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Neil deGrasse Tyson: Called by the Universe (Conversation)

Science|02 Dec, 2012|212 Comments |
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Address Hayden Planetarium in New York.

His research interests include the structure of the Milky Way, star formation, exploding stars and dwarf galaxies. Tyson was appointed by President Bush on two occasions.

First time in 2001 to form part of a commission of twelve members to study the future of U.S. aerospace and second in 2004 to form part of a nine-member commission in implementing the policy of the United States space exploration.

Tyson was appointed to serve on the Advisory Council by the head of NASA. Tyson hosts the PBS series NOVA Science once in a radio show with comedian called Talk Lynne Koplitz star.

He has also written dozens of publications and nine books including his autobiography The sky is the limit: Urban adventures of an astrophysicist and the more recent, Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Called by the Universe (Conversation), 4.7 out of 5 based on 10 ratings
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212 Comments

  1. PhyOSPhyOS says:

    @fodads Oh, so a doctor in physics is just a “moral half-wit who ‘happens’ to be well-versed at science”, while you, someone who doesn’t even have a science-related formal education, can understand “real science” through the magical power of intuition.

  2. groenjoost says:

    @AlexanderIsaacConan Haha, ok. I am looking at non-enzymatic template directed RNA polymerization. Basically I am look for a way to copy genetic information without the use of enzymes, in the context of the origin of life. To get to an RNA world (there is a good wiki about this theory) we need a plausible way to polymerize and copy RNA and that’s what I’m working on,

  3. fodads says:

    intuition is the mother of science and is inextricably involved in science at all levels. Without intuition to decide what to do with science, nothing can be done with science. and science is more intuitive than “scientists” might have us believe. The number of hair-brained theories in thie history of mainstream science is testament to that fact. and there is no way there will ever be a complete theory of any type of science because of the uncertainty principle, which extends to this realm

  4. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori I see you are a bit fuzzy as to the definition of intuition that I am thinking of. Let me clarify, my definition is the same as Wester’s — 1: quick and ready insight2a : immediate apprehension or cognition b : knowledge or conviction … — intuition is just as scientific as what you would refer to as “science”. Just because a lot of intuition does not happen on a conscious level, the measurements that are being used are extremely accurate within the relevant realm.

  5. HerraTohtori says:

    @HerraTohtori I also think you are using the word “intuition” interchangeably with other methods of logical reasoning such as deduction and induction. Regardless of how you form your hypothesis of something, you must always seek for experimental confirmation for it, otherwise you might as well be waving your hands around and saying “BUT IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE”.There are things in universe so far removed from our evolutionary perspective that we really cannot intuitively comprehend them.

  6. HerraTohtori says:

    @fodads The challenge is not to make the universe fit into any physics model, that would be silly. The universe is what it is, it operates as it does, and we can’t really change that much as we would like.The challenge is to get our physical models closer and closer to reality. We’re not quite there yet and there’s debate whether we can ever fully describe how universe works, but we’re closer than ever before, and getting closer every moment.Intuition can be wrong, experiments not as easily.

  7. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori Intuition is not a difficult thing to define, despite the quantum uncertainty inherent in such an attempt. I dont know if I’d say its intuitive that the sun revolves around earth. I think that would depend upon the individual. And the basic experiments that are required to figure out that earth revolves around the sun are so simple, they are barely more than raw intuition. Intuition is measurement done by the human mind. The universe does not fit any physics model.

  8. HerraTohtori says:

    @HerraTohtori Intuitive reasoning CAN, of course, lead to making a correct hypothesis. However, there’s no inherent value in this, and all hypotheses are equal until subjected to experimental testing. If experiments support a hypothesis, then it doesn’t matter whether it was intuitive or result of logical reasoning.Also, intuition and epiphany aren’t the same. Epiphany would be what Mendeleev experienced with the periodic table of elements, or Archimedes with his Eureka moment about buoyancy.

  9. HerraTohtori says:

    @fodads I think we have different definitions of intuition, then. I definitely agree that “thinking out of the box” is necessary to have form innovative new hypotheses, but I don’t think that’s intuition.To me, intuition is when you try to apply your sense of “how things should be working” to try and figure out how they actually are working. Geocentric model of universe is a good example – our intuition tells us Earth is stationary and immobile, but experiments prove otherwise.

  10. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori you can be quite certain that I understand the uncertainty principle. and despite the fact that our macroscopic world has the appearance of being measured “quite well”, in fact the small error bars become larger and larger as the scale of detail gets smaller and as time goes on and the imperfect calculations play out. there are no perfectly working machines and there is no complete science. intuition will always come before science because without intuition there is no science

  11. HerraTohtori says:

    @HerraTohtori The biggest reasons for malfunctioning technology are: Operator error, deficient maintenance, and manufacturing or material defects.But technology and science are separate things.Technology comes from Greek words techné, which means art, skill or craft, and logia which means “study of something”.Science is derived from Latin word scientia, which means “knowledge”. Technology is “study of how to get things done”, while science is the method of attaining and refining knowledge.

  12. HerraTohtori says:

    @fodads You misunderstand the uncertainty principle. Most of the measurements we do pertain to macroscopic world and can be determined quite well with very small error bars.The uncertainty principle simply tells us that when the scale of measurements gets smaller and smaller, we can’t determine both the momentum and location of a particle with arbitrary accuracy at the same time. The more accurately we measure the momentum of a particle, the less we know of its location and vice versa.

  13. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori unfortunately, there is more than human intuition that holds people back from enlightenment, as historically is plain to see. governments and organizations use misinformation to confuse their subjects, thus helping to keep them in a state of psychological imprisonment.

  14. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori “in fact, it is my opinion” … you took the words right out of my mouth. Unfortunately, all the scientific measurements in the world can not make a bridge that will stand forever, or a plane that won’t crash. Quantum uncertainty tells us that even our most accurate measurements are “wildly inaccurate”, otherwise all our glorious technology would not fail us like it so often does. A measurement simply can’t be made without consciousness, nor a decision without intuition.

  15. HerraTohtori says:

    @HerraTohtori In fact, it is my opinion that while intuition can be very useful in development of technology, it’s also responsible for holding back science for centuries while people just accepted the “intuitive” reasoning of Aristotle, Ptolemy and others.Then people started doing experiments and got counter-intuitive results, so they had to figure out something different! Intuition can of course provide new thoughts, a hypothesis, but it NEEDS to be empirically tested to see if it works.

  16. HerraTohtori says:

    @fodads I respectfully disagree. While sensory input does work as our only input from the world around us, our senses can deceive us, provide us with incomplete information, and be wildly inaccurate. They are also impossible to calibrate from person to person, so standardized measurements are nearly impossible to do!For proper science, better experimental utilities are needed – measure sticks, standardized weighs, unit system, and artificial senses to get more information from the world.

  17. fodads says:

    @HerraTohtori actually, intuition is NOT a really bad way to analyze the world around you, it is the ONLY way. Our perception of “reality” is based on our senses. And our intuition guides us to interpret our sensory fields in meaningful ways. How do you think the wheel was made? intuition baby. “science” has been standing in the way of the spirit in the western tradition for hundreds of years, but no more. Quantum physics has restored consciousness to the high status that it deserves.

  18. HerraTohtori says:

    @HerraTohtori Intuition gets even less useful in situations where the physics is so far removed from our normal interaction with the macroscopic world. We can’t experience many properties of the world, but we can measure them. Quantum physics and relativity are excellent examples of things that can feel really unintuitive, but they’re real.Learned intuition can be useful in mathematics. With experience, you start seeing possible solutions to problems, but this is learned, not instinctive.

  19. HerraTohtori says:

    @fodads Intuition is a really bad utility to analyze the world around you scientifically. Well-defined experiments using standard measuring tools are a much better way to gather information, and then you can analyze that information accordingly.Intuition leads to misconceptions like Aristotle’s ideas about motion; a hypothesis might “makes sense” from intuitive basis such as heavy object falling faster than lighter one, but simple experiments can show that the hypothesis doesn’t match reality.

  20. richard schutte says:

    pluto. a perfect example of jornalism out of control. the media
    makes the big deal out of these small issues. all the small issues
    affecting us and politics (minhority issues) are blown out of perspective by the media and soon there is a big following of people who really had no issue with the issue until it was broadcast and expanded and
    added to by the media. they have turned freedom of speech into
    freedom to manipulate, mislead, falsely report, exagerate, etc.
    you cannot legislate morality. some people die to get their issue
    dealt with. we should be a country of majority rules, not minority
    bribes and pays off legislative. not the romney money power,
    not under the table contributions, etc… it it does not enhance the
    lives of the majority it should not be an issue to be dealt with and the
    government would be mush smaller and there would be a whole lot
    less problems. get lobyists out of the white house, get big money
    out of the congressional races, etc. put the efforts to make s.e.c.
    violations dealth with. get gov. out of education except for minor
    guidelines. etc, et c, etc.

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