Neil deGrasse Tyson on Finding Krypton

Uploaded by AMNHorg on 14.11.2012

museum got a call a
couple months ago from d_c_ comics
and they said here's our idea we want superman to come to the hayden
the destruction Krypton

we all know the profile of superman
he left Krypton on on in this basket
moses style
to escape the destruction of his home planet
if he comes to the Hayden Planetarium and observes the death of Krypton
from an actual star
that star will have an actual distance
it has an actual distance
it tells us exactly how old superman is
my task at their request
well actually they didn't even know how to ask it they just said could they just show
this and I said sure you can show it
why don't i get you an actual star
alright they didnt even know that maybe we could do that
alright there are star catalogs
let me see if there's a star
that is late twenty-something light years away
then it would take and twenty something years for its light to get here
superman is twenty something years old
he sees the destruction
there's a huge effort that's been going on for the past several decades to catalog
the nearby stars in the night sky
i look at the nearby catalogs
and i find a star that's twenty-seven light years away
that's a nice virile age for superman to be
it is an M Dwarf
it's red
so was superman's home star
his home star which i would learn in my conversation with them has a name it's
called rao r _a_o
it's red
so we got a red star
at the right distance
that start as far as we know does not have a planet so the Krypton remains
the fictional part of this the catalog is called the LHS catalog
this is
star number twenty five twenty in that catalog
so you ID hte star l_h_ s twenty five twenty
an added little feature
because there's several stars that i've offered them they said let's pick
this one in particular and i said why
because I also told him where on the sky it was this one is in the constellation Corvus
which is latin for the crow
there are 88 constellations in the night sky
one of them is the crow
it's found
in the southern hemisphere
they picked that one because something i didn't know
smallville high school
were the crows
you know what more could you want out of this, out of how all this works out
alright so now
what's next well he's got to
watch it get destroyed
but we have data on planets
now we don't actually see the planets 'cause they're too small there to dim
and their lost in the glare host star
that's the problem
in astrophysics there is a branch of our field called interferometry
where you know what you really want is the biggest telescope you can
possibly bring to bear
on your object
a bigger telescope
collects more light
allowing you to see dimmer things
you can't make a telescope big enough
to see the detail on Krypton
so we do something very clever and create what's called an interferometer
interferometer is, you know
i want a telescope this big but
this is a hundred miles I can't make a hundred-mile diameter telescope
or a thousand miles
but if I'm clever I can put a telescope here
and a telescope here
and observe the object
at the same time
and keep track of how I'm observing it with such detail
that i can combine these two
sets of data together
and I'll have the resolution
as if my telescope were actually that size
we don't yet know how to make
using visible light telescopes which is just an ordinary telescope
so i said here's what i can do for you
speaking to the d_c_ comic folks
i said
we can
get all the telescopes of the world to observe
Krypton at exactly the same time
then we can pretend like we figured out a way to do it
with our supercomputer that isn't doesn't exist yet
and they said no no no
you don't need to supercomputer that doesn't exist
because we have superman
an additive power that superman now has
because of this comic strip
is that he can stand over your computer
and use his powers to analyze
and reduce data
in such a way
to create the world's largest
optical interferometer
of all the world optical telescopes
and so he does this
in our dome
because we before this coordinated all the observations he brings them all
together we project on the dome
the destruction of Krypton
i was wondering
why you felt
it was so important to have the science right because we're talking about comic
books and you know there's a lot of stretches of the imagination there but
it's wonderful that you came to it with this passion
to make it real. That is an excellent question
and i have a simple answer
in my experience my life experience
many artists
don't reach as far many artists who are inspired by science
don't reaches far into it
as they could
i think out of fear that the science might restrict their creativity
so they take some of the low hanging science
put it in and then they wrap it t in their storytelling
but i maintain
there's so much science particularly in astrophysics
that if you did you understand it
it adds to your creativity
it gives you more
places and ways to be creative
so rather than
constricting you
i think it liberates you