Archive for the ‘neil degrasse tyson’ tag
Unlike the majority of people who watched the Mars rover touch down on the planet’s surface Sunday, the members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will likely have a much more vivid memory of the event.
By vivid, I mean anyone working in the control room during the landing will recall an image reel of the rover’s decent set to a musical score while hearing meaningful quotes from government officials. Basically, their memories will be much more cinematic — much like the video created by film maker Brandon Fibbs embedded below.
Fibbs, who previously created the Penny4Nasa promo video featuring the voice talents of his friend Neil deGrasse Tyson, was actually on site at the JPL during the Mars landing. “I was compelled to produce something that approximated my experiences,” he said of his latest work.
The $2.5 billion mission’s rover took around seven minutes to make its landing on the red planet’s surface. The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory rover landed in Gale Crater at the foot of a layered mountain. While previous missions focused on finding water on the red planet, the Curiosity mission will look for ancient habitable environments.
Fibbs’ video, titled Dare Mighty Things: Curiosity on Mars, is best described the theatrical trailer for “Curiosity: The Motion Picture.” It includes a collection of NASA-produced animations, telemetry data, onboard vehicle instrumentation, incident audio, and JPL footage. As for the audio, Fibbs used a portion of the TRON: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk as well as “narration from those NASA/JPL leaders most responsible for transforming one of the most complex engineering feats the agency has ever attempted into one of its proudest, finest hours.”
Let us know what you think of the video in the comment section.
As I write this, NASA’s Curiosity rover is hurtling through space as it has been for the past eight months, but that all changes tonight. With any luck (scratch that — with a staggering amount of luck), that Mini Cooper-sized envoy will survive its tricky seven minute atmospheric entry, after which it will roam the Martian surface conducting a slew of science experiments for nearly two years.
It’s all arguably important stuff — what Curiosity finds could be instrumental to understanding the origins of the planet, not to mention that it could help pave the way for a manned mission — but I have to wonder how many people living in this age of distraction actually give a damn.
who cares if there was life on Mars? just a waste of more money—
Harry Quick (@HarryQuickk) August 04, 2012
I think NASA is a waste of money. Who cares about Mars…—
DYL∆N THE VILL∆IN (@Dylan_James99) August 02, 2012
NASA, to its credit, has been doing what it can to drum up interest in the mission. There’s (curiously enough) a Twitter account for the rover, which can be seen chatting it up with Neil deGrasse Tyson and providing status updates in the first person. Oh, and the organization will be streaming the night’s events, offering up a glimpse inside the human drama of mission control.
On some level though, I can’t blame those who don’t care. NASA’s recent history with Mars has been a spotty one — after a string of successful fly-bys and probe landings in the early-to-mid 70s, NASA returned to the red planet with the Pathfinder mission in 1997 (I was in third grade at the time, and utterly, utterly enthralled by the whole thing), but such incidents seem to be the exceptions. According to Reuters, 26 out of 40 Mars missions have either gone awry or gone up in (perhaps not always metaphorical) smoke — not terribly heartening odds, especially since Curiosity’s landing is going to be one of the trickiest yet.
Failure, sad to say, is most definitely an option.
That’s to say nothing of the fact that there’s just so much stuff going on right now. The Olympics. The mess in Syria. Tropical storms. Even decidedly niche events like the Apple v. Samsung weigh heavily on some people’s minds. And, you know, some people are only concerned with what’s going to be on television tonight. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
There’s also a slight sexiness problem. Now, putting a man on the moon — that was something that really brought people together. If you’ll forgive me for sentimentalizing a moment I (nor many of you) weren’t a part of, that day in July 1969 pushed us all forward, if only just a little bit. Perhaps naturally, landing a car-sized robot on the surface of another planet just doesn’t seem as weighty or substantial, despite the sheer complexity of what’s involved and what it could lead to. We didn’t put our footprints on Mars. We haven’t put lives on the line. Not yet, anyway.
So, yes, there are plenty of reasons why people can’t be bothered to care about rover wheeling its way around a planet that’s roughly 35 million miles away. But if you find yourself feeling a twinge of curiosity about that relatively tiny machine born of lofty ambitions, here’s why you should care about what happens tonight.
First off, humanity is reaching out to plop (fine, another) something of its own creation onto another world. Just think about that for a minute. Louis C.K. has a great bit (that many of you have probably already seen, so indulge me) about how a guy he sat next to on a plane was moaning about flaky in-flight WiFi while he was encased in a streamlined metal tube powering its way through the friggin’ sky at 600 miles per hour. The point is, there’s a tendency for people to get wrapped up in the earth-bound, and it’s always nice for a change of pace.
What’s more, with Curiosity, NASA’s not just reaching toward the heavens — it’s planning to learn as much as it can from them. You have to admit, there’s something more than a little wonderful about that. There’s untold value in what we can learn from Curiosity, though the information the rover is able to glean may not be immediately useful. What’s the point in learning about Mars’ past? To expand upon the corpus of human knowledge! To understand our crazy, hectic, beautiful universe even a fraction of a percent better.
Even so, those findings could have a practical impact on future Mars missions, both those envisioned by NASA and those in the growing commercial space movement. Will this ridiculous landing scheme work? If it does, you can bet someone will try it again some day. Of course, not every company in that field needs the coaxing. SpaceX founder Elon Musk seems to look at Mars much in the same way — it’s a goal to be met because it’s there, waiting for us to set foot on it.
“That’s always been a goal of SpaceX,” Musk recently told the L.A. Times. “We’re hoping to develop the technology to do that in probably 12 to 15 years.”
And that’s just one facet of his ambitions for mankind’s space-faring future. Musk said back in March that one of his company’s ambitions was to establish a long-term colony on the red planet. His declaration smacks of hubris — all SpaceX can do now is dock with the International Space Station — but it’s exactly that sort of thinking that helps push through the myriad roadblocks that such a project would almost definitely encounter.
In the end, Curiosity could be the harbinger of big, big things to come. On the other hand, it could crash and burn on the Martian surface, signaling the abject loss of $2.5 billion. Either way, tell me that’s not something worth caring about.
So you’re in a pissy mood because it’s Monday and Monday sucks. Well, this ought to put things in perspective.
When Astrophysicist, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, was asked “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” this was his answer. Whoa.
If you ever needed a reason to justify government spending on the space program, then I implore you to watch the fan video embedded below.
The video features a speech given by American astrophysicist, frequent Colbert Report guest, and all around awesome personality Neil deGrasse Tyson. A few months ago, he spoke at a congressional hearing on the importance of a space program to drive not only innovation and the economy, but also ambition across the country. He used examples from the 60s, talked about why it makes sense and its impact since then. The world gets tons of new technology that can be pushed out to the private sector as a result of NASA’s work. If you need recent proof, look no further than the space travel happening in the private sector. (On background, NASA contracts private companies, like Space X, to make orbital space mission so it can concentrate on things like mining asteroids and traveling to Mars.)
At the end of the speech, Tyson asked the senate committee to double NASA’s budget from a half-cent on every tax dollar collected to a full penny. Such an increase would raise NASA’s budget from less than $18 billion to a healthy $37.5 billion. I listened to the entire original address, which was about nine-minutes long, and agreed with all of it. At the same time I was kind of frustrated because I didn’t think the majority of people would treat it as something beyond a frivolous expense that we don’t need with our current level of debt.
And then I came across a portion of that very same speech embedded in a video titled Audacious Visions, which was created by film maker Brandon Fibbs. Listening to Tyson’s words with images of space travel and historical events shown, not to mention the cinematic score playing in the background, makes for a far more powerful way to convey the message that we need to fund our space program.
I won’t lie, I actually teared up while watching Fibbs’ video. The point that got me was when Tyson says: “…we’ve got symptoms in society today. We’re going broke, we’re mired in debt, we don’t have as many scientists as we need, and jobs are going overseas. I assert that these aren’t isolated problems, but rather the collected consequence of the absence of ambition that consumes you when you stop having dreams.”
Let us know what you think in the comments.
This quotation from scientist and popular meme Neil deGrasse Tyson is practically our mission statement here at Lifehacker. It’s easy enough to acquire information—especially in the age of the internet—but knowing how to think about what you learn creates the possibility for you to do so much more. More »
I’m a big Neil deGrasse Tyson fanboy.
Partly that’s because I’m an Apollo moon mission geek and collect artifacts from the Apollo program. (Pretty geeky, right?)
But mostly, I’m a fan because Dr. Tyson is such an awesome communicator. When I read his books and articles or watch him on television, I always take away something that I can apply to my own work as a marketer and communicator.
Neil deGrasse Tyson as master communicator
Dr. Tyson is so good at speaking and writing about the cosmos and why it is important for us to have an understanding of the wider world in which we live.
If you haven’t heard him speak, check out Jon Stewart interviewing Dr. Tyson on The Daily Show on February 27, 2012.
In the clip, he explains how fear contributed to the development of America’s space program in the late 1950s, thereby spurring economic growth. “We no longer advanced a space frontier,” he says. “The Space Shuttle boldly went where hundreds have gone before.” Watch the clip to see a master communicator at work.
By the way: An astrophysicist with 350,000+ followers on Twitter? What’s up with that? Yep, that’s @neiltyson
His newest book, just out, is Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier – a collection of essays and speech transcripts around the theme of space exploration and how America & NASA has not done much to inspire people in the past 40 years outside of some cool robotic missions and the Hubble telescope.
I read Space Chronicles in three sittings because it is that good.
In the book, he talks about how America boldly embarked on the most audacious scientific endeavor in history by sending humans to the moon. However after 9 lunar missions (6 that landed) we… stopped exploring! For 40 years we’ve only been to low earth orbit with manned missions.
Sure there have been some spectacular robotic missions such as Cassini to Saturn and the various Mars rovers. And the Hubble space telescope has delivered spectacular images. But humans haven’t explored.
Dr. Tyson argues we’re not inspiring our young people to study science and engineering and that’s a problem for the economy.
“Absent such curiosity, we are no different from the provincial farmer who expresses no need to venture beyond the county line, because his forty acres meet all his needs. Yet if our predecessors had felt that way, the farmer would instead be a cave dweller, chasing down his dinner with a stick and a rock.”
– From Space Chronicles.
If you want to see how thought leadership is done by a master communicator, read and watch the work of Neil deGrasse Tyson. You don’t need to agree with him nor be a space geek to learn from his style.
Quick aside – In high school my buddies and I would go to the Hayden Planetarium (after some appropriate preparations of course) to see evening productions of “Laser Floyd” – a cosmic mixture of loud Pink Floyd with colorful lasers projected on the planetarium dome. I’ve even got a ticket stub from 1978 to prove it. Neil is close to my age. He grew up in New York City. I wonder if he went too? Nah, probably not. He was studying while I was partying. But maybe?!
Image: from @neiltyson Twitter.
Woody Harrelson recently got on Reddit to engage in one of those famous “AMA” ask me anything threads. Well, that’s what it seemed like. In the past, people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Louis CK have had lots of success with their AMAs, focusing on being completely honest and engaging the community’s tough questions. However, success on Reddit depends on that honesty.
When Woody Harrelson got on Reddit this past Friday, honesty was the last thing on his mind, apparently. Every answer he gave to the community was about his upcoming movie, Rampart, and it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t Woody, it was a PR person. This is a cautionary tale for the marketing department and social media managers out there — don’t lie to Reddit.
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is very familiar with space and the universe. The accomplished American astrophysicist spent part of a day earlier this week answering questions online. Surprisingly, the Q&A session wasn’t held on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook but on Reddit.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.