« StarTalk Radio

StarTalk Live! Satisfying our Curiosity about Mars

2013-03-28 | 🔗
StarTalk Live descends on The Bell House to celebrate the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars, with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sarah Silverman, Jim Gaffigan, Eugene Mirman and Dr. David Grinspoon.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Skip the commercials support star talk on patriarch to listen to every episode, Commercial free, Welcome to start off your place in the universe where science and pop culture collide knocked off begin right now below welcome to an amazing evening of star talk. Live It is my very great pleasure bring to the stage meal the ground, this evening. The topic will be
The exploration of the solar system I reached into my rolodex, found one of my colleagues. He is actually greater of Astro biology at the Denver Museum of Nature and science is an expert on the solar system and its work on them, this curiosity rover Give me a warm welcome date. David David. Welcome. Thanks go to be here. I think yet ready do so. Its party now, to bring out the wonderful Sarah Silverman? She brought her back back in case
there is studying a larger and ladies gentlemen, Jim again right. Wait before we begin Jim, you came out with an album called Mr Universe. That's right, I did account, will hold you to that right. Just so, you know I'm an on every thing in the universe, private smartest person here right now, I'm not intimidated. Just before we begin, I consulted with your bartenders. The back bar and there is a special drink tonight, called them Should the sunrise and I confess to some just a little lemon that hanging over the edge of the cup like a little sunrise, but the drink is certainly red sign a tiny bit of bacteria.
Mars. It will kill you with a ten seconds and you'll wake up with someone that looks like a you'll be able to jump really high exam Clay terrorist guy was a risk that we get to you. Carter in a moment site so David. It was page one story, and if you re sized Rover was plunging down on Mars, like what's up that's what we're ready. It made it. We always scale, I said, is not going to work. Because you go nine months and then it wasn't just the airbags like the old ones did right. That was scary, but I got accustomed to the airbag landing this one it had like heat shields.
Hyper sonic, drogue, shoot and then ritual rockets, and then a voice creates it was some Rube Goldberg would have design thinking. I don't want to go back on Mars, so with his ok videos, no deals on Mars. Let's make her teeth Why does it have to be an issue? Be our main? I wish they would do something a little better for the environment, but the last one was a mini cooper. Electric last one was sore. This one's got those cider. So, first of all, how confident we this whole sequence of landing devices would work. I wasn't confident at all and I was sitting bricks. I'm on the science cited this thing, so we ve got our instruments. We want to get them onto this
First American go to interesting places, so we can learn things in the engineering side of it. Those guys tell us, don't worry, that's a work, and then we say so. How are you going to do it and they just tried this thing. You know what's going to come in at hypersonic velocity and may as turns and then draw up the heat shield and there's a parachute and is going to fire these rockets and then it's gonna stop fifty meters up and hover and drop things down on this on a voice. Ten were like you gotta, be kidding me that second of work- and it was scary- we were scared. I was not confident and this is literally more complicated than making avatar to put it in perspective and even an even more expensive? If you can believe that barely so will you say like twice the cost of avatar? Actually it was about ten times the cost of avatar. Now but if you tell me if it's worth ten times as much is avatar going to say
actually measure everything in terms of the cost of avatar. This rig is usually a fifth avenue. We called out the EU the avatar unit so though it landed on the marketplace, lads back to where we were. What did you know that I had a private twitter conversation with the rover just before it landed, I don't she was me. I had a relationship, meaning you we did. The rover in the rover was like high Neil, the Rover Tweedy. Now I was probably just some old guy pretending. I can't talk now about to have got through seven units, tat every snakes rockets have higher and direct all about that.
Because you were mentioning this tension between the scientists and engineers, one of my last question was: how do you like scientists and engineers. You asked the robber this nice, this of the rover, and what did she say? Yes, a she says she actually here it is Scientists have to build a lady. Instead, it must answer they fall in love. She said she would not pick between the two that they are both important. Her loves us. Both she loves us both. Yes, so it worked landed. Nothing went wrong. Almost nothing went wrong. What went wrong well, helicopter crashed into the wall now Emory was work, since it was remarkably free of goods is actually. I did. My very last question to curiosity, which has earned
was mentioned, was reprimand. Its sea sounds very curious ass. I said you type Where are you did I have named Geocities my where a party do, I say: Martian pulls out from under a rock climbs on your back and ride you like a road She said that was not in my briefings What's funny, we wouldn't actually know if there was life on Mars if it was just hiding behind the camera, they're on top of the robber? It would have to be completely moving behind the cat,
there might be a practical joker, martian riding around everything, adorable secret for you, I'm gonna considers singing all of the ads on this shell there's just one. And where to get out of hearing there, go to patriarch arms last star, talk and sub. Where does at the five dollar level or higher to listen the star talk ad free You can download all current episodes into your favorite, podcast player and never
we're here, another commercial on star talk ever again. You will definitely not have to hear me saying if you support us at Patria, dark coms. Last our talk, radio, I mean I'm just thinking I mean just saying. Where's characters like ten experiments understand. What's your favorite among well, I'm a partial because part of. The instrument teams, I helped propose an design, and so by partially being revised and by ok. So what honest, which I mean, the obvious thing saves the cameras gives a camera theirs, cook, as we all want to see in its beautiful and it's amazing in part of his sight seeing, but our instrument is called rad and it is rather it's the radiation assessment detector and we are measuring for the first time I would read: how do you like that? It's what its name I invented that ten years ago
nowhere. Measuring how much radiation there's only serves to Mars has never been measured before it is one of the things that would possibly kill you and possibly kill martian bugs when a characterize it and see what it's doing in the soil and in the atmosphere. So that's not measuring anything about Mars itself, but just stuffed it's coming to Mars. Well, but it's doing stuff to Mars when you say martian bugs you don't know about that. I'm not saying there are margin that I'm just saying or their martian bugging, Also. Are they attacking us? Well, that was a swift. No martian bugs microscopic life of some? Well, that's what we're trying to figure out what the red detector would tell you whether radiation flux, sterilised, surfers and claw, but exactly probably affairs bugs microbes whatever on Mars their underground, because on the surface, there's no water, there's ultra violet.
Raising its ass arab? What underground thereby water, it's a little more reasonable temperature and your shielded from the radiation. But what we're trying to figure out? How deep do you have to be if you're, a martian bug what's happening to the radiation? The thing to do is to measure in at the surface and then also fits very heavy on the surface. We gotta go a little deeper to get the books. Did you guys already have you're. What is really awkward. I just realized now that we weren't talking about the Mars candy bars I'll, send a memo earlier. Next, I already figured out the radiation. Do you have the answer in your does not telling us is your picture essentially. Yes, we have data, but we haven't released yet, but it's not just cause we're jerks its cause, we're trying to figure out if it's right- and there are some tricky things like we mention this nuclear power source that puts out
radiation, so we have to make sure we're not just measuring that way. So you have a nuclear power plant on the rover, not a power plant. It's the power source You know my baby comin in any day and is one meal is wrong about some things. I d just literally a joy to see his moustache getting now, where touchy about this, because he is. The nuclear word. People get sometimes upset. I wouldn't have any idea. Watch one of verboten inwards, that's right! So when we use that inward we try to be carefully and it's not nuclear power plant with a cooling towers and the turbines, and all that it's a bunch of plutonium. That's given off here and will you to generate electricity, found another thing to call to not spoke. People were launched. We cover that not scary, big power thing it's one of those good safe nuclear power. In power source, but you wouldn't
Then the drinking water of humans wound but portions what Why do you need nukes? Did other landers have nukes? I don't think so. I know what I think This lander has more than ten times, much scientific instrumentation than anything with social needs more power needs more power, as Kirk would say two Scotty, I need more power. Andy can run at night can run in any season and it should once had sold. Animals they can only one of the data they have solar panels. Couldn't charge a battery and keep working at night to see, degree you can. But martian winter. The motive power goes down if your solar panels gets covered with. It's a martian, pointed out on his very low in the sky, yet what one of them did die because the winner, because one of the two rovers, if the power goes down enough, that you can't run the heaters at night, then you die. That already happened whenever previous rover. So if you want to do a lot of science, you want a lot of power about it.
Imitation when at last a long time and be odour of anywhere on Mars, send nukes exactly that's what exactly what happened there? Ok, now one of the experiments I happen to like the name of the alpha proton X, ray spectrometer. You gotta love the sound of that. This sounds like some. You know in bad man's utility Bell yeah, it's others illegal, your brain It sounds like seven. These version of the future speed, not the author proton X Rays patrol motor, why, yes, that man, so what is there to force with the alpha proton ex respect? amateur. You must get summing up. We have Eugene told me, I swear and then I was joking and I was a kid. I say
you get so much pudding. I got in there now you get a lot of money because you can go up to any rock and go hey baby. You sap it with x rays and you look at what comes back and it tells you what the minerals are made out of. What's in that rock, how much iron it is it's a way of this clay, probing the rocks, Two sided with you, but it's not like it's away a programme on parliamentary. I was by the way we work. You know what the rocks are made out of, because we want to know what the story perhaps acts with the history of that place. Well, that's a way to break the ice here care and it landed where on Mars, because a lot of places to go you pre picked a spot. We landed in a place called galaxies I've been there. It's nice sorrel advice actually named after a friend of mine, Gale Gale that funny
is that killed by a martian, I might add is by far the coolest We ve ever landed on Mars, because The universe has been their color blazed up here. It's a cool place Ryan because it's an ancient greater than it used to be a lake and has are these sentiments in it. They tell us about the ancient past on Mars and it's gonna, five kilometer as three miles for you, Americans. Three mile high mountain no of it that we're going to climb up and it's like, Grand Canyon on Mars? Every layer is from a different time and martian histories can tell the whole story so not just amount that lifted up. So material. It has laid bare its layers. What looks that way? away from orbit and now we're seeing it in the distance as we start to approach it, and it's like utilised
the layers and canyons and juicy stuff Norman, Bobo everyone five my way next but there's gonna, be a help him and that greater. So you ve got this crate, have what's the diameter, the greater its bout, a couple hundred kilometers across it big crater, so like a huge stadium, sized yeah, ok, but it's big for a rover, bats very late, very huge stated. When you compare exactly hundreds of kilometres to a stadium, four hundred metres sort, two hundred kilometers yeah is it is nice to know its size, the lake and I believe he stole arena? It's it's a big greater. I was asked by a thousand. Who is it happens? All tat happens, all the time so you go hundred million miles to Mars
and in a crater that's a hundred miles across really good hole in one year we actually landed in of landing ellipse, which is the area that issued for that was only about fifteen miles across and that's a first that we ve been able to confirm all our landing. To that extent, with that crazy cockamamie lands, that's what the engineers did for exactly utilizing an airbag, which is banned. Way out of the crater, and it would be no good to you. But that's. Why what a man in a much more interesting places we overland before, because before you need any lips, so we ve actually picked the most boring places on Mars demand before cause. You wanna be safely pick. Some are really flat, but you go to the mountains, the canyons the craters, but we haven't dare do that before. I got a little flat, area between the mountain and recycling and the balances percent. We have to do that, and so now we can see this mountain in the distance and we're gonna get them. We never been took place. I gotta Mummy time when we landed on Mars before, let's see successfully here we ride believe in by the what yes
how many the and it just hit, I guess we have what five successful man exporting. Vikings, murders. I know I do. Viking Sojourner Phoenix E Tumors seventh, although you're just enable comic book. So this is number seven, but we have as many attempts and the Russians have dozens of attack The ever failed government well, but they they did better. It needs all Putin's. Why did better at Vienna, tat Russians from mass of our environment getting all venereal, I mean that's the technical scientific there Herbs so the warranty on curiosity rubber? Well, you know I been pretty unreliable without warranties before, but this was the last two years. Two years I mean we ve been, are reliable and that the EU s longer softly engineers really didn't purposely genuflect in front of them now murders the last robbers we're smaller, lousy. Ninety Mars exploration, rollers, the last two rivers were spoke
last ninety days, one of them still go in eight years later now these are supposed to last two years but the power source last more than ten, and so we want to get overconfident by potentially we could be there a long time. What kind of list of the cool things that Mars have in common with her with the top of Europe what's stopping, which should we start with Jason, about figures, my reports of Mars. Is they put a shake check in there? I would lie
you just wherever you want to go, you're not going to go now two years to get there but their lines, there's no line, maybe like a camera. You can check it online, there's gonna be ordered. I would have stayed a coup. This thing is the river beds, their dried up, but they speak to us. Flowing water with they meander. So there was water on Mars. There were no water and not like liquid ammonia. Well, if one point, when we just had pictures from orbit, people said what they look like rivers, but gotta be ammonia I would say to you sure: it's not didactic ever use shore imposed apocalyptic state where there was life, love this guy Percival Vowel. That's basically what he said: a hundred years ago, so you should talk, where equal, Sarah really able I, whereas we are now coming from that, was a thing
that Mars was sort of dying civilization and that's where the rivers came from, but people thought well. How do you know it's water, but now, been there with these other rovers. That was the main finding exciting thing we found rocks on the surface minute. There are only made by flowing water, so we ve gotta now that one with the last robbers that there is only made by standing water, yes well, respond signs of standing and his remarks you can make minerals out of flowing water standing what're you to talk, makes me feel so dark now, but that, but then I thought you could say that it makes you feel alive. You have large look at no. We found Mister Fogg GM. Precisely these sulphur minerals there's no way to make em. We don't know of any way to make them other than this sort of precipitating out of while actually teach them get a delta plus another make minerals are over those who knows so, like the polar icecaps you gotta love the ice cap. We got icecaps like ice cap,
Mars rotates in twenty four hours. We will take twenty four hours right, actually not quite twenty four hours. What's that, that won't Mars's idly slower. It's like a half an hour longer in the day, which is strange, so people studying Mars or their earth time on Mars time there on Mars time, actually without their last week, where oil are not on Mars. While I was Thirdly, in my judgment, Paulsen, laboratory in Pasadena, where we're running the rover from and the day is Mars time which changes compared to California diamond. It's really an article about its time is on the same scale for neither well sometimes that is, but it's what is passed at your hours out of the deep down by half an hour a day which is convenient if you're stuck in traffic, but actually it's very weird because it gets to the point where it's completely the opposite, and fine, if here you know a grad student or whatever you're just doing that, but if you have a family or whatever, it leads to like divorces and psychosis and bad things, how many more
Divorces. Has there been? I can't you precise number, but I can tell you not zero, but what it's about a twenty four hour day and Mars is tipped on its axis. About the same degrees that we're tipped on our access to Mars has seasons. That is the cause of the seasons by not cuz. We get closer to the sun farther from same yeah. I know, but you didn't know how much we thought they didn't know. So you can think this through cause. You knew that the southern hemisphere has opposite seasons to us and if earth were closer to the sun, one time of year than another. If that's, what made summer than all of us would have summer at the same time, and we don't so distance, the sun can have nothing to do with the arts.
But on Mars distance citizen changes. The season because Mars has a non circular orbit in southern summer on Mars, is about hotter than northern summer, because Mars is weird in that way. So it's it's. It's combination of the two on Mars money does. This Do you mind you mind we're talking so one thing. You mentioned you're residents with Percival Lowell thought he saw, canals and marks the famous Martian Canals Plumy ask what will probably be Wilna there's no, but a success if it happens, needs translate? Yes, he said: there's polar cat zeal with no water, we're on our way. We used to think back in the days of your body. Percival, we used to think of polar caps were water, which is kind of makes sense because they were poor. Gaps are made out of, but
turns out Mars is really called in their dry ice, its frozen sea or too there's a little bit of water there, but it's mostly dry ice You would have a pretty good wording exactly you got so so Phoenix Lander, went to the ice caps right. Pretty close, so we had one lander that we actually sent right up to the edge and found ice in the soil, which was really cool water, ice and disorder. Rather yeah yeah. So so there is an honor I have. As you know, we found ice cap is what we did still water on Mars. There's frozen water, Estonia for soil in the high latitude, we'll regular water. Their models when he water there, maybe scientific committee we get out of it a club. So we, if you have the water and you have a sea or to make club so that you can Jim
now. Can I be honoured? Me are. For what I go about. The Mars have shrank and growled. The winter is shrinking growing, there's a whole history there of climate change on Mars in the players in the cap. So, like China, investigate extra, take your fee, we can learn about the long term, climate history and just getting to that one ice was here when you sign strict geography. Worry you be layers, I mean layers, but it sounds more science, if I say
No one is denying. Can I ask you something Mars is read: how do we know that's not all blood is what many taken go for Jim Mars is red, For the same reason, your blood is right. It's a yeah, it's worse, descent. Your blood is red cause. It's like oxidized iron hemoglobin, him Heem Group is not, or not accidents as a rambling is on Mars. Gas can ask you bet another route like. Why is cause allergy and cosmetology. What do they share?
the same thing. It's basically the same thing one uses make up and the other concerns itself with the origin of the universe, but otherwise saying in which is which again So now how come they always couch the mission statement in ways. They were not actually saying we're lookin for life. We can look for war, could be like we're. Looking for minerals that could tell you is water, Why all the subterfuge? Because we know how to look for life by that once and we realized, we didn't know what we were doing where, where do you mean? How do we try it? What we automation called Viking, our Neverland relating seventy six and did all these experiments email is no one responding the experiments worked and then afterwards we said we, dont really enough. We found life as we didn't even know what questions
ask, and then we realized decades later what we gotta go back and do this rumour slowly and try to understand the history of Mars and what kind of life there my could it be that you cannot ask what something is if you only have one example of it,. Yeah. That's big problem with Astor by cannot characterize. Life is as much as biologists seller. What they call biodiversity. At the end of the day, all life has common dna and common origin. You are dealing with a sample of one when you have a sample of one, you don't really have a science. Do you you ve had on our problem. That's what I want. I said myself, but this is a major problem for asked or biology is worrying, something we have one example. How scientific is that what you define? What life. Please can we have one example: their legacy from Silicon base thing imaging and upon somewhere in California. Recently that you I saw that episode,
I know that said, was vague about where there is like one thing that was found that had legate different all your time. Other arsenic based life, yeah. Sorry Actually, I know that was really like baseline. I was really hyped and possibly interesting, probably wrong wasn't another kind of like that. Stuff was still carbon based. Just maybe had a different kind of dna so harshly for you can only learned much from the USA is presently if I may elaborates on that, for example, that the reason why that arsenic result, if it had really been shown to be true, was so interesting- is that in life phosphorus is fundamental to, but you may have. Or other functions within what it is.
To be alive, as we know it and every molecule of dna in your body count that is important rights. Now arse Kills us right, wise arsenic, kill us because it sits. Actually below phosphorus on the periodic table If you are in a line on the periodic table, you have the same number of electrons in your outer orbit, which means you combine in the same way make the same. Damn molecules your body cannot tell the difference between phosphorus and arsenic, because this is the same valence electrons, arsenic comes in your body, didn't tell the difference. You end up dead, so if you have a microbe that can uptake arsenic just as happily is up takes phosphorus. Then you have widened the net What you would use to search for life in the cosmos, Have you? No? No! You have
funny thing is it's probably wrong, because arsenic is really unstable. On earth, arsenic, dna: we just fall apart. But accidentally they may have found something that would work on tighten the moon of sand moon of Saturn, where its way to call for our kind of dna but Arsenic DNA turns out is stable on tightened. You remember that in the seventies was it the Viking Orbit or that took a picture and it was a face on Mars. Remember that it was like had eyes and a nose and a mouth. So what's up with, that will definitely looks like a face,
from a certain angle, with certain baroness to the picture so looks like a Simeon face yet looks like a human, and, of course, our brains are designed to recognise faces. So people in hey there's something up here, so we would jellyfish. We would have not noticed it at all problems What have we would apply? What I've seen there's a lot of other features on Mars. Do look like we were got. Would we then have noticed it quite positively about a way to do that. Base while you were, there is very little to show, is actually waiting for a phone call from meal and I swear just doodling. So we went back with another spacecraft and took more close up photographs and there was actually big debate. Should NASA go back and shoot the face because that was giving crew two, but of course we should look at it and we would just to be clear. Face was not just a finger painting in the surface
topography do is a top a logical structure like attic mountains like a man? This structure was huge right by huge structure. Yeah I'd, like I sockets knows about at that meeting. I wish it would take you a good data hike up the face So that's probably the first time that sentence has ever been uttered Austria, the world it would take you. Good day to a hike up the face. That's a cool sentence, What's funny is so weak. We went back we photograph in more detail with better angles and guess what it's a big eroded mountain. That's it because the Martians covered it up once they learn well see the conspiracy ferris, that's what they said. They said NASA blew up the face. George Bush do that face was gonna happen or narrow. Nasa blew up grace NASA faked. The pictures. George Bush said it. If you really want to believe
face than no amount of data is going to convince you. Otherwise you just interpret it in your own way, but actually Jim Garvin. It used to be the chief Mars scientist at NASA. He did make a hiking map for the face in instructions which included bring plenty of oxygen, So, with this face, you take higher resolution images and others angles, and it didn't look like a face. So the only thing that look like face at all. Solar angles- is a face so are just special angling to make that happen. I so did you convince the honor, you know you can. We will face on Mars in your fine lots of websites of true, but we Pursue you know it just deepens. Wouldn't they early someone like made a face. Mountain, yes, This makes nobody big. Just under the figs ago, a guy's got that cloud looks like lead, Zeppelin, exactly Peru, it's a mess
measured, lowly lasted us rose, people are observes thing here they are but their amusing. Sometimes so you got these other features. There's valorous Marineris latin for what we are really about the mariner. How big colleagues Mariner Valley is ridiculously big. It's about as the Continental Yonhap edgewise yeah, you could take our group. Canyon and put it in their sideways across it and it would fit well. You say if you take our entire grand Canyon, pregnant sideways, put it in sideways and would fit in. Yes is like a bridge across this actually and its. Lucas minds that latin for mountain with honour limpets as a volcano. That's a volcano is the biggest man in the solar system, it's about three times as high as Mt Everest, its mass but if you're on the edge of it, it wouldn't even barely know you're on a slope. It's very largely sloping. Yet massive. It's a big man, your bookmarks! I want with its demands. So in, like a geologic feature smack down
we would lose to Mars bicker. It depends if you just into size than absolutely Mars has been volcanoes, bigger canyons There have been someone gave it. They're volcanoes are just sitting there not a rubbing? They have interrupted in words, and I won't try harder. We had knight rider. We have so many things. They never had absolutely Jack Nicholson, yeah with the remake of Knight Rider, not re, but we added if we don't know what kind of movies have on Mars women explore damage, there's probably ablaze with a bunch of old age as states there, the product coverage of blood. Splatter films. We can't get blood thing, so water was once more. How long ago you got your drive river badgered layers. Billions and billions of years you don't say it right, yeah she has to come out. Here the whole audience on three June out one tooth
say, take some lessons from Brooklyn here right. So we know it's been a long time, because Mars is covered with creators and as this is an ancient surface and you can tell how all the rivers are because their covered with graters too, and there are no young surfaces with river. So it was a long time ago. It was when Mars was a young baby planet. It was a more earth like place. The atmosphere escape the waters, gone and integrity for a long time. Eighteen, fifty like your thing for that matter, art, so Mars was once wet and presumably fertile let's drink with clean right. I sit Anthony Ancillary, any says. Why is it that when you talk about the universe
twenty when startled live? Comes back? We're gonna talk about estimations elsewhere in the solar system beyond MAR. Today we should listen. The star talk, commercial, free, joint start compatriots for as little as five dollars per month and the ads will disappear. Learn more at patriarch dot. Coms. Last star talk, radio,
Transcript generated on 2020-01-25.