would crash the plane on purpose. Okay. So September 12th, you will never again be able to do that to the American plane. Forget the extra x-rays that we're doing. A pilot will never relinquish the cockpit ever again. No matter who they're torturing in the back of the plane. No matter what they're doing. Even if they're shooting people one by one. Because the plane going down takes everybody out. So that was a pretty easy door to close. Literally and figuratively. But no one saw it coming. You know what drives me crazy? When they put that drink cart in the hallway. To protect the pilot when they open the door. I asked them about that. So it's just to delay you a fraction of a second to give them a chance to go in and lock the door. Right. You have to get through them and the flight attendant. That takes an extra second. You can't just run in. Plus they don't even allow you to stand in the aisle while that's happening. They'll tell you to sit down. Yeah, they'll make you sit down. Correct. So you have to get out of your thing, charge the cart and get through the cart and the flight attendant who will be fighting for their life at this point. And because the plane is everything. Right. Yeah, I've seen that opening though. You can get through there. Those ladies aren't going to stop me. Nobody who really is physically capable. So Joe Rogan has already thought this through. It's an unfortunate thing that my mind does. The point is you can. I would never do it of course. You know what I thought about. Not that. I thought to myself the plane that way because I was like I witnessed September 11. It's four blocks, six blocks away from six walking blocks, four blocks. Did you actually witness the plane hit? No because my view is blocked from the south. But I have camcorder footage of the explosion. Big explosion I've ever seen. And by the way, one thing I noticed is that there was no shockwave. I might have been the closest scientist to the event. So all I could do was apply every bit of physics that I know. There was no shockwave. I said well how can we have an explosion and no shockwave? And I later learned if you kind of make a deflagration wave, if you atomize fuel and then you spark it, then the flame moves across the fuel. It's not a shockwave. It's just a deflagration wave. And therefore there's no shockwave. And so windows are not blown out a quarter mile away as they were in Oklahoma City with the... Giant bomb, Tim McVeigh. Tim McVeigh. Why am I bringing this up? What was I talking about? September 11th. The plane. Oh yeah. So here's something I calculated. I said if I was in a 767 and we're about to crash into a building, if I was in the last row of the plane, how much time would elapse before the front row crumbled and it met me in the back row? Given the speed of the plane going into the building. Five hundred miles an hour? Yeah. Well it's probably slower than that by then. I would say closer to 400. It's a known speed and I don't know it but I don't think it was as... Because you can't turn at that high a speed and have to turn around and aim. I don't have to say it's about a second. Less. A fraction of a second. It's a fraction. So the question is, how long does it take a plane to go its own length when it's going at 400 miles an hour? Oh yeah. A tenth of a second. Yeah, it's a fraction of a second. So it's like, that's it. You can't even process that. So I figured the deaths were pretty quick. Wow. Instantaneous. Yeah, it's basically instantaneous. You're a pulverized pile of goo. Are they planning on making spaceships that can shoot down other spaceships? So here, so any space wars would not be war between space and earth. It would be between stuff and space. That's all. Stuff in space. Like space to space. Space to space. Yeah. Space to space. Yeah. Here's another question.