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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: StarTalk Podcast: Cosmic Queries – The Deep with Neil deGrasse Tyson

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- Hey, Youtubiverse.

Coming up next, StarTalk Cosmic Queries: The Deep Edition.

(exciting music)

This is StarTalk.

I'm your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Your personal astrophysicist.

And I got with me Chuck Nice.

- Hey, Neil.

- [Neil] Chuck, today is Cosmic Queries.

That's one of our favorite forms.

- Everybody love it.

- Everybody loves it.

- Everybody loves it.

- Everybody love it.

- Everybody loves it.

- Everybody love it.



We are, in fact, educated people.

- I know.

My mom is spinning in her grave right now.

- So, but this is a Cosmic Queries

of a topic we've never solicited before.

- No we have not.

And the topic is the deep.

Deep space.

Deep thoughts.

- Deep questions.

- Deep questions.

- Chuck, you got to give it in your deepest voice.

- Okay, here we go.

- By the, we did this once.

- [Chuck] Yes, we did.

- And I think I beat you by half a tone or something.

Just barely.

Let me hear it.

- Oh, here we go.

Deep thoughts.

- Deep thoughts.

- Yeah, you got me already.

- Deep.

- See, I got to drink scotch the night before.

- And smoke a cigar.

- Yeah, I got to smoke a cigar and drink some scotch.

- Smoke and alcohol just fixed that right up.

- But then it becomes a deep voice

and somewhat Harvey Fierstein.

- [Neil] Raspy.

- Yeah, it was like deep thoughts.

- Thoughts.

- [Chuck] Oh my god.

- If you put on the accent.

- Deep thoughts.

- Thoughts.


Scotch doesn't give you the Harvey Fierstein accent.

- That'd be pretty cool if it did.

A couple scotches.

- Deep, deep.

- Could someone call me an Uber?

I've had too much to drink.

- Deep.

All right, let's get deep.

And I like deep thoughts,

'cause usually there isn't a right answer.

So, you just get to sort of play with it

and see where it takes you.

- So, this is deep questions only.

- Let's do it.

Solicited from our fanbase.

- It's from our fanbase.

And, as usual, we start with a Patreon patron,

because they're fans that pay us.


And nothing says fandom like a check.

- All right.

There are different levels you can be at Patreon.

- The way Patreon works.

- What's the lowest level?

- $5 a month.

Actually, you can go down to two.

- [Neil] $2 a month.

- But we really want you to come in at five

so that you can get the perks of getting our videos.

And being able to get extra content.

- We revamped that recently.

- And we read your names.

- I don't remember what's in the list.

One of them, I think, you come on the show.

- [Chuck] Yes, that's the.

- We put you on StarTalk.

- Yes, you come on the show

and you are a guest on the show.

- Right, and you get to ask all the questions you want.

- That's cool, man.

You know what, I would do.

- We didn't say whether we'd actually air it.

- Oh, that's so wrong.

- No, no, we do.

- By the way, wouldn't that be the ultimate rip-off?

It's like, "So, when can I expect to see this?"

Oh, you can't unfortunately.

All right, so, let's go with our Patreon patron.

And here's the question from Jonathan Wax.

And Jonathan says or asks,

"What boggles your mind more than

the thought of endless time

or the thought of endless space?"

So, it's impossible to truly contemplate endless time,

because you would spend

the rest of your existence doing so.

- Well, here's.

Two things boggle me.

There's a beautiful frontier of research going on

in the field of neuroscience.

- Oh, interesting.

- So, I have two questions related to that

that boggle my mind.

- [Chuck] Okay, I'm gonna write these down.

- Can the human brain figure out the human mind?

- It's a great question.

- If it is the human brain.

- That actually creates the human mind.

- That creates the human mind.

- That's a good question.

- That's what I'm saying.

Or do you need something outside of that

that is greater, smarter, different?

So that it can come in and then understand that

as its own test kitchen.

- Wow.

- [Neil] Carl Sagan has famously said.

- Go ahead.

- That humans are the universe's way to understand itself.

- The universe is understanding itself through human beings?

- Through humans, correct.

Without humans, there'd be no thoughts to do that.

However, that elevates us higher than I'm prepared to do so.

Because who says we are the measure

of what is intelligent in this universe?

- Well, we do.

- Exactly, exactly.

- So, that statement, that Carl Sagan statement,

it's kind of like a cosmological Descartes.

That's like the universe, the Descartes.

- I think, therefore I am kind of thing, okay.

- Right, but it's like we think, therefore you are.

- Ooh, ooh, Chuck.

- Every once in a while, I'll do something.

- We think, therefore you are.

Rather than I think, therefore I am.

Ooh, Chuck, that was beautiful.

- Aw, thanks, man.

- We should end the show right now.

We ain't surpassing that thought.


Thank you for watching StarTalk.

It's downhill from here.

So, I wonder whether there is

a level of intelligence out there

where we are to they what chimpanzees are to us.

- That's interesting.

So, how.

Oh, that's terrible.

- Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

- Oh, I hope not.

- You can go to a chimpanzee and say,

"Tomorrow morning at 8:30,

let's go to Starbucks and have a cup of coffee."

Nothing in that sentence makes any sense to a chimpanzee.

Or ever will.

- I'm pretty sure there's a chimp Starbucks.

I'm just pretty sure there is a chimp Starbucks somewhere.

I'm just saying.

- You think Starbucks figured out

how to make chimp Starbucks?

- Yeah, Starbucks has got to be selling chimps

coffee somehow, someway.

- Is that why they're so hyper at the zoo?

- Exactly, you know what I mean?

You go to get your coffee.

And it's just like, "Curious George?

Curious George?

Decaf latte for Curious George."

Okay, sorry.

- Wait, wait, so.

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Here's why I say that.

And I say this many times.

I've written it.

I will tell you to your face now.

- [Chuck] All right, good.

- So, there's about 1% difference in DNA

between humans and chimps.

Yet we like to think of ourselves as.

- [Chuck] Highly superior.

- Highly superior intellectually to the chimp.

Maybe the difference in our brain power

is as small as that 1% indicates.

So that pulling termites out of a mound with a stick

that was carefully chosen from a branch is.

From a bush.

Maybe that is not very far from.

- Space travel.

- The Hubble Telescope.


Think about it.

No, no, I know this sounds crazy.

No, no, think about it.


- Oh, look at those cute, little humans

and their telescopes they're putting up there.

- [Neil] That's what I'm saying.

- Look at.

Is that a space shuttle?

Did they just launch.

- So, now, watch.

Smartest chimp that are studied in labs

that are brought before chimp societies.

You bring them forward and what do they do?

They'll stack boxes to reach a banana.

It might put up an umbrella.

They'll do some things.

Have rudimentary sign language.

Our toddlers can do that.

- Right.

- But those are the smartest chimps.

- You're right.

- But our toddlers do that.

- Same thing with dogs.

Dogs have about.

- I can do this example for dogs, as well.

But chimps is simpler.

- 'Cause they're closer to us.

- [Neil] Even closer.

- I got you.

Got you.

See what you're doing.

- You see where I'm going.

If the smartest chimp equals our toddler

and there's only 1% difference in DNA between us,

let's go 1% beyond us.

- Ooh, that's scary.

- That's what I'm saying.

If we go 1% beyond us in that same vector of intelligence.

- Yeah, they're traveling at the speed of light.

They've figured out light travel.

- Then the smartest human, they'll roll forward.

They'll take Steven Hawking and they'll say,

"This human is slightly smarter than the rest,

because he can do astrophysics calculations in his head.

Like little Timmy over here

who just came home from alien preschool."

- Right.

- The toddler.

- The toddler, right.

- And they'll say, "Oh, you just composed a sonnet.

Isn't that cute?

Let's put it up on the refrigerator.

Oh, you just derived the principles of calculus.

Oh, isn't that cute?"

- That's funny.

- So, if the smartest human does what their toddlers can do,

their average people will have thoughts.

They will have sentences that will

rise above and beyond our most brilliant capacity

to understand.

And I stay awake at night wondering

whether the universe has complexities in it

that are out of reach of the neurosynapses

of the human brain.

That's my answer.

- So, there's information out there

that we just cannot conceive or perceive.

- We don't even know how to ask the question about it.

- [Chuck] To get an answer.

- Correct.

- We don't know the answer.

We don't know the question to get an answer.

- [Neil] To get an answer.

- Right.

- And not that we don't know it,

'cause we haven't told it yet.

- Just can't conceive of the question.

- Can't conceive it.

You go to a chimp and say.

Go to a chimp and say.

What would it be?

- Something as simple as navigating the stars

to get some place.

Chimps can't do that.

- The stars?




Space ship?





None of that.

None of it.

We can't even have that conversation.

So, that's my point.

- Now I'm thinking that the whole thing

might be some type of science experiment

by some alien kid now.

- Yes, why not?

Why not?

- Ugh.

- We are all a simulation in an alien kid's basement

who hasn't moved out of the house yet.

- That's so funny.

We're the Minecraft of some other alien kid.

- Yes, Minecraft, yes.

- Wow, wow, yeah.

- And, when things get too peaceful and stable,

they stir the pot.

They throw in a politician or a war.

A crazy person.

Oh and now it's entertaining.

So, we're just entertainment for.

- This is the best video game.

Okay, wow, man.

Listen, that's a great answer to what boggles your mind.

That's a really.

- It doesn't so much boggle my mind.

It upsets my mind.

- Yeah, I was about to say.

It's very upsetting.

- [Neil] Are we not.

- I'm mad.

I don't even know why.

- Here's my one out.

- Go ahead.

- Because, for humans, our knowledge is cumulative.

- [Chuck] So true.

- You don't have to invent calculus.

Somebody else did that.

You just have to use it.

You learn it and use it.

So, I have the feeling that we are.

Every next generation that has

brilliant people contributing to

our understanding of the universe.

They're adding a rung to a ladder.

- [Chuck] Right.

- And then we all sort of climb up that.

And then just get that next rung.

And we climb that.

And then the next rung.

- Well, with that in mind,

I think that the next evolutionary step for human beings

is that we will create an intelligence greater than our own.

That's really the deal.

- This scares the hell out of everyone.

- [Chuck] Yeah.

- Because that intelligence will say,

"We don't need you."

- You know what?

We'd have to say you're right.

- That's what happened in the Matrix.

- Yeah.

- You're a virus on this Earth.

- Mister Anderson.

I smell you Mister Anderson.

- No, he was smelling Morpheus.

- Oh, that's right.

That's right.

- Get your Matrix.

If you could go there in front of me.

That's my favorite movie.

Don't even.

- Yes, he was talking to Morpheus

when he was tied up in the chair.

- It's the smell.


- You know what?

You got to have some really serious BO

for a computer to tell you you stink.

I'm just saying.

- That's good.

- I'm just saying.

All right, let's.

- You get through the electronics into the.

- So, this is alexgreg56 from Instagram.

And alexgreg says this.

If the universe needs not make any sense to us,

then what is the point of doing science?

Is science not, in fact, the discipline

of trying to grasp what's around us?

By the way, is this statement not equal

to the old one, which is God has his reason

to make it that way, so, just don't ask?

- Of course, I've never heard that expression.

But the shorter version of that is

God works in mysterious ways.

- [Chuck] That is so true.

- When you can't explain it.

- Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

- And, if you can explain it using God, then you do.

Oh, God has blessed you.

You bless God.

Then, as a tsunami takes out a quarter million people.

- [Chuck] God hates you.

- No one says that.

- No one says that?

Why don't we say that?

We should say that.

I want to start saying.

You know what?

I think God hates you.

- Well, the most hateful god in our culture

is the one represented on insurance forms.

- Oh, that's so true.

- [Neil] Acts of god.

- Acts of god.

- Right, it's only very bad things.

No one says "Flowers bloomed in your garden.

An act of god."

No, it's tsunami took out your house.

- That's an act of god.

- And now you're homeless on the street.

Act of god.

- Wow, look at that.

This moment of God hates you

brought to you by Farmers Insurance.


- State Farm.

- State Farm.


- Dun dun dun dun.

- Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum.

- What's that one?


- Is not on your side.

Nationwide is on your side.

God is not.

Okay, that's enough.

I'm probably gonna get some hate mail now.

Chuck, you hate God.

Chuck is at it.

Okay, sorry.

So, is science, in fact,

the discipline of trying to grasp what is around us?

- So, what he started quoting me.

Where I said I open my book,

the Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,

with the quote, "The universe is under no obligation

to make sense to you."

What that means is your five traditional senses,

which rose up out of the Serengeti,

which help us not get eaten by lions,

they're very good at that.

They're not as good at contemplating infinity.

They're not good contemplating timescales

much longer than your life expectancy.

- True.

- You can't intuit billions of years.

You can't intuit infinitesimals.

There are things that are hard for us.

There are things that may even be impossible for us.

Can you picture a five-dimensional cube?

- No, I cannot.

- No, you cannot.

Can you picture a four-dimensional cube?

- Probably not, no.

- Actually, the tesseract is close.

That's like a.

- I can actually picture that.


'Cause I've seen a drawing.

- I have a tesseract.

- Do you really?

Get out.

- I'll bring it in Monday.

Another episode.

- Another episode.

- The episode of higher dimensions.

- [Chuck] Sweet.

- The whole thing on just higher dimensions.

- That's a good episode.

Yeah, I like that.

We did that?

- We did that already?

How come I don't remember it?

Man, I'm getting old.

Did I have my tesseract in my hand?

- Now we gotta do it again.


- Which I took from Thanos.

What it means is, if you are going to deduce

what is or is not true in the universe,

your senses are not the most reliable measure

of whether it's true.

- [Chuck] So true.

- Because the senses give you a restricted understanding

of what's actually going on in the universe.

Your eyes.

You would never trade them for anything.

Yet they only expose your mind

to a very tiny, narrow strip of

all the electromagnetic energy that's out there.

You can't see infrared.

You can feet it as heat.

But you can't see it.

Ultraviolet, you can't see that, either.

You can feel that in a delayed sense

by getting sunburn and skin cancer.

It's not telling you in that instant.

It's a time delay.

But keep going out.

There's infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, gamma rays.

Can't see any of that.

But the universe is talking to you in that.

So, are you gonna say, "My senses give me everything

that there is in the universe.

And, therefore, it makes sense."

No, as long as we detect things that

fall outside of our senses,

it's a challenge for you to declare that

what we say, do, and discover makes sense.

The very statement "makes sense"

means your senses can contemplate it.

That your senses have experienced.

If I let go of a ball and it floats up,

you say, "That doesn't make sense."

'Cause your senses always told you that,

if you let go of a ball, it drops.

And, in fact, the very statement "Let it go."

Not the.

- Frozen.

- Not the Frozen version.

But just let it go means drop it.

They mean the same thing.

But that can only be true on Earth

with the force of gravity pointing down.

In space, in free orbit, you let go.

It just floats there.

- Stays right there.

- [Neil] Stays right there.

- Like my problems.

Yeah, I must be in space.

'Cause all my problems.

Somebody says drop it.

And I say I did that.

They're still here.

- And you let it go and it's still there.

- Exactly.

- So, my point is the methods of science

give you a way to understand what is true

without it being hinged on

whether your senses think it's true.

- [Chuck] Nice.

- So, the message science gives us access to truth

where you can still probe the universe.

Whereas God works in mysterious ways

kind of ends that conversation.

Whereas I say I've developed a new instrument

that can see in ways humans cannot.

Oh my gosh.

That opens entire worlds of investigation.

Entire branches of science.

And there you have it.

- All right.

- So, it's Cosmic Queries.

- [Chuck] Yes, it is.

- The Deep Edition.

- Deep.

- Deep, yes.

- Deep.

- Deep.

- [Chuck] Deep.

- Deep.

- Okay.

- I think I know the difference.

I think we're hitting the same note.

But I have more sort of cavity resonance.

- This is true.

- Chest cavity.

- Well, you're a bigger guy than I.

- Oh, yeah.


Okay, Chuck.

- All right, here we go.

So, this is from probablyasleep.

- That's the name of the person?

- That's the name of the person.

- Okay, your momma didn't like you.


- How long do you think the human race

will actually survive?

Wow, I mean, there's precedent for that, right?

- Well, you can look at what is

the average life expectancy of mammals?

Mammal species.

And, last I checked, it was around two million years.

Something like that.

And so, we've been around.

- We have a long way to go.

- We have a long way to go.

We've been around a couple hundred thousand years

in our current anatomical form.

Cro Magnon form.

And so, that means we have a long way to go.

But this presumes that the species

is not smart enough to kill itself.

- Well, then it's over.


It was nice knowing you guys.

- Yeah, we have invented multiple ways to kill ourselves.

And I don't think the elephants did.

Nobody else did this.

The mice.

No, they're not killing themselves.

Humans, yes.

- Yeah, maybe cockroaches invented human beings.

- [Neil] Why?

- 'Cause, when everything's gone,

they're gonna be the only ones left.

And it's like.

- No, no, then they don't have to

invent us in the first place.

What kind of reasoning are you using here?

- They want everything else gone.

- So, they need us to build the structures

that they then move into.

- Right, and they move in.


I don't mind it.

That makes perfect sense.

We are.

I think what he's really asking is,

in your estimation, from your sage opinion,

how long do you think we will last?

- I give us 20 years.


- [Chuck] Oh, that's funny.

- No, I think we're good.

This is why many people want to become

a two-planet species.

Terraform Mars.

Send some humans there.

So, if something bad happens on Earth,

you still have humans somewhere else.

- Wow, that is not encouraging at all.

- Not for half the people who aren't on the planet that's.

- Exactly.

- So, if an asteroid comes, if a killer virus,

if AI gets out of hand.

- So, I understand seeding something

with a remnant for survival of the species.

That's extraneous.

I mean, that's something that's outside

of our own destruction.

Even though we could stop an asteroid from hitting us

if we put resources.

- Ain't nobody doing it.

But we know how.

- [Chuck] I'm saying, if we put the resources into it,

we could stop even that from happening.

- So, what's the example you're giving?

- What do you mean?

To stop the asteroid?

- No, no.

- So, what I'm saying is will we ever get to a place

where, as the Buddhist monks call it,

the so-called monkey brain that

causes us to do so much destructive work to each other

and to the planet.

Will we ever get to a place where we overcome that

or we're able to train those who come behind us

to overcome that?

Now, it does happen in some people.

- I get it.

First, I've never heard a Buddhist monk

say the phrase monkey brain.

I've never heard that.

This is a thing?

- This is a thing.

- Okay, fine.

I got to attend more monasteries.

You feeling monkey brain today?

All right.

- Delicious.

- I've heard of reptilian brain.

But not monkey brain.

So, the reptilian brain reference something primal

that goes on within you.

So, if we follow the reasoning by Steven Pinker

in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature,

he studied the likelihood of you dying before maturity,

or dying before adulthood, which is dying,

at the hands of another human

from early days of tribal warfare to modern days

of state-sanctioned global warfare.

And what he found is that the likelihood

of you dying in that way has been dropping ever since.

- Okay.

- So, tribal warfare, you would kill maybe a third or half

of the other tribe.

Or the entire tribe.

And then you win and you get their land.

That doesn't happen today.

- True.

- [Neil] The state surrenders before that happens.

- True.

- Saving the lives of the rest of the population.

If you look at.

I did this just recently.

If you look at what countries had

the greatest percent of their population die

in the Second World War.

Was it Belarus?

One of them is very high.

It's like a third.

I forgot the exact numbers.

But they're high.

But they're not half.

And you keep going down.

And you get to even Germany.

Even ones that were heavily bombed.

Germany, Japan.

A fraction of the total population.

That is not how it used to end in tribal warfare.

So, now consider that, even so, during the Second World War,

between 1939 and 1945,

1,000 humans were killed by other humans per hour

for every hour from 1939 to 1945.

- Wow.

- [Neil] Is that going on today?

No, no.

- No, we're really slipping.

- No, stop.

- We really gotta pick up our game.

- Just so we can.

So, the point is.

Often, that era is called The Greatest Generation.

'Cause they fought evil forces and this sort of thing.

Although my father fought in a segregated Army.

So, he's not thinking that was the greatest generation.

He has other perspectives on that period.

- [Chuck] It's the second greatest generation.

- My point is is the greatest generation

the one where the fewest fraction

of everyone dies out of hate?

We might have a lot of hate.

But, if the number of people who die from it

is lower than ever before,

then this arc that you are hinting at,

that maybe the next generation learns from the previous one,

maybe that's gonna work.

Europe, with all of their turbulence and turmoil,

they actually haven't been at war

with each other for 70 years.

Is there another 70 year period

in the history of Europe where nobody was fighting anybody?

I don't think so.

- Not if Twitter has anything to do with it.


- What you're saying is imagine if Twitter existed.

- [Chuck] Back then.

- Back then.

Oh my gosh.

- Let me tell you something.

The war wouldn't have stopped until everybody was dead.

People would have said, "I surrender."

A tweet would have gone out.

It would be like, "I take it back.

Let's keep fighting.

Let's keep fighting.

I don't care."

- I hate you more.

So, maybe we are getting kinder and gentler.

Time still needs to bear that out

on a level that would please everyone.

But I still worry that this primal brain

will always segregate us all by some arbitrary factor.

And thereby justify doing harm to other groups.

- Interesting.

I think you're right.

- Who's the comedian?

Was it Franklin Ajaye?

One of the guys from the '70s.

- Back in the day.

- In the day.

In the day.

He was talking about who hates who in the world.

And he says, "Read the papers?


In Northern Ireland, the Protestants and the Catholics

are fighting each other?

And they're both white?"

He said, "You know I don't have a chance.

'Cause I'm Black."

- That's funny.

That's true.

- If white people divide themselves up in that way,

two Christian communities killing each other

and they're both white and they're both Christian.

- It's over for you, brother.

- It's over for everybody else.

If people can kill each other for those reasons,

it's almost no hope in this world.

So, yeah, I don't know.

So, I'm sorry.

I don't have a good answer.

- That was a pretty good answer.

The answer is we're not gonna make it.


- I'd like to think we go

thousands of years into the future

and possibly outlive the sun.

- [Chuck] All right, that'd be great.

- But starhopping to other planetary systems.

- That's, you know, I'm just gonna say

that's the way it's gonna end.

'Cause I won't be here.

So, that's great.

- Maybe.

It has been said that the first person who will never die

is now alive.

- What?

That's a.

- No, this is how you do it.

- [Chuck] I know what you're saying.

- So, they get some new thing that

makes you live an extra 50 years.

So, now you live to 150 instead of 100.

And then, somewhere in there is another thing.

Now, you can live another 200 years.

So, now the 150 goes to 350.

Now you can live 500 years.

Now you go to 1000.

You can live 5000 years now.

So, as we progress in our understanding of what ages you.

If we can reverse that or prevent it from ever advancing,

there's someone alive today who will benefit from this.

- That's pretty cool.

I like it.

- So, if that happens, you better find another planet.

That's all.

- This is true.

That's the premise of a show called Altered Carbon.

Where people actually take their consciousness

and put it into what they call a sleeve, which is the body.

- I think I voiceovered the opening sequence to that show.

- Oh my god.

I think we had that conversation once

where you told me that.

'Cause I told you I was a fan.

- I don't remember if it was the pilot or the other shows.

But I lent my voice to the cause.

- Nice.

Wow, all right.

Well, let's go to joey24.


He says this personal question.

Based on all your experiences and knowledge thus far.

- Personal for me or for you?

- [Chuck] Personal for you.

- Okay.

- Nobody asking me anything.


He says, based on all of your experiences

and knowledge thus far,

what do you think the meaning of our human existence is?

He just asked you what is the meaning of life

according to Neil deGrasse Tyson?

- Okay, so, in my next book.

- [Chuck] Uh oh.

- Yeah, you never hear me plug my stuff.

- I was gonna say.

Here's the meaning of life right now.

Plug your book when you get a chance.


- My next book's called Letters From an Astrophysicist.

- [Chuck] You know what?


- It's the correspondence I've had with people

who've had similar angst about their existence.

- That's not just the book.

It's not about that.

It's about all kind of different letters you've received.

- All kinds of letters.

But a very recurring theme is that

people want to know the meaning of life

and the significance of their life in this world.

And some of them come from religious angles.

Some are secular.

But everybody's got this burning issue.

- Yes.

- So, here's how I have dealt with it.

Others will do it other ways.

- [Chuck] Okay.

- But here's how I deal with it.

- [Chuck] I'm interested now.

- Many people are in search of the meaning of life

as though it's behind a tree or under a rock.

- Everybody knows it's in a drawer.

- In the back near the paperclip.

- It's in that junk drawer, too.

It's not like an underwear drawer or something.

You know that drawer.

You go to look for stamps and stuff.

- Yeah, yeah, that drawer.

That drawer.

The junk drawer.

- The junk drawer.

- Everybody's got a junk drawer.

- Everybody got a junk drawer.

- It's near the kitchen somewhere.

So, if you are looking for meaning,

you may never find it.

So, instead, recognize that you have the power

to manufacture meaning.

Create it within yourself.

And that's what I do.

My meaning for life is derived by several simple principles.

Have I lessened the sufferings of others today?

That brings meaning to me.

Because that means the world is a little better off

because I was in it today.

If, after your day is over, the world is worse off,

you have subtracted meaning.

- I should kill myself.

'Cause, at the end of every day,

somebody is like "That mother beep beep."

But go ahead.

- So, lessen the suffering of others in some way.

It doesn't mean redirect

your whole life, mind, body, and soul.

But, if you can help someone across the street,

help an aging person, make a little child laugh.

Just put a little bit of joy in the world

to lessen the suffering.

I also try to learn something every day.

- All right.

- Now, I like being a perpetual student.

Most people hated being students.

This saddens me.

School is finished and what do you do?

You run down the steps.

School is out forever.♪

Out for the summer.

That attitude captured in that song

is as though you don't want to be in school.

And what's your only job in school?

- It's to learn.

- To learn.

And somehow that's a chore.

I don't blame you for feeling that way.

I blame the school system

for not instilling within us eternal curiosity.

Knowing that you'll spend more years of your life

not in school than in school.

And so, if you have curiosity,

you can be a lifelong learner.

And so, I want to lessen the sufferings of others

and make sure I learn something more

about the world today than I did yesterday.

- Nice.

- And who's to say whether that extra increment of learning

can help me be better at lessening the sufferings of others?

So, that is how I make meaning in life.

And, as a result, I've owned thousands of books.


And I read a little bit.

You know, I have a little stash near my bed

and I cycle them out.

And, every day, I try.

It's harder now.

'Cause I get recognized.

But I try to help people every day.

Total strangers.

- That's nice.

- Yeah, so, you can make meaning for yourself.

Don't look for it.

'Cause you may never find it.

- You know, I'm gonna say.

As a philosophy, that's admirable.

That's doable.

- [Neil] That's in the book.

I wrote that in the book.

- Nice, excellent, excellent.

- Thank you.

Give me another question.

- We got one more question coming.

- We can fit it in this segment.

Go on.

- Oh, here we go.

Aw, man.

- What?

- Ninjanay, ninjanay.

Okay, there you go.

I think that's your name.


Damn you, people.

- Okay.

- On Instagram, says "I keep hearing the phrase

the vacuum of space.

How exactly is it a vacuum?"

- [Neil] Very nice.

- That's a really good question.

- Okay, so, when I was a kid,

a vacuum was a physical object.

- Yes, it was.

- When I heard physicists speak of the vacuum of space,

I just imagined all these Hoovers in the sky.

So, I didn't know that a vacuum was a thing.

It was a concept.

And then you make a machine that duplicates that thing.

I just didn't know that.

So, I learned.

Okay, so, a vacuum is where there's basically no air.

Okay, you can have objects there.

But, when we think of a vacuum,

it's not a place where there isn't anything.

It's a place where there's

no air molecules moving typically.

Generally, you can have some.

And we would still classify it as a vacuum.

You have to distinguish a regular, old vacuum

or a perfect vacuum.

You know what happens?

If there's an object

and you take away all the air molecules,

the object outgasses.

There are air molecules embedded

in the surface of that object

and they start coming out.

It's fascinating.

Then you heat it.

It sends out more.

It's very hard to make a perfect vacuum.

Very hard.

So, here's an old saying.


- Abhors a vacuum.

- Abhors a vacuum.

These are people who have never been into space.

Most of the universe is a vacuum.

Nature loves a vacuum.

- [Chuck] Nice.

- Was I Trumpy in there.


- Nature loves a vacuum.

- A vacuum.

- Preferably Trump brand vacuums.

Trump brand vacuums.

We suck the best.


- There's another saying.

There's no such thing as gravity.

Earth sucks.

You ever hear that one?

- Oh, okay.

- So, the point is, when there's a source of gravity,

all the air wants to go to that source of gravity.

And it leaves a vacuum everywhere else.

So, a vacuum is simply where there's no air.

And it's not anything deep.

The odd thing in the universe is that

you have places where gas molecules collect.

Those are the unusual places in the universe.

And they're called stars and gaseous planets

and the atmospheres of rocky planets.

- [Chuck] Nice.

- So, there you have a vacuum.

So, Chuck, I want to put some closure

on this vacuum question.

- Okay.

- Okay, this is the second.

No, the third book I ever published.

- Oh, okay.

- It's called Just Visiting This Planet.

- [Chuck] All right.

- And it's a collection of Q and A.

I had a column with the penname Merlin.

People asked fun, really playful questions.

I collected.

This was decades old.

But there's some timeless content here.

Somebody asked about the vacuum.

- [Chuck] Yeah, go ahead, please.

You can't read otherwise.

- Okay, here we go.

The best vacuum you will find anywhere.

Forgot I wrote this.

I wrote this 30 years ago.

- That's cool.

- The best vacuum you will find anywhere,

according to four out of five vacuum retailers

and five out of five astronomers,

is the void of intergalactic space.

What we can then ask is intergalactic space nothing?

No, it stills contains space.

If you feel obliged to call intergalactic space nothing,

then you must invent a word

to refer to the region outside of the universe.

In this location, where we presume there to be no space,

there can be no nothing.

- Wow.

- Let's call it, we're left with no choice, nothing nothing.

- Nothing nothing.

- A place where there's not even nothing.

- It's the nothing nothing.

Wow, I like that.

- I'm just saying.

So, Chuck, you want some more vacuum talk?

- Of course.

I feel like you just showed up at my door

and dumped some dirt on my carpet.


- More vacuum talk.

- [Chuck] Okay, vacuum talk.

- So, in Death by Black Hole.

I don't remember what number of book this is.

So, in the chapter on being dense.

- Okay, something I know a great deal about.

- The range of measured densities within our universe

is staggeringly large.

We find the highest densities within pulsars

where neutrons are so tightly packed that

one thimbleful would weigh about as much

as a herd of 50 million elephants.

- 50 million.

- And then a rabbit disappears into "thin air"

at a magic show.

And nobody tells you that thin air

already contains over 10 septillion atoms per cubic meter.

- [Chuck] Wow.

- Thin air.

- [Chuck] Thin air.

- Okay, the best laboratory vacuum changers

can pump down to as few as 10 billion atoms per cubic meter.

Best vacuums.

- That's the best vacuums?

- In a cubic meter vacuums.

10 billion air molecules are still walking around.

- Okay.

- Interplanetary space gets down to

about 10 million atoms per cubic meter.

But, while interstellar space is as low as

half a million atoms per cubic meter.

- Wow, that is nothing.



- That is nothing.

- A mere 500,000 atoms.

- The award for nothingness, however,

must be given to the space between the galaxies.

Intergalactic space.

Where it is difficult to find more than a few atoms

for every 10 cubic meters.

- Wow.

- [Neil] That wins.

- That's almost nothing nothing.


That's almost nothing nothing.

- All right, we're gonna go into a deep lightning round.

- Really?

We only have five minutes left?

- [Neil] Okay, let's go.

- Okay, here we go.

This is Ja Soldana says, "Right now,

what should be the priority in the field

of space exploration?

Searching for life,

searching for potential threats of another kind of search,

or is there just no hurry in this matter at all?

Greetings from Mexico."

- Mexico.

- So, what is it?

Is it.

Are we looking for life?

- He wants my opinion?

I got an opinion.

- Exploration, life.

Go ahead.

- I got an opinion.

- [Chuck] All right.

Go ahead.

- I want to do it all.

- Why not do it all?

All of the above.

- All of the above.

- [Chuck] E.

- Because the moment you do this and not that,

they'd say, "Why are you doing that and not that?"

'Cause we voted that way.

But maybe you don't know why you should do that

and you want to do that.

Some people want to do that.

Here's what you do.

You don't build a road just from New York to LA.

You build roads everywhere.

So that, yeah, I want to visit that forest.

I want to visit this rocky monument.

I want to do things that are not prescribed by you.

- I'm going to see the biggest ball of yarn ever.

- Exactly, so, what you do is you make a spaceship

that is modular.

Strap on different combinations of rockets.

This combination gets you to an asteroid to mine it.

This gets you to the backside of the moon.

This gets you to Mars.

So, you don't prescribe what it is

you're gonna do next in space.

You let the creativity and imagination

of all those who have ever looked up say,

"This is what I want to do."

And you say, "Here you go.

Two rockets from aisle B, a booster from aisle C.

You're on your way."

- Can I put that on a credit card?


- That's why I got it.

- Here we go.

All right, Adam on the Airwaves wants to know this

from Instagram.

How far behind do you think astronomy would be

if the Earth didn't have a moon?


- Okay, so, it's not how far behind we'd be.

It's how far advanced we'd be.

- Ooh, wow.

- Okay, so, let me split this out.

- Yeah.

- I tweeted, during Space Week,

the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing.

There's a saying that's common in the space circles.

It's if God wanted us to explore space,

he would have given us a moon.

- Right.

- Okay, so.

- That's a good saying.

- That's a good saying.

But that exploration is not astrophysicists' exploration.

That one is people going into space.

You build a rocket to go where?

You don't have a moon to visit.

All right.

If you're talking about astrophysics,

do you know how many stars the naked eye can see at night?

- More than I can count.

- No, it's about three to 4000.

- [Chuck] Oh, really?

- Unaided, yeah.

Binoculars, it's a hundred times that.

Telescopes, it's a billion times that.

But eyes, three to 4000 stars.

When it's a full moon out, 300 stars.

The moon wreaks havoc on our ability

to see the rest of the universe.

So, our observing schedules with huge telescopes

are split according to dark time or bright time.

And, if you kept bright time observations,

it's the moon is up and you can only look at

bright objects in the night sky.

- Wow.

- The deep universe only comes to us

when the moon is not up.

So, the moon is basically a pain in the ass.

- It's a star blocker.


- [Neil] Yes, star blocker.

- Look at that.

- That's what it is.

So, astronomy would be probably

half again more advanced.

Because we would have had these

greatest telescopes in the world

looking at the night sky twice as often.

In the darkest parts of the night sky.

There you go.

- Wow.

- Next.

- That's a damn good answer.

Okay, this is eversinapore.

I don't what his.

Who cares?

I'm sorry.

- Chuck, whoever that is cares.

- Let me tell you something.

- That's the last time he's gonna be asking you a question.

- All right, well, you know what your name is.

I'm gonna call you George.

All right, so, George wants to know this.

What is the shape of space itself?

- Ooh.

- [Chuck] That's a good question.

- Well, space can be curved

in the presence of matter or energy.

As prescribed by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.


And there's the oft repeated saying.

Matter tells space how to curve.

Space tells matter how to move.

So, space has curvature

in the presence of matter and energy.

It curves in towards it.

With the ultimate expression of that, a black hole.

Where it curves in and it never curves back out.

- Wow.

- If you want to ask what is the shape of all of space,

that's like saying what's the shape of the universe.

The observable universe.

It's basically a perfect sphere.

- Wow.

- [Neil] Because it's your horizon.

- Right, okay.

- It's a perfect sphere the way, when you're at sea,

your horizon is a perfect circle around you.

- That's right.

- The same distance in every direction.

- That's right.

If you're just out and there's nothing but water around you.

- And so, what is the three-dimensional version of a circle?

- A sphere.

- A sphere.

So, in space, you can see

to your horizon in every direction.

- [Chuck] All at once.

- Which is at the.

It makes us think we're at the center of a sphere.

But that's no different from you thinking

you're in the center of the ocean.

Just 'cause you're in the center of your horizon.


- That's great.

That's good stuff right there.

Here we go.

- Go for it.

- This is Chen Yuen.

Who says, "If we were to look in all directions

billions of light years away,

will we see a younger universe in all directions

enveloping our bigger one now?"

- I have to rephrase that.

'Cause, as you look out, you see things not as they are,

but as they once were.

So, you are looking at a younger and younger

and younger universe.

That's the whole point of cosmology.

It allows.

The fact that it takes light time to reach us

allows us to see what the universe was doing in the past.

If light traveled at infinite speeds,

you'd see the whole universe as it is now

with no evidence of what it was once doing.

But, because it takes light time to move,

you look out, you see a younger and younger

and younger universe until you see the big bang itself.

And that is 14 billion light years time away from us

in every direction.

20 billion years ago.

And, if you calculate that distance

through that changing time,

it's 14 billion light years to that horizon.

Okay, so, by the way,

that horizon is much father away today.

Because the universe has been expanding ever since.

But you don't see it as it is today.

You see it as it was.

All right, so, I don't know what to say after that.

- I say yeah.


- One last question.

I feel like I can do a quickie.


- All right, I gotta find one

that you could do really quick.

- You don't know how quick I can answer a question.

- Okay.

- We'll second judge that.

- I'm gonna give you one here.

Here we go.

This is.

Oh, why did I spell?

This is basanti.

Okay, I don't care what this is.

- Chuck, you have to at least try, Chuck.

- Okay, basantin.

Okay, forget it.

- I will read the name.

Give it.

- Here's the name right there.

What's that say?

What's that?

- Basantsingh.

- You're right.

That's what it is.


It's the singh.

Yeah, okay.

- Okay, go.

- Yeah, all right, wow.

- Give it to me.

- I should have known that.

That's Indian.

Okay, here we go.

What if all the matter that we see in the universe

is just three-dimensional part

of some four-dimensional matter

and the dark gravity is just the gravity

from the 4D part that we cannot see?

- I love it.

(bell ringing)


We are so blind to higher dimensions.

It could be that all the mysteries

in our three dimensions plus time

are completely solved by looking at

the stuff from a higher dimension.

Right, right.

Just, if you'd lived in just a flat surface,

there'd be stuff going on.

You'd have no idea.

And we say, "Can't you just see?

Just look up."

What is up?

- What is that giant graphite thing creating stuff?

- [Neil] On that flat surface.

- On that flat surface.

What is that?

- Where is he?

It's mysterious.

He just shows up.

Right, right.

So, I love it.

That's the kind of universe I want it to be.

'Cause then, when we figure out

how to see higher dimensions.

- Boom, we figured everything out.

- Bada bing.

- There you go.

- All right, Chuck, we got to run.

I enjoyed that.

We should do more Cosmic Queries: The Deep Edition.

- Deep Edition.

- Chuck, now he's tweeting @chucknicecomic.

- Thank you, sir.

- Very good.

I've been your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Your personal astrophysicist.

And, as always, I bid you.

- Oh, wait.

What am I saying?


- I bid you to keep looking up.

(exciting music)

The Description of StarTalk Podcast: Cosmic Queries – The Deep with Neil deGrasse Tyson