Ariel Waldman's Closing Talk at Eyeo Festival 2018
So. I love. This, video and I wanted to start with this video this. Video is absolutely amazing. If you can see these four little pixels, of light dancing. Around those. Are actually, four planets, in another. Solar system, not. Our own, these. Are four planets circling. Around the star that's been blacked out in the center so that you're not blinded, by it and. These. Four points of light are about. 129. Light years away very. Far away and, this, is actually an actual, movie of actual, planets, going around a star that, was taken over seven, years and it's, I don't, know it's just amazing, to me and I. Really. Love the. Fact that we've discovered a bunch of exoplanets. Or extrasolar, planets, or planets are around other stars and, the. Way we've been discovering, most of them though hasn't been through actually seeing them but, through detecting. Them we typically detect them using. The transit, method and, the, transit method is something where a telescope. Will look at a star, light like this very, very closely and it. Will see if it can see a tiny little, dip in brightness. And. If, it sees a tiny little dip in brightness it might actually be witnessing, an exoplanet. Passing in front of its star so, you can see it here in this animation. And. So most. Of these exoplanets, have been discovered, through. A space, telescope one, of my favorite called, Kepler, and Kepler. Uses this transit, method to, be able to discover, and explore other. Planets, in our universe without. Actually seeing them and I. Think the, fact that it was named after Kepler, Johannes. Kepler an astronomer, is actually. Very apt, because. Johannes, Kepler was. An astronomer in the 1600s. And he. I wrote, in the early 1600s. Somnium. Or a dream, which, was one, of the very first works of science fiction and in. Somnium, he. Imagined, in the, early 1600s, about. How humans could travel to the moon and how, they could do a bunch of really cool science there and how they could look, at the Earth from the moon and do a bunch of cool science, about the Earth from the moon it. Was really. Incredible this, work of science fiction I think, he, sort, of dressed it up as fiction because, it was the early 1600s, and this, was also the time of Galileo who, famously was persecuted, for a lot of his astronomical. Observations, and for saying that, maybe not everything revolves around the earth that perhaps, the. Earth revolves around the Sun and so Kepler. Wrote what, I think, was, probably, something. That he thought was science based but dressed it up in fiction as a way, of avoiding persecution. What's. Really incredible to me is the. Fact that this. Was written. 361. Years, before. The very first moon. Landing, so. 361. Years from the time of Johannes, Kepler's writing, to the time of actually landing a human on the, moon enter. The 1960s. Where, we were, sending. Humans into space and we were about. To send a person. To the moon and land on the moon in 1969, and suddenly, this dream that became I. Don't. Know it took 361. Years in the making and suddenly. This dream became very exponential. People thought okay we're now sending humans into space and to the moon and so, we're going to send the very first spaceship to Venus and, maybe. Going to the moon isn't, exotic. Enough we have to send men inside, the moon. And. We have to go even farther we have to journey to the far side of the Sun or, we have to journey to the seventh, planet which. Is Uranus. I can't, imagine why they didn't include that in the title. But. Then even that wasn't far enough, we. Had to voyage to the end of the universe and this, was actually a film, that is said to be one of the influences. For 2001. A Space, Odyssey and this, film had a lot of minimalistic, qualities, and in, 2001, a Space Odyssey which, now were in its fiftieth, anniversary it. Became. Sort, of a cultural touchstone, to some it was, very minimalistic, it, was very primary. Colors, it became something that's sort of over, time for a lot of people represented. This is what space, exploration, is supposed to be and this is what space exploration, when we're actually going, out and exploring further, and further will look like and.
This, Is something that you see echoes of even, to today 50, years later you. See films, like interstellar which also have a very minimalist, aesthetic and, sort, of have. This idea of what space looks, like that there's not a lot of stuff that it's very, you. Know minimal, colors and, very limited in terms. Of aesthetics, and then this bleeds over into real, life on the. Left, you can see a, spacesuit. Design by. SpaceX, and it's. Very minimalistic sleek, lines and on, the right you can see a mock-up. Of a spacesuit from Boeing for NASA also, tapping, into sort of the primary colors from 2001, and. I. Think what's really interesting about this is I, think a, lot, of times were. What we're seeing today are people, imagining. That they need to make. Space exploration, exciting, and that there was this golden, era where, more people were excited about space exploration and more people were into it and we need to harken, back to that, time, and place and tap. Back into the excitement, and so they go back into these design aesthetics, from 50 years ago. But. The reality, is is that when you look at the data over. Decades, it doesn't support this idea of a golden era of space exploration this. Is a chart that. Shows. The number, of people in. The u.s. who are very interested, in space exploration over, time from the 1970s, to, the 2010s, and. It's. Something where it's interesting to, look at because you know it goes up and down a little bit, but. It more or less is around the same and there's, not some big cliff that everyone started falling off and started saying oh I'm not interested in space exploration anymore. It's been about the same kind, of at for, lack of a better term lukewarm, another. Chart from. The 1970s, to the 2010s, shows, people in the u.s. who thought that the moon landing was worth it, so. Actually in the 1970s. Coming off the heels of the moon landing, moon, landings, you, can see that less than 50%, of Americans. Thought, the moon landing was worth it but over time more. People think it's worth it and so this is an interesting concept that a lot of times when, you look at some of the public polling data for space exploration people. Who are actually living through it might, not think something's worth it or might not, imagine. It as greatly, but. You know fast forward to a few decades, they look back at, it with nostalgia, and perhaps. Have a more favorable view, of it and. So. These, charts, were curated. By a. Committee, on the future of human space flight from, the National Academy of Sciences, I was. Part of this committee and it, was a pretty, unusual experience. For me it, was something where. Congress. Requested. That, the National Academy of Sciences, do, a report on the. Future of human space flight how to make a sustainable human spaceflight program over several decades and also, why, do we do this in the first place, is. There a reason, and, so this was something that, was really unique. Actually, the National Academy of Sciences was originally, set up directed. By Abraham, Lincoln as an. Independent, organization, to comment and criticize and make recommendations and, advise the, nation at the u.s. or in science. So, having, actually. Independent, organization, look, into the science that the u.s. is doing and, have an independent, voice on it and. So unlike. Most committees that get. Very specific. Experts. And very specific, domains, this. One was a little bit different the human, spaceflight committee was compiled, of people who, were economists. People. Who were former, Secretary. Of Defense. Planetary. Astronomers, astronauts.
Also. Particle. Physics particle. Physicists, historians. And there, was me. So. It was a really, incredible. Two-year experience and I. Learned, a lot about both, the history of space exploration and, the future of space exploration and, so. When. Thinking about the future of space exploration I often. Like to look at the past as well so, in 1969. We, had a fairly historic, event we sent a human to the moon but. Also in 1969. A historic, but lesser known event took place we. Sent the first message over, ARPANET, the early form of the Internet and that, message was lo4. Log in and the, computer crashed shortly thereafter. But. About, fifty years on only. Around. 550, people have ever been in space now. Nearly 3.5. Billion people about half the planet more or less is on. The Internet and so to me this is incredibly, sad, and broken and something that needs to change but. I also know that going, into space doesn't, mean all. Of space exploration there, are so many people who work on space exploration around. The world and you don't have to go into space to do, space stuff but, again, 50. Years later I, still, have problems with a lot of the imagery that were fed and a lot of the stuff that goes viral, so, in, 1969. You can see this is an image from the, moon landing and in, 2018 this is an image from the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, launch. So. This. Is frustrating to me, because. Not, only you know what it depicts but it, doesn't, reveal, the whole story. Of what exists, today and right now yes. Space exploration needs to be more diverse and inclusive for sure but all so I know that. There are amazing people who work at SpaceX, and who work at NASA and who work all over the world in space exploration that aren't represented in these images today and that's, frustrating to me and, so. Halfway. Between those two images. Approximately. In 1990. This, image here. Was taken I would ask how, many of you have actually seen this image before but I can't see you so I'm gonna imagine a lot of you because you're pretty geeky. But. This is one, of my absolute, favorite, images from, one of my favorite, spacecraft, Voyager 1 and if, you can see that tiny little pale. Blue speck of a pixel there that's, Earth as seen from about 4 billion miles away so. That's where you can find me if you need me. But. But. The reason why I love images like these so much is because it often, shows how space exploration, changes, our view of ourselves and, our place in the universe but. Most of my work as you can imagine is, about, changing, how we view space exploration, and it's. Really space, observation for. Most people that's really the relationship that, most of us have with space exploration we're, often watching, government agencies, or astronauts. Or Elon Musk explore on behalf of us but, we ourselves aren't, doing much exploring, and, this. Relates to my own personal story because. A few years ago I was watching a documentary called, when we left Earth and. It was this great documentary, about NASA, during the early days and, how they were trying to figure out how to send a human to space for the very first time and.
I. Was watching this and I, became so incredibly. Inspired, by it that I, decided on, a whim to send, someone at NASA I had never met an email, saying. I was a huge fan of what they were doing and if they ever needed someone like me someone completely. Without science background I was, here I. Went. To art school my degree is in graphic design I don't have any background in science or space whatsoever so, I sent this email thinking, that I would never hear back from it but it was just a fun thing to tell friends hey I emailed someone at NASA. But. Serendipitously. I heard, back from that email and not only did I hear back from that email I ended up getting a job at NASA from that email. And. So. It completely, changed, my life and, it, was incredibly. Inspiring. And so I wanted to share with all of you a quick, clip from this documentary, that, better explains just, what I found so inspiring about it to. Beat the Soviets NASA must launch a man into Earth orbit, only. Rockets, can go fast enough we. Knew nothing about rocketry, to renew that I think about spacecrafts, we knew nothing about orbits, I saw, a lot of rockets launched. I'd. Say that somewhere between 30, and 40. Percent of them failed. A. Lot. Of them came up off the pad and went the opposite, direction, some. Of them got halfway off, the pad and blew up some of them got to 10,000. Feet and turned the other way and blew up the. Whole. Thing crumbled and blew up. It. Looked like an atomic bomb went, off almost over our heads. We. Got a big kick out of watching the mercury astronauts, it's. Great looking at their eyes. We're. Looking at this thing and looking at each other and deciding, we want to go back and talk to the engineers, a little Harvey for go further. And. So that's what I totally loved about that documentary, it actually always reminds me of this image here but. NASA. In the early days didn't, know everything they were still figuring things out and, you heard them talking about how they didn't know anything about rockets, or orbit, REE or spacecraft and, I, was sitting at home and saying to myself well I don't know anything about space exploration and, I want a job at NASA that sounds amazing. And. So. I got, that chance to work at NASA and it very much changed, my my. Relationship, and my perspective of NASA from being a bunch of rocket scientists to being a bunch of space hacker is that these were people who are still figuring things out as they went along and they weren't necessarily experts, before they did things and. My. Relationship, with space. Exploration changed. And this is really around the idea that doing something changes, how you see it so actually doing, science and doing space exploration, actively, changes your relationship with it from something of observation, to something of participation. And contribution, and so. While I was at NASA I got to learn a great deal of things it was like getting paid to go to school I got to learn about dark matter and robots and all this amazing stuff but. One of the important things that I ended up learning while I was at NASA was, that I don't need to be an astronaut in order to explore space and, not. Only did I end up learning that I don't need to be an astronaut, to explore space but. I ended up learning that I don't even need to work at NASA to explore space, and, so I left, and. I. Created space, hack org which. Is a directory of ways for anyone to participate in space exploration with. Or without a formal science background, I built, space Hawk org 10 years ago this year and I. Really, wanted it to be a way in which people can accomplish. A bunch, of amazing, stuff and that. It actually values people from different backgrounds, and different disciplines and different geographies. To contribute, to space exploration. So. Space hot dog wasn't, exactly built to, teach. You how to build a bottle rocket in your own backyard I'm sure that's a lot of fun but it wasn't about that I built, Space Act org more, for, you know kids who might be, saying, well I don't, have, access, to rockets, and I don't have any money but, I want to test stuff in space so I'm just gonna send my frickin teddy bear in space. And. This is this. Is exactly what 11 to 13 year old kids did in the UK is, they wanted to test how different materials react, in space and so they, sent, their teddy bears up on a weather balloon into near space to. Test how they reacted, at least in that environment.
And This, is just the sort of stuff that I love, but. One. Of the problems that I had, when I built space heck or 10 years ago was. That NASA, a lot of times, scrubbed. The faces out of human. Spaceflight and out, of space exploration and, I, think I know why they did this they did this because you know if no one's really being represented, in space then maybe everyone, can imagine themselves being there and that's not necessarily bad but to me it means space exploration, about as bland as the food that they send up into space you. Didn't really get any ideas of people's cultures, or, personalities. Or not, very much it. Was pretty limited and so. You. Lost out on a bunch of stories that are, only now really. Coming into, focus. So, I'm sure a lot of you have seen the movie hidden figures about Katherine Johnson and many, of the other human computers, and mathematicians. That ended up contributing to, the NASA program in the 1960s. And. There. Are other stories out there like the fact that NASA. Really, struggled, at one point with the Saturn 5 rocket putting. On this specific. Type of honeycomb, insulation, onto the rocket they couldn't really get it to adhere to it but. They learned that there were some surf for surf, boarders down the road who, worked, with this material regularly. And so they ended up temporarily, hiring. Surfers. To, actually, work on the Saturn 5 rocket and, apply, all of this honeycomb insulation, onto it these. Sorts of stories really, got washed out, over. The many years and was very frustrating, to me and I really wanted to give light to a lot of the stories. That exist in space-exploration today, and that will be existing, in space exploration tomorrow. But. 10 years on there's. A new problem, the. Pendulum, has really swung the other direction and, now. Instead of having no one really being represented, in space exploration we. Are, kind, of in a system where only one, person's, face is represented, in space exploration and, this, is equally problematic, to, me it's something that I think creates, the same problem, just on the other end of the spectrum. We, miss out on all the thousands, and thousands of stories of people who contribute, to things like this and who contribute, to all sorts of space exploration around, the world by, having, kind.
Of Cults of personality so, to speak and, so. You may hear a lot, of these titans, of commercial space talk. About why, we even go why, do we even go to Mars why do we even send humans into space why do we do space exploration, at all and if you listen to Elan musk or Jeff Bezos or, many others, in this area they, will tell you that, we are doing it for human survival that, a single, planet species, will not survive that the only way we can survive as. Humanity, over the long run is to become a multi-planet, species. It's. Not that that's necessarily, wrong, or incorrect, but. It's misrepresentative. As. Part of the National Academy of Sciences, committee we, looked into public. Polling and surveys and. We talked to stakeholders and we listened to many testimonies, about, why, do we even go to space why, do we do this and the. Reality, is is that there are many reasons why we go to space there are pragmatic rationales. Economic. Benefits international. Relations like soft power. Inspiration. Of citizens, national. Security and then there are aspirational, rationales. Like human, survival, and also, shared human destiny and aspiration, to explore, these. Are essentially, a lot of the rationales, that we heard from many different people from many different places and, these. Are kind of distilled, down categories. That we, found out through our research and, so. When. Someone tells you that the reason why we're doing this. Because we need to survive as a multi-planet, species they're, kind, of lying to you because that's not representative, of all people, that's not why everyone. Agrees that we do this in fact, most, people will oftentimes cite, multiple, rationales, for why we go into space and so, it's not that I have any problem with people picking. And choosing which, different rationales we have for going into space but, the problem I have is that if you act as if that is the rationale, that you are representing, everyone you're kind of lying to everyone you're trying, to control a narrative and the narrative is, really multifaceted. The, narrative is really the fact that a lot of people have, different reasons for why we do this and they don't agree and that's okay and, a lot of times it's the combination of the pragmatic rationales, with the aspirational, rationales, that have a really robust, argument, for doing this to, me I want to shatter this, single narrative and. Sort. Of break this, script, that I feel like that we've gotten onto from, science fiction and, from commercial, space Titans and for, many people who are loud voices in the room it's, not necessarily. That I'm trying to say that they are wrong but they, are trying to control a narrative and I, feel like in a way space exploration, has become scripted, so I want, us to go off-script. And, to. Me this is around the idea of creating massively. Multiplayer, science. Something. That really represents, people from all different disciplines, and backgrounds and geographies, and everything, coming, together at. The same level and making, awesome science and stuff, and. So I get this from, of course massively multiplayer online games, and it's, something that when, you look at them and you see you know how people defeat, a big monster or how they accomplish, different tasks, a lot of times it's because people need, to come together and have different skill sets to be able to accomplish something so, if you try and build a team of, all people, with the same skill sets to defeat a monster you're probably going to fail, and. If, you try and build a team that maybe you've only got a couple you, might also fail but, if you build, teams where people are coming together and they have different skills and it's respected, at the same level, where people are coming together at the same level then, you can accomplish a lot and, so. To me I want to live in a present day that, looks more I own a wackadoodle, like this I want. To live in, a day where, space. Exploration, is representative. Of all, of the diversity that it has and all the diversity that it can have I want, to see, amazing, spacesuits. That look like this and these. Are actually spacesuits that are developed, by, a, project, called the spacesuit art project, which was started by astronaut, nicole stott and they. Are wackadoodle. Not only in like their appearance, but you, know they're great in the fact that they, actually are a patchwork. Of, people coming together and making these happen this, project, reached out to a lot of children in hospitals, in different countries around the world on the, left you can see children. From Houston and on the right children. From Pakistan, working. On building different, parts of these spacesuits. There's. Also amazing, stuff like. 3d. Printed sculptures, that have already been sent out into deep space but. The thing that's cool about this 3d, printed, sculpture that's been sent out into deep space and by the way I think it's the only one that's ever been out, there there's not like it's none of them out there is not like an art garden.
Out There but. So. You. Know so these space, probes or, this space probe is 3d, printed but it's this 3d printed sculpture that was a collaboration, between, engineers. At Tokyo University and. Art school students, at Tama Art University, as well as some hackerspace people, coming. Together and making a 3d printed sculpture that they sent out into deep space but, to me the really coolest, thing about this is that this space, probe had a bunch of sensors on it and so, as this space probe went into deep space and actually experienced, what it was like in space it, generated. Poetry, based on a based. On its experiences, and sent it back to earth and, I. Just love things like this. Another. Project I've come across over the years that I adore, is a, group, of researchers who, wanted to 3d, scan supernovas. So. Supernovas. Are the explosions, of massive stars, when they die and they. Create. These incredibly, beautiful images. So, they wanted to look. Into well what if we could 3d scan supernovas. Well. You can't exactly take a 3d scanner and point it up towards, the supernova, and get a 3d scan of it that way, and you, can't exactly shrink, a supernova down and, run it through an MRI machine and get a 3d scan of it that way but. In a sense that's what these researchers ended, up doing they. Used an open source piece of software called 3d, slicer, but, usually, creates 3d fly-through zuv brain imagery, and they, thought about well what if instead of sending it brain, imagery, what if we gave it supernova. Imagery, and so, they fed it Cassiopeia, A this supernova, remnant here and the. Result they got was, this, this. Is the very first 3d, fly-through of a supernova that's ever been created and. In. The way I guess it's an MRI of a supernova, and this. Was created through a project, out of Harvard called the astronomical medicine. Project and as you can imagine it, was a collaboration, between the, astronomy department and the medicine department, to see what they could do and what sort of visualization techniques, they could share and what sorts of software they could share to, create new and better solutions on either side and they ended up creating a lot of really clever solutions. So. You, would think these sorts of collaborations take, place all the, time I'm. From San Francisco this. Is an actual map of how, far away Google is from, NASA NASA, Ames. Not. Very far they are right next door to each other so you think you would think there would be all this amazing, collaboration taking. Place and people just socializing, with each other NASA people would know Google people and vice-versa. Know. A. Few. Years ago I had some, friends from NASA who. Were taking, a tour of Google and they were walking around Google, and looking around and going like oh my god we are at Google this, is so cool. Equally. At that time I saw people from Google saying, oh my, god there's people from NASA here, this is so cool and. I, thought that was delightful but it also incredibly, frustrated. Me because they. Said shouldn't, be like that they admire each other they look to each other they should already, be collaborating, and socializing, with each other and it, frustrated, me that they weren't so sort, of born out of this frustration. Came an event called science, hack day and science. Hack day is a weekend, event that gets scientists. Designers, developers, and, people from all different disciplines together in the same physical space to. See what they can rapidly prototype with science in 24, consecutive hours, so. The mission of science hack day is just to get excited, and make things with science for. Me this secret mission of science hack day was to give all of these people an excuse to be in the same room together and finally start collaborating, like they should and, so. Science, hack day takes place all around the world I've had the great pleasure of visiting, a, lot of the communities around the world who do something us hack day I had. A, great, chance to go to Madagascar. Where they were creating, IOT. Chicken, coops and, different. Devices that would deter, locusts, which is a big, local problem with the crops and. They just were amazingly. Fun and silly, I. Also. Went to Columbia where a lot of people were looking into combining. Plants, with electronics. And looking, at different ways to design parks, so that they would better accommodate, people with disabilities, I also.
Went To China, where people, were looking at building necklaces, that respond to the weather or. They. Were looking at different ways in which they could paint with biomaterials. Which was fun and so. Science. Hack day is now in 29, countries around the world it's something I'm incredibly, proud of because no, one owns science, hack day science hack day is a grassroots, thing you don't need permission to organize one there are open instructions, on science hack day org on how you can do, a science hack day in your own city and it's, just a lot of fun and it just keeps growing and it's amazing to see what people are producing all around the world and. So I wanted. To share a. Couple, of examples from science hack day that better explain the things that I love about it, so. This is a hack, that someone, created that science hack day in, which someone, wanted to create a typeface in, which, all the letters had equal wind drag. So. What you're looking at here is a makeshift. Wind tunnel and someone. Actually. Cut out the individual, letters of the alphabet and then, recorded, the wind drag of each individual, letter and then, weighted each individual, letter so that all the letters would have equal wind drag so, if you need a typeface in which all the letters have equal wind drag it, looks something like this I. Have. No idea how this is useful but. But. This was created by a, physicist. Named David Harris who is playing around with typography and this is something that I love about science hack day and when I talk about massively, multiplayer science, that yes people are coming and learning new cool stuff about science but equally scientists, are learning new ways of prototyping, with design and tech and everyone's. Learning from each other equally, so. David Harris actually went, on to after science hack day get a master's in arts, and I think it's even getting like a PhD, in art school like he's going all the way for this so, it's just amazing, to see people go. Across both sides. Another. Fun hack from science hack day is satellite, symphony, in which, you can go to this website you can type in your location anywhere, around the world and, it will tell you what satellites, are currently overhead, but. It will in, addition to tell you what satellites are currently overhead, it'll, put them to music, based on how far away they are or how fast they are moving so. This, is something that I think is a lot of fun because you know when you're at school or work or home you can sometimes hear the traffic outside and you get an idea of how congested or not it is outside, and you, get an idea of like when it's quiet and, increasingly. With, more and more people launching, satellites into, low Earth orbit, we don't really have a sense of how busy is it how quiet is it does it get busier during certain times and so in a way satellite, symphony sort of creates, an ambient awareness for that.
Another. All-time favorite, hack that I've loved is someone, who wanted to create a device that would detect when he needed to shave. So. You know he wrote some, basic codes and used an open computer vision library and, you can see the computer, vision trying to draw lines around the sub on his face and tell him when he needs to shave but. This actually was something where a particle physicists, thought this was actually a really great way for detecting, cosmic, rays in a cloud chamber. Which. Sounds ridiculous until you see what cosmic rays in the cloud chamber looks like. And. So actually following science hack day, this. Particle physicists ended up creating a multi-year, student-led, research, program, around, detecting, cosmic rays in the cloud chamber that, was based on the original code, and open, computer vision library someone, had used to detect whether or not they needed to shave. And. So this is what I love about hacking and prototyping, in general it's really about creating sparks, for future ideas and, future cool stuff and future collaborations. And, I. Wanted to, touch. On some of the experiences, from science hack day but specifically, quote my friend Lindsay who's a designer, on her experience, with science hack day, she. Says science, hack day introduced, to me for the first time people who worked for NASA it was a small revelation, even as an adult, these heroes of my childhood were just normal people not magicians unicorns. Or untouchables they, were people who loved geeking out on space as much as I did science, hack day introduced, me to a community of scientific, professionals, who treated me a non-scientist. As an equal. And. So. I wanted to share some, of these multidisciplinary. Things. That have come out of just people working together and working with different technologies, this. One is something. That, I actually. Really love to show to IO because it's. Something where you're, watching a video of how the Sun goes across the moon each day and someone. Wrote, some basic computer vision, to try, and route a rover, to, on the moon to stay in continuous, sunlight so, typically, Rovers on the moon would have to power down overnight, because. Of their solar power and they. Can't do science during that time so, someone was like well what if we have more efficient Rovers that never go to sleep that always do science, and, can stay and continue with sunlight so they use computer, vision just to create more efficient, routes for Rovers on the moon this. Is a project that got funded by NASA, and it's, amazing to me because this is something that uses four present-day, tech but when applied, towards space exploration, is actually quite futuristic because. Stuff like this has not been used before, and so, really we need people from all different disciplines, contributing. To space and and other things in science and things, that seem not, very sci-fi, futuristic to. Us might, be sci-fi, futuristic to, another discipline, and. So this was funded by a program, at NASA called NASA innovative, advanced concepts, or Nayak and Nayak, is the kind, of only program, at NASA that funds the more futuristic, sci-fi out, there sort of ideas, and concepts, that could be transformative, to future space missions 10.
20 30 40 years down the line things. Where maybe, it's not possible to achieve them, today but you can still do credible, research into it and. So if this, is something that's interesting to you the, thing that's really cool about Nayak, is that anyone can apply you can be a garage hacker you, can be an, academic, you can work in NASA it doesn't matter you, can apply and so if you go to Nayak, Fellows org, they're, actually going to open up their solicitation. In August, I think they closed it again in September, but, in August you, can apply and all that's needed is a three page white paper to apply so it's not a big ordeal, and. It's something that's really just. Cool. And fun, and I think we need a lot more people. From different disciplines and different backgrounds, applying. To this and. So. Other, projects I've come across that I really enjoy, have been one, was a competition, to detect the effects of dark matter so. Dark matter we can't actually see dark matter but we can detect the effects of it dark matter is something that when we look at galaxies, and we see that they're held together we. Can't actually see enough mass to account for enough gravity, to explain why they're held together and so, we give this invisible. Mass the, name of dark matter but, dark matter isn't uniform dark, matter is globular, it globs on around galaxies, and so while you can't see it you can detect the effects of it and. So there was a competition to create, better algorithms, for detecting, the effects of dark, matter and one, of the. The. The reason why I love dark matter so much is because it's. Reminds, me that we are in a very friendly universe. That you know there's this invisible stuff that's, holding us all together and keeping us all clothed so we don't drift away from each other one. Of the algorithms that came out of this competition came. From a glaciologist who. Use algorithms, that he was already using to detect the edges of glaciers and satellite, imagery and he. Applied that towards, detecting, the effects of dark matter and it ended up beating, out all the other existing algorithms. At the time and I, just love stuff, like that. Other. Stuff, I love our. Copper. Pooping microbes. So. Synthetic. Biologists by the name of Lynn Rothschild, applied. To this Nayak program, and, her. Project, was all around creating, synthetic microbes. That, can eat lots, of different types of metal and stuff that's, in electronics. And then. Poop. Out copper, so, what, these little microbes, can do is they can take dead or spent, electronics. And they, can chew them up and then poop out copper to create new circuits, and new electronics, and this, is something that's really useful on earth but also super useful in space because you can't bring that much stuff with you and you need to recycle pretty much everything, you bring with you, and. I like this because to. Me when you think about how to solve a problem like this a lot of people might go to people, who are electronics, experts, but this is an idea, that came from synthetic biology. There. Are other projects that I love this one was also by the same synthetic, biologist Lynn Rothschild, along with a lot of others and. What they did is they went around the earth and around. The surface around. The surfaces of the earth they collected microbes, and they collected the size and shape of microbes, but, also the color of microbes, so they went to oyster, ponds and deserts and all different places that, were on the surface of the earth and they created this palette and they. Created this palette, because. One, day soon we're. Going to get even better images, of exoplanets than the ones I showed you at the very start we're, going to hopefully soon start.
Getting Images of exoplanets. That actually. Have color in them and so, what this actually ends up becoming is, sort of like an alien, Pantone, guide. You, could actually like as we get images of exoplanets you, could hold this up to the, planets, that'd be like well I think maybe, this, this, different microbe could be causing this color and maybe it's a way of actually detecting, alien, life and, I love this because this is something that you know designers, can do and artists can do there are so many different ways of detecting life, because we haven't done it yet that we really need people thinking creatively. About how we can do it and. It's something that, I think is. It's needed a lot more because. You. Know whether we're detecting, intelligent. Life or not, intelligent, life it's something, that is a big up-and-coming, thing I can't. Tell you when but you know it's really exciting to create things like alien Pantone guys that might help future people detect, aliens. So. Life. Detection is something that I'm increasingly, getting really interested. In and involved in later. The, summer in August I'm going to be going aboard the exploration, vessel Nautilus. The Evie Nautilus, which is a 64, meter research vessel and we're, actually going to be going and exploring an underwater volcano and off, the coast of Hawaii and we're going to be doing this because there might be extreme. Forms of life living around this underwater volcano, that, are very similar to how life could exist perhaps on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn that has an. Icy shell but an ocean, underneath it and it has hydrothermal. Activity so. We're looking at underwater, volcanoes, here on earth so that we can better understand, how. Life might exist elsewhere in the solar system and this is something that's really exciting because they. 24/7. Livestream. The, expedition, so from now right now you can probably load it up until, I think November, so you can go to Nautilus live org and see, what they're exploring in real time which is really exciting so if you tuned in in like late, August to September. You. Might hear me. Another. Fun project that I've got coming up later this year that I'm incredibly excited about is that I am going to Antarctica, and I'm. Going to Antarctica to better, understand, and look at the weird. Forms, of life that exists beneath the ice there, something. That I do in, my spare time is, I catch. Tardigrades in my own backyard, also. Known as what bears they're. Incredibly, cute this is when I got in my own backyard and did, a microscope. Video of what. I totally loved about I oh by the way is that I am the second, person to have a video of a tardigrade I. Think. That's just amazing I'm in, the right place, so. Yeah, that will be a fun project. But. I often get asked though well what about life as we don't know it so we're studying all this life, here on earth so that we can better understand, how it might exist in space but we don't know that it'll be anything like life here on earth what about life as we don't know it and this. Is something that's important. For weird. Places in our solar system like, Titan another, moon of Saturn that, has lakes of methane and ethane and electrically. Charged sand and, all this weird stuff but. It.
Doesn't Have liquid, water so. Pretty much anything there, isn't, going to be using oxygen and, so a team of astronomers partnered. With some chemical engineers to, imagine what life could. Possibly be, like on Titan, and so what they came up with was. This this is a cell. Membrane that they designed based. Off of nitrogen, that could survive, in liquid methane and ethane but. Not utilize, liquid, water. But. To me I think. You. Know if we're at the point where we're already designing life, as we don't know it we, should be designing exploration. As we don't know it exploration. That goes off the script exploration, that is multidisciplinary. Exploration. That is representative, of all the amazing people who, are contributing to it but all the amazing people who could be contributing, to it immediately, and. Inviting. Them in and. So. To me, science. Fiction and, very. Loud voices. Often, times illuminate, a path for, us so sometimes, science fiction will illuminate, paths that we should go explore like Johannes Kepler did or. Very loud voices and them in space. Will say why we do this or where we should go and it's, okay that they illuminate, paths but I don't think they should also then be allowed to be used as gatekeepers. To who can explore how, they can explore why they should explore they, shouldn't be gatekeepers, unless of course they are Stargate, in which case well I guess I wrote that into that. But. You, know to me it's, really about creating, a, patchwork a. Something. That is representative, of all the exploration, that's going on and where we actually get to hear all of the stories we don't get to hear just one or none of them we get to hear all of them and we get to give them a lot of equal weight and so. To me, this, might mean that exploration, becomes, more nebulous, or more undefinable, or. Difficult. To pin down because, not everyone is going to agree and because there's going to be so many voices but. I think that's really important. And I think this is something that John, Peel, sort. Of got into with this quote here I mean. I think at the heart of anything, that's good you, know there should be something. There should be a kernel or something that's indefinable and, I think if you can define it all trying to be able to define it then in. A sense you've missed the point. Thank. You.