Articles

Astronomy Night at the White House


Adam Savage: Hey everybody. We are here, Jamie
Hyneman, Bill Nye, and I are here talking to
Dava Newman as part of the White House’s
Astronomy Night. Jamie Hyneman: Deputy
Administrator of NASA. Dava Newman: Great to be
here with you guys tonight. Adam Savage: Really
great to have you, and I’m actually
particularly a little fan boy about this, specifically
because you’re always — actually, this is one of the
first times I’ve seen you not wearing the space suit. Dava Newman: I’m just
wearing a work suit today. Adam Savage: Normal
human clothes. Dava Newman: Right. Adam Savage: And you’re — Bill Nye: Space suits are for humans. Adam Savage: No, I know, but
I’ve never — Bill Nye: And not just not for you,
I mean for humans. Adam Savage: But I want
all the space suits. Bill Nye: Yeah. Adam Savage: I’d want to
collect all the space suits. So, yeah, what does
astronomy night mean to you to come here and
be part of this. Dava Newman: Oh, for us,
for NASA it’s just amazing. To be here at
the White House, these hundreds of kids
here getting inspired, and from NASA we’re taking
them on our journey to Mars. Actually, it’s all the
students here are going to actually be the ones to do
our journey to Mars, right? They’re going to
be the astronauts. They’re going to be — Bill
Nye: It’s very reasonable, you guys, that the kids that
were here tonight are going to walk on Mars. That’s not crazy. Dava Newman: We’re
counting on it. Bill Nye: Yeah, somebody. Adam Savage: It’s really
inspiring to walk around and talk to these kids, and see
a level of focus and drive to do what they’re doing,
that I totally did not have at their age. Bill Nye: What
were you doing? Adam Savage: I was
building with Legos. Bill Nye: Well,
that’s worthy. Adam Savage: I was
thinking about girls. Bill Nye: Were they
aerospace Legos? Adam Savage: (laughs)
Yes, the first space Legos — Dava Newman: That’s a start. Bill Nye: Were they
interferometric Legos? Adam Savage: They were what? Bill Nye: You know,
interferometry. You know, the kids
are all doing that. Dava Newman: Not yet. Adam Savage: Not yet. Dava Newman: Not yet. Adam Savage: No, I
had secret doors. I had elevators. That’s what I had. Jamie Hyneman: So, I’m
wondering whether it’s a good idea to send
young people like that, because they’re
going to get like, fried by the radiation. You should send old people,
where it doesn’t matter anymore. Then if they get fried,
they’re going to die sooner or later anyway. Bill Nye: There’s a few
people I’d like to send, actually. Adam Savage: So, you want
to be like one of those guys that volunteer to go fix
the Fukushima reactor, knowing that your
time was decendent. Jamie Hyneman: Right, you
don’t want to send some young kid, you know? It’s a — Dava Newman: Well,
they won’t be young though, because we still have until
the 2030’s to go there, and radiation protection
is one of our number one issues. Jamie Hyneman: So, how
are you dealing with that? Dava Newman: We’re
studying it, protecting, we’re mapping it on the
radiation environment right now on Mars, and it’s not
going to be in the suits, and you know, the
habitats, or even caves. You need to provide a lot
of radiation protection. Bill Nye: She’s nodding
her head, you know, caves, more radiation protection. Adam Savage: Caves, I’m in. I’m in. I’m ready to go. Bill Nye: Now, it may be
it’s very reasonable that the radiation is not as
serious as people thought, right? Dava Newman: It might be. I mean– Adam Savage:
Is that really possible? Dava Newman: Well, I mean
we’ll see what happens with the research, the genetic
research and antioxidants, but we’ll still have enough
radiation protection in place, and actually water — Bill Nye: They’ve thought of that. Dava Newman: Water is a
great radiation shield. Adam Savage: What is it? Is it about a foot
of water, 12 inches? Dava Newman: Yeah, half
a meter, 12 inches or so, and — Adam Savage: So,
you’ve got to make a half — Dava Newman: — regular
if you want dirt, you want you know,
maybe a meter. Adam Savage: Okay. Dava Newman: So,
more dirt than water, but they’re both
good protection. Jamie Hyneman: Combine that
with the hydroponics that we saw over there, you know,
because you’re growing plants and stuff. Dava Newman: I see. Jamie Hyneman: You just line
up the dirt and the plants along the outside of the
shelf and — Dava Newman: It’s a new sustainable garden, you know? Jamie Hyneman: Yeah. Dava Newman: On the
outside, and the water, and the people inside. Adam Savage: So, the safest
place to be on Mars is scuba diving then? Dava Newman: Scuba diving? Adam Savage: Potentially. Jamie Hyneman: Yeah, they
have water there– Bill Nye: Yeah, there’s some
issues in that. I want a dry suit. Dava Newman: It’s
a little salty. (laughter) Bill Nye: A little salty. So, it is quite
reasonable, Dava, that there is enough
salt water seasonally, every Mars year that there’s
something alive there, right? It’s reasonable. It’s not crazy. Dava Newman:
It’s reasonable. Bill Nye: It’s
extraordinary but not crazy. Dava Newman: Right? We knew there was
water, ice, right? Now, there’s water,
running water, salty. So, it’s pretty
fantastic, shocking. Bill Nye: So, my claim is
that if we were to discover living things or evidence
of living things, it would change the world. It would change the way
everybody thinks about what it means to be
alive in the cosmos. That’s my opinion. Adam Savage: And frankly,
I think in the best way. Bill Nye: Yes,
in the best way. Adam Savage: It would alter
that in the right way. Bill Nye: Yeah. Dava Newman: Yeah. Adam Savage: We’d start
asking different questions. Dava Newman: Yeah. Jamie Hyneman: So, I
understand you designed this suit. I’m fascinated
with that suit. It’s like, so it — what
do you shrink wrap it on to somebody, so it fits
perfectly closely or something? Dava Newman: Yeah,
you do 3D laser scans. Jamie Hyneman: Okay. Dava Newman: And then it’s
mechanical counterpressure. That one’s, you know,
putting the pressure right on your skin. Jamie Hyneman: (affirmative) Dava Newman: And the current NASA suits are gas
pressurized suits, and our future suits at NASA
are going to be, you know, lightweight, mobile. You get to Mars and you
need to be like an Olympic athlete, right? Big mountains, you know. Bill Nye: Yes. Adam Savage: Right,
right, right. Bill Nye: That’s
what you need. Dava Newman: You
know, deep ravines. Bill Nye: Yes. Dava Newman: And we’re going
there for the search for life. So, we want to empower them. So, mobility, lightweight. So, I like to think
about, you know, you want the best athletes
you can (inaudible) — Bill Nye: So — Dava Newman: — you want to empower them with a really light suit. Bill Nye: How low a pressure
can a human withstand? Like, when you’re
scuba diving, you can take a lot of
pressure from — Dava Newman: A lot of — because
that’s high pressure. Bill Nye: Yeah. Dava Newman: So, in space
in a space suit it’s the opposite direction, about
a third of an atmosphere. So, we’re here at
one atmosphere. Bill Nye: (affirmative) Dava Newman: Our nice life support system, or so
if we give a third of an atmosphere to someone
in a pressurized suit, you keep them alive. Bill Nye: Three hundred
millibar, 300 hectopascals. Dava Newman: Yep, 30
kilopascals, I counted. 4.3 PSI if you
want to — yeah. Bill Nye: Oh,
PSI, how handy. (laughter) Bill Nye:
Yes, I remember. Adam Savage: That’s
the one I like. Dava Newman: That’s 30
kilopascals, a third, a third of an atmosphere. Bill Nye: Yeah. Dava Newman: That’s easy. Bill Nye: That’s cool,
but you got a press. You have to press on. Is that right? You’re a government
employee. Dava Newman: There you go. Bill Nye: Get back to work. Dava Newman: On our
journey to Mars. Bill Nye: Yes. Dava Newman: Thank you guys. Bill Nye: Thank you, Dava. We’ll see you next weekend. Dava Newman: Yeah. Adam Savage: You joining us? Dava Newman: Yes,
see you soon. Bill Nye: Yes, San Francisco
— Dava Newman: San Francisco, Pasadena
here we go. Bill Nye: You’ll be
going to California. Dava Newman: Yep,
can’t wait to see you. Bye-bye. Bill Nye: Carry on. Thank you. Dava Newman: Carry on. Bill Nye: Yeah, I’ll leave. Yes. Mae, Mae, great to see you. Megan Smith: Hi, guys. Adam Savage: Hello. Dava Newman: How are you? Adam Savage: Very good. Nice to see you. Megan Smith: We have
the amazing Mae Jemison, astronaut. Adam Savage: Mae Jemison. Mae Jemison: Hello. How are you doing? Adam Savage: A pleasure. I reached over
you to say, “Hi, ” to a friend of mine
earlier in the audience. Mae Jemison: (affirmative) Adam Savage: It’s a pleasure to meet you. Mae Jemison: Hello. How are you? Jamie Hyneman:
Nice to meet you. Adam Savage: And we have
some questions from– high school students all over
the country– Mae Jemison: Awesome. Adam : –have been
submitting their questions. Mae Jemison: Uh-oh. Adam Savage: And I’m going
to try and — Mae Jemison: Is it going to
be the hard ones? Adam Savage: Here we go. For each of you, what
memorable moment would you like to share
about your career? Mae Jemison: You
can go first. (laughter) Megan Smith: Well, I just came to the
White House a year ago, to be the U.S. Chief Technology Officer. So, I’m in the middle
— Adam Savage: So, you’re the Chief Technology
Officer for America? Megan Smith: For America,
and it’s an honor to be working with this president
who is such a science president, and we’re trying
to do things like this event, you know, where we
get more of the American people, kids, and kids
at heart to realize that science and technology
is more like this. Adam Savage: Yeah. Megan Smith: It’s
what we do together. Adam Savage: Right. Megan Smith: And the
exploration, the openness. We can learn some facts
when we need them, but really doing it and
exploring is really fun. Almost like, wouldn’t it
be cool if we could learn science the way you
guys do myth busting, the way you do
amazing missions, and it was more like PE. And we’d play a little,
and do a little. And then, we’d get some
instruction, you know, like learning baseball,
play a little. So, I love my current job. We work on all kinds of
different projects on behalf of the American people,
digital government, and science and STEM, and tech, and so
how about you, Mae? Mae Jemison: So, I’m going
to have to go with Megan too and talk about
my current job, even though some of my past
jobs have been pretty cool as well. So, one highlight is though
because it brings everything together, because the work
I’m doing now which is called 100 Year Starship,
which is about making sure that we have the
capabilities of human travel to another star system
within 100 years. So, not a launch, but making
sure the capabilities, and the reason why that’s
important is to be able to create this other
perspective, to look at really
hard problems, and come up with things
that will solve them, but will also help
us here on earth. And the reason it’s so
exciting for me is because you sort of look down
the road of when you’re travelling, that you’ve
traveled as a child, and I remember looking
up at the stars, always assuming I
wanted to be part of it, sort of going down that
road, engineering medicine, all of that, working
in West Africa, having been an astronaut,
and doing other things. But then, this whole
piece is sort of like, what can I use
my talents on, and this was something I
thought would be really important contribution. That is making sure that
people get involved. How do we create that
commitment that will last for a long period of time,
that we don’t — it doesn’t take us, you know, 50 years
to do the next thing, right, that we get to do them
because the public stays involved. Adam Savage: Well so, there
is often a debate around this subject, where
people are like, “Why do we need to
know about Mars? Why do we need to
know about the moon? Why can’t we solve
problems down here? Mae Jemison: I can tell
you — Adam Savage: Why exploration is so important? Mae Jemison: So,
I’m a physician. All right? That’s my training. So, I always ask people, “Do
you want the physician who has only studied one patient
their entire career or do you want the physician
who’s seen many patients? I want the physician
who’s seen many patients. That’s the same thing as
we start to learn about the earth, right? Adam Savage: (affirmative) Mae Jemison: And this planet that we’re on. The more we know
about other planets, the more we know about
the future, the past, the history of our planet,
and how do we live on it. And then, the other part of
it is that there’s all these incredible leaps
that we make. If we’re just doing things
that we know we can do, we would never be
where we are right now. We would never have the
global positioning satellite systems that we walk
around with in our hand. We would never have
certain materials. We wouldn’t even probably
have as miniaturization to the level that we have now. Weather satellites,
I live in Houston. We like weather satellites. Other parts of the country
are starting to like weather satellites too, right? Adam Savage: (laughs) Mae Jemison: So, those are things that we
wouldn’t have had if we had not pushed ourselves to do
more than we knew we could do. Jamie Hyneman: Well, we’ve
also noticed that a lot of the most important
discoveries that have ever been made weren’t things
that people were actually looking for at the time. Adam Savage: And we’ve
noticed that in our job as well. Megan Smith: Yeah. There you go. You kind of-serendipity–
you discover things, you know? Adam Savage: Yeah,
I mean so, you know, when you embark on
some of these searches, there is other stuff that
you’ll run across along the way, that maybe wasn’t
what you started out with, but actually turns out to
be the real important thing. Megan Smith: Yep. Mae Jemison:
Yeah, absolutely. Megan Smith: So, being on
that adventure that Mae’s talking about. One of the things I love in
the sort of slides you have, you show, you know, if you
imagine this is a map of the U.S., you show so far in
space you’ve gone kind of from L.A. a little bit to the suburbs,
and what your mission is to get all the way to New York. Mae Jemison: (laughs) Megan Smith: I mean, the equivalent of that– Adam Savage: Right, right. Megan Smith: –distance to
get to another — to get where you want to go. It’s great. Mae Jemison: So, some of the
things that come out of sort of the work that’s going on
at OSCP was this term “grand challenge,” right? So, grand challenge is
something that galvanizes lots of different
disciplines, to be able to do something
that seems difficult. So, going to another star is
much more difficult than it appears in any
of the movies, that it’s much more
difficult than going to Mars or Jupiter, so that map that
Megan was talking about that you just go this little
distance is what voyagers have been doing since
1977, travelling at 35,000 miles per hour. Megan Smith: Yep. Mae Jemison: So, to be able
to go that whole distance to New York, you have to
completely change energy. You have to completely
change data, right? One of the things we’re
looking at now is big data. Megan Smith: Yeah. Mae Jemison: What
do we do with it? Megan Smith: You know, where
they’re growing lettuce here like, how are we going to
generate the food on this job? Adam Savage: Yeah. Megan Smith: How are we
going to — what are we going to make? We have to take
everything with us, as if we’re in — the
starship itself is like a mini-planet. Adam Savage: And I’d love
to — Megan Smith: For the group that’s going. Adam Savage: — to Jamie’s
point that landing a probe on an asteroid was in some
ways it went very wrong, and yet the going wrong
taught us so much about the makeup of the asteroid. We learned a
tremendous amount. Megan Smith: (affirmative) Adam Savage: –from what happened to that. Megan Smith: So, my son
just came out of the Martian film, which was exciting. (laughter) And I love what
he said, because he said, “Mom, some day Mars is
going to be like, Canada, and the earth is going
to be like Ethiopia, where everyone came from.” (laughter) Megan Smith:
And I’m like, “You got it, Alex.” (laughter) But being
able to watch, you know, the actors go through
debugging, you know, and solving problems– Adam Savage: Yeah. Megan Smith: That’s real
science, and that’s fun. Adam Savage: Yeah. Megan Smith: And we hope
that the grand challenges that get to be not only
part of our adult lives, but also our school
lives, you know, in the kinds of science
fairs and these kinds of festivals are
much more a part, and the kids get involved. The United Nations just
ratified this sustainable development goals,
the global goals, 17 goals that all of us
are working together to end poverty, get gender
equality, justice, oceans, et cetera, and so we hosted
a solutions summit at the UN, where we put up a
webpage, and we asked. And we got 800 people around
the planet who said things that they already
had in progress. And we had 14 of them
come present at the UN. The video’s up on the
web, but really like, thinking about each other’s
entrepreneurial teammates who have great ideas for
stuff that we can work together, whether it’s for
starship or anything else. Mae Jemison: Right, and
I think one of the things you’re talking about with
science is it’s hands on, right? So, as a chemi, right, as
a chemical engineer I would have never have done it if
I had to just memorize a periodic table. We really need to do the
kind of work where it’s hands on. You don’t learn coding by
pretending to code, right? Megan Smith: You play
around with sensors. Mae Jemison: You have
to actually code. You have to
actually do things. Megan Smith: –and internet
of things, and coding, and toys. Adam Savage: And the thing
we have discovered is — Megan Smith: Toys first. Adam Savage: And kids
really like this process. When you look into
something deep enough, all of a sudden you find you
have your own take on it. Megan Smith: Right. Adam Savage: You have
your own opinion on it, and all of a sudden now
you’re super involved, and you have something
to contribute. Mae Jemison: Well, children
are natural born scientists, right? Come out of the shoot
picking up the bugs, the snails, looking it
like, “What’s this?” Adam Savage: Take
everything apart. Mae Jemison: You know, what
it is about experimentation, and so the thing that’s
really important that as we go through life as adults,
we have to make sure that we don’t get rid of this
incredible natural construct that children
have for learning, and that we nurture it,
and we do that by hands on education. Adam Savage: Yeah. Megan Smith: Yeah, exactly,
and the third grade teacher that my boys have, she says
she says — she has on her wall, “In effort
there’s joy,” and it’s in the deep
effort of doing all this stuff that is so fun. I see administrator
Charlie Bolden over there. Mae Jemison: Charlie
B coming to join us? Megan Smith: Yeah,
come on over. Thank you guys. Adam Savage: Thank
you guys so much. Such a pleasure. Mae Jemison: Thank you. Megan Smith: All
right, come on in. Adam Savage: Hello. Jedidah Isler: Hello, hello. Adam Savage: Hello. Jedidah Isler: I’m Jedidah Adam Savage: Jedidah, a pleasure. Charlie Bolden:
Charlie, how you doing? Jedidah Isler: Hi. Jedidah, it’s
nice to meet you. Charlie Bolden:
Hello, how you doing? Adam Savage: I’m warming
up just a little bit now. Jedidah Isler: Really? Charlie Bolden: Hey, it’s — Adam Savage: I’m picking my feet off the ground. Charlie Bolden: I
was going to say. Jedidah Isler: Yeah, I was
doing jumping jacks while you all were talking. Adam Savage: There you go. Yeah. Charlie Bolden: I am taking
my feet off the ground though. That’s a good idea. (laughter) Adam Savage: I’m
wearing three pairs of socks and they weren’t helping. Jedidah Isler: It
is not working, no. Adam Savage: All right, so
we have a question that has been submitted by
high school students, science interested students
from all over the country. Jedidah Isler: (affirmative) Adam Savage: And let me see if we’ve got something — oh, these are astronomer
specific questions. Jedidah Isler: I’m
an astrophysicist. Charlie Bolden: She’s
an astrophysicist. Ask her all of them. Jedidah Isler:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Charlie Bolden:
You get them all. Jedidah Isler:
Right under the bus? Adam Savage: All right. Excellent. Will it ever be possible to
grow food on the surface of Mars? If so, how will scientists
create an artificial atmosphere that could
sustain plant and human life? Jedidah Isler: So, we’re
starting easy then? Adam Savage: (laughs) Jedidah Isler: Just like, super easy. Adam Savage: Okay. Jedidah Isler: Take it slow. I think probably yes we will
be ultimately able to grow sustainable life. I mean, I did not
say that out loud, sustainable food — Adam Savage: Sustainable food. Jedidah Isler: — on Mars. I think that, you know, in
just the same way we work to create and reproduce
plants and stuff in space, I think we’ll figure out
the right sort of small ecosystem to
make that happen. Adam Savage: (affirmative) Jedidah Isler: I think it’ll be hella farther out than what we do now, absolutely, right? It’ll take us a little
time to do that, but absolutely I think
it’ll be possible. Jamie Hyneman: So, given
that there was a process that made Mars lose a lot
of its atmosphere — Jedidah Isler: Yes. Jamie Hyneman: What is it
that we would be able to do that would, you know, be any
different than, you know, why wouldn’t it just
do the same thing? Jedidah Isler: Yeah. Jamie Hyneman: Is it by
small containment that you’re think about? Jedidah Isler: Yeah, I
think you’d have to — yeah, I’m thinking very
specifically about containment. I don’t think it’s going to
be something that you’d just be able to sort of without
making drastic changes to the planet. I don’t think that you’re
going to be able to just go and grow something. I think you’re talking about
contained units where you can very carefully curate
the humidity, the you know, sort of metal content, all
those things that you need to make something grow. Jamie Hyneman: Okay. Jedidah Isler: At
least at the beginning. Charlie Bolden: And I don’t
know if you’ve had John Grunsfeld or anybody over
here yet from — but 20/20 we’ve got another curiosity
like rover that we’re going to launch in land, and one
of the seven experiments on 20/20 is actually an
in-situ resource test, where we’re going to try to
extract what little moisture there is in the
Martian atmosphere, and it’ll hydrolyze it such
that we get hydrogen and oxygen. And that’ll be the first
demonstration that we can produce, you know, life
sustaining material, and I think as Jedidah
said, you put it inside some device, whether it’s a dome
or something like that, and go for it. Jedidah Isler: Yeah. Adam Savage: So, we’ve been
walking around and seeing all these amazing exhibits,
and mostly what I’m impressed by is the
enthusiasm of these science kids. Jedidah Isler: Yeah. Adam Savage: It is
something that, you know, Jamie and I we meet kids
who’ve grown up with us on their television, and
they get this deer in the headlight look. And they immediately want
to talk to us about stuff we messed up. Jedidah Isler: (laughs) Adam Savage: And I love that. That’s a very scientific
approach — Jedidah Isler: Yeah. Adam Savage: — that goes
past all the social — Charlie Bolden: Yeah. Adam Savage: — whatever
difficulties that you might have meeting a TV guy. TV guys. What do you guys get out
of astronomy night here? What’s important to you? Jedidah Isler: Wow. Charlie Bolden: I think
that for me, you know, being associated with NASA,
the most important thing is we’re always trying
to reach young people, and just — I learned
something when I first came up here six years ago
with the President, and that was we always used
the term “inspire” because that’s what he talks about. He talks about
inspiring young people, and I had a young president
of an organization called NSBI, the National Society
of Black Engineers. And he said, “You know, if
you talk about inspiring a kid one more time,
I’m going to puke.” (laughter) Charlie Bolden:
And I said, “Whoa.” I said, “Well,
what would you do?” He said, “We can’t inspire
anybody until we expose them — Jedidah Isler: Yes. Charlie Bolden: To
what’s available. And so, I mean we’ve got
kids out here tonight who’ve probably never seen
a telescope before. Adam Savage: Right. Charlie Bolden:
And you just, you get the excitement. My granddaughters have
a telescope at home, but they don’t have anything
that’s big — Jedidah Isler: Right. Charlie Bolden: — like
the ones they’re seeing out here, and having somebody
who can — because their granddad can’t explain
anything about a telescope, but I just get
excited, you know. This is the second
time we’ve done this, and every time when you
see these kids come out, they just get
really excited. I mean, and some of them
have come from a long way — Jedidah Isler:
Yes, that’s right. Charlie Bolden: —
to be here tonight. Jamie Hyneman: Yeah. Jedidah Isler: Yeah, and
I think for me, you know, it’s sort of two things. Because I study
astrophysics, that’s my career, right? That’s what I do, but it’s
also very much a passion. So, to see young people here
that are at about the age I was when I discovered this
field is — it’s sort of refreshing and exciting,
and it makes me feel like, “Oh my goodness. The next person is
going to be here, and they’re going to
be able to do this. And it’s going to be
incredible, and awesome.” I think also about how much
— so I study black holes. I didn’t say that, but
that’s what I study, and I think of how much that
has been amazing for me, but also just
the experiences, the opportunity to be here. Those things are definitely
enabled by my study of astrophysics. So, it’s not only them
getting the sort of scientific, you know,
excitement in looking at Albireo, and
looking at the moon, but it’s also how it can
change your life if you really let it. Adam Savage: And how
much you love it. Jedidah Isler: I love it. Adam Savage: We’ve gotten
the deal with NASA, a bunch of times of the
course of making our show, and every single time we
deal with NASA engineers, they are all polymass. (laughter) And there are
scientists who love what — we spend a lot of time in
this country saying you should do what you love, and
I find that the group that seems to most consistently
do it are scientists. Charlie Bolden: Yeah. Adam Savage: Yes. Jedidah Isler: It’s true. I mean, I think to
some extent, you know, in order to really do it
well as you both know, right, you have to persist. You have to love it,
otherwise you know, the fifth time the thing
breaks you’re like, “You know what? I don’t need
this in my life.” Right? But it’s the passion that
drives you to keep going. Adam Savage: Yep. Jamie Hyneman: So, that’s
all the good stuff. Some of these kids aren’t
going to — Jedidah Isler: That’s true. Jamie Hyneman: — do that. What was it for you — Jedidah Isler: Yeah. Jamie Hyneman: — or you
that made you stick with it, and follow through, and
actually succeed at it? Is there anything that you
would have to offer that is like, you know, maybe a
little different than — Charlie Bolden: Well, it may
be that science and math are not for them. You talk about passion
and every time I talk to students, sometimes I’m
talking to the engineering students. And I say, “You know, one of
the things that you’ll learn in life is that you can
start down a road sometime, and you find later on that
it’s just not the right road for you. Adam Savage: Yeah. Charlie Bolden: And it’s
probably because you’re trying to force something
that either your mom or dad said, or something
like that. I notice there’s a young
reporter over here. Adam Savage: Yes. Charlie Bolden: And she was
as bubbly as any of these kids working with the
telescope, but you know, I think she feels she has
a career in journalism, and so she’s interviewing
the astronauts in the commercial crew cadre. And she’s got a whole list
of questions and stuff. So, if you talk to my
deputy, to Dava Newman, you know, she came from MIT,
and she and I are trying to put the A into steam. And because the student
doesn’t necessarily know that they like
math and science. Adam Savage: Exactly. Charlie Bolden: But if we
can get them just to come out. Again, if we can
just expose them, they may find that
they love it, you know, and I use music. I’m not a very
good musician, but I use music as a way to
get kids to understand that, you know, you’re an
incredible mathematician. You’re already using a
different number system. Adam Savage: Same thing
with film I think. Charlie Bolden:
You’re using octaves, whereas I use decimals
and stuff like that. And so, we just catch
them where they are and eventually, you know, I
think they’ll get caught. Jedidah Isler: They will,
they will by something, and I think to get back
to your point as well, you know, I think we have to
be careful about how we use the term — you
didn’t use it, but how we use the term
failure when we’re talking about these endeavors — right? Like, to go from say a math
class to a painting class, or to a music class isn’t
actually a failure right? Adam Savage: Nope. Jedidah Isler: Like, and I
know you all are on the same team with me, but you know,
I think that we have to expand the realm of what
is okay for students to do. So you know, if
you ask me, “Well, what do I think about the
students that may not make it in STEM?” As long as that’s not what
they ultimately wanted to do, then I’m okay with it
because everybody has a right to find their space. What I’m ultimately most
interested in is that everyone that wants
to has an opportunity. Jamie Hyneman: Yeah. Jedidah Isler: And that’s
where I think you really start to get into
the how do you do it. Adam Savage: To do it but
also to see what’s possible. Jedidah Isler:
Explore, yeah, exactly. Adam Savage: I think we’re
going to — Charlie Bolden: Yeah, they’re
putting us off. Jedidah Isler: All right. Well, this was fun. Adam Savage:
Thank you so much. Jedidah Isler: Thank you. It was lovely to meet you. Charlie Bolden:
Thanks a lot. All right, take care. Jedidah Isler: Thank you. It was lovely to meet you. Jamie Hyneman: You too. Charlie Bolden: All right. Male Speaker: Hey,
come on in here. Adam Savage: Okay. Hello. Jamie Hyneman: Hello. Cady Coleman: Jamie? Cady Coleman. Eric Boe: Eric Boe. Cady Coleman: Okay, so we
were on the space station together. Adam Savage: Actual
astronauts we’ve got. You guys have broken the
bounds of our planet and lived in space. Eric Boe: The
view is awesome. Adam Savage: You know, it’s
the — I’m a big fan of gravity, specifically
how — sorry, both the force
and the movie. Cady Coleman: Gravity how
it feels and the movie Eric Boe: Right, right, right. Adam Savage: But — Cady Coleman: Actually, I’m not a fan of gravity. Adam Savage: No? Oh, wow, right. Cady Coleman: Well, no, no. I’m a big fan of the
movie, but the rest of it, you know, it’s — Adam Savage: You could take it or leave it? Cady Coleman: Oh,
I could leave it. I love leaving it. Adam Savage: It’s funny
because when I see you in person, I always think that
your hair should be doing this. Cady Coleman: I know. (laughter) Cady Coleman: I
tell people it was never in my way, because it kind
of follows you around, but I think it was in
other people’s way. I mean, Eric and I did
robotics together when we were up there. I was living on the station
and Eric came up on the shuttle, and we
installed a huge, big module of the
space station. Eric Boe: And that
was a lot of fun. Cady Coleman: It
was, totally great. Adam Savage: How long were
you guys on the station together? Eric Boe: I’d say about a
week and a half, two weeks. Cady Coleman:
Something like that. Eric Boe: Close to that. Cady Coleman: Yep. Adam Savage: Now, what
does — we’ve been asking everybody this, but what
does astronomy night — what does this mean to you in
terms of reaching out to kids? What is the message
of astronomy night? Eric Boe: Well, to me one
of the big things is it just really inspires you, you can
get a chance– You realize, you know, sometimes we think
we know a lot about the universe, but then when you
look out and you realize there’s a lot of places
we haven’t been yet like, we just barely
got to the moon, and then you see all the
rest of the universe that’s left out there to discover. To me it’s inspiring to
realize there’s so much more that we don’t know. It’s infinite. Adam Savage: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Cady Coleman: When I think
like, some kids, you know, think that people who are
going to be astronomers, they already knew,
and they look up, and they know this
stuff about the stars. And what I think is cool
about a night like tonight is that, you know, the
President had to be shown, you know, where to
look, and what to see, and what he should expect,
and things like that because all of us, I mean unless you
actually are an astronomer, then you don’t
know this stuff. And so, there’s a whole
bunch of kids that are realizing that here’s a
bunch of adults on the White House lawn and kids, all
figuring it out together and it’s okay not
to already know. Adam Savage: Right, and
we know that people look through telescopes
at celestial bodies, but this is really inspiring
to sit there in this big eight inch, 10 inch Sony
and then look at the moon, and see the craters. I haven’t never
done that before. I don’t know how somehow
that escaped my life experience until tonight,
but it’s amazing to see that. Eric Boe: And this
used to be the T.V. of the old days, you know. Adam Savage: Right. Eric Boe: I mean, you can
imagine a lot of people sat around camp fires,
looked at the stars, and here we are
still doing it today. And it’s even more amazing
when you start looking at the science and the
technology that’s behind all of it, you know, all of the
things that are out there left to discover. Adam Savage: Now, when
you’re on the space station, the celestial body you see
the biggest is our planet, and it fills your
entire view, yes? Eric Boe: Absolutely. Adam Savage: What sort
of stuff was the most surprising about
first seeing it? Eric Boe: To me, I think the
neatest thing when you first see the earth is
just the atmosphere. You can see the
glow of the blue, and you can really tell the
whole earth is just alive, you know, with life, and
that there’s something going on on earth. I mean you really appreciate
how delicate, you know, it’s both big in small. You realize how
big the earth is, and then you realize when
you look at it out in space, you know how small we are in
the grand scheme of things. Adam Savage: How delicate. Eric Boe: How
delicate, absolutely. Cady Coleman: Samantha. We have a friend from Italy
who just came back from the space station, and
she said, “You know, everybody talks about
our fragile planet. I looked back at that thing
and to me it looked like the earth was really
here to stay. It’s not fragile. (laughter) Cady Coleman: You know, that little layer of
atmosphere of that is fragile, but it really does
— you realize that it’s just a space ship,
earth, and all of us. Adam Savage: Well, then
you look at extremophiles, you realize how
tenacious life really is, living in sulfur baths at
the bottom of the ocean, and volcanic vents,
and also in, you know, in the coldest
possible places. Life is everywhere. Cady Coleman: It’s true. Adam Savage: I particularly
love the enthusiasm of the kids talking about their
projects when they’re telling us about
their rocket, and telling us about things
that they’ve screwed up in the experiment, and yet,
they’ve managed to bring themselves here,
to be invited here. It’s an amazing — it’s
really inspiring because I was saying earlier I didn’t
have nearly this amount of focus when I was a kid. Jamie Hyneman: Well, given
that you two are astronauts, if there was a kid that
wanted to be an astronaut, what would you
recommend that they do, if you had to like, you
know, in a nutshell, this is what you need
to make that happen? Cady Coleman: I think it’s
better always just to follow what you already love to do,
and the kinds of things that are your passion, because
if you think, “Well, I should do this, and
that way you know, we need to have
astronomers up in space, ” or “We need to have
this kind of engineer, ” and if it’s not really
what really makes you excited, you’re probably not
going to be as good at it, and I just think that you
should realize that we’re going to need
everybody up in space, because we all
live in space. I mean they’ll be — Adam Savage: It sounds like you’re saying astronauts
are kind of nerdy. Is that actually the case? Cady Coleman:
Great and nerdy. (laughter) Eric Boe:
Don’t let the secret out. Cady Coleman: Totally nerdy
in the greatest of ways. How about that? Adam Savage: I
totally agree. I totally agree. Male Speaker: We’ve got
two more folks coming in. Adam Savage: All right. Cady Coleman:
Oh, this is cool. Adam Savage:
Oh, my goodness. Female Speaker: You’re going
to have Polynesian master navigator of credits,
which is the most ancient celestial navigation
that we’re showing. Adam Savage: Absolutely. Cady Coleman: I was over
here learning about this. It’s fascinating. Adam Savage: The Polynesians
make everyone else look like amateurs when it comes to
navigation — Eric Boe: It’s amazing, they were talking
about reaching South Africa today I think or yesterday. Cady Coleman: Yep. Adam Savage: Oh, really? Eric Boe: On the technology
that they had at the times actually travel
across the oceans. Adam Savage: Like Kon Tiki? Eric Boe: Right. Adam Savage: Wow. That’s amazing. All right. Cady Coleman: Okay. Adam Savage: Eric,
thank you so much. Cady Coleman:
Nice to see you. Sorry. Eric Boe: Good to
talk to you all. Adam Savage: Nice
to talk to you. Jamie Hyneman: It’s such
an honor to meet you. Cady Coleman:
All right, next. Female Speaker: Hi. Female Speaker: Oh, hey. How you doing? Adam Savage: Hello. Female Speaker: I’m Jenna. Female Speaker: Nice to
meet you Jamie Hyneman: Hi. Female Speaker: I’m Jenna. Nice to meet you. Damien? Jamie Hyneman: Jamie. Female Speaker: Jamie. Female Speaker: Jamie? Sony, hi. Nice to meet you. Adam Savage: Hi. Hello, pleasure. Really nice to meet you. Female Speaker: Do
you need a hand? Could I — Adam Savage: No,
I’ll hold this and can you tell me what we’re
looking at up here? Female Speaker:
This is Hokulea. This is a voyaging canoe
from Polynesia and from Hawaii, and we’re
sailing around the world. And currently, we’re
in South Africa. We just reached
South Africa today. Adam Savage: Today? Female Speaker: Yes. Adam Savage: And sailing
across thousands of miles of open ocean. Female Speaker: Yes, and
using traditional Polynesian voyaging techniques
to find our way. Adam Savage: And do the
Polynesians have really elaborate, extremely
exacting star charts to navigate by. Female Speaker: (laughs)
They just used — in their minds they memorized
the universe, and they look at
nature for answers, and that’s what we’re trying
to continue and perpetuate. Adam Savage: So, it’s
empirical knowledge that they’re using to travel
incredible distances across the ocean. Female Speaker: Exactly, and
we’re sailing around Island Earth, looking for solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Adam Savage: Yeah, the
Polynesian navigation I find completely inspiring. They’ve went to Hawaii. They went to New Zealand. I mean, their breadth around
the planet from their home base is astonishing when you
actually start to draw the circles. Female Speaker: So,
largest, I think, nation on earth
when you look at it, and all of the water that
they discovered using these techniques. They were scientists
and mathematicians. Adam Savage: And so, this
boat just landed on South Africa today? Female Speaker: Yep, her
name is Hokulea and she just touched Richard’s Bay,
and we’re going to be in Cape Town in November
for the arrival ceremony. Adam Savage: How many
people are crewing the boat? Female Speaker:
There’s 12 at a time. We have about 300 crew
members from all over the Pacific and international
crew members as well. Adam Savage: You know, Jamie
actually used to be a boat captain in the Bahamas
back in his 20’s. Female Speaker: Wow. Jamie Hyneman: On
the Caribbean yacht. Navigation is — it’s pretty
scary when you think about it, like with any of
these kinds of things. So, taking off — I mean
it’s not like you park the boat for the
night, you know, and you don’t know
what’s out there. And you run into something
in the middle of the night, when you’re whizzing
along, and like, a rock in the middle of the
water — Female Speaker: Yeah. Jaime Hyneman: Is like, I
mean it’s sort of a shot in the dark that literally and
figuratively that you’re dealing with. So, it’s almost like jumping
off a cliff and hoping that you land in the water — (laughter) Female Speaker: Yep, and you have a really good crew onboard, always looking out for you. Female Speaker: Yeah. Female Speaker: Just
probably just like the space station, yeah? Adam Savage: Well, to
me– you’re part of the commercial crews for NASA? Female Speaker:
(affirmative) Adam Savage: Working with
Boeing and Space X. Female Speaker:
(affirmative) Adam Savage: This is a totally new branch
of — I’m going to — Female Speaker: Yes, you
can put that down. Adam Savage: This is a
totally new branch of astronautics, is it not? Female Speaker: Absolutely. So, I think what’s different
about it is we’re sort of — we gave loose requirements
to these companies and said, “Hey, we need a space craft
that will leave planet earth and go to the space station. So, take advantage of all
the technology that we’ve advanced in the last
two, three decades, and put it in
that space craft. And then, we as this group
of four have flown in space, both on the space shuttle
and on the Russian Sawyer space craft, and so, we’re
using that experience and going to the companies. And seeing sort of
what they’ve done. Adam Savage: (affirmative) Female Speaker: And comparing it to what we’ve done in the past, and — Adam Savage: And
you’re giving them advice, and consultation? Female Speaker: Well,
sometimes they tell us, “Okay, enough.” (laughter) But, you know,
just using our experience to say where are the problems
that we ran into before, and maybe we can anticipate
some of the problems that they might have, and help
them solve some problems. Adam Savage: And so, it’s
obviously a very radically different experience than
just working on space ships that are designed by NASA? Female Speaker:
Absolutely, because we’re involved
in the design process. So, that’s pretty cool. So, we get to sort of shape
it a little bit as much as we can, and like I said,
solve some problems just like the Polynesians were
able to solve some problems together. And the teams are
huge, you know. It’s a — you know, our NASA
teams as well as both of those companies teams
in getting together, and trying to solve this. Adam Savage: And you guys
are going to actually — are you going to pilot these? Are you going to go up to
space in these devices? Female Speaker: Yes, we are. So, that’s going
to be a lot of fun, but I got a lot of faith
and trust in the companies. You know, of course
they all want to do this successfully. We all want them to
do this successfully, our spouses back at home. My dog even wants them
to do it successfully. So, I think they’ll
do a good job, yep. Adam Savage: That’s
very exciting. Female Speaker: Yeah,
it’s pretty cool. Adam Savage: It’s a
very exciting time. Female Speaker: I
think it’s pretty neat. Adam Savage: What is the
projection for the first flight? Female Speaker: So,
I’m contracted to 2017, so knock on wood, that’s when
we’ll be starting to fly. So, a little bit after you
guys probably finished your journey around the world. Adam Savage: Is that your
goal to travel all the way around the world? Female Speaker: Yep, 2017 is
when we’ll be coming home. Female Speaker: Awesome. What a good time. Female Speaker: So,
we’ll track you guys. Female Speaker: Oh, yes. Adam Savage: This is
a perfect conquest. Female Speaker: Yes, yes. Awesome. Adam Savage: I think you
should be sailing in to perhaps Florida to
watch the first launch. Female Speaker: Yeah, yeah. Female Speaker: Luckily, the
navigation systems are sort of using the computer, so
I’m not going to be the one out there and trying to
figure out where we’re going. The space ship will know. (laughs) Adam Savage: In
the navigation of the boat, are there things that
they’re learning that the modern day sailors are
uncovering that were lost? Female Speaker: You know, I
think when you look back at the master navigators,
they were so in tuned with nature, we’re
just, you know, like kindergartners compared
to the ancient peoples, all ancient peoples. So, it’s hard to
know what they knew. They were kind of a much
deeper level I think of understanding the universe. Adam Savage: I remember
seeing a Polynesian navigational
chart of currents, and it looked to me just
like a bunch of sticks tied sort of randomly and yet
that’s an encyclopedia of ocean currents over
hundreds of miles. Female Speaker: Yeah,
because they knew their place so well. You know, they
studied it every day, and so I think tonight is
just about getting kids to look outside and see that
nature can tell you how to find your way in the world. Female Speaker: So,
interesting you know, I was up on the space
station for a long duration as we call it. Like, six months is our
increments, and you know, it’s funny. At first, you’re
always like, looking at the computer
or looking at the map, to find out where we are,
because we have a thing called World Map and it
charts what our orbit is. But after a little
while, you know. I mean, you just float
by the window and like, “Oh yeah, we’re
over South America. Oh, yeah.” Female Speaker: Oh. Female Speaker: The ocean
— there’s a lot of ocean. So, sometimes that gets
a little confusing, but it does — it’s obvious
when it’s different seasons. You know, the spring and
the fall are a little tough, but when it’s winter in
the southern hemisphere, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. Okay, we must be over
the southern hemisphere, ” and the currents
look like this. Or we even were able to
see icebergs from space. Adam Savage: Wow. Female Speaker: Which
was pretty neat. So, you start to really
understand the planet when you make a lot
of observations, and that’s just in the
six month period of time. So, I could imagine over
years, and years, and years. Adam Savage:
Generationally, yeah. Female Speaker:
Generationally, they knew what
they were doing. (laughter) Female Speaker: Yes, they did. Adam Savage:
That’s astonishing. Have you seen any exhibits
here from the kids that really inspired
you here tonight? Female Speaker: I’ve been
just running around quite a bit and — Female Speaker: Me too. Female Speaker: —
and back and forth. So, I need to do a little
bit more exploring. Adam Savage: Yeah. Female Speaker: Right
here on the south lawn. Adam Savage: Well, thank you
guys so much for joining us and talking to us. Female Speaker:
Thanks for having us. Female Speaker:
Yeah, thank you. This has been a lot of fun. Jamie Hyneman:
Lovely to meet you. Adam Savage: We
really appreciate it. Female Speaker: It’s
nice to meet you. Adam Savage: I don’t
think you have to get up. I think we’re wrapping up. This is Astronomy Night
here at the White House, and we’ve been talking to
a host of amazing heroes, and also we’re also
incredibly inspired by the kids here. I just checked. It turns out
they’re our future. Female Speaker: Absolutely. (laughter) Adam Savage:
Thank you so much. Female Speaker: Thank you.

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