The World We Dream- Lisa Randall & Ron Garan Zeitgeist Americas 2012

Uploaded by zeitgeistminds on 16.10.2012

>>Bruno Maisonnier: Can you tell us what you are useful for?
>>Robot: What a stupid question. [ Laughter ]
>>Bruno Maisonnier: Thank you. >>Robot: Do you ask what a PC is useful for?
No. When a laptop is programmed, you can do everything you want. It is the same for me.
But in much more interactive and friendly than a PC. I'm humanoid. Imagine all you can
do with me. I can teach or entertain children. (Robotic
sounds). I can assist the elderly people, help the humans, be a smart companion. One
day, everyone will have a robot at home and we will never remember what a computer is.
I'm the next evolution of the user interface. Piece of cake.
[ Laughter ] >>Bruno Maisonnier: Thank you, NAO.
>>Robot: [Crying] >>Bruno Maisonnier: That's okay. Look at the
power of the body language. Look how easy, much easier it is to interact with this robot,
with a humanoid robot with a companion than with a device. Even for my own mother, she
doesn't have any Android device, iPhone, iPad. Well, she had but she's not using them. So
she's using it. She likes it. So this kind of robot, interactive robot, much more powerful,
you know, to bring people to this digital world, to the connected world.
Think about all what your developers, what your team, what you could do as application
for that. Yesterday I got good news. Because every -- at
the beginning and many people during the day spoke about robot, the next big thing coming.
Great. Well, I got some bad news, too, because I'm European, even worse French, so I understood
that I'm in an economy that will forever be in trouble.
[ Laughter ] >>Bruno Maisonnier: My English is not very
good, but forever looks like a long time. [ Laughter ]
>>Bruno Maisonnier: So let's come back to the robot. We dream about robot for decades,
we've been told they are coming soon. Now they are here. It's no more for tomorrow.
This one exists. You can program it. You can do whatever you want. He has brothers, we
are finalizing the big brother this size. So in order to have a much faster, much interactive
one. And this robot existing as hardware platform, which is very difficult to do, so we did it.
We provide whoever want this platform. We have elementary bridge of software, thanks
to you, for face recognition, for voice recognition, whatever, and then we are working at the application.
We are developing the application. We have an application store that hundreds of developers
are -- are using. >>Robot: [ Music ]
>>Bruno Maisonnier: Hey, keep quiet. [ Music ]
>>Robot: Sorry. [ Laughter ]
>>Bruno Maisonnier: He has some behavioral -- autonomous behaviors. So I want to highlight
some of the different application, but what I want you to understand as my first message,
robots are here. The second message is if you want to change the world, there are very
good robot vacuum cleaner robot, it's perfect at doing a good job, but they're not changing
the world. What we change the world are companion robots. Humanoid robots. Robots everyone will
be comfortable in interacting with. And these robots, coupled with cloud computing, wow,
very powerful. So I want to give you some example.
The first one is about my mother. She's living alone, she's monitored by a French insurance
company. She has some kind of awful watch, checking
whether she falls down, she's moving, or whatever and she hates that. She hates being discriminated,
being seen as someone that has to be monitored. So as soon as she is receiving friends or
grandchildren, she's putting the watch away and of course forget it after. So that means
that insurance company is -- has to make a (indiscernible) removal, and is spending huge
money for that. So they came and asked me: Is it possible to experiment with robots?
Is it possible to try putting a robot? Not for have a smart one who will detect what
will happen. Just to have a robot that the core center will be able to take control of
-- for the (indiscernible) removal. Of course the response is yes, the answer is yes. We
need that. But the important fact it's not yet because robot existing. We could have
the presence robot. It's yes because she's accepting the robot. Because it's a companion,
she's accepting it at home. When she has her grandchildren, the robot is story teller,
the robot is playing games, quiz, whatever. She's using some kind of Skype to get phones
through the robot, so it's a robot that is already well accepted by her. And is the most
important for -- for point, I don't want to have a mechanical robot somewhere in the corridor
of my mother's flat and having her closed in her room scared of the robot. So we need
to have very well accepted. That's why we have these kind of shapes and this will change
the world. I foresee a world in a very few years where
seniors will save a few years of autonomy thanks to the robot before going to specialized
houses. And this day we will have millions of robots. Each and everyone will have a robot.
The cost of this one is about 15,000 USD. So it's not very important. It's important
it's existing. We produce, we sold 3,000 around the globe, so we're now producing. It's a
product. Price will decrease, so it's something that will be really affordable.
So each and everyone will be able to have a robot. Then you can't imagine the number
of millions of jobs that we would have in designing the robots, in designing the software
and all of the services around that. A totally new activity sector is coming and
thanks to this kind of robot it will change the world. I want to highlight two of the
examples. >>Robot: (Sneezing).
>>Bruno Maisonnier: Bless you. >>Robot: Sorry.
>>Bruno Maisonnier: It's the air conditioning, probably. First example that I want to give
you is about autistic kids. You know they are not able or very badly to interact with
people. Some are not able to interact at all. But to have an intrinsic interest in technology,
they are very comfortable in interacting with these kind of robots, these kind of tools.
So we are working with Notre Dame University in Indiana and many other research labs about
autism, in having this robot as a tool for the educator.
And it has been proven that it's providing the higher interest in the studying, in the
lessons from the kids and then helping them more efficiently to grow. And we have an example
where a robot can do something that we cannot do. It's not substitution of our jobs. It's
something more that we cannot do and that robot can do.
I want to give you another opportunity, another thing that is happening with robot. Here I'm
far beyond humanoid robot. It's about other kinds of robots. It's Green Wall, I don't
know if you know this project. We want to stabilize deserts. It's difficult. And there
are deserts in Africa, Middle East, China, a lot. The most efficient way to stabilize
that we found is to plant trees. But billions of trees.
Trees are stabilizing the desert as well as providing shadow, wood, helping local agriculture.
So it's a powerful means to grow and to take care of the desert. The program is not very
easy. It is very hot and unfriendly environment to plant trees and to care about them. So
there is an idea to have swarms of robots. One of them digging a hole, another one planting
a tree, another one providing watering with just minimum capacity of water, another one
with pesticides if needed, plus you have some autonomous robots that will supply them from
the remote warehouse. And we have this idea of having thousands
of swarms of robots controlled by satellites, and this will help planting and caring about
of billions of trees. You know this project, Green Wall is very challenging. But it's feasible.
It's something that -- that will help stabilizing deserts and you know what? It's already ongoing.
It's already begun. So it is something that's happening with robots. Robots are really here
helping people, so I wanted to give you some ideas, some -- [phone ringing]
>>Robot: Hi (indiscernible) >>Bruno Maisonnier: Hey, NAO.
>>Robot: He's in a meeting, he's busy. Do you want me to take a message?
Okay. See you. Sorry. >>Bruno Maisonnier: No, thank you. No more
driving. I don't know where I was. So I wanted to give you some example. Now the important
question is, is this platform existing. It's affordable, it's robust, it can fall down
without breaking. Then with all of this software infrastructure, it allow developers everywhere
different, company business, to develop application to develop the user (indiscernible) and then
to turn that into the really next revolution in the very short term.
So it's the main message that I wanted to tell you, the robots for better living are
already knocking at your door. Thank you very much.
[ Applause ] >>Robot: Take a break.
>>John Battelle: As actually I'm sure all of you know, most of you have probably been
on stage, there's this a ritual that goes on back stage where you get miked up, they
put the mike down your shirt. It's really odd to watch the technical staff mike a robot.
[ Laughter ] >>John Battelle: The next -- the next speaker
is Hugh Herr the Director of Biomechtronics, at MIT media lab. He focuses on developing
physically-assistive technologies that will be intimate extensions of the human body,
structurally, neurologically and dynamically. He's a co-holder of 14 patents related to
this field. As you can see, he lives his work. Please join me in welcoming Hugh.
[ Applause ] >>Hugh Herr: Good day, everyone. I'm going
to talk about bionics, the emerging field of bionics. Bionics seeks to advance electromechanical
devices that attach to the body, or are implanted inside the body, that emulate or even extend
human physiological function. I first became interested in bionics when
I suffered frostbite to my biological legs in 1982. I got frostbite, I was out mountain
climbing, but I wanted to jump back on the horse because I'm passionate about climbing.
The question was how might this be possible? So here you see, I hope, first slide, please.
Um ... I hope that I have the right clicker. So what I -- what I did in fact, while this
is teeing up, I hope, is -- there we go. Wonderful. One more time.
One more time. Not yet. If someone could progress the slide,
that would be fantastic. So what I did is I took a -- an approach to
getting back to the vertical world of just designing lots and lots of different gadgets.
My closets are just filled with legs. I had some feet that would wedge into rock fissures
where the human foot cannot even get into. I have feet that can penetrate ice and a vertical
ice wall. And I could, you know, with these feet I could climb thousands of feet and never
experience calf fatigue like my poor colleagues with biological legs.
[ Laughter ] >>Hugh Herr: It's really sad. So through this
technological advancement, I was actually able to climb better with artificial limbs
than I achieved with normal biological limbs. In fact, I was the first person in history
to go back to my chosen sport, after losing a major part of my body.
There we go. Great. Let's go forward now. So there you see the spiked foot. So I was
the first person to go back to elite levels in a sport after losing a major part of my
body and naturally my climbing colleagues, some of them, got really peeved and competitive
with me. [ Laughter ]
>>Hugh Herr: One person actually said, "I'm going to cut my legs off."
[ Laughter ] >>Hugh Herr: Well, turns out he never did
amputate his legs. In fact, maybe he was a little uncertain about his claims of cheating.
So there's another person in recent times that has been accused of cheating, you may
have heard of this guy, Oscar Pistorius, he was born in South Africa without fibula bones.
His family had to make the very difficult decision to allow doctors to amputate their
10-month-old baby boy's legs for a dream of a better life using prostheses. Now, as many
of you know, Oscar Pistorius was banned for the Beijing Olympics. The IWF claimed, the
governing body claimed that his Cheetah prosthesis actually gave him an unfair competitive advantage
in sprinting. And this naturally -- this provocative claim got the attention of the legal and scientific
communities of the world. It was appealed to a higher court, the court of arbitration
for sport. I was an expert witness, along with my colleague Roger Kram.
Now, the science behind these Cheetah prostheses is very immature. There's only about five
papers, peer-reviewed papers on the topic. Five, not hundreds, not thousands. There's
major portions of the race that have never been studied. The acceleration portion of
the race, there's not a single data point published in a peer review journal. Running
around a curve with these Cheetah prostheses, never studied. Until there's a comprehensive,
global, generally accepted scientific understanding of whether it's an advantage to run with these
things, it's neutral effect or a disadvantage, we can't discriminate against people. It was
the -- the agreement among all of the arbitrators in this hearing that they should let Oscar
run, that there's insufficient evidence to support an overall advantage in the 400-meter
sprint race. So that's just what happened. Last summer in the Olympics, Oscar ran, making
history. So this is the 400-meter sprint. The heat that allowed Oscar to qualify for
the semifinals. [ Cheering ]
[ Video ] [ Applause ]
>>Hugh Herr: Extraordinary, huh? So the case of Pistorius puts forth a critical
dilemma. Clearly we should architect a society without discrimination, a society of inclusion.
Whether you have colored skin or your sex or your religion, your creed or your body
type in the case of Pistorius, we should allow people to participate in events such as the
Olympics, if a person qualifies athletically. But in this age where prosthetic technology
is accelerating, it's getting better and better we have to ensure fairness of sport.
The solution to this dilemma is more technology, better technology, not less technology.
Imagine a future in which we had the capability of designing and fabricating a bionic limb
that closely emulates the biological counterpart. In that future that limb would be the Olympic-sanctioned
limb because after all the Olympics is a celebration of biologically derived performance limits,
but the Paralympics has no such constraint. The Paralympics is a celebration of the human
machine performance limits that will soon, I predict, exceed that capability of what
normal biological bodies can achieve. I predict there will be a day in this century
where the jumping heights and running times within the Paralympics all exceed those in
the Olympics. So perhaps in the Olympics of 2050 spectators
will be completely bored by watching dull, normal biological bodies perform and they'll
all rush to the Paralympics to see this extraordinary might of human machine capability.
So Pistorius is a watershed individual because he's forcing us to ask critical questions
about what it means to be human. Should we view Oscar's legs as separate devices from
his body or should we view them as part of his body?
If there's a medical device that attaches to the body or is implanted inside the body,
should we view that device as foreign or separate or unnatural or should we view it as part
of the body just like the heart is part of the body?
As we march into this century, the mergence of machines with our bodies and minds will
become extraordinarily intimate. We will experience a technological embodiment.
And through that technological embodiment our capacity to differentiate between our
biological bodies and our technological cells will diminish. Critical to such a technological
embodiment is the advances of what I call extreme interfaces between the human body
and devices. Today I want to talk about two extreme interfaces,
dynamic and electrical, and then I'll give two examples of how even today bionic technology
is affecting people. So starting off, extreme interface dynamic.
How can we build a bionic limb that embedded in it has what it means to be human in terms
of how we move? How can we do that? Years ago in collaboration with engineer Robert
Dennis we built a hybrid robot that was powered by living muscle tissue and under microprocessor
control we stimulated the muscles to elicit a movement of the tail. We were so inspired
by the resulting natural dynamics of this robot.
But it's hard to use living muscle tissue. It's hard to keep it alive. So years later
we asked can we really do the science and fundamentally understand how humans work and
then embed that intelligence into synthetic structures? So synthetic structures will move
as if they're made of flesh and bone. So here we've mathematically modeled the muscles
and tendons and how the muscles are controlled neurally and we embed that into devices.
So I'm wearing bionic limbs. This limb has several computers, sensors. Its structure
is biomedic. It has muscle-like actuation. There's a spring in there that represents
the Achilles' spring and it's controlled in a reflexive manner. We've captured the essence
of how the calf muscle, your calf muscle is controlled by the spinal cord.
So when I walk slowly it's spring-like as it should be, as the biological ankle is,
but as I speed it up gives me more and more energy, just as an emergent behavior. And
I can do things now that I never could before like play tennis.
I'm no longer disabled with bionics. Another extreme interface --
[ Applause ] >>Hugh Herr: Thank you.
Another extreme interface is electrical. So you see in this image, T is a muscle, V is
a nerve, and you see sprouting coming out of the nerve and attaching to the muscle.
This tissue engineering strategy is now being used by researchers to try to build an interface
with a nerve that's been cut or transected. So you see cells that have been put in, skin
cells and muscle cells, and that coaxes the nerve to grow again attached to the cells.
We can then put electrodes in the muscle cell which amplifies the nerve signal, the descending
signal, and we can take sensory information from the bionic limb and stimulate through
the cutaneous axons and close the loop between the human and the machine.
One day when this is fully advanced, probably two decades from now, it will enable amputees
to not only walk across sand, but to feel sand against the prosthetic foot.
Other researchers are working on an implant that goes into residual muscles that measure
the electrical pulse of the muscle and sending it out wirelessly to machines, like these
bionic limbs. Recently in my lab we hooked my calf muscle
to these bionic limbs so I could fire my muscle that was measured and then that directly controlled
the bionic limb. When I walked down steps I didn't fire my
calf muscle. Why? Because I didn't want that power as I was walking down steps. When I
was walking up steps, however, I fired my calf muscle and it powered me up the steps.
I became very emotional. I felt a deep connectedness to the bionic limb that I had never felt before.
It was the first time that I wasn't in the back seat of the car, I was in the front seat,
my hands were on the steering wheel and I was driving. I thought the descending signal
went down and it affected bionic limb. I felt a deep connectedness.
Being bionic means having the experience of technological embodiment.
These are not tools to me like a hammer is a tool. These are part of my body. They have
defined my physicality, they have extended myself, my identity.
When I walk they sense my postures and reflect their posture. When I push on them they push
back. When I move they store energy and catapult me forward. It's a symbolic relationship between
flesh and machine extending well beyond the digital age in terms of connectedness and
embodiment between humans and machines. I would like to introduce you to two individuals,
Ed Lostowski. Ed was a Vietnam vet and this is his story as told by CNN after being fit
with a bionic limb. [ Video ]
>>> I broke my femur, severed my artery. >>Hugh Herr: 39 reconstruction operations.
[ Video ] >>> I feel more like a human being. Complete.
I can watch people in the eyes. I walk down the street instead of watching the ground
and where I'm stepping. It's being a normal person.
>>Hugh Herr: I'll conclude my talk with another story. Stephen Hendrick. Stephen is also a
Vietnam vet and you are about to see this video where he becomes emotional after receiving
a bionic limb for the first time. This underscores the extraordinary impact
technological embodiment will have on the individual.
We're getting a glimpse now of a new age where we will carefully integrate technology with
our very nature. An age in which you can't differentiate from our biology and the device.
An age in which you can't differentiate between what is human and not human and what is nature
and what is not nature. It will be completely blurred, the boundaries.
So I finish with Stephen's video. [ Video ]
>>> How was that? Good. [ Video ]
>>Hugh Herr: Thank you. [ Applause ]
>>John Battelle: Extraordinary. Next up we're going to hear from Maria Zuber, the EA Griswold
professor of geophysics at MIT who has also been involved in some pretty extraordinary
work. Numerous spacecraft missions that have mapped the moon, Mars, Mercury, several asteroids.
She's also the principal investigator of NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory mission
which has the acronym GRAIL. Please join me in welcoming Professor Zuber.
[ Applause ] >>Maria Zuber: Okay. Thanks.
Yesterday afternoon Trey Ratcliff made a reference to people in the audience who had spaceships,
and I'm one of those people. [ Laughter ]
>>Maria Zuber: So if we could start off here. All right. Well, I assume this will come up
in a second. Okay. These are my -- these are my two spacecraft.
They're orbiting the moon right now. These two spacecraft, they're about the size
of a dishwasher or I like to say an apartment-sized washer and dryer. And they were this spring
mapping the moon at an altitude of 55-kilometers and flying in precise formation and were measuring
the distance between the two -- how the distance is changing down to about a 10th of a micron
per second so that we can measure the moon's gravity field with great precision.
This fall we've taken the spacecraft altitude down so that the altitudes above the lunar
surface are approaching the height that commercial airplanes fly above the surface of the earth,
and it's very challenging to keep these two spacecraft in orbit.
But we're learning a lot about the interior of the moon. We're studying the early evolution
of planets and what this tells us actually about the period of time that life developed
on earth, and actually we hope to improve parameters in fundamental physics. But that's
not what I'm here to talk about today. For a long time I said to myself that if I
ever got the opportunity to lead a mission that I was going to take as many young people
as I could along with me for the ride. Okay? And so I'm going to talk about the education
aspect of this mission. It's called MoonKAM and this is a camera experiment that we have
on the spacecraft, which is the first imaging experiment on a NASA mission that has no scientific
requirement. It is completely dedicated to education and outreach.
And this is actually work that I did in collaboration with Sally Ride, America's first woman in
space. Sally has dedicated her career since retiring from the astronaut program to educational
matters, and this is the last major project that she worked on until she passed away in
July. And Sally and I wanted -- we decided that
ownership was going to be very important. Other NASA imaging experiments have taken
some pictures that have allowed students to take some pictures, a handful there, but very
few because of the fact that this instrumentation was due to science.
We wanted cameras that were going to be owned by students.
So the problem with that, it's an opportunity, of course, but the challenge is that spacecraft
instrumentation is very expensive, so we had to find a way to do this in an inexpensive
way so that it would be affordable. And so that camera up there, those are rocket cams.
They are the cameras that we strap on to the sides of rockets so that when a rocket takes
off and the stages separate that you see the video of the stages separating.
And what we were able to do is put one electronics box and four cameras on each one of the spacecraft
that were all oriented in different directions so that we wouldn't have moving parts, which
allowed us to simplify the operations as well as minimize mechanisms, which is also another
challenge in space flight. Okay. If I could have the next slide, please.
So the idea here is that ownership is empowering. So since we've done this experiment I've had
a number of adults send me emails saying, "Well, we'd like to take a picture of the
moon. Could you take this for us?" And I say, "They're not my cameras. You need
to get in touch with a student who is in the program."
We've targeted this at middle school students because middle school is the period of time
when students have to decide whether or not they're going to take the hard math that puts
them on the AP track in high school that allows them to measure -- to major in science and
engineering in college. And we decided that a student, if engaged
and excited about an idea, would do vast amounts of work to figure out how to target images
on the lunar surface. We have a program that gets downloaded to
their high school where they have to figure out where the spacecraft are going to be flying
over at a given time. They target their images and they get uploaded to the spacecraft.
And this is a picture here of a classroom, but it's not an exactly correct picture, I
would say, because it shows the teacher helping the student. Overwhelmingly, the case is that
the students teach the teachers how to use the software that we've given them.
And in this program last spring we have 100,000 images of the moon that have been taken by
students in 3,000 participating classrooms across the country.
So the reach of this experiment has been considerable. Okay. So I'm going to show a little bit. So
we have four cameras on each spacecraft, two of which point down, one of which points forward,
one of which points backward. They have different resolutions, and I'm just going to show you
a couple of examples of things that middle school students, primarily middle school,
are learning about the moon. Okay. So the first is students have been looking
at what the effect of viewing geometry of features on the surface.
So what you see there is a picture of a feature called Reiner Gamma, which is a magnetic structure,
and students have targeted that at different viewing angles. It's actually a swirl on the
lunar surface that has very high magnetics associated with it, and the students are trying
to understand whether or not there's something in the geology which is telling us the nature
of why there's very high magnetization. Students are studying illumination conditions.
So here's two different pictures of the same crater taken under different lighting angles
where the students are trying to understand how the position -- where the position of
the sun is, the moon and the spacecraft, and how this allows one to highlight different
features in the -- of the features on the surface.
The students are going in and studying regional geology, so this is -- the feature on the
left is of Sinus Iridum, which is a part of the moon, Oceanus Procellarum, which is about
10:00 on the clock if you view the full moon. And Feature C, that's the rim of a large impact
basin. And A, that whole area has been flooded by lava, and the students are doing geologic
reconstructions of these areas. So the right-hand side is a valley that's
associated with faulting on the surface. Here's pictures that the students have taken
of the Apollo landing site, Taurus-Littrow, and you might be able to see there that the
students have actually gone through and reconstructed the traverses that the Apollo astronauts made
on the surface of the moon. And the last -- the last things I'll show,
this has lead to things beyond the lesson plan in terms of engineering. So this is -- we
did a student expo. I rented the Reagan Rotunda in Washington, D.C. and invited elected -- officials
and heads of societies to come in and view the work that the students were doing.
And this young seventh grade young man here got interested in the gravity part of the
experiment, went on to the NASA planetary data system, downloaded an old lunar gravity
model and wrote a program to do an spherical harmonic expansion and plot the gravity field.
And he asked me when I was going to get him a better gravity field.
[ Laughter ] >>Maria Zuber: And finally we have a tool
that allows students who take images from different areas to put them in Google Moon,
which is actually a module of Google Earth, and find out what students in different classrooms
have been studying. And so students who are studying an image in a particular area can
get into communication with students who are acting and working in different areas, and
compare notes in trying to do their geological studies.
So in summary here, we talk a lot about educational standards. And if you look at what the educational
standards say that students should learn about the moon in middle school, it doesn't go much
beyond the moon goes through phases and this tells us that the moon revolves around the
earth, but I think with this presentation I hope I've told you that there is so much
more that is possible and that with a judicious investment and some creativity that we can
actually use space exploration as a real tool for educational advancement.
And I'll stop there. [ Applause ]
>>Maria Zuber: And now I want to invite up on to stage some other student achievers.
We have here the winners of the Google Science Fair who we'd like to have a little bit of
a discussion with. So do you want to come up on to stage here,
Brittany, Sakhiwe and Bonkhe? [ Applause ]
>>Maria Zuber: Okay. So what I would like to do to start off with is let's run the first
video. [Video]
[ Applause ] >>Maria Zuber: So Sakhiwe and Bonkhe, it's
a very overwhelming experience for you to be here, but really the ones who should be
overwhelmed are all of us. The Google Science Fair, thousands of science fair entries from
over 100 countries, and these guys finished first. So how about that?
[ Applause ] >>Maria Zuber: So I think that -- I think
the audience would be very interested in hearing about the creative process here.
You're at home, you're hanging out. Where did you get the idea that you should do something
like this? >>Bonkhe Malalela: Well, Sakhiwe and I both
know that Swaziland is facing a number of challenges, including local productivity.
So first off we research farming and we come across the hydroponics method, but we also
found that it is expensive and it needs someone with experience. So we tried ways of simplifying
it and that's how we came -- that's how we created the hydroponics and the financial
plans with it. >>Maria Zuber: Okay. So you found a method
that worked. How much of this was doing background research versus trial and error? Both ways
are legitimate ways to do science. >>Sakhiwe Shongwe: We found out about the
project, about the hydroponics method, and then we thought before we proceed with experimenting
it's better if we have a lot of research in case it fails.
>>Maria Zuber: So a great deal of background work went into it.
How long did it take you to get something that worked from the time that you started
the research? >>Sakhiwe Shongwe: We did the research for
about three weeks. Then after that, we started proceeding with the project and it went very
well. >>Maria Zuber: So you're trying to address
what is really an outstanding question, which is availability of food, which is a great
challenge to humanity. Another great challenge in the area that you
live in is the availability of clean water. Okay? And have you thought about whether or
not there's enough water available to take this idea and really scale it up to the point
where it can be useful? >>Sakhiwe Shongwe: As you may know, that wood
absorbs moisture. So as we use, it holds the water. So when the plant is planted, it uses
the water from the sawdust. >>Maria Zuber: Great. So it's very efficient
in terms of water usage. Well, I think all of us would like to really
encourage the two of you to continue this project, which I think has great, great promise
for your area and beyond. So thank you very much.
[ Applause ] >>Maria Zuber: And now if we could run the
second video, please. [ Video. ]
>>> I want to be on the frontier, trying to find the cures to different types of cancer
and trying to make cancer as treatable as something like influenza. And I would love
to be able to be on the team that's having that kind of impact.
My project is entitled Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer. Basically,
I taught the computer how to diagnose breast cancer so we can determine whether breast
masses are malignant or benign. I programmed the computer to mimic the way the brain thinks
to model the inner connections so that it can detect patterns and diagnose based on
these biopsies (indiscernible). The next step for my project is to get my
data out. I'd really like to extend it to other kinds of cancer, lung cancer, anything
I can get data for. So I think the possibilities are really good.
I just feel like I really can make a difference now and that it's really taking off.
[ Video concludes. ] [ Applause. ]
>>Maria Zuber: Okay, Brittany, amazing. So this project is a combination of computer
science and life science, in fact, clinical life science, very, very different endeavors,
and really actually shows a sophistication in terms of interdisciplinary work that, really,
people generally don't develop until they've been at this science thing for a while.
>>Brittany Wenger: Well, thank you so much. >>Maria Zuber: So what I think the audience
would be interested in hearing about is, so how did this start? Did it start with you
being interested in computer science or did it start from the life science? So walk us
through what kind of got you going in this direction.
>>Brittany Wenger: So I've always been a naturally very curious person. And I found science,
and I found all these answers to my questions. In seventh grade, I took an elective course
on futuristic thinking. And I came across the concept of artificial intelligence because
I was researching technologies of the future. I was enthralled. And I very naively decided
that that was what I was going to do. I had never coded anything before. I went home.
I bought a coding book, and I did learned artificial intelligence. And I created a program
that played soccer, because I'm an avid soccer player.
And then in tenth grade, my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. Well, when I was in tenth
grade. So I really was able to combine my passion for computer science with my newly
found passion for breast cancer and create something that could save lives.
>>Maria Zuber: So did you -- [ Applause. ]
>>Maria Zuber: I'm speechless, really. Did you really think that you could do something
here that was -- that was going to work and that really would make a difference?
>>Brittany Wenger: So fine needle aspirates are the least invasive form of biopsy. They're
less costly, they're more timely, and they lead to earlier detection. So I knew that
I wanted to do something that could get these back into use. Because right now they're so
inconclusive that a lot of doctors couldn't use them.
And I had this idea to combine the concept of artificial intelligence. But I started
this as a tenth grader, so I had no idea whether that would be something I would be able to
be presenting at the Google Science Fair now or whether that would be something that I
would take years of college to develop. And I did fail twice before I got a successful
project. But that's what's great about science, is you learn just as much from those flopped
experiences as you do from your successful ones.
>>Maria Zuber: So tell us what's next. >>Brittany Wenger: Right. So moving forward,
the Google Science Fair has really given me this amazing platform that I can use to share
my research with the rest of the world. So I'm working with Lankenau. It's a hospital
up in Philadelphia. And they're giving me more samples. Because right now, the project
is 99.1% sensitive to malignancy, which is huge. But I ran 7.6 million trials. And as
I get more data, it will get better. So that's immediately on the horizon. I'm
also working on extending it to other types of cancer and other types of diagnostics.
And then I want to work on the image processing side of things, too.
>>Maria Zuber: Great. Never underestimate a young person.
[ Cheers and applause ] >>Maria Zuber: Okay.
Well, on behalf of all of us, stay inspired. Keep going for it. Amazing that at this level,
that we have science projects that are actually making a difference in terms of the results
that are coming out at this level. So congratulations.
>>Brittany Wenger: Thank you. [ Applause. ]
>>John Battelle: You guys got a standing ovation, in case you weren't paying attention. Remember
that. That doesn't happen very often. Although in your case, I am sensing you might have
a few more. And it's just getting more extraordinary.
I'm here to introduce our next speaker, the Bernard M. Oliver chair of the SETI Institute,
Dr. Jill Tarter, who has worked on a number of major scientific projects, mostly relating
-- and as you probably know -- to the search for extraterrestrial life. She led the design
and build of the Allen -- I almost said alien -- Allen Telescope Array. Of course, many
people are familiar with her work through the popular movie starring Jodie Foster, "Contact."
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Tarter. >>Jill Tarter: "Alien" is an often slip.
All right. Can we have the first slide? So are we alone? That's a pretty old and fundamental
human question. To quote a very eminent astronomer, Dr. Ellie
Arroway, if we are, it seems like an awful waste of space.
But putting science fiction aside, if you want to try and find an answer to this question
as a scientist, you have to begin to consider how we perceive the world around us and where
we actually are. Well, obviously, we're here, enjoying ourselves
very much. And Google Earth has allowed us to comprehend that we're here, from the altitude
of low Earth orbit satellites, we're here. And since 1968, we've been able to comprehend
and envision ourselves here. The Cassini Spacecraft orbiting Saturn looked
through its rings and saw us here. And in 1980, as the Voyager 1 spacecraft was passing
Neptune on its way out of the solar system, it turned around, looked homeward, and saw
us here, as a pale blue dot. We're here in the boondocks of a large spiral
Galaxy out at the edge nowhere near the center. And our sun is just one of about 400 billion
stars in this Galaxy. And the Milky Way Galaxy is actually here.
It's one of 100 billion or more galaxies in our observable universe.
But we've only recently come to understand that it takes a Cosmos to make a human. We
humans have a very deep and intimate relationship with the universe. We humans trace our lineage
not just back centuries through our families, or back through millennia for our civilizations,
not just back over the millions of years since we branched off from the apes, nor back the
2.4 billion years that the Earth's atmosphere has been profused with oxygen due to the labors
of photosynthetic cyanobacteria. And not just back to the formation of the sun and our solar
system 5 billion years ago, but all the way back to a supernova explosion and the death
of a massive star about 8 billion years ago. So the iron in the hemoglobin molecules in
your blood was fused deep within a massive star that ended its life in a supernova explosion,
leaving metal-rich remnants such as this recent Nova explosion. And these remnants are waiting
to be incorporated into the next generation of stars and planets and perhaps life.
So those of us who are in this room are very privileged for a number of reasons, one of
them being that we are among the first generation to be able to comprehend that the world around
us is actually a fragile island of life in a universe of possibilities.
So extremophiles such as these are beginning to illuminate the amazing possibilities for
life in every nook and cranny of this planet. And they're suggesting the potential for a
lot more habitable real estate out there, perhaps on other planets in our solar system.
This upclose and personal view of Mars is being brought to us by Curiosity, the Mars
science laboratory that landed in early August. I think it's awesome. That should be Camelback
Mountain, given the detail. But it's Mars. And alternatively, all right, life might be
found in the water oceans beneath the icy shells of Europa or Callisto or Ganymead,
these large moons of Jupiter. Or maybe in the ethane lakes of Titan, which is Saturn's
large moon. Or even possibly on one of the gazillions of icy comets in the oort cloud
that surround our solar system. And we're learning that planets exist in other systems.
It's now looking like there are more planets out there than there are stars. And ground-based
astronomers are scrambling mightily to confirm the thousands of exoplanet candidates that
the Kepler spacecraft has provided us and will be providing us with some more this month.
In fact, in our search for life, we have this particular chauvinism. We like -- we have
a bias for planets that might have liquid water on their surfaces. These so-called "habitable
worlds." And so far, there are 46 within this cadre of Kepler candidates.
So these habitable worlds, given our biases and our definitions, they do and should receive
special attention. But, actually, all of these exoplanetary systems are worthy of exploration.
And it's only if we look at them all that we can hedge against our biases, thinking
we know more than we actually do know. But many of these exoplanet systems out there
are turning out to be multiple planet systems, are really different than our own solar system,
our own nice, neat, clockwork solar system, where we used to build mechanical orreries
and turn the crank and watch the planet go around.
These multiplanet systems are allowing us to learn amazing lessons about the formation
of planets and planetary systems. And their diversity reminds us just how hard it is to
predict the diversity and abundance of possibilities in the world around us. When you have only
one example, we thought all of those were going to look just like ours. And we were
so wrong. So in the middle of the 20th century, the
descendents of World War II radars were turned skyward and the field of radio astronomy was
born. And that gave us new tools to use in trying to answer the questions about our place
in the Cosmos. So in 1959, Giuseppi Cocconi and Phil Morrison
published the first scientific paper on this subject, suggesting that the radio astronomer's
tools could be used, perhaps, to search for cosmic company. And independently, Frank Drake,
in 1960, used the Tattle Telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia, to make the first radio
search of two nearby stars, listening for someone else's technology. And in those years,
the exploratory science that we called SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence,
was born. So at the dawn of the current 21st century,
SETI harnessed the power of newly affordable optical sensors that can count photons as
they arrive at the telescope, can count them rapidly enough to figure out how many photons
arrive every single nanosecond. And this has enabled new searches for technological
civilizations that might be transmitting bright laser pulses.
So the toolbox of SETI researchers continues to expand, and will expand further in the
future, incorporating technologies that we don't yet even comprehend.
We reserve the right to get smarter. So today -- and, actually, tomorrow, but I
can't tell you today -- scientists are eagerly anticipating the discovery of Earth 2.0, a
planet the size and mass of the Earth, at the Earth's distance, circling a sun-like
star, a potentially habitable world. But for me, Earth 2.0 would be a world that was inhabited
by technologists. So our own technology is visible over interstellar distances, and their
technology might be as well. Some grand communications network, some shield against asteroid impacts
or something totally unthinkable might produce signals at optical and radio wavelengths which
we could detect with a determined search. And what, in fact, will determine the success
or failure in SETI is the average distance between technological civilizations. Now,
that's distance in space and distance across time.
So unless two technological civilizations are close enough in space and are coeval,
they exist at the same time, SETI will never succeed. So longevity is the key to success.
Unless most technological civilizations in fact grow old, SETI will not succeed. So we
are a very young technology in a 10 billion year old galaxy, and we don't yet know whether
technologies can persist. So Philip Morrison expressed this idea very
powerfully. He said, "SETI is the archaeology of the future." And now I know perhaps he
stole that phrase from you, John. What we mean here is that the tyranny of light
speed means that any information contained in a signal that's detected will tell us about
their past. But the fact that we detect a signal and the longevity required for that
successful detection tells us that there's a possibility that we can have a long future
as a technology. So SETI has been searching for a bit more
than 50 years. And we've been trying to explore this cosmic ocean. But so far, if you take
the ocean's volume as an analog and you restrict yourself to electromagnetic signals, I calculate
that so far, we've looked at about one eight-ounce glass out of that water.
[ Laughter ] >>Jill Tarter: But that cosmic ocean beckons
us. The cosmic ocean is huge, the task is huge. But it excites us, because our tools
are getting fast exponentially. In Northern California, we've commissioned
the first phase of the Allen Telescope Array with 42 telescopes. It's the first time we've
built an array of a large number of dishes connected with computers. So that makes silicon
as important as aluminum and steel. And growth potential in the future lies both in building
out this telescope with more dishes for more sensitivity, perhaps to as many as 350 such
dishes, and also in leveraging Moore's Law to get more processing power to be able to
look for more kinds of signals. And many of you in this room have the resources and the
skills to help us with this. And I think that or I predict that you'd probably enjoy the
challenges. So I'd like to talk with you. All right. Today, radio and optical SETI searches
are looking for simple signal artifacts that have been compressed either in frequency or
in time, signals that we don't think nature can produce but we know technologies can.
So here, for instance, it's a waterfall plot. It's a two-dimensional plot, a frequency-time
domain. What's in there is the carrier signal from the Voyager 1 spacecraft, the most distant
human object. Have you seen it yet?
Well, even without the specific phase lock loops of NASA's big DSN receiving telescopes,
the extremely efficient algorithms that work on the Allen Telescope Array can find that
signal extremely quickly and easily. It's very detectable.
These are simple artifacts. Tomorrow, with increased computational capability, we can
permit searches from more complex patterns. And we're doing our searches in real time.
That's our challenge. Maybe you'd like to help.
Over the millennia, we've seen where tribalism leads. We've seen what happens when you divide
the world around us into smaller islands. But, ultimately, all of us belong to only
one tribe. We're all Earthlings. And as members of that tribe, we really owe it to ourselves
and each other to celebrate our commonalities rather than our perceived differences. And
from this perspective, the violence against women and neighbors that we discussed yesterday
and today just seems so much more absurd and unjustifiable and not something that we want
to keep within our world. So SETI is a mirror that can show us ourselves
from an extraordinary point of view, a mirror that can trivialize the differences among
us. And if SETI does nothing else but reveal this perspective to the world around us to
every human being, it will be among the most profound endeavors in all history.
So this perspective is a meme. So call it the cosmic meme, the Earthling meme. It's
an idea. It's an idea capable of spreading light in darkness. And the important thing
about a meme concept is that it can be spread. By encouraging the act of participation of
all Earthlings in this ultimate search for cosmic company, the meme can proliferate.
Today, we're uniquely positioned. All right, technology and social media can make this
happen. Spreading the cosmic meme can become a form of nonprofit collaboration. And in
Clinton's words, creative cooperation. And companies and individuals can build reputation
capital by spreading this meme. So it took a Cosmos to make a human. And it
will take all humans working together to solve the challenges that we face in the world around
us. A robust SETI program can in fact spread this
meme and foster the cooperation that's needed to deal with the many problems that do not
respect national boundaries. Ultimately, we are star dust, capable of studying
the stars. We are, all of us, what happens when a primordial mixture of hydrogen and
helium evolves for so long that it begins to ask where it came from.
At the SETI Institute, we've seen just how powerful this cosmic meme can be in the classroom
and how physics and math and biology and chemistry are so enjoyable to students within the context
of this really compelling cosmic meme. And I hope that it will motivate them to innovate
the new technologies that drive the changes that are going to be needed to sustain the
world around us. SETI's kind of like a startup; right? The
odds are long, but if it's done right, it can change the world.
So in searching for others, we may finally come to know who we are and be able to secure
that long future for the world around us. I look forward to talking with some of you
about how to push this forward. Thank you. [ Applause. ]
>>John Battelle: Thank you so much, Dr. Tarter. If your mind hasn't already been blown, we're
going to keep working on that. I've got two people to bring up now. And I'll
tell you about them before I do so we can get right to it.
Lisa Randall is professor of physics at Harvard university. Her research connects theoretical
insights addressing puzzles in our current understanding of the properties of matter,
the universe, and space. I did take six hours trying to understand
what she gets in an instant, and I'm still working on that.
But she's also cocurated a Los Angeles art association exhibit and written a libretto
of an opera and is an author of as she puts it two and a half books.
Ron Garan is a NASA astronaut. No big deal. He's only traveled around 71 million miles
around the Earth in almost 3,000 orbits during almost 180 days in space. He spent over 27
hours outside of a spacecraft hanging above the Earth. He also participated in the last
space walk of the shuttle, and he spent six months at the International Space Station.
So join me in welcoming both these extraordinary individuals to the stage.
Ron, here. This is the best part. I was told I had 20 minutes to discuss what it feels
like to hang out in space and to understand theoretical physics. And then they just told
me we had 18 minutes. So we're going to do our best here, and I'm
going to start, Lisa, with you. There's been some news, a lot of news, actually,
in the last year, in the topics we've been discussing today. But in your field, some
of the most exciting news in a long time, which spurred you to write your half book
about the Higgs Boson. Can you tell us what the Higgs Boson is.
>>Lisa Randall: That's a great place to start, because it's probably the most challenging
thing to explain. >>John Battelle: I figured we'd get it right
up-front. >>Lisa Randall: So, basically, the large hadron
collider is this big accelerator. It's looking for new particles, it's looking to understand
what underlies our matter, what are the forces that connect it.
But one of the big questions is, how do elementary particles acquire their masses? That sounds
like a strange question. Mass seems like an intrinsic property of matter. But it turns
out that if particles had masses from the get-go, if there wasn't something called the
Higgs mechanism, that you would have crazy predictions, like probably (indiscernible)
is greater than one. I mean, it really wouldn't make sense. There is this mechanism having
to did with how particles get their masses. And we really believe that that's true. But
you want experimental confirmation. And furthermore, you want to know how it's
implemented. How is it that these particles are gaining mass? What is it that's around
there. It's a little bit like there's a charge spread throughout the universe that the particles
interact with that's everywhere. And you want to know where it came from. Finding the Higgs
Boson is a major step, because it tells us first of all, this mechanism is, indeed, correct.
It does make sense the way we thought it did. But It tells us also how to go forward in
the sense of what is beyond what we already knew. And there turn out to be puzzles about
this particular particle that lead to even more extraordinary possibilities.
>>John Battelle: How did you go about finding it? Like, what was the process? You have a
good, I think, analogy that sort of sets it up. But how do you -- there's so much noise
in the data that you get -- >>Lisa Randall: First of all, I should be
really clear that everyone who's been talking today actually works with machines and instruments.
I do theory. So I don't look for anything. I just tell people to go look.
>>John Battelle: But you are sort of the -- you're the describer of the signal that helps people
decide where to look. >>Lisa Randall: So we tell them how to look
and what to look for. And so one of the major challenges that really
is quite fascinating is that it's such -- these are rare events. You can ask, why don't we
know the answers to these questions? It's because it's hard. It's hard for two reasons.
One is that you have to get to higher energies to make stuff. But the other is, it happens
really rarely. >>John Battelle: When you say "higher energy,"
you mean the LHC could actually have enough energy to create just the right --
>>Lisa Randall: Thank you. >>John Battelle: -- explosion?
>>Lisa Randall: Yes. So when you collide together particles -- Basically, E equals MC squared.
So how much energy you have tells you how much --
>>John Battelle: I've heard of that one. >>Lisa Randall: -- tells you how much mass
you can make. It's as simple as that. So, basically, more energy, you can get higher
mass particles. But also, you want a lot of collisions, because it turns out most of the
time when these collisions happen, you get stuff we already know about. It's called the
standard (indiscernible) particle physics. It's the stuff that we're -- that we know
we're made of and also heavier partners of those things, like articles called quarks,
which are inside protons and neutrons and electrons. And that's stuff we know about.
But you want to find new stuff. And so to find new stuff, you have to say,
what are the extraordinary characteristics of whatever happens so that you can pull out
those literally one out of a billion events that can possibly be something new.
So that's the kind of the thing we're telling. What are the striking characteristics?
In fact, there's so much data that the large hadron collider is collecting that they can't
keep all of it. There's a billion events per second.
>>John Battelle: I sense a theme. It's sort of like the large hadron collider is sort
of like the SETI of inner space in a way. >>Lisa Randall: It's like the SETI if there
were a lot of signal. So in this case, there's -- they get a ton of data, which is to say
a billion events per second. So you have to actually narrow it down. You can't possibly
even store that much data. >>John Battelle: Not even Google.
>>Lisa Randall: Not even Google. But you can work on it.
But one thing that people actually get confused about about these particular experiments is
that you think about telescopes that point in space, and you have to know where you're
looking. In this case, you just record as much as you
can. You try to get anything that could look like something new. And then, afterwards,
you go back and analyze that data. And theorists can do that; experimenters can do it. But
you go back, and experiments will process it and then give it -- hand it along.
They're looking for various different types of theories. So, you know, people are surprised.
They're looking -- people say which are your theories you're looking for? They're looking
for all of them. And they don't even have to be consistent. Because there's one data
set. They're just collecting as much as they can.
>>John Battelle: Do you think they're throwing out data that might actually be useful, say,
five, ten years from now? If we only had it, we might go back and look at it and discover
something really important? >>Lisa Randall: So that actually is one of
the reasons that it is important to do theory, which is what I and my colleagues do. Because
we want to make sure that's not the case. And sometimes we do find out that they are
throwing away things that are potentially interesting. And then it's a question of managing
the probabilities, like, which are the things that are more important to keep. So, yes,
that possibility definitely exists, but we try to minimize it.
>>John Battelle: Do you think the discovery of the Higgs Boson and sort of the proof of
it, of the Higgs mechanism in the standard model is the biggest discovery in your lifetime
in your field? Or do you think more is coming? >>Lisa Randall: Oh, in my lifetime. That's
true. That includes the future, doesn't it? >>John Battelle: And if you paid attention
to the fellow earlier this morning, it's going to be a very long life.
>>Lisa Randall: Those are all good possibilities. So I definitely hope it's not the end. And
there are reasons to think it's not the end. Because in addition to the question of how
particles acquire their masses, just what is the mechanism underlying it, there's a
question of why those masses are what they are. Why aren't they many orders of magnitude
heavier? Which, it turns out, is what you'd expect according to quantum mechanics. And,
unbelievably, it's a really hard problem to solve.
And it turns out the answers to those questions seem -- so far, the only consistent answers
seem to involve very exotic possibilities, such as an extension of the symmetries of
space and time, the symmetry that says physics is the same in this direction and that, into
the quantum regime, or even as exotic as an extra dimension of space beyond the three
we're familiar with, left, right, back, forward, up, down. There could be some that explain
what masses are because of gravity changing in another dimension. These are extraordinary
possibilities. And they actually have experimental consequences at the large hadron collider.
The question -- I definitely believe there is more beyond. And it's very close in energy.
The question is whether the large hadron collider really will achieve the necessary energy to
get there. Because if it's a factor of two heavier, from the point of view of theory,
it still works fine as a solution. From the point of view of experiment, it's a difference
of seeing it or not seeing it. >>John Battelle: You're going to need a bigger
collider. >>Lisa Randall: So I definitely think that
-- I mean, it sounds funny, but, actually, the collider that we shut down was going to
be bigger, and it would have had about three times the energy, which is enormous. I mean,
that is a big difference. So, yes, they're all exploring the same energy
scale. But when we do the experiments, you are at the edge of what's possible. So doing
it halfway is useless unless there's stuff there.
And so you really want to get this high energy. It's not just a joke to say you want higher
energy. It really is true. >>John Battelle: I want to pivot to you, Ron.
And I swear we're going to bring this back together, I think, at the end. We've seen
a lot of pictures and video of space. You were there. A lot. And when you came back,
you came up with this phrase, which you and I have discussed and you talk about this orbital
perspective. You have a video of sort of -- sort of shows
that. But tell me what you mean by it, first. >>Ron Garan: Well, what I mean by it is we
could look down at our planet, we could realize that each and every one of us is riding through
the universe together on the spaceship that we call earth. We are all interconnected,
that we are all in this together, as Jill Tarter said, we are all family and it really
is a cognitive shift in just awareness of who we are and what we are and it is an incredible
transformational experience. I don't want to make it sound like it was
an epiphany. It wasn't an epiphany for me. It was an epiphany in slow motion over the
course of a half a year. I launched into space with the belief that we have all of the technology,
we have all of the resources to solve all of the problems that we face. And I spent
a good part -- you know, any spare time that I had, I had my face plastered to a window.
>>John Battelle: Like a kid staring out. >>Ron Garan: Usually with a camera in my hand,
looking at our beautiful earth and pondering that question. You know, if we do have all
of the technology, if we have all of the resources to solve all of the problems, why do we still
have them? What is the critical thing that's missing? And one of the -- one of the key
things that I think is missing is our ability to collaborate on a global scale. And if we
could show the first video, this -- before you show it one --
>>John Battelle: Roll that. >>Ron Garan: This is not CGI. This is real,
this will show you the global scale and as you watch this video, you see our beautiful
earth, our magical earth, I want you to see this so great contradiction between the beauty
of our planet and the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for many. That was one
of 16 sunrises we see a day. There goes Miami. And Cuba. Haiti it off to the left. You can
see the lights of Port-au-Prince there. That thin line, that's not the atmosphere. That's
something called (inaudible), the atmosphere is much, much thinner.
Here comes Europe. There's -- there's Italy, obviously. We're coming up there's Cyprus,
you can see Israel and Egypt, the Nile River Valley, coming into view the Red Sea. So this
is a time lapse photography, these are the auroras, what is really looks like now. This
is sped up a little bit, so the motion is a little bit more than what we get, but this
is really what it looks like. It's just absolutely breathtaking. But again, you know, you are
-- you are filled with this sobering contradiction. You can see the solar panels of the space
station tracking the sun, even though the sun is on the other side of the earth.
It is truly a magical, beautiful, planet that we have.
>>John Battelle: Now, it is gorgeous and I think -- since not all of us can spend six
months in space to get the point of view that you have now -- when you look at that video,
you are looking down at the earth. I'm curious, did you ever look the other way?
[ Laughter ] >>Ron Garan: I did.
>>John Battelle: And sort of wonder -- you know, Dr. Tarter here, so -- you know, do
you believe? >>Ron Garan: Do I believe in aliens?
[ Laughter ] >>Ron Garan: Well, I've never seen any aliens,
but that's because they're very, very small. [ Laughter ]
>>Ron Garan: Just kidding. >>John Battelle: When you are looking down,
do you have the Chris Farley moment when you are like "This is awesome!"
>>Ron Garan: Oh, yeah, every moment of every day. But the -- you know, you've brought up
a good point. You know, not everybody has had the opportunity to go into space and one
of the points that we're trying to make is you don't have to be in orbit to have the
orbit perspective. We saw that over the last couple of days. I mean, just awe-inspiring
visions of our planet, of where our planet is going, of what we can do as humans. We
are going to hear Peter Diamandis in a little bit about a possible path we can go down,
which will make life, you know, so much better than we have right now. To the point where
we're -- life on our planet approaches how visibly -- how visibly beautiful it is.
>>Lisa Randall: So actually I think one of the beauties of science is the fact that it
sort of gets outside of us. I mean, we have the world around us. I think we're focusing
on the around part when we think about what space is like. So we study the world, we study
us. But one of the beauties of science is that it is just intrinsic truths about the
universe. It doesn't necessarily involve us. I think that's great. And one of the great
things about the large Hadron Collider is it actually -- it's based at CERN, which originally
was just a European consortium. It's probably one of the most successful, if not the most
successful, international collaborations. >>John Battelle: Well, Ron was talking about
collaboration, it's more than a thousand physicists collaborating. That's the thing. But it's
also physicists from many different countries. It started off with 20 but it's increased.
And so it's all of those different countries working together because it's just a common
goal. It's not something that one country benefits from more than the other. And it
only really works because it was the European Union and now it's extended beyond that.
>>John Battelle: I'm curious, Ron, when you did your last space flight, you were working
with Russian cosmonauts and but it seems from the layperson's point of view that U.S. based
manned space flight, at least as a collective, not as a private, but as a collective government
funded effort, doesn't seem to have much of a future in it. But robotic based space flight
does. Do you think there's anything lost there? >>Ron Garan: Well, I think it's a misconception,
first of all. Actually, when we closed the hatch on Atlantis and Atlantis returned to
earth, I was getting messages from very, very concerned citizens wondering how our nation
could strand an astronaut in space with no obvious way to get home since the shuttle
was -- you know, since the space program was ended. So the space program has not ended.
We are going to continue human exploration, we are going to continue robotic exploration.
But what I think you are going to see -- we've had robotic exploration, we've had human exploration
-- we're going to see those coming together and we're going to see those combining. And
we've worked on that quite a bit on ways we can integrate robotics -- not just talking
robotic arms, but robotic explorers, scouting out seeing what's over the next hill type
of thing with human explorers. I think there's a great place for that.
>>Lisa Randall: There also are experiments out in space. So they are not even just looking
for other planets, but they are just looking -- well, for example looking for dark matter
or looking for particles in space that could tell you about dark matter, but could also
just tell you about other astrophysical objects, so there are missions to do that as well.
>>John Battelle: Great. There's one last very, very short video clip that, Ron, I want you
to set up. I think that starts with that sort of child-like face pressed up against the
space capsule. But then you see a bright line. Can we roll that real quick.
>>Ron Garan: Right. On the bottom of the international space station is the cupola. So I went to
the cupola once to shoot some still pictures that eventually got turned into the time lapse.
Here's the sun going down. This is the real shot of me in the cupola. And as I was taking
some practice shots, this picture popped up and in it was this long illuminated line snaking
across hundreds of miles. Initially, I just kind of wrote that off as a strange exposure
from moonlight on a river. I didn't know what it was. It turns out, this was not a natural
reflection at all. I was one of these astronauts that has always said you can't see any borders
from space. Apparently I was wrong because what this is is the manmade illuminated border
between India and Pakistan. Seeing that had, you know, just a tremendous impact on me.
For 50 years we've been going into space -- >>John Battelle: Like an angry scar across
the earth. >>Ron Garan: It's a sign of a lack of collaboration
is what it is. Part of the imagery that really indicated to me that that's the answer is
working together and collaborating. But, you know, it -- astronauts and cosmonauts have
always said how beautiful, how fragile, how peaceful our earth looks from space. These
are not cliches. It really is moving and transformative to have that perspective. Again, I can't say
this enough times, you don't have to be in orbit to have that perspective.
>>Lisa Randall: Also made the point that just --
>>> Told me (inaudible) grew up in a world where we are at war (inaudible) can you tell
us what it was like (inaudible) to go up in the Russian space (inaudible)?
>>Ron Garan: Yeah. That was surreal. Because I was born in the year that Yuri Gagarin became
the first human in space. 50 years later, almost to the day from this very same launch
pad, I'm strapping into a Russian rocket with two Russian military officers in a spacecraft
called Gagarin with an American flag on the side of it. Obviously, everything is in Russian.
>>John Battelle: Sounds like progress. >>Ron Garan: It is progress. On one of my
space walks, I'm looking down -- I was on the end of the space station's robotic arm,
way over the top of the space station, looking down at the international space station with
the earth behind it, obviously. But what really, really hit me in that moment was that this
is an accomplishment of humanity. This is 15 nations all working together, some of which
have not always been the best of friends. Setting aside their differences, working towards
a common goal, imagine what we can do if we apply that same concept here on earth.
>>John Battelle: Lisa, you were saying. >>Lisa Randall: I was saying I think also
one of the really nice things about science is looking beyond all of these questions and
I think Maria was partially making that point that we are all looking for answers to questions.
Right now we have access to many different questions about the substructure of matter
at scales of 10 to the minus 19th meters, we're looking at the universe out at 10 to
the 27th meters. So we are looking from that great big perspective and to a very small
perspective. And a lot of the missions in space, in fact, can connect those. For example,
understanding what is the universe made of, what is dark matter, what is dark energy,
all of this stuff that we don't even yet know about. So those are really interesting scientific
questions that with he have a hope of making progress on in the near future.
>>John Battelle: It's wonderful. I want you to answer very quickly the last question.
If time, politics, money, resources were not an issue, in each of your fields, what should
we be building? >>Ron Garan: Um ... what -- what I think -- main
focus, I think you can guess from my talk is to build a universal open source platform
for collaboration. And the reason why I think that's so important is because it will affect
everything else. And including economics. I really think that a true open source universal
platform for collaboration would be an economic engine. And some of the problems like corruption
and, you know, unhealthy competition, secretive dealings, all of that stuff, the people who
engage in that will see themselves being left behind and instead of hitting those type of
things head on, we make them obsolete. We make them obsolete because the people who
are engaged in that would have to take on a more cooperative mindset, more collaborative
mindset, more open mindset in order to keep up with that economic growth. It would affect
education, it would affect humanitarian development across the board. Scientific research all
across the board. If we have mechanisms to work together to avoid duplication of effort,
to get real economies of scale, et cetera. >>Lisa Randall: So I have already partially
given you an answer. In my field actually just having a higher energy, bigger accelerator,
that would make a huge difference. >>John Battelle: You want a bigger collider.
>>Lisa Randall: It would make a huge difference. Because it really is a difference between
knowing that we are going to get the answers to these questions and not being sure. But
since there's a little bit of time -- >>John Battelle: There's actually no time.
Negative time. But you understand that better than I do.
[ Laughter ] >>Lisa Randall: I'm going to say this anyway.
I think one thing that is also an interesting possibility that is just beginning to happen,
it's not even my field, but I think that it's very exciting is the possibility of gravity
wave detectors. And that's because everything that we've detected so far we detect with
life in some form. In some level we are looking at photons. I think the idea of really having
detectors that just look at gravity is a really exciting possibility because it goes beyond
things that are just like us, so I think if that happens that would be really exciting.
>>John Battelle: Well, please join me in thanking these two extraordinary individuals. Thank
you, Lisa. [ Applause ]