Google Science Fair 2011 - Opening Event

Uploaded by GoogleScienceFair on 12.01.2011

[machine whirs]
[cheers and applause]
man: They reloaded, Mariette.
DiChristina: I'm just...
Hoping for another one, right?
Well, I have to tell you,
uh, coming in here this morning,
I was staring at that.
I could not wait to see that go off.
What a great way to start this morning's event.
[machine whirs, laughter]
Shall I wait a minute?
Anyway, thank you all so much for coming,
uh, for this exciting launch--
already exciting launch of the Google Science Fair.
I'm Mariette DiChristina.
I'm the editor in chief of "Scientific American,"
and it is my pleasure to welcome you,
our distinguished guests,
our partners, CERN, Lego, National Geographic,
and "Scientific American" of the Nature Publishing Group,
and members of the press.
Now I hope all you adults
will forgive me for just a couple minutes,
because I'm gonna ignore you for a little while,
and talk to the young people in the room.
I'm a mom, I have daughters who are 14 and 10,
and I often find it easier to talk to them for a while,
so please forgive me.
Um, I've been looking so forward
to meeting you all today,
and I've been thinking a lot about you.
I've been thinking about science
and about the future,
and a couple of things have become clear to me.
One is that science is such an international human endeavor.
Scientists help each other all around the world
to do their great work.
And, second, kids can be just terrific
at doing science.
Let me give you a couple of really recent examples.
These are things that happened
in just less than the past month,
last past three weeks.
First one.
Just after new year's,
a ten-year-old girl from Canada,
her name is Katherine Aurora Gray,
discovered a supernova.
In doing this, she became the youngest person ever
to discover a stellar explosion.
She was assisted by astronomers Paul Gray,
who happens to be her father, and David Lane,
who made some images on New Year's Eve.
What a nice way to ring in the new year.
And then Katherine and her father
discovered the supernova
in an image on January 2.
And here's another example of kids doing terrific science.
Just on December 22,
a group of 25 British students
published the first-ever study
in "Biology Letters" of kids,
which is a peer-reviewed journal
published by the Royal Society.
The students were ages eight to ten
from Blackawton primary school in the county of Devon.
They did a series of really clever experiments
in a local churchyard
to find out how bumblebees see colors and patterns.
The children used patterns drawn with a colored pencil
to see whether the insects would go for sugar water
and avoid salt water.
And here's a short quote from what they said
in their journal article.
"We discovered that bumblebees use a combination of color
"and spatial relationships
"in deciding which color of flower to forage from.
"We also discovered that science is cool and fun,
'cause you get to do stuff
that no one has ever done before."
Both the girl in Canada and students in England
started with questions like
"What's going on in the night skies tonight?"
And "How do bumblebees see colors and patterns?"
As we adults know,
there's one thing that any kid
can do better than any grown up,
and that's ask great questions.
In fact, many studies have actually shown
how kids are born scientists.
If you don't believe me,
watch a young girl on a high chair
who accidentally tips something over and it falls.
She will then look at that with interest,
and then repeat the experiment
by dropping a succession of things.
Um, so you kids are great at asking questions,
and you have great fresh viewpoints.
You look at things in new ways that help us adults.
You have the energy to learn.
You have the passion to learn, the drive to learn,
and one of the best things we adults can do for you,
to help you learn,
is to enable you to help find those answers to your questions
by mentoring you and helping you do some real laboratory science.
Today, the world has a lot of questions itself, like
"How are we gonna make sure
everybody has enough food to eat?"
And "How are we gonna keep the planet clean?"
"Where will our energy come from?"
"Can we cure the people who are sick?"
So I have a couple of questions for you.
What if we harnessed that kid power
to help us tackle our problems as a nation and as a globe,
and what if we made it easier
for us to share what kids and their mentors are doing,
no matter where they were located around the world?
What do you think we could accomplish together?
The Google Science Fair, I think,
is one way we're going to work together to do just that,
and I really, really can't wait
to see what questions you kids are going to ask,
and how you'll go about answering them.
Thank you.
We're gonna learn more about the questions
that drive and inspire us from our speakers today.
I'm going to introduce each of them to you
before they talk,
and then we'll have a panel discussion,
so save your questions.
You'll get a chance to ask some too today.
Now I'd like to introduce you to our first speaker,
Vinton G. Cerf.
Dr. Cerf, as we were just talking about,
is vice president of Google,
and its Chief Internet Evangelist,
which I've decided now is my favorite title of all time.
His job is to identify new enabling technologies
and applications on the internet and other platforms.
He's widely known as the father of the internet,
and co-designed with Robert Kahn
the protocols and basic architecture of the internet
that we use today.
He's won so many awards,
but I'll mention two.
President Clinton gave him
a US national medal of technology,
and he and Robert Kahn
also received the highest honor
bestowed in the US on any civilian,
the Presidential Medal of Freedom
for being, quote,
"at the forefront of a digital revolution
"that has transformed global commerce,
communication, and entertainment."
Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Cerf.
Cerf: Thank you very much, Mariette.
DiChristina: Thank you.
Cerf: Well, I can tell you,
this is absolutely a great privilege
and an honor to participate in the Google Science Fair,
and I'm particularly pleased
not only to see all of you here on this threatening snow day,
but also to have our colleagues together with us
from "Scientific American" and Lego
and National Geographic and CERN and the like.
These are all institutions for many of us
who have been part of the scientific community
for many years,
and it's a great joy
for them to be part of this enterprise.
Let me start out by telling you
that I'm the product of something
that happened over 50 years ago.
When the Russians launched the Sputnik,
the first orbiting satellite on October 4th, 1957,
it sent shockwaves through
the American scientific and technology community.
It led to a number of specific actions.
One was the creation of something
called the Advanced Research Projects Agency,
which was intended--
it was formed and intended
to keep us from being technologically surprised again,
by forwarding research in areas
that might have very high payoff,
even though they might be very low probability.
And, second, it launched the science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics initiative,
primarily led by the National Science Foundation's
educational department.
I was the recipient, the beneficiary
of much of that activity,
because I was in junior high school,
just graduating at that time,
and so there was a high school program
of enhanced studies and science and technology
and mathematics and the like,
and I benefitted very much from that.
For many years,
I thought I was going to be a nuclear physicist,
until I discovered in my physics class in college
that the speed of light was 600,000 kilometers per second,
and it was pretty clear
that my abilities in the laboratory were weak,
and so I ended up becoming a computer scientist instead,
because it didn't require any actual engineering buildings
in order to do the work.
As my career unfolded--
I started out in mathematics at Stanford,
but I got very, very interested in computing,
worked for IBM, and then came to UCLA
to do graduate work in computer science,
and, while I was there,
a very interesting problem was put on the table.
It was a question about how
to get computers to talk to each other
in some effective way.
And in those days,
in the early 1960s,
the way in which anything talked to anything
was through the telephone system.
And that used a technology called circuit switching,
where you punch in a number,
and a circuit gets made between each of the two instruments,
and that circuit is maintained
for the entire time of the conversation.
The capacity is dedicated
even if nobody is saying anything.
It turned out, that wasn't a very effective way
to allow large numbers of computers
to interact with each other in a very flexible way.
What we needed was something more like electronic postcards,
where blizzards of exchanges
could take place all simultaneously.
So this notion of packet switching
was explored first by a man named Paul Baran
at RAND Corporation,
and especially by a graduate student at MIT,
Leonard Kleinrock,
who established the mathematical basis
for the utility of packet switching,
as opposed to circuit switching,
for this kind of very episodic communication.
But that was theory.
And Dr. Kleinrock managed to build
very, very powerful computational models
to explain how this would work,
but that doesn't mean necessarily
you could actually build it.
So the Advanced Research Projects Agency
sponsored a project called the ARPANET,
which would be the first wide-area demonstration
of packet switching,
and I had the good fortune to be at UCLA
at the time that this project was started,
and I ended up writing a lot of the software
for some of the host computers
that were part of that network.
My colleague, Robert Kahn,
was working for a company called
Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
and was very much involved in the architecture
of this ARPANET.
The first node was installed at UCLA
September 1st, 1969,
over 40 years ago,
and I was there to connect the host computer up
to this first packet switch node.
Well, it all worked.
And the consequence of its working
was to explore the possibility
of using computers in command and control.
The idea was that if you could use a computer
to manage your assets better than your opponent,
then you might be able to take a smaller force
and overcome a bigger one.
We used to call that a force-multiplier.
Now, the problem is
that if you decided you really wanted to use computers
in command and control,
they had to be in the places where you needed to be,
so they had to be on ships at sea.
They had to be in aircraft.
They had to be in buildings that were in fixed locations.
They had to be in mobile vehicles.
And you couldn't just connect them together with wires.
I mean, the tanks run over the wires,
and they break them, and that doesn't work,
and the ships get all tangled up,
so you had to use satellite and radio
in order to make this idea work,
and since we wanted to adopt the use of packet switching
in order to demonstrate
that we could use packet switching in computing,
to help in this command and control problem,
we had to invent a packet radio network
and a packet satellite network
to go along with the ARPANET,
which was using dedicated circuits
from the telephone company.
So there were three networks that had to be built
in order to test this idea.
In 1977, Bob Kahn and I and our colleagues
demonstrated that you could connect
three different kinds of networks to each other
using a particular set of protocols
that some of you may have heard of
called TCPIP.
That stood for Transmission Control Protocol
and Internet Protocol,
and those were the core ways
in which we allowed multiple packet-switch nets
to interconnect with each other.
And I want to make a point about all of this,
because although the work began
in a very scientific and mathematical way
of modeling things and making predictions
about how things would perform,
it took a substantial amount of engineering
to actually design, build, implement,
and test these ideas,
and, of course, today,
you're living with the consequences of that.
Uh, for good or bad,
you're sitting in an internet environment,
which has evolved pretty dramatically
since the very first design work was done.
Bob and I wrote the first papers about the internet in 1973.
They were published in 1974.
I was told that an antiquarian magazine shop
offered at auction the first paper on the internet,
and it sold for about $30,000,
so I immediately went to my filing cabinet
to see whether I had any more copies available,
as, you know, part of my retirement plan,
but unfortunately I couldn't find any in my filing cabinet,
but you will find the first paper online,
thanks to Google's scanning activities.
It was called
"A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication."
So I know I have only a brief amount of time,
but I wanted to mention several other things
that are relevant to this story.
One of them is that this didn't just happen.
In fact, there were alternatives to the internet,
and people fought heavily and strongly
for their various alternatives.
There are acronyms like X.25 or OSI or SNA or DecNAT.
There were ATMs.
They're for Asynchronous Transfer Mode,
not Automated Teller Machine,
uh, and frame relay and the like.
So there were passionate debates and discussions.
There were even international debates
about what should be standardized
and which protocols should be adopted,
and so if you're interested in this kind of work,
you should be prepared to fight for your ideas.
Sometimes new ideas in the scientific world
are rejected out of hand
because they aren't conventional,
because they are not the current wisdom,
and many people will say,
"Well, you're crazy. That can't be right.
"We've known for hundreds of years
that this is how things work."
It's a little bit like the state of affairs
at the end of the 19th century,
when we thought we knew pretty much everything
there was to know about the universe.
We understood Newtonian physics.
We thought, well, all we needed to do
was to get the constants more accurately measured,
and that was it,
and of course Einstein comes along in 1905,
and later, I guess, 1919,
and blew the whole thing up.
With, by the way, a theoretical piece of work
that didn't require any engineering at all.
thought experiments,
led to Einstein's relativity theories.
Of course the consequences of that work led,
eventually, to quantum theory,
which Einstein himself didn't like very much,
and yet other people said,
"Well, that seems to be the way things are working,"
and by doing experiments and testing,
we demonstrated and have demonstrated
that the theory of quantum--
the quantum theory is in fact
a very accurate model of the universe,
but now we know that even it isn't enough.
That's been blown up again
by people who have observed
that there are anomalies in that theory.
So what this tells us
is that there isn't any end to what we can know.
In fact, we know less and less now,
percentage-wise about the universe,
than we did a hundred years ago.
We've got this dark matter.
What the--what's that?
And what about dark energy,
which is driving the galaxies apart?
We don't know what that is either.
95% of the universe that we live in
is essentially unknown to us,
so you have an incredible opportunity
that you could not have had,
except maybe a hundred years ago,
and that is almost anything you do in this domain
may turn out to be worthy of a Nobel Prize,
because it is all Tabula rasa.
It is landscape that we do not know anything about,
so almost anything you do
may turn out to be interesting.
In the course of conversations over coffee this morning,
it was observed that sometimes we learn a lot more
from things that don't work than from things that do.
When we ask questions-- "Why didn't that work?"
"Well, why does it work this way instead of that way?"
Those are the kinds of questions
that we're going to have to answer,
and you all, you young people especially,
have an opportunity to ask
and answer some of those in the future,
and I can hardly wait to Google your results
to find out what the answers are.
Thank you very much.
DiChristina: That was great, Dr. Cerf.
Especially loved the recommendation
to fight for your ideas.
Kids, you should keep that one in mind.
Uh, we all should.
Now I'd like to introduce you
to our next speaker, William Kamkwamba,
who is originally from Malawi in Africa.
As a high school freshman,
William had to drop out of school
when, after a severe famine in 2001,
his family did not have the $80 annual school fee
to keep him going to school,
so at 14 he started borrowing books
from a small local lending library,
and he borrowed an eighth-grade American textbook
called "Using Energy,"
and on the front of it were pictures of windmills.
He decided then to build a windmill
to power his family's home,
so that he wouldn't have to burn dirty kerosene oil.
He built a prototype from a radio motor,
and then he made a five-meter windmill
using a broken bicycle,
a tractor fan blade, an old shock absorber,
and blue gum trees.
Talk about not taking no for an answer.
He hooked it to a car battery for storage,
and could power four light bulbs
and charge his neighbors' mobile phones with it.
He later built a bigger version,
and then he built a third windmill
to pump water for irrigation,
and today with the support of mentors and others,
he's also worked on projects
to provide clean water, prevent malaria,
create solar power, and more for his home village.
Please welcome William Kamkwamba.
Kamkwamba: Thank you so much.
It is real great honor to be here.
Thank you for inviting me here.
As she has already said, I'm William Kamkwamba.
I'm from Malawi.
Malawi's in southeast Africa,
bordered by Mozambique,
Tanzania, and Zambia.
I grew up in the family of seven childrens.
I have six sisters.
I'm the only boy in my family.
As I grew up, my parents are farmers,
so we depend on the farming to survive all year.
We grow corn.
Some beans as well for food.
So in 2001 we had drought,
which affect our--
affect our harvest in the following year.
And so the results,
all the country-like people,
we are starving to death
because of the situation.
It was also, like, the same year
that I was supposed to go to high school.
Because of the hunger, my parents didn't have money
to send me to school,
so I was forced to drop out of school
because of that.
When I had to drop out of school,
I looked at my father,
and he...
I looked at him,
and think that he's a farmer
not just because he want to be a farmer,
but because he doesn't have any choice.
What did he have to do to...
to become, like, to be a farmer,
because he didn't go to school.
For me, I wanted to continue with my studies,
so I can do whatever I want to do in the future.
As I was, like...
As I was much younger,
I was more interested on, like,
learning how science-- things work,
so decided to go to the library
to start reading books.
It was a small library,
which was located at my former primary school.
At there I found this book explaining physics.
Most of the time I was fascinated how things work.
I was trying to understand exactly how things happen.
Most of the time I was asking people.
Maybe if they are driving cars,
"How does this car work?"
And people say, "You just put in the gas,
and then when you turn it on, it work."
I say, "Yes, I know you put in the gas,
but how exactly does that help it?"
I didn't have answers,
but I was trying to get more answers for it.
For example, when I was ten years old,
me and my cousin Jeffrey,
we learned how to fix radios,
because at first I was more curious
to understand what happens.
Someone is somewhere else, far away,
he's speaking, and you can hear him.
And also at first I thought
that inside the radio there are small people who speak.
So I was curious to see them.
When I opened the radio,
I found out that there wasn't anyone.
There was small things that looks like things.
I was like, "Maybe this are people.
Let me twist one of it."
I twist, I didn't find anything.
So through that curiosity
led me to the library.
I was more, like, interested on it, and then...
I couldn't read English that well and speak that well,
so most of the time I was using diagrams and pictures
to learn the way I learned them.
And I found this book which had a picture
of the windmill on the cover.
They say windmill can pump water
and generate electricity.
So because at that time we are facing this famine,
I thought that if I can build one windmill to pump water,
then I will be able to solve this problem
that we are facing of hunger.
I'll be able to plant food
two to three times a year,
instead of only one time, depending on land.
So I decided to build one windmill for myself,
but at that time, I didn't have any money to buy materials,
so, lucky enough, at my former high school,
it was-- it used to be a garage.
So there was--
there was a lot of scrap metal,
so I went there to look for materials.
I found a tractor fan
and a shock absorber,
which I used as the shaft of my windmill.
And using the PVC pipes,
I was able to make the windmill,
which was--at that time,
I start--Instead of making windmill to pump water,
I end up making windmill to generate electricity,
which I was using to power my house.
And also other people are coming
to charge their mobile phones
from my windmill.
So the news of the windmill spread throughout the town,
and the people start coming so see it.
And I also had to do couple of other adjustment
on the windmill.
I built the circuit breaker,
because my house was made out of grass,
which I was afraid if the wire
pressed together it can start fire,
so I had to do that.
And I also built another windmill,
which right now it pumps water.
This when now I was invited
to attend TED conference.
That was 2007.
For the first time--
It was my first time to be out of the country.
I went to Tanzania.
When I heard the news of going to Tanzania,
I was so nervous.
I have never been the plane,
have never slept in the hotel,
so I didn't quite sure what the experience to be.
At the stage, I was real nervous that time.
So, um, right now,
it's, like, after I come back,
like, last summer,
I spend my time teaching other young kids in my area
how to-- how to build the windmill
so that they can generate electricity by themself.
I was so impressed to see how young kids were excited
when I start the project.
When I was telling them,
we do this by...
if you want to build a windmill, you need to do this.
They were also coming up with lots of good ideas,
but we end up using the ideas that they are mentioning.
So it was real exciting for me.
And the part of the windmill that we are building,
we are building the windmill to, um...
to power a primary school so that they can be
able to use a computers in the primary school.
Like enough... they were like
this--One Laptop Per Child was donated to me
to give to the primary school.
So they were using these laptops.
So I fifth--showed them the internet for the fifth time,
as I also did in 2007, by using the, uh...
Nexus One Google phone to--
to make up a hotspot, and then they were able
to see the internet for the first time.
They were real excited to see the word Google...
So, yeah, that's how like, um...for the past...
for a few years I've been working on.
Right now I'm studying at Dartmouth College.
I'm planning to continue making renewable energy.
When I graduate, then I'll try to help more
in rural areas in Malawi and other part of Africa.
Thank you.
DiChristina: That's excellent. Thank you.
Thank you, William. That was so inspiring.
It's my pleasure to introduce our next speaker,
Spencer Wells, who's a geneticist
and a National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence,
a scientist, author, and documentary filmmaker.
Dr. Wells is Director of the Genographic Project.
The project builds on Dr. Wells' earlier work
featured in his book and a television program
called The Journey of Man
and will capture an invaluable genetic snapshot of history
before modern-day influences can erase it forever.
Wells' keen interest in history and biology
started young.
He enrolled at the University of Texas
when he was 16, majored in Biology,
and graduated in just three years later.
He earned his PhD at Harvard and has won many awards,
including a 2007 Kistler Prize for accomplishments in genetics.
His third book is Pandora's Seed:
The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization.
Welcome, Spencer Wells.
Wells: Thank you, Mariette. Wow, very inspiring stories.
I've gotta say thank you William and Vint.
And I'd like to thank Google
and the organizers of the science fair
for inviting me to be a part of it,
to be a judge, and to be here to talk to you today
and for inviting National Geographic
to be a partner in this whole enterprise.
Very exciting stuff.
Let's see if I can get this first slide.
So Science in the Field. What am I gonna talk about?
Well, I am a field scientist. I'm also a laboratory scientist.
And I want to talk about this changing notion
of exploration and science as it's applied to field issues
in the 21st century.
Now, first I have to start-- I feel obligated,
because Vint has a cool title,
I had to provide proof that I am actually
a card-carrying explorer.
That is my job title officially, Explorer-In-Residence
with the National Geographic Society.
What do we think of when we think of explorers?
Well, I think most of us would think of guys like this--
Hiram Bingham, who discovered the lost city of Machu Picchu
in Peru in the early 19-- or early 1900s.
Ernest Shackleton, famous polar explorer,
all of his Antarctic expeditions.
James Cook,
the 18th-century British naval explorer
who was the one who "found" the islands of Hawaii.
Of course the Hawaiians had known about them
for a long time,
but for the Europeans, it was new.
But these are the sorts of guys we think about
when we think of explorers, and, of course,
they fit one of the definitions of exploration.
So going to our Webster's Dictionary--
"to travel over new territory for adventure or discovery,"
is certainly one of the definitions of explorer.
But another definition is to investigate,
to study, to analyze.
And that sounds an awful lot like science.
Now, what do we think of when we think of scientists?
We've seen the exploration side. What about scientists?
Well, we think of guys like Einstein, of course,
toiling away in isolation,
often thinking of some amazing new theory,
going out and explaining it to fellow scientists,
and eventually, it percolates its way out
to the rest of the world.
Louis Pasteur toiling away in the lab,
doing experiments, discovering things
like the basis of fermentation
or coming up with a vaccine for rabies.
And, you know, if you're a non-scientist,
maybe you think of kooky guys in the lab
doing crazy stuff that you don't understand.
But science is more than that,
and science is actually in the process--
at least in terms of its intersection
with the field of exploration--
it's in the process of being redefined.
And National Geographic actually has a program--
a lot of young individuals,
scientists early on in their careers,
who are named as Emerging Explorers every year.
And some of you guys out in the audience
and the people watching out there on the internet
might one day be chosen as one of these emerging explorers
and have your work highlighted.
And the idea is these are people
who are really kind of bridging that boundary
between science and exploration and its impact on the world.
And there's some amazing people.
So just from this year's class
we have Mike Wesch in the middle there
who's talking to a bunch of people in New Guinea.
who examines the impact of new technologies
like the internet on how people interact with each other
and how we create conversations with each other as a society.
We've got T.H. Culhane over on the right
who's developing novel methods of energy production,
biogas reactors in the developing world.
And there's real science involved in this.
It's not just applying technology that we know about.
He's actually working with Katey Walter,
a microbiologist who's also one of the emerging explorers
in this year's class,
to use bacteria that live up in the tundra regions
to develop biogas reactors
that will work in colder parts of the world.
Most of the biogas reactors now
are optimized for the tropics and the subtropics.
So real science that goes into this
aimed at solving real world problems.
It's also about directly engaging
with the people out there, people like you,
anybody's who's interested
in becoming a part of a scientific project--
something that we're doing in the Genographic Project.
I'll talk about it more in a minute.
This is a wonderful example.
Albert Lin, who is at the Calit2 Center
at the University of California at San Diego,
trained as an engineer...
but he is obsessed with finding the place
where Genghis Khan was buried,
or Chinggis Khaan, as the Mongolians say.
Now, Genghis Khan, one of the greatest conquerors
in world history,
he and his sons created the largest land empire ever.
And he was buried in 1227, after all of his conquests,
in a secret location
in some remote part of Mongolia.
We have a general sense of the region where he was buried,
but nobody's ever been able to figure out
where the actual grave was
because, as the myth goes, the detachment of soldiers,
cavalry that were sent out to bury him,
tramped over the region where they buried him,
and then they were killed when they returned to camp later.
So the secret died with them.
How do you find something like that?
Well, archeologists have been on a quest to do this
for hundreds of years,
and of course, you pore over ancient books,
historical text, and so on.
Albert has a new approach--
high-resolution satellite imagery
where you can scan it and look for anomalies.
Now, it turns out that, although computers can be taught
to look for things, pattern-recognition,
they're not very good at looking for things
that don't fit into what you're expecting,
just something that's a little different from the norm.
But the human brain is really, really good at that.
The problem is, Albert's only got a handful of people
in his team.
So what he decided to do was to crowdsource it,
turn it into a game,
stick little images out on the internet,
and invite members of the general public--
anybody who's interested-- to go in and say,
"Well, that looks kind of interesting.
"That could be a new archeological site.
Maybe it's worth investigating that."
So very kind of public-facing science,
engaging the public.
Part of the future of scientific research
and certainly exploration, I think.
It's a process of transitioning from going out,
exploring the world geographically,
sailing from one point to another,
crashing ashore, meeting the natives,
ignoring the fact that they're there
and saying that you discovered this place--
maybe doing a little bit of science in the process...
to really asking scientific questions
and making use of the huge amounts of data
that we can collect about the world today,
whether it's studying climate change
or genetics, in my case.
But the goal is to make scientific discoveries
and, in some way, to affect the world,
to effect change.
Scientific discoveries can and do lead to social changes,
and we hope social changes for the better.
Now, what is the Genographic Project,
which I direct?
Well, it is a global scientific endeavor
to essentially make sense of human diversity.
We look around the world,
travel, walk down the street in New York.
We see people who seem to be so different from each other
and from ourselves.
How do we explain these patterns of diversity?
It's a big, overarching quest.
We can break it down into sub-questions--
do we share a common origin with each other,
everybody alive today,
do we trace back to a common ancestor,
and if so, when and where did that individual live?
And if we do share that common origin,
how did we expand around the world?
How did people end up in places
as far-flung as Tahiti and Tierra del Fuego,
South Africa, Iceland...
and in the process generate these patterns of diversity?
By the way, I have to mention that
that little girl in the lower right-hand corner
is my younger daughter, Sasha.
There is a family resemblance, I've been told.
Well, historically, the way people would approach this
is through the study of stones and bones,
going out and digging things up out of the ground
and saying largely on the basis of morphology,
this looks a little bit more like me than that does,
and so this must be my most recent common ancestor.
The field of paleoanthropology
gives us lots of fascinating possibilities
about our ancestry and our origins.
And it's so vitally important
to our understanding of where we came from.
But it doesn't give us those probabilities
about direct lines of descent
that we really want as scientists.
Am I actually descended
from this Australopithecine skeleton
uncovered in Africa,
or is this a side branch on the evolutionary tree?
I don't know.
I could be related, but we don't know.
We don't know about the probability of that.
Well, we as geneticists take a slightly different approach.
What we're effectively trying to do
is construct a family tree for everybody alive today.
Now, I'm sure there are a few people in the audience
who've done that before, and as you know,
the way you do it is you start in the present
with relationships you're certain about--
you and your siblings share a parent in common
and your cousins share a grandparent in common.
You work your way further and further back
into the past, adding these ever more distant relationships.
Now, what's the problem with constructing family trees?
You can't go back that far.
A few generations-- five, seven,
maybe ten generations in most cases.
But beyond that point,
you simply enter this dark and mysterious realm
we call history, and we have no idea
of who the people were that came before.
There's no written text
that takes us back beyond that brick wall,
as the genealogists call it.
But of course, we're all carrying
a historical document in our DNA,
inside of nearly every cell in our body.
And that DNA which we inherited from our parents
and our grandparents and our great-grandparents
takes us back beyond that brick wall,
back beyond the written record,
back to the very early days of our species.
And that's what we're studying in the Genographic Project.
Studying the tiny little changes,
mutations which are transmitted through the generations
over time,
to study how people are related to each other,
people from all over the world.
So this is work that's being done at regional centers
we've set up around the globe working with indigenous
and traditional groups,
people who retain the geographic context
for their genetic data,
that link to the geography where they live
that most of the rest of us have lost,
but also members of the general public.
And around 450,000 people so far
have joined the project.
So it's a huge amount of data that we're starting to mine
to figure this stuff out.
And from that data, we can construct family trees
for everybody alive today.
Everybody in this room, everybody in the world
fits under one of the branches of these family trees.
And what's the story they're telling?
Well, in a nutshell, we originated in Africa.
We all share an African ancestor
who walked the savannahs of, likely, Eastern Africa
around 60,000 years ago--
which is only about 2,000 human generations.
It's the blink of an eye in an evolutionary sense.
So in the last 2,000 generations,
we have exploded out of Africa,
scattered to the wind, in the process
generating these patterns of diversity.
An early coastal migration leading to Australia
by around 50,000 years ago,
later migration inland,
crossing the steppes of Central Asia,
moving into Europe around 30,000 to 35,000 years ago...
and a final small group heading up through Siberia,
crossing over into the Americas around 15,000 years ago.
The great Paleolithic wanderings of our species.
What we're trying to do in the project
is fill in the details
of how people would have gone from one point to another,
why they would have moved at any given point
and how it's resulted in the genetic patterns
we see around us today.
So with that as a brief introduction
to not only what I do
but some of the cool stuff going on at National Geographic,
I would ask you to try and join us
on this quest to span the gap
between science and exploration
and create a new definition of scientific exploration
in the 21st century.
Looking forward to working with everyone.
Thank you.
DiChristina: Hello again.
Now I'd like to ask Cristin Frodella
and Samantha Peter of Google to come up and tell us
more about how the Google Science Fair will operate.
Cristin and Sam.
Frodella: Thanks, Mariette.
So hi, everyone. I'm Cristin Frodella.
Peter: And I'm Sam Peter.
Frodella: And we're gonna tell you a little bit about
the nuts and bolts behind
how you can actually get involved
with the science fair.
Before we do that,
I just wanna say thank you to Mariette
and Vint and Will and Spencer.
I hope all of you guys are as inspired as we are.
Um, so, um...
we've been asked a number of times,
How can I actually get involved in the science fair?
So I'm gonna actually show you.
You can either go into Google
and search for Google Science Fair
or go ahead and type
It's gonna take you to our home page
where our fun video will play.'re gonna want to go ahead and click
Sign Up Now.
When you get to the Sign Up Now screen,
you're gonna fill out some information,
and you're gonna tell us a little bit about yourself...
and where you're from...
your date of birth.
So just to note--
this contest is open to students
between the ages of 13 to 18 all over the world.
So you're gonna tell us your date of birth--1996.
That would make me 14.
You're gonna tell us the name of your school. school's the School of Life...
on Hard Knocks Avenue.
Okay. And so that is Anywhere, New York.
Make sure to give us your zip code.
And I'm in the United States.
All right. Terrific.
You're gonna go ahead and pick from one of our categories.
Now, we wanna make sure that you're thinking broadly.
You can be as creative as you want
in thinking about what kind of project you want to be doing.
But you're gonna pick one of these categories.
So I'm gonna go ahead and pick Flora & Fauna,
and I'm gonna list my mother's name.
Mom Frodella.
And I'm gonna go ahead and submit.
All right, so I should stop here and say
if you are getting involved with the science fair
and you want to submit a science project,
that's terrific.
All we ask is that you get your parents involved too.
So we're gonna go ahead and send an email to your parents.
That's why I had Mom Frodella's email address.
And she's gonna go ahead and say
it's okay for you to be involved.
So you can go ahead and start working on your project,
but before you submit, make sure that your parents
have already approved the project
and sent in their approval.
So the next thing we're gonna do is go ahead and get started.
So click this link,
and it is going to bring you
to a science fair project template,
as long as you have a Google account.
If you don't have a Google account,
no problem-- we'll just set you up with one.
And we give instructions on how to get yourself set up.
So I'm gonna call my project
Cristin's Mosquito Netting.
Make sure that you don't put your last name
in your project URL.
So your project URL is gonna go ahead
and automatically get populated right there.
So we're just gonna lift the code
and create our site.
And that should take about a minute.
Hopefully a little bit less.
There we go. Okay. Cool.
So I'm not gonna take you through the entire project site
or the sample
because Tesca Fitzgerald is gonna do that in a minute,
and she's gonna tell us about
her terrific actual science project,
and she'll take you through the scientific method
of actually using this template
and how you submit a science project.
But this is just about how you do it.
And if you have any questions, don't worry.
You can go back to
and we have all kinds of...
resources for you.
So if you hit enter, we'll give you information
on how to enter, how to build your project.
And make sure to check out the rules section
in case you have any questions about rules.
I'm gonna hand it over to Sam
to tell you a little bit more about some of the details
behind our project.
Peter: Great.
So thank you, Cristin, for doing the live demo.
That's always the most hair-raising bit.
I have the easy bit of doing the slides now.
So first of all, we wouldn't be here today
if it wasn't for our partners who have been amazing--
CERN, the Lego Group, National Geographic,
and Scientific American.
Not only have you given us great support and counsel
throughout the process of putting this fair together,
you provided speakers and judges for our event
and some incredible prizes and resources
that I'm gonna talk about in a little while.
So what would be a competition without prizes?
And this makes me want to become, you know,
15 years old again, for various reasons.
Frodella: Or 14 like me.
Peter: She always has to be the younger one.
So we have some incredible prizes
as part of this competition.
National Geographic Expeditions
is giving us a trip to the Galapagos Islands
for the grand prize winner,
including, um... if it's a team,
the whole team gets to go,
and you get to bring a guardian or adult along.
I know. [both laughing]
We have great experiences,
so we wanna really give you the feel of,
you know, what is it like to work at Scientific American
or be a part of Google or how about, you know,
spending three days at CERN being a real physicist,
working on the experiments there
and getting access to the tunnel?
Google has donated $110,000' worth of scholarship money
towards this competition
to go towards your further education.
"Scientific American" is gonna give your schools archives,
and you're gonna get subscriptions to the magazines.
And Lego has put together the most incredible Lego kits,
including Mindstorm Robots, so you can really get involved,
and mosaics that are made up for the finalists as well.
The finalist will also be
sent to Mountain View, California
to take part in our great finalist event
which will be this incredible celebratory event
where you'll be judged by a panelist of finalist judges
including Spencer and Vint, who you've heard from today,
Nobel laureates,
technology innovators such as Dean Kamen.
So it's really--we really wanted to celebrate
and champion great scientific talent,
and we wanna make sure that, you know,
you feel like you're the rock star of the science world
if you win this competition.
So just to give you an idea about the contest timeline...
so how much time do you have to get your great project done?
So it launches today. Yay.
We're accepting submissions until the 4th of April.
We're announcing the semi-finalists.
So we're gonna have 60 global semi-finalists.
So kids from all over the world
can compete in this competition.
So you'll be competing with kids in India or Ireland
or Indonesia for great prizes.
So in May we're gonna announce our 60 semi-finalists,
and then we're gonna announce our 15 finalists--
these will be our 15 global finalists
who'll be the people who'll be going to Mountain View.
And then we're gonna have this great finalist event
in Mountain View in July.
So we'd just like to thank you again
and...this is the source of all knowledge.
Thank you.
Frodella: Thanks, Sam. I just wanna make a quick note.
On this URL, you'll find a page called Socialize.
If you want to talk to us,
if you wanna get involved in our Twitter,
our Facebook, or read our blogs,
everything will be there.
So please come, visit, get involved
and tell us what you're thinking.
So our last speaker, before we have our panel,
is Tesca Fitzgerald.
Tesca says she knows--
she knows she was born to work with computers,
and we really believe her.
When she was just five-- when she was five years old--
she became the lead programmer
of her first Lego League Robotics team.
Five years old.
When she was 11,
she was admitted to Portland Community College
where she's currently enjoying computer science
and math courses.
At 13, Tesca was one of the 32 National Center for Women
and Information Technology winners
for her accomplishments and interests in computer science.
For the past three years,
Tesca has been working on a program
using artificial intelligence,
or what you guys might know as A.I.,
to be used in robots to help transport items
in the Veteran Affair hospitals.
Currently, she's a full-time student
co-admitted to Portland Community College
and Portland State University
majoring in computer science and mathematics.
Her goal is to go on to a PhD program
with an emphases on AI.
Tesca, please come up and share your project.
Fitzgerald: Thanks, Sam and Cristin.
All right, so... have this all set up.
So I want to ask the students
how many of you know right now what your passions are,
something you really love to do
and could do for a lifetime? of hands.
So now that we know how many of you know what you want to do,
teachers, are you ready to guide your students
to an opportunity that could change their lives?
And to everyone who already knows what their passions are,
how did you discover them?
Was it through an experience, a class,
maybe even a project?
Well, for me, I discovered my passion
for artificial intelligence software development
through a science fair project.
This is my fifth and final year
of competing in science fairs.
Right now I'll explain why you should start a project.
I'll show my sample Google Science Fair project,
and then I'll explain how you can get started.
So first...why start a Google Science Fair project?
Well, one of the main reasons is to discover yourself.
If you think about it, most students today
are overly busy trying to balance school,
grades, activities, family, sports,
many other activities.
And this makes it really hard
trying to balance all these things.
It's hard to find time to answer the questions:
What do really like to do?
What are my passions in life?
Which leads to the question,
if I had an ideal career for myself
where I was immersed
doing something that I really loved to do,
what would it be?
It's great to be able to answer that question
before you start thinking about
your post high school education.
As for me, I like to say
that I was born to work with computers.
And I later became the lead programmer
of my first Lego League Robotics team at the age of five.
I also loved programming Lego Mindstorm's Robots
at this time too, and I even do now.
And I've continued with my robotics team
even to this present day.
I took several classes in programming
and programming languages,
but I also did science fair projects
each and every year.
I've always known that I truly enjoy computer science,
but it wasn't until I started a science fair project
that I knew I wanted to study artificial intelligence.
I think participating in science fair
enables you to discover your passions,
because when you participate in a science fair,
you're in the driver's seat.
You decide the topic.
You discover through experimentation.
You choose the category, and you dig through the data
to understand the meaning of your experimental results.
And through that process,
you'll often discover more about your--
more about yourself and then your interests.
So what'll it be?
Will your projects be in life sciences,
chemistry, biology, math, maybe another area?
No matter what category you choose,
you'll dive into your topic and learn more about yourself.
And if you compete year after year,
you can change your topic and explore even more areas.
So next I want to tell you about my science fair project,
which is being used as
the sample Google Science Fair project.
My project started with the conversation I had
with my neighbors.
Uh, two Veterans Affairs hospital nurses
and a physician at the Veterans Affairs hospital.
They were all discussing the shortage
of nurses at the Veteran's Affairs hospital
and at other hospitals nationwide.
This information concerned me.
Not enough nurses?
How can a hospital work to serve the needs of the community
with fewer nurses?
So I did some more research and found that in 2009,
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
revealed a shortage of 2.5 million nurses nationwide.
And, additionally,
the average age of a registered nurse at the VA
is 46.
And the average retirement age is 62.
So this means that many of our VA nurses
will be retiring
just when the baby boomers face higher health care needs.
To meet the projected increase
in demand for registered nurses,
the Health Resources and Services Administration
identified that we must graduate
90% more nurses for more nursing programs.
That's a huge increase.
I also found another interesting pieces of information.
According to Veterans Affairs hospital staff,
up to 50% of a nurses day
is spent transporting patient care items
rather than focusing on direct patient care.
This really adds a lot of stress to a nurse's day
when they've got so much to do already.
I focused on the idea that up to half a nurse's day
is spent transporting patient care items.
I wondered: could fully autonomous robots
fill the duty of transporting things
throughout the hospital,
so that the nurses will have more time to
focus on direct patient care?
Well, robots do work in hospitals now
and fill vital roles.
But these robots often move on pads
that were predetermined by humans
and access only the predefined areas of the hospital.
I thought that if a fully autonomous robot
could make deliveries,
including delivering a blanket to a patient's bedside,
they could really help the nurses
focus on direct patient care.
I started with the basics.
What would it take to make a robot behave
as if it were smart?
I focused on the artificial intelligence algorithm,
or decision-making instructions,
that run smart robots.
Specifically, though, I looked at algorithms
that would help a robot navigate throughout a hospital.
So now I'm going to switch to the two-minute video
about my project.
This is the summary video explaining my project,
then also the experiment that I went through.
According to Veterans Affairs hospital staff,
up to 50% of a nurse's day is spent
transporting patient care items.
To help nurses, an autonomous robotic transporter,
driven by artificial intelligence software,
could think on its own
and create paths to move throughout the hospital,
making deliveries.
Robots have trouble staying on course
and making consistent turns in a hospital,
both adding inaccuracy to the route.
Robots use special software called Artificial Intelligence,
or AI, to make decisions.
I found that most commonly used AI software for path finding
is called A*.
While A* creates efficient routes,
it doesn't handle the variance
found in hospitals very well.
can path finding algorithms be improved
to help a hospital robot get to its destination accurately?
I developed a path finding algorithm
to maneuver the transporter around known obstacles
toward its destination
while balancing accuracy and efficiency.
It tries to correct variations that result from turning.
Then, I simulated a hospital scenario
to test which AI-driven robot could more accurately
deliver linens to a patient room.
I also calculated a standard turning variance
to be applied to both algorithms.
The independent variable in my experiment
is the resulting path.
I used the A* path as my control group,
and the path created by my algorithm
as the experimental group.
I then measured the dependent variable,
the expected variance of the robot's ending point
in relation to its destination
for each algorithm.
I had several controlled variables in place
to ensure that the experiment was fair.
The winning algorithm would be the more accurate one,
not the fastest.
I plotted and measured the results of the A* path
and the paths created by my software.
When I compared the variance
of the robot's ending position
from its target destination,
I found that my software reduced the variance
in the ending position of the robot by 36.5%,
thus improving its accuracy over A*.
With improved algorithms,
robots can aid VA nurses
so they can spend their time delivering direct care
to our nations heroes.
So now let's talk about how, um,
students can get started
on their Google Science Fair project.
So I have, uh, my project,
or the sample Google Science Fair project up right now,
and then I'm just going to go
through each of the steps here.
So there's ten steps to a project.
So here's the Summary page.
You'll have your 250-word abstract here.
And then your two-minute video,
which is--which can be like the one that I showed you.
Next page will have the "About Me" section, your bio.
Um, a little bit more about you
so that judges can understand who's behind this project.
Then next, we have the question page,
so the question starting your project.
Then we've also got the Hypothesis.
After this, we have our research summary,
and if you want you can include photos,
um, if you can.
Otherwise, you can just have your summary
of your research.
And then the next section is the experimentation.
This is a really important step.
And you'll want to include as many pictures,
diagrams, sketches as possible,
because, uh, the judges would really want to know,
um, how did you actually do your project.
And this is like the basis of it.
What was your experiment?
So you'll want to show your steps, diagrams, pictures
as much as you can here.
Afterwards, so we've got the data page.
And here it's really great if you can have
lots of numerical data that's also explained.
We've also go, um, diagrams, tables, charts.
Then here, I also have like a diagram
with a table and the drawing.
And, um, how I have this set up
is that you click on the photo,
and it enlarges it to full screen,
so that makes it really easy to view.
Next page, we also have the Observations section.
Oh, I want to show one more thing here in the Data.
Um, you see this link right here?
This goes to a Google Docs page.
So I wanted to show the flow charts that go, um,
that are behind my whole algorithm
for my project.
But I have over 40 of them,
so it wouldn't be very--
it wouldn't be very good
to have them all on this one page,
and it wouldn't look very nice.
So I have this link here.
And it goes to Google Docs.
And anyone can view it.
And it shows all 40 of them
without detracting from the whole project's, uh,
from viewing the whole project.
So, uh, back to the observations page.
It's also great to include diagrams,
photos, and right here I have a diagram with captions,
and that's always helpful too.
And then after this,
we have the Conclusion.
And Works Cited page,
which is basically your bibliography.
So those are the ten steps to this project.
The fact that the Google Science Fair
is based entirely online.
Makes it really easy to complete a project.
I've known potential science fair participants
who really wanted to attend a science fair,
but due to either the timing of the location of the fair,
couldn't do so.
Google's online science fair
opens the opportunity to people all around the world
with Internet access.
You can even work on your project
using computers at your local public library.
And by breaking the project up into smaller parts,
I found I can make meaningful progress
on this project each day.
So students, now it's your turn
to take the next step.
Decide your category and your topic,
and then you're on your way to starting your
Google Science Fair project.
But most importantly, you'll be on your way
what you truly enjoy doing.
Good luck on your Science Fair project,
and in discovering your passions.
DiChristina: Now I'd like to ask the speakers
to come back up for that panel discussion
that I promised you.
Spencer Wells, William Kamkwamba,
Tesca Fitzgerald, and Cristin Frodella.
I also, um, Tesca, I just wanted to tell you
I loved your advice about following your passions.
And I-I'm so inspired by what you and William have done.
You're really changing people's lives.
I'm gonna come round.
Peter: I have some questions to come in online
so I can flag them.
DiChristina: Okay, I'll try to keep an eye
over to you.
Should I--I guess I should go over here.
So, bum, bum, bum, bum.
Peter: [whispering indistinctly]
DiChristina: I do.
Do you, uh, want to sit down there or...
Frodella: No, this is fine. DiChristina: Okay.
Frodella: 'Cause I have to answer questions
about how to answer.
DiChristina: Okay, see, I promised everybody
you'd get a chance to answer questions,
but because I, uh, have been your MC today,
I get to ask the first one, um...
Cerf: Can the others of us ask questions?
I have a question. Okay, I'll wait.
DiChristina: Maybe I'll let you ask one if you're good.
So I was--I was reflecting on what--
what all of you were speaking about,
about, uh, you know,
engaging citizens in science.
About, uh, getting, finding your passions.
About helping people.
And, Vin, you said something at the very outset
that I want to revisit just really quickly,
which is that, for you,
uh, things followed after the Sputnik moment.
So the question I have for you is,
are we facing now a kind of a Sputnik moment for--
for all of us in science
and science's outreach into the world?
Cerf: Yes, we are.
DiChristina: Can you talk about that for a minute?
Cerf: In fact, if--
I had hoped that the global warming problem
would be our Sputnik moment.
It's a huge, very serious problem.
And it does not admit at any simple answers.
It takes a lot of, uh, deeper understanding
of the climate, uh,
and climate patterns and the like,
and how our activities as humans, uh, affect it.
And so that, in a sense,
is a really critical moment
for not just us in the United States,
but all of us around the world.
And I hope that somehow many of us
will, uh, take that challenge
and try to figure out what the best thing to do is.
DiChristina: Did you want to ask one question before--
Cerf: I do, yes, I wanted to ask Spencer a question.
I had--I had read, uh, at one time,
that over the course of human history,
that there was a point where our population
may have shrunk down to no more than about 10,000 people.
And that's a phenomenally small group of people
from which the rest of the world's population
is spawned.
Is that, in fact, accurate, Spencer?
Wells: It seems to be.
Cerf: That's scary. Where were we?
Wells: It might have been as few as 2,000.
Cerf: What--what hap-- 2,000?
Wells: Yeah. Cerf: What happened?
Wells: Well, we don't know for sure.
It happened around 70,000 to 75,000 years ago,
and there were a couple of things going on.
Cerf: What were we doing 75,000 years ago?
Wells: [laughs]
Um, we were going into a really nasty part
of the last ice age.
So a 1,000 year period of really bad temperatures,
very low temperatures.
And that could have been triggered
by the eruption of a massive volcano,
Mount Toba in Sumatra... Cerf: Wow.
Wells: which erupted around 74,000 years ago.
So climate change.
And we--so it drove us to the brink of extinction,
holding on by our fingernails,
and we came back from that.
And the reason we came back, we believe,
is because we became smarter and better innovators.
And so you were talking about these moments of crisis
spurring innovation.
That's happened throughout human history.
And so it is a general pattern.
And I agree with you that, you know,
the current era of climate change
is probably going to spur amazing innovations.
We just have to realize that there are costs
to what we've been doing
for the last couple of centuries.
Cerf: Boy, I hope-- hope we can highlight
this 2,000 population thing in our survival
based on our need to get smarter.
Because we may face a similar
really, really scary outcome
if we don't figure out what to do about global warming.
Wells: I agree. Cerf: Thank you.
DiChristina: Those are great points.
Um, so, question from the audience?
There's one in the front, please?
You know what? Uh, forgive me for a second.
I understand there's a microphone around,
and, um, if you wouldn't mind...
Cerf: There's one over here.
DiChristina: Here's one here.
There's a question right in the front here.
Cerf: That way, you'll be...
Remember, we're recording all this
so don't say something you wouldn't want to have recorded.
DiChristina: Right, 'cause the folks at home
can't--won't be able to hear you otherwise.
Matt: Um, my name is Matt. This is a question for Dr. Cerf.
Um, as Internet Evangelist,
uh, what are you currently advocating for?
Where do you see the future of the Internet going
and how people are going to interact with each other?
Cerf: Oh, boy. So this is--yes, go on.
DiChristina: This is an easy question, go ahead.
Cerf: Um, first of all,
we are facing a major crisis in the Internet right now.
In 1977, the decision had to be made
about how much address space we needed
for all the possible things connected to the Internet.
That was my job when I was in the defense department,
and I picked a number: 32 bits.
That was 4.3 billion terminations,
and that was four years into a project
which hadn't actually been implemented yet.
It was all on paper.
So I thought, well, 4.3 billion terminations
was enough for an experiment.
What I didn't understand is the experiment would never end.
And so here we are 30 years later,
and we're running out of address space.
So we have to implement something called IP Version 6,
which has 128 bits of address space.
If you do the math,
it's 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses.
Which should be enough to last till after I'm dead,
and then it'll be somebody else's problem.
So, uh, we have to get that format of packets implemented
in parallel with the IP version 4,
which is what you're running today.
And Google has been working on this for the last three years.
So...but everybody else needs to do that.
So 2011, you're going to see a lot of advertising
about "Get your IPv6 implemented now,"
before we run out of addresses.
Sometime in March of 2012 or sooner,
we will be out of all the IPv4 address space.
So that's one thing I've been advocating.
The second thing is more Internet everywhere.
We only have a couple of billion people online,
and there's 6 1/2 billion people in the world or more.
I want the other 4 1/2 billion to be online too,
so they can all be part of the science fair
the next time we do this.
So that's the next thing I'm pushing hard for,
and finally, I've been working on a project
with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory now
since 1998 to build-- design and build
an interplanetary extension of the Internet.
You know, some people have said,
"You know, okay, you're crazy.
Are you expecting the aliens to come and communicate?"
The answer is no.
What I really want is to build better networking
for space exploration,
whether it's manned or robotic.
Right now, the way we do space exploration
is to use point-to-point radio links
in order to communicate with the spacecraft.
And there are lots of spacecraft configurations and projects
which would benefit from a much richer network
communications environment.
For example, on the surface of Mars today,
we have two rovers.
One's a little stuck in the-- in the ground
because the wheel, it punched through the sand.
But they're still, you know, functional.
Uh, we have four satellites in orbit around Mars.
But you can imagine, and we are planning--
when I say "we," NASA and other space agencies
like the European Space Agency and JAXA in Japan,
are planning to put more orbit--orbiters around Mars
and put more things down on the surface.
Eventually, sensor networks may be down there.
We need rich communication to do that.
There's a little problem.
Um, it's called the speed of light.
Uh, it's been my-- my nemesis,
you know, for-- for years.
The problem is, it's too slow.
You can see why I was hoping
to get it up to 600,000 kilometers a second.
It takes 20 minutes from the time
you transmit something from Earth
to the time it gets to Mars at the speed of light,
when we're farthest apart in our orbits.
So if you're building a network,
the round-trip time is 40 minutes.
Can you imagine trying to do web surfing?
You know, you hit the "enter" key
and it takes 40 minutes for the first bit to come back.
I know some of you are on networks that behave that way,
but...that's... [laughter]
that's not the consequence of the speed of light delay.
So there are a bunch of other impairments in space,
like the planets are rotating,
and we haven't figured out how to stop that.
So--so if you're trying to talk to something
on the surface of Mars, for example,
and Mars is rotating,
and eventually it's on the wrong side of the planet.
You can't talk to it.
That space communications environment
is delayed in variable amounts,
and it's disruptive.
So we had to invent the whole new suite of protocols
other than TCPIP
in order to deal with the delay and disruption
of space communication.
So the interplanetary network,
which is literally just about to get started.
We've done all the protocol design.
We've been testing.
We're on board the space station.
We're on board, um, a spacecraft
the was called Deep Impact
and now renamed EPOXI.
It just visited Hartley 2.
Our software is on board that spacecraft,
and now that it's completed its second visit with a comet,
we're going to upload the software
and so some further interplanetary scale testing.
of the new network protocol.
So that's what I've been pushing for
for the last several years.
DiChristina: Thank you.
Maybe a question from this side of the room?
Peter: I have one from online.
DiChristina: Yeah, please go.
Peter: So this is a question from our online page.
And, actually, it's a question for Tesca.
So, Tesca, where do you find your ideas
for your science fair projects?
Cerf: Have you looked in all your pockets?
Fitzgerald: Uh, so for me, it's--
I guess it's just from experience.
I mean, I've done robotics for eight years,
and so through that whole time,
I've gotten to see in the whole engineering
and programming of things what works, what doesn't work,
and if something doesn't work,
find a way to go make it work., I came up with the, um, AI as my topic
because I had been doing the first Lego League
for about five years then.
And so I--my favorite part was programming the robot,
but the thing was that we had just a limited amount of time,
and, uh, we needed to basically get a path out,
no mistakes.
And so, um, I wanted to develop
a software that would let us, like,
program the robot really quickly,
or have the robot itself guide us in how
we should program its path.
So, uh, the robot would basically say,
"Okay, here's what I think.
I think I should move from here,
go over here, move this way."
Then, from there,
we would fine tune
and that would allow us to, like, move along
with a robot really quickly.
And so that's how I get my inspiration,
just trial and error.
Whatever doesn't work, make it work.
Cerf: Could I make an observation about this?
This autonomous operation turns out to be
super important for space exploration
because of the speed of light problem.
You can't steer the rovers around
because of that round-trip time delay.
By the time you discover you made a mistake,
it already fell over the cliff.
So we need to have a lot of this autonomous capability
for this kind of space exploration,
and probably also true for underwater exploration as well.
So good for you. Keep going.
DiChristina: Maybe from this side of the room.
There's a person in the front row there.
Behind you. The...
Cerf: Here comes the microphone.
DiChristina: The mic is coming.
Cerf: This is like the hot dog
that they pass in the stand.
Ava: Um, I'm Ava,
and we're part of FLL.
But I had a question for Spencer.
Um, you said the project you're working on
is like you were hoping to have, um,
the entire public join your project to help--
Wells: Ideally, yes. Millions of people.
Ava: How would that work?
If, like, we wanted to help you
in your project?
Wells: You can go to our website.
And you can order a kit.
One of those kits that you saw
where the people were swabbing their cheeks.
And become a part of the science.
You know, find out something about yourself,
your deep ancestry, as we call it.
And, you know, join the effort.
So it's very much citizen science. Yeah.
Cerf: How many people do you need to have, Spencer,
in order to get credible results?
I mean, is it one of those statistical things
that we should be thinking about?
Wells: It's hard to say. Cerf: The geographic spread.
Wells: Yeah, I mean, this is true exploration.
So there are always things out there
the we might find that we haven't seen yet.
So even with 450,000 samples.
Maybe in, you know, 450,001
we're gonna find something new.
Um, you know, for the broad patterns,
I think those probably aren't gonna shift.
But for the fine grain detail,
and particularly events that have happened
in the last few thousand years.
You know, we underwent a dramatic shift as a species
10,000 years ago,
where we went from being hunter-gatherers--
and you've mentioned the world population
of nearly 7 billion today.
Um, we--there were maybe 4 or 5 million people
on the planet 10,000 years ago.
We started growing food around that time.
That drove the population expansion.
So the recent migrations have been a few people
moving into a region that's densely populated.
And to pick up on those, you need a lot of samples.
So the more the merrier.
Cerf: Fascinating.
DiChristina: There's a gentleman in the second row
on this side.
Hultin: Hi, I'm Jerry Hultin,
and I head Polytechnic Institute at New York University,
which we educate very innovative young engineers.
So each of you have a passion.
I'd like to follow up on her question,
which is, since you have a passion,
what's the highest impact science experiment
you would like to see someone do
to elevate your passion, to push you forward?
And I'd like to hear that from each of you,
because I think each have different passions.
Wells: Wow.
DiChristina: Should I-- Why don't I start?
Because I'm the-- probably the least likely to--
Uh, to be--you know, I'm certainly not on a level
with the, uh, with the folks here at the--
at the panel, but my passion
is sharing science with people.
Which you might have guessed from the position that I have
at "Scientific American."
And the passion that I have is enabling
and helping enhance citizen science.
And you'll be seeing more about that
at "Scientific American" this coming year.
Kamkwamba: Um, for me, my passion is to understand,
uh, how things work.
Especially like anything that I'm using.
I--I have a passion to understand exactly
how it is happening,
because most of the time it happens
that you have something that you don't understand.
When it breaks then,
you either throw away or you wait for somebody
to fix for you.
Which sometimes takes some-- takes some--
takes a long time to do that.
So, for me, I have a passion to understand
how things works, yeah.
Wells: And my passion, obviously,
you know, collect as many DNA samples as possible
to fill in the details of, you know,
how we got to, you know, where we are today.
But it's also to communicate this whole notion
that we're much more closely related
than we ever suspected
before we started delving into the genome.
We're 99.9% identical at the DNA level.
And I think that's an important message to get out today.
Um, to kids, to adults.
You know, we live in an era of terrorism,
political assassinations, as we've seen recently.
And I think, you know, this notion
that we're actually members of an extended family
is an important one to be telling people right now.
Fitzgerald: Uh, my passion's also, um,
to help other people understand more
about what's behind computer science
and, um, computers.
And there's a saying that
if, um, something related to computers,
if it seems really easy to use,
then it probably was really, really hard to make.
Because... [laughter]
um, like, even a Google search.
All you do is you just-- you type in the words,
then it gives you all your data.
You know, it's-- it's simple.
Um, but all the work that goes behind that,
that's going to be just so much harder.
And I think that, um, now, at a time
when, like, um, most, uh, most people,
they're using computers and such.
It's really easy to overlook what, um,
what's behind, um,
the computers that we use every day.
Cerf: So I'm going to take something
that Tesca just mentioned.
This is a problem
that I would really like to see some people tackle.
A lot of the information that we use today,
that we generate today, is online.
It's in digital form.
Uh, and increasingly so.
What I worry about is something I've been calling bit rot.
And what do I mean by this?
Well, first of all,
the media on which we store digital information
may not have a lot of longevity.
It's not like velum,
which is made out of goat of sheepskin.
Some of these documents that are made of that material
that have been written on last several thousand years.
But I don't think the CDs and the DVDs
and things that we use today are gonna last that long.
And even if they did,
it isn't clear the device that would read those bits
would last that long.
Now, that's not the problem.
That problem can be overcome by copying the digital bits
to new media over a period of time.
And we can find ways of encoding this information
so that when we copy, even if we make errors,
the bits can be recovered.
The problem we have is that the bits themselves
may not be meaningful.
When you use a program to do a spreadsheet
or when you do a presentation of some sort,
or some other complex computation,
and you store this away as a complicated digital file,
unless you have the software that knows what those bits mean,
the bits are meaningless.
What happens when you don't have access
to the application software anymore?
What if the party that made that software says,
"Well, I'm not going to update it
to run on the new version of some operating system."
What happens if the company that made that software
goes out of business,
the machine that you ran it on breaks,
and it doesn't work on anything else?
How can we preserve the meaning
of the digital bits that we're generating?
Whether it's for science or technology or literature
or our tweets or anything else.
That's a big problem.
How do I preserve that information
and our ability to interpret it?
So solving the bit rot problem may, in fact, be needed
in order to preserve our human heritage of knowledge.
And that's, of course,
what science and technology is all about.
DiChristina: I think I heard a couple of new
science fair project ideas here.
So I understand, and this is on a sad note for me,
that we're actually out of time at this point.
But we had a chance to talk about our passions a little bit,
about the questions that drive us.
About how we can use digital and other means
to share information and help solve our problems together.
And I just want to thank all the panelists
and all the guests
for this wonderful event.
I learned a lot, and can't wait to see
what you all come up with.
Thank you. Wells: Thank you.
DiChristina: That's it, I'm done.
Woman: Just a quick announcement.
For all you teachers in the room,
we actually have classroom packets for you
on the way out, which you could grab.
And we'd also like to thank...