I was at an IT Conference last week in Las Vegas and was fortunate to see, hear and meet some really cool people talk. Amongst those I met was Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is the Astrophysicist that led the effort in downgrading “Pluto” from planet status to dwarf planet. I was very much into Math and Science when I was a kid and grew up dreaming of a future very similar to the one we now live in and then some. I always wanted to live long enough to see us all in flying cars, or to live in a house that you simply talk to in order to get things done. Well, these things are reality today, maybe not mainstream but I have lived to see it.
We were quite fortunate to have met him during this conference because as luck would have it only a few days prior the earth experienced two major astrological events. One was the near miss asteroid (2012 DA14) that missed us by a mere 17000 miles and the other was the Chelyabinsk asteroid that exploded over Russia with a force equal to 500 kilotons of energy that injured over 1000 people and blow out windows in buildings, etc. Neil discussed these in detail for us and explained the repercussions that we would suffer if these were direct hits on earth. Fascinating and very scary data.
He followed his presentation by emphasizing how the USA is falling behind in the space program by comparison to the rest of the world. Quite sad if you ask me, being that we were once the leaders. Today countries like Japan, China, and Brazil are the leaders in this research. The fact is that after the cold war ended, the USA had no political reasons for continuing so strongly with the space program. This is really sad that things like this are affected by politics and money. Neil explained how scientists and engineers have many options for us to save our planet from these type of events (and I’m not talking Bruce Willis type options either) that cost relatively very little if the government would fund it. Thankfully, Neil told us that we should not fear because if we don’t do it, at least someone else will. The other countries that are working on these type of space programs will hopefully save us all one day.
The talk was extremely interesting and enlightening. I had the pleasure of meeting him and having him sign his book for me. He’s obviously a brilliant human being who unfortunately is having a tough time getting through to the right people these days. Politics suck!
Here are some videos of Neil and some of his talks that hopefully will enlighten you more rather than me babbling about it!
Courtesy of Bigthink.com – Neil Degrasse Tyson