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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  July 13, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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silicon valley companies, recognizing entrepreneurial skills that badge may be worth far more than a computer science degree or mba. and i think as we more rapidly move into competency-based education, employer raised designation and skill sets for badges that will be one of the most important things in technological transformation the academy can afford. >> that's not unlike an old-fashioned apprenticeship program. i am going to take one more question i'm going to go way to the back. >> jared meyer of st. johns university. i had a question about -- st. johns college. this is a different one. yeah basketball but we talk a lot about outstanding student loan debt. what do you think should be done because you really cannot discharge this under any circumstances.
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you have to pass a test which is pretty much impossible but yet these deaths are ultimately paid for by the taxpayer so is it unjust to forget that but then how does a stand-in that strong tradition we have a bankruptcy in in this country? what do we do do with do with the depth at starting up there? >> it is unjust to forget it. sounds kind of horrible but this was a private decision made when someone decided to take advantage of a public subsidy. it was a calculated investment that hasn't worked out so well. now, what can someone do who finds themselves many thousands of dollars in debt and does not want to be there? they're still more education. on the one hand that is how people get even more and more in debt and get themselves in really bad places but if you are a sociology major, $16,000 in debt and you decide you really don't want to be there there's the colorado school of mines for you and go get a degree in
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mineral or petroleum engineering. get out there in north dakota where the average salary has increased by 40% since 2009 because of the oil and natural gas boom out there. so i think it's a question. i don't think we should be in the business of forgiving student loan debt. i think there's a personal responsibility there. >> i agree with david that we shouldn't forget that as a matter of public policy but unfortunately our tiara. we have public service loan forgiven and teacher loan forgiveness. we have a myriad of loan forgiveness programs already and anybody else who is struggling with debt are potentially eligible for an income-based repayment at the end of which we forget the debt. so you know i think the unfortunate answer is we have built in alternatives to bankruptcy discharge and that's
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simply a reality. the costs of those forgiveness programs that are ultimately cycled back and paid for by the other participants in the program. >> i think a really important message of the book and of this discussion is being clear-eyed and truthful about what we are doing with simple truths like if two-thirds of the people are having post-secondary education that i cannot be that all of them will make over the median income. that's math and yet what you hear every time you be -- read some popular article is to certainly make more money than half the people at least if you have an education. we have to be precisely honest about what we are doing about what is consumption and what is investment and what are likely investments to be and what does it really mean to be in debt, dischargeable or not.
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i think this book is a really strong set of steps forward and getting more clear-eyed with ourselves as a society about what's going on here. as was this discussion today so let's thank our excellent panel. [applause] >> up next on booktv "after words" with guest host's marty makary johns hopkins surgeon and appropriated the checklist manifesto for surgeons. this week astrophysicists mario livio and his new book is "brilliant blunders" from darwin to einstein - colossal mistakes by great scientists that changed our understanding of life and the universe the science pioneers include charles darwin
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linus pauling and albert einstein. >> host: welcome to c-span booktv. our guest is mario livio. thanks for being here. dr. livio is a world-renowned astrophysicist and works at the space telescope science institute, the same institute that is conducting the science program for the hubble space telescope and they will conduct the scientific diagram for the upcoming james webb telescope. it's great to chat with you. dr. livio has published more than 500 scientific articles and has received research awards and recognition for teaching excellence and his books. his interests span of her range of topics in astrophysics from black holes two extrasolar planets and the emergence of possible intelligent life in the universe. his popular book the golden
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ratio one the piano prize in 2003 in the international pythagoras to prize so he is a well published author. he is now with us to discuss his most recent book is "brilliant blunders" from darwin to einstein - colossal mistakes by great scientists that changed our understanding of life and the universe. it was released in may of 2013 and received excellent reviews from "the new york times," "the wall street journal" and "the washington post" so congratulations. >> guest: i love your book brilliant blunders because a sort of exposes some of the flaws of the great giants in science. you look at things that they did great but also very sad completely wrong. tell us a little bit about the common thread. >> guest: it was part of the reason why a rip about. to show that even the most
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luminaries of all scientists can make big blunders. it's somewhat of a comfort to the rest of us when we make our own blunders and so on. but it's also because this is part of the way science works and i wanted to expose that part of it. >> host: has this been a book that the that the scientific community has to wait a minute don't talk about our giants like this. they are saints. or have they really learned from learn from the examples that you give? >> guest: i think most people actually like these. most people when i tell them in the process of writing when they would ask me what is your book about, i said well aged have chosen five great scientist and for each one of them a major blunder. they say actually that's a good idea. i didn't get much resistance. >> host: those of us who have had bad ideas were inspired by this book. now some of the blunders are based on that information at the
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time that the scientist had. other times you describe that it's really due to the competition. if you had to assign a number what% of the scientific wonders where in your estimate because of bad information and what% were due to pride? >> guest: i think if it was just a bad information i normally would not have called it a blunder unless the person who actually made the blunder did not understand that he might have had bad information as well. so that in the cases here i would say, well i can't say have the five people but about half had that information but that's not the part i count against them. the part i count as a blunder is the part where they didn't realize that they might have made bad information and as a result of that developed a bad theory. i would say half-and-half roughly speaking but it is more
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the pride or other factors that introduce the blunder. >> host: how did you ever come up with these five individuals? you do your research to identify giants that had great wonders. how did you arrive at these five? >> guest: i've spent quite a bit of time thinking about this and at the end i decided i do want number one we have five giants. and number two i didn't want to go too far back in history because if you go too far back, let's say you go to aristotle then almost everything you say in physics we know it will be wrong. so you cannot count it like this. so i only went to the middle of the 19th century. plus i wanted to have some evidence that connects them and in this particular case i decided that the thread was evolution, the evolution of life on earth, evolution of the earth
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itself, a foolish and of the stars, evolution of the universe as a whole. >> host: you selected charles darwin, lord kelvin, linus pauling, fred hoyle and herb albert einstein. let's talk about each of these starting with charles darwin. darwin is known most for the theory of evolution but as i understand that he it he never really even use the term evolution in his original writings on the origins of the species. >> guest: is true in his original book he never used the word evolution however the last word in the book is evolved. so he did not use the word evolution but the word evolved does appear as the last word. of the book, yes. >> host: so you are right. the term evolution was not bad except that at the time but you know given he had used it once
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the term became much more popular. >> host: he used a word for natural selection and the theory of natural selection in the concept and the concept of evolution and it became later adopted by those that use the evolution theory or tell us a little more of what drove him. >> guest: basically he came up with the theory of evolution via means of natural selection. so he had one big theory which was composed of a number of steps in it you know so for example it was the concept of evolution itself. species are not immutable and they change with time and so on. there was the concept of gradually changes have been very slow like in geology. it's not that you look at one species and you see it turn into another species. you have to wait hundreds of thousands of generations and so on. then there was this concept of
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speciation or branching where you start with one thing, it splits and splits and splits and this is how you get all the diversity and so on. and there was the concept of common ancestors, that all life we see with all the species and everything, the 8.7 billion or however many species there are this came from one initial form of life. and then you have this one mechanism that supports all of this and that was natural selection. how does all of that work? it works by means of natural selection. >> host: darwin's great blunder in your book is his of understanding of genetics. tell us a little bit about that. >> guest: not just darwin. darwin admitted that genetics is a big mystery and so on. so i don't blame him for that.
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he didn't know any better than anybody at the time however you have the characteristic of the father and you have the characteristic of the mother and you mix them together like you would expect. so you take red and you take yellow and you get green and so on. that was the theory that everybody used. the problem was darwin did not understand. he did not understand that with such a theory natural selection could never have really worked because you now imagine you have a population of a million white cats and one black cat and supposed being a black cat does provide you with some big advantages. but in this blending theory you mix things like gin and tonic, the black cat mates with a white cat and you get a gray cat. the gray cat mates with another
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white cat and you get a paler shade of gray cat. this thing just gets diluted and diluted and the black advantage will disappear and never appear again. so that was really the blunder. the way genetics really work as we know with mandolin all the work that followed is really more like shoveling decks of cards if you like. if i have an ace and having an ace is a good thing it doesn't matter how much i shuffle i will still have an ace in my hand. so this is how the genes don't change and they can be transferred and so on. so with the theory that he was operating, his theory could not have worked. >> host: so we had this tremendous theory but it couldn't really be applied in his mind. did he leave this world confused and puzzled, what is the remaining step? >> guest: he was confused.
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in many cases he actually even came close to coming up with the correct theory. he has letters to wallace where he writes, i think in the end it will turn out that heredity is more like mixing and not like fusion. in another letter he has this insight which today sounds so trivial but how did anybody think about that? he said in one letter, when a female has a child that child is either a male or female. it is not a mixture. it's not some him off or die. so he understood that somehow genetics must work in other ways but he didn't know enough mathematics to calculate probabilities and things and just couldn't come up with a correct theory. he did, but with a certain theory which was completely wrong. it went in completely the wrong direction and so on. >> host: is interesting in
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your vote to read about darwin. he had a tremendous passion for science and sometimes he would put other aspects of his life on hold to pursue science. tell us a little bit about what it was like. what made him tick? >> guest: well you know he just loved nature. he spent five years on this ship doing journal after journal. he left medical school to ask a go to study nature and i mean there is the story that when he was about to marry, he eventually married his cousin emma but when he was about to marry in his notebooks he has the debates with himself to marry or not to marry and pros and cons for marrying and not marrying. for the pros he said you have a
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companion that is better than a dog and things like that but on the con side he said i will have less money to buy the books and things like that or i forget what else. a few other things that he said, it's a waste of time. marriage waste your time so eventually he decided to marry. so he had lots of notebooks. he took lots of notes. it's interesting for example that he never published a real genealogy tree you know like primates here in humans here. it was not looks so in his notebooks he had them but he never really publish them. the only one thing that comes close to that is for the origin he has this one branching diagram. even with that one on the proper diagram he wrote i think. so even there he wasn't quite sure. >> host: perhaps a more humble
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man then history has lent him. >> guest: es and in particular if you read the last race from his book, it's not the very last phrase but he says i forget the exact words but he says even as superior humans now appear and so one you still see in them the signs of their humble beginnings. >> host: almost poetic. lord kelvin, lord kelvin is someone that was a tremendous influence in science and he developed really the scale to measure temperature but we don't talk about kelvin as much anymore. we have replaced it with fahrenheit and celsius. we don't say it's about 305 kelvin today, let's go to the sling pool. tell us a little bit about kelvin.
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it's. >> guest: kelvin was this mr. know it all kind of person. and by the way of course in physics and so on we still talk sometimes and degrees of kelvin but it's true in every day life. he was as much a physicist as he was a mathematician as he was an engineer. he was fantastic in taking ideas from physics and mathematics and actually applying them to a variety of things. so he developed all kinds of works in economics in general but he was also responsible for putting it in under ocean cable and he invented the compass that was used by mariners. the gal or to study electricity
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and magnetism and a lot of work in that as well. so he was really a person who was in almost every branch of physics or engineering at the time. and he had an understanding of the age of the earth that if it were theory today would be the least popular theory in the entire field of astrophysics. tell us a little bit about his understanding of the age of the earth compared to today. >> guest: mably first let me say the good things about it. the good thing that was he actually came up with a way to calculate the age of the year. think about even today how do you go about calculating the age of the earth? remember this is even a time before radio and tv and all that. he came up with this credible idea. it seems today for in six like
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you you find a corpse and they measure the temperature and i can tell the time it just from that and so matt and so on. so that was his idea. the earth started very hot and molding and it's been losing energy since then. if we would measure very accurate how the temperature changes with depth we would actually know the age. sort of like you take a hot turkey from the oven and stick it in the freezer and then by measuring how the temperature of was changed you can basically cultivate calculate how long they turkey has been in the freezer. a bit like that. first of all the idea was fantastic. it was really a breakthrough. that he could even do that. the problem was he came up with an age of about 100 billion years which is a factor of 45 to shore.
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the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years so the question is why? he he was so clever and he used all the physics right why did he get everything so wrong? most people will tell you it's because he neglected radioactivity. it's true he neglected radioactivity because he did origins of the earth of radioactivity was not even discovered. radioactivity provided heat in the earth so there is an assumption that the earth was formed once is not entirely correct because he is getting heat from radioactive decay. it turns out that was not the major problem with this calculation. the major problem was that he did not take into account the possibility that heat is transported inside of the earth more efficiently than he thought. in particular the interior of the earth acts like a fluid and
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with fluid you can have convection. when the fluid is moving and so one of transporting, you hit -- heat oil in a pot and you get convection. the colder stuff sinks in and gets hard and comes back up and so on and you get these circulations. he did not take that into account. >> host: in trying to measure the age of the earth he may have contributed to science just in the quest. did he encourage other researchers to do the same, to follow what he tried to do and is that really the contribution? >> guest: i think the contribution is even bigger than what you just suggested. the thing is that before he came up with this calculation the geologist of his time, they thought the age of the earth is
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so vast that you cannot even put a limit on it and so on. they said lisa see no sign for a beginning and no sign for an end. when he began his calculation he became -- came up with a disturbing population. it was too short for darwin's theory of evolution because evolution would not have taken place in 180 years and it was too short for the geologist. we see changes that must have taken billions and billions of years and so on. what that did is it forced the geologist to actually start worrying about the age of the earth and eventually he read radiometric data. when you do this radioactivity you determine the age. determining the age of the earth became part of geology and that is largely been his contribution. he disturbs them enough into
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action and to try to calculate those. >> host: that's great. we are with mario livio whose new book "brilliant blunders" is teaching us about flaws from some of the great scientist in history. moving on to linus pauling. we all know about polling from basic chemistry and physics looks in high school. tell us a little bit about what he did great in where he went wrong. this. >> guest: linus pauling was almost certainly the greatest chemist of his generation. some perhaps would say one of the greatest chemist of all time. he is the only person by the way who has won the nobel prize twice by himself without sharing it with anybody. one was for peace but the other was for chemistry. there were others who one to nobel prizes but he got them without sharing them with anybody else.
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what he did is he did many things in chemistry in particular for example identified the importance of the hydrogen bomb in molecules. this was when hydrogen atoms shared between two other atoms and so on and that became a part of the qualities of life. more importantly perhaps he certainly was one of the first people who said at the end of the day life is actually -- there is nothing mysterious about life. there are no vital forces. it's just -- understand the chemistry and you will understand that molecules of life and life itself. as part of that he actually managed to find the main structure of many things. he determined the structure of many products which were not
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known before his time. >> host: fred hoyle, perhaps one of the lesser out of the five scientist you highlight in the united states but overseas will recognize to be one of the giants. tell us who fred hoyle was. >> guest: fred hoyle as you point out was extremely well-known in the u.k. because number one hero to many popular books. he has the very popular radio program so he was known to the general public as well as the scientific community very well. it's true that the u.s. is not as well-known. he is certainly i would say one of the few biggest astrophysicist at astrophysicists of the 20th century. there is no doubt about that. for a period of maybe 25 years he was arguably the biggest
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astrophysicists that existed. he is the person that told us for example all the elements that you and i are made of were actually formed inside cells. at the beginning of the universe there was hydrogen and elements. life depends on carbon, hydrogen, oxygen phosphorus and all of those elements were forged inside of stars. there is the expression we are stardust so we really we are at that. the materials in our bodies were once inside some star and foil is the person who came up with the theory for that. and how all of that works. >> host: it's almost ironic because didn't hoyle believed
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that the universe was essentially constant? there was little change or it was set in time? >> guest: correct. it's even more ironic to point out that hoyle was the person who coined the term big gang which is used today, that our universe started with a big bang but he actually always objected to the big bang theory. so he coined the term but he objected to the theory. basically instead of saying all our universe started as we would say or in his words in one big bang he said no, the universe was always the same and will always stay the same. big universe is in a steady state so while everything appears to change actually in the end everything in the universe at large stays the same. now he nailed that the universe has expanded. he knew that because we knew that since the late 1920s so
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you cannot, how can it stay the same? matter gets diluted and density goes down. he invented for that something that he said actually matter gets created. in a very slow rate one could measure, about one atom per century and that the volume like the empire state building. matter is created. you would say this is great. it creates matter out of nothing? you know what fred hoyle would say to that? and the big bang he wanted everything to be created at once. i was just one atom in the size of the empire state building. >> host: it's amazing how these minds try to quantify what no one else ever tried had ever tried to quantify. i think when you're a child
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anything that costs more than $7 as a million dollars. it's nebulous. it's abstract, it has no meaning get many of these scientists attempted to do calculations on the change in energy and the size of the universe, the age of the earth. it seems like that is one common driver of a lot of these great minds and yet many of them made a giant blunder as you point out in the book. we are talking to mario livio author of "brilliant blunders" and after the break we will talk about albert einstein and a little bit about what happened in his life that led to his theories.
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>> host: we are back with dr. mario livio an astrophysicist and an expert in cosmology, black holes, extrasolar planets, the possibility of intelligent life outside the universe so we are here talking about his new book "brilliant blunders" and highly acclaimed book which outlines some of the giant mistakes that science has made through certain individuals over the years. let's talk about albert einstein, one of the most popular scientists in the united states, an interesting character, a man who had many great positives and also some interesting negatives about his life. tell us a little bit about what life was like for albert einstein. >> host: >> guest: albert einstein was jewish but he worked in germany and this was the country that
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you know would become nazi germany and as a result had to leave. in 1919 he was recognized in germany as a giant scientists and so on but he eventually left and came to the u.s., worked at cranston for a good number of years. all life at the beginning of the 20th century and then he experienced and was responsible for much of the revolution in science that we have witnessed. he had one year that was known as his miracle year that he had yet another year which was another miracle year in which she set the foundations for modern physics. by that i mean his theories of special relativity, general relativity, the photoelectric
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effect to which set the foundation for quantum mechanics. motion that show that atoms are not just particles that this is when you put pollen particles in water and they sort of jitter like this and so on. their atoms there, real atoms that do things and so on. there is no aspect of physics that einstein didn't touch on. he was also a well-known pacifist, even though he did write a letter to president -- and eventually to the construction of the atomic bomb. he regretted that later in years even though he said there were some justification for that because there was the fear that the germans had one but having seen what atomic bombs could do he was horrified at the prospect
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of what came out of that. that entire possibility of using energy that way came out of his famous equation where you can convert mass into energy. of course you not cannot blame him for writing the physics which led to that. that same physics is also related to the fact that we use nuclear reactors for power today and so on and many other positive things. but you know he was -- always regretted that that lead to nuclear weapons and things of that nature. >> host: can you comment on the mentality towards peace, they respect for life among many of these great scientists? you have linus pauling and you have the nobel prize for peace as well as science and you had understand with his intense
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respect for human life. is there something they saw in nature and humans and chemistry and physics that made them at the deep respect for human life? >> guest: it's a good question. you know i must say i have not given too much thought in terms of is there something particular with scientists that may be more advocating for that direction. einstein in polling and pauling by the way knew each other. they had met and einstein told pauling the biggest mistake he ever made was writing that particular letter about the construction of the atomic bomb. maybe it's more a question of this truly great scientists with an open mind. they really thought about the
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whole universe and what it means and the earth and life on earth and all of these things and so on. being a part of that, that open mind, they saw the dangers i think of you know species becoming extinct, humans becoming extinct and things of that nature and so on and therefore a number of them became pacifists. now not all scientists were like that. scientists like edward teller and others truly advocated nuclear weapons and things of that nature. so this is why i find it hard to say that this is something that characterizes all scientists. that certainly is not the case but i think you'll find probably more pacifists among scientists that than maybe among the population in general. that is my feeling.
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>> host: while some scientists could see what's inside of humans to be simply molecules others may see the art and beauty of life and many appreciate that more. >> guest: einstein for example was a musician and he really loved music and so one so there must have been some part. >> host: he was clearly a genius by any definition. but he couldn't remember where he lived. he would forget his keys sometimes. there is a story where he went to get on the bus at princeton and he was fumbling through his change and he couldn't figure out how much to pay for the bus ride and the driver actually stopped and counted the coins for him and took the fair. tell us a little bit about this sort of extreme on both ends where you have this intense genius and someone who fumbles through some of the more simple things in life.
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guess who i am not an expert on how the mind works like that but i have seen a study of genius and creativity and i remember that the conclusion of that particular study was that extremely creative individuals tend to -- they can often find two positions which are at the extreme from each other. for example they can bait a times extremely introverted and at times extremely extrovert or extremely humble and extremely proud of the same time. most people fall somewhere in the middle but the people, many of the people who turn out to be extraordinary they have the ability to host these two extremes. and i think that probably is one part of what you describe with is einstein. i'm sure you have seen it but
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but also in every day life we sometimes fumble with a deep concept. here she is very good with their computer and so on but they fumble through life in every other aspect. so there must be something like that. >> host: tell us a little bit about where einstein went wrong. he made a clear-cut mistake in one of his large theories. he omitted a term in an equation. can you tell us a little bit about that? >> guest: yeah. so it's a somewhat complicated story. einstein calculated his theory of general relative which is a theory of gravity if you like and the theory basically said that what we call gravity is not some mysterious force that acts across space. it's rather a manifestation of
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how space curves. for example you know when i stand on a trampling it causes the trampling to say. if i now throw a small -- on the trampling it while move around where i sat. so basically he said if you have a mass mess like this on it causes space to curve or to warp and the planets moved in the shortest path in that curved space. this is the essence of general relativity. gravity is really some sort of fake curvature of space. >> host: and attraction. >> guest: it's an attraction that caused by the way space curves so mass causes space to curve and then space tells the mascot of move. recently that's the story. >> host: one of the greatest theories of modern science perhaps? top three? >> guest: i would say top one
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probably. >> host: einstein had a major part of this wrong. >> guest: so far it's all correct. the theory as far as we know is correct but then there are some details. the details are the following. einstein thought when he formulated his theory and try to apply to the universe as a whole by 1917 he thought that the universe was static, nothing moved. everything was in place. but then at the same time wait a second if everything attracts each other all the masses attract each other how can they not move? this universe is going to collapse under its own weight. basically what he did is he ended what we would call today a factor. he ended the term equation. that introduced a positive force which precisely balance gravity at every point.
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he wanted to keep everything static. as it turns out he did not achieve that anyhow. he thought i can balance gravity by this repulsive force at every point. it can cause a constant. then in the late 1920s hubble after him our telescope is named discovered that the universe is expanding. when einstein heard the universe is expanding he said wait a second everything is not static but expanding, i don't need these repulsive forces because of the gravity is going to do now is slow down the expansion. the same way that if i take the keys and i throw them out the gravity slows them down. so he said i don't need that and he took it out. >> host: this is one of the
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terms in the equation of relativity. >> guest: he had one term that said here is the geometry of space and the geometry of space is determined by how the math that is within the universe. that handed another term of this repulsive force. now he said i don't need a repulsive force because the universe is expanding and all the gravity is doing is slowing the expansion down. he took it out. in 1998, not that long ago, we discovered that not only is the universe expanding, the expansion is speeding up. it's accelerating. what is it that propels an acceleration of the universe? we thought it should be slowing down. instead it's speeding up. do you know what propels it? we think now precisely that term
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that einstein took out, that repulsive force. that is speeding it it up. so his real blunder appears to have been taking the term out rather than putting it in. had he left it in there he could have predicted way back then in 1917 that the universe expansion should be speeding up which we now know from 1998. ..
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>> the zigzag is caused by a variety of blunders. some people when you learn in school of course, what else could he have thought about? he thought about this a long
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time and tell a he came up with the correct very. with this particular blunder. so the science progresses through blunders. second, even the biggest scientist makes a blunder. it is not surprising that they make a blunder because of the biggest findings are the biggest ideas for some calculated risk and sometimes japan's out and sometimes it doesn't. you have a situation where they make blunders did we should always be aware of that. another lesson here is in many cases with theoretical
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physics a and mathematics sometimes you're in the situation where people really do the best work with their relatively young. then as they grow older, with incremental science. i did this big thing so now they venture into areas which even outside of their area. occasionally they'd make blunders in those areas to.
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>> host: if i hear you correctly you save many of these great scientist make their contributions relatively early in their younger part of their careers? after have rate -- having these huge achievements it would almost allows them to wander into areas where they have confidence or a sense of what the direction in order with the previous with the misguided future. >> for some of them. there is no question with the success he had the original idea way back then. >> protein structure. >> guest: then he comes up with the structure of the
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alpha helix. but he wasn't sure because one little point did not exactly agree with the building blocks it took 13 years to publish. in the small discrepancy he could not explain he did not need to worry about that. then, when he did a model for the dna there was a false sense of confidence. i learned my original hunch was correct in the details are to be worked out somehow he worked 11 months in earnest. >> compared to 13 years and there were three strands in
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he wrote the book on that. because he said the basic structure is correct. >> is there a competitive spirit they may have taken on after a great success like the protein structure? that they may have been a bit of a rush. it wasn't because of what sen. he barely knew about them. but morris was in london he had better x-ray and he was
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always very competitive in thought there was something before him. >> host: there is a notion that bill gates mentioned that success is a lousy teacher it empowers the lucky that they feel they are smart and can create overconfidence. is don't like you have seen at. >> guest: but i would say he was smart as well but just lucky. >> host: tell us about of the common thread of how we learn from mistakes in science. we really it financed the field. in madison we've made some tragic mistakes over the years. we gave the vaccine to almost all the children of the world the unrealized there was a sequence that certain animals can cause
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mental month luckily did not in human beings. tell us how we have learned from science and media thoughts what is the biggest blunder of those you identified in your book. >> guest: science mistakes are part of the scientific method. one of the great philosophers of science that you can never prove a theory3 you can never prove a theory correct so basically it is the possibility one of the hallmarks of the true scientific theory so the way that works certain facts of the experimental observation in the theory is based on those. if it is the real scientific
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theory it should be able to except prediction in did you make those experiments and if they turn out not to agree there's something wrong with the theory. this is how the scientific method really works. with this kind of process not the you could be sloppy to have mistakes deliberately to be careless. you have to be a very, very careful and it should be at the time you suggested that the fact you eventually find the theory to be wrong, it is part of how you find a better theory.
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newton's theory of gravity was replaced by the relativity but that doesn't mean it was wrong if i throw you my keys i throw new tunes gravity but not relativity so it continues to live within general relativity as the case so this is the best that can happen to a theory. >> host: at the back of your book there is a great saying geniuses to find by those who can make all the possible mistakes in the least amount of time. what is your thought about the way science progresses' today? there is a lot of different forces back when darwin
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wanted to go around the world he had to raise funding. today we have to raise funding and today there is pressures academics, government budgets. you are one of the great minds of the physics working on the hubble telescope program the james webb program, what is your feeling about the state of science today? >> as you point out correctly, we have many challenges but scientists have progressed a lot. funding has become a serious problem in the fact there are certain problems in science that now require a lot of funding in geneva that cost many millions of dollars to be supported only like a whole of europe not
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even an individual country to support something like that. so there is no question that is a problem it is very ambitious but also very costly as a result of this is a certain fear because a person who makes the mistake could see their funding cut rabies denied tenure so one of the things i wanted to encourage our writing the book is to encourage a little bit of thinking in terms of risk taking again i want to make it very clear i am not advocating the sometimes we like to say you
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have to think outside the box. when you think outside the box you might make a mistake because then you think unconventionally i would like all of the evaluation processes in funding to take into account these calculated risk-taking to allow for the potential big breakthrough if you have stipulations where people say we know that this is risky but there is a potential for very high reward and to allow for a certain amount of fact side-by-side. >> that is what i find your booktv inspiring by pointing out that the colossal mistakes that the scientific
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rates in history made that it inspires us to take risk using the scientific methods in their are some four today but in your own field i have seen this in my field of medicine the uc in astrophysics a theory get a lot of attention and momentum but not sufficient questioning? dec great theories were there is a giant blender that is not recognized? >> you may know we have a theory that is supposed to be a theory of everything that is to unify all the forces of nature and explain the subatomic particles and all of that. the best in canada we have
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at the moment is a unified theory for all the forces of nature we don't have a better canada for that however are few, if any so it could turn out this entire theory is in the wrong direction. now should we stop doing this? i don't think so we don't have the better theory at the moment and the greatest minds existing today i think they should continue to work but keep in mind it is possible that maybe we need to take a different completely direction. >> host: thank you for right to your book, it is a great


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