Celebrating Einstein with Neil deGrasse Tyson | Full Episode

– Hey Einstein fans, you’re about to watch a special edition of
StarTalk just for you, all about Einstein. Now. This is StarTalk. I’m your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, your personal astrophysicist. I got Chuck Nice, cohost. I got Janna Levin, old time
friend, colleague, physicist, expert on the universe in
all the ways that matter. Especially for this conversation, ’cause we’re celebrating
the life and times of Albert Einstein. So, Albert Einstein was born in Germany on March 14th, 1879. And Chuck, you know what day that is? – 1879, March 14th? – [Neil] March 14th, any year. – In any year? – [Neil] Yeah, what day
of the year is March 14th? – I believe it’s the day that
precedes the Ides of March. What is March 14th? I really don’t know. – Before the Ides of
March, there’s Pi Day. – Oh, my God, yes.
– Yes. – Okay, I didn’t know it
was actually March 14th, but of course, that makes sense, 3.14. – 3.14, yeah, you get
pi out of March 14th, when written in the American way, where we put the month
before the day of the month. – Right.
– Yeah. – Exactly.
– So 3.14, that’s Pi Day. Then you get really geeky, and then add 1:59. 3.1415, 1:59 and 26 seconds. Then you get a full on Pi Moment. – Can I just suggest that that’s probably the access code to every
physics department in the world? – That’s pretty funny. That’s the one, two, three,
four of physics departments? – If you walk up to a sealed
theoretical physics department, try 3.1415. – And you’ll get it. Oh, my God, it worked. – And tomorrow, the missiles got launched, all because of Janna. – Yeah, I shouldn’t reveal these things. – So let’s talk about this. Janna, what is the annus mirabilis, and why do we even say that in Latin? Why can’t we just say it in English? His Miracle Year. – I don’t know, why do we say it in Latin? And that’s a different question. We’ll just talk about
the Miracle Year, first. – It’s America, Jack. – So, 1905?
– Yeah, 1905. – 1905.
– How old is he? – 25.
– Yeah, yeah. – So, Einstein was a
clerk in a patent office, and he couldn’t get a job
in a physics department. His father was desperately writing to famous theoretical physicists, saying, my son’s really committed. – Like any dad.
– And he couldn’t get hired. One of his professors
called him a lazy dog. And here he is, in this patent
office in Berne, Switzerland, and he has a drawer at
his desk that he calls the Physics Department. And in this drawer he has
these scientific papers he’s working on in between
finessing other people’s patents to make them better.
– Wow. – And in that year, he has
this extraordinary year, where he publishes a
series of three papers that absolutely transform modern physics. One of them is on the
Special Theory of Relativity, one of them is on Brownian motion, which refers to the atomic
aspect of air and molecules. Like, if you see a little piece of lint, you notice that it takes
a zig-zaggy pattern, that’s because it’s all these
little atoms hanging on to it. And the photoelectric
effect, which is staggering, because it probes the
wave-particle duality of light, that sometimes light acts like a wave, and sometimes it acts like a particle. – He, by this time, was 26.
– Yeah. – Chuck, how old are you?
– And unemployed. – Verify?
– I’m 22. – There’s still time.
– So, I got time. – Okay, you got time. Thank you for verifying that. So, you called it an annus mirabilis. – [Janna] Why do we say it in Latin? Because it was all in German. – Did that get him a job? – He became, he did become, to the credit of the scientific community, even though this outsider
was publishing these papers, it was very swiftly accepted, the significance of all these papers. Very swiftly. And that should also be a lesson to those many people who
send me their theories, that when they’re transparently correct, they are grabbed at with glee. – All the most amazing, mind-blowing, earth-shaking scientific research was published in legitimate
journals, accepted by peers. By peer-reviewed. So as they say, to be a
genius is to be misunderstood. – Right. – To be misunderstood
is not to be a genius. – Oh, that’s nice.
– Yeah, that makes sense. – So you can’t come to me and say, I have an idea, but the
establishment is not, they’re gonna reject it. – [Janna] Therefore it’s brilliant. – Therefore, right. – They don’t get this, man. They just don’t understand. – I’m starting a Facebook
page for everyone to evaluate, so you don’t have to come to us. Amongst themselves,
talk amongst yourselves. – [Neil] Talk amongst yourselves. – Now we have Twitter for that. – Now, he didn’t call it
Special Theory of Relativity. Who called it Special? – That’s interesting. I actually don’t know,
specifically, the history. – Why do we have you on this show? – Because I can explain Relativity. – Does someone out there know why? – I mean, the General
Theory obviously came later, when he included the
curvature of space-time. But I don’t know who
actually coined it Special. It was just the Theory of
Relativity at the time. – Right, because the paper was on the electrodynamics of moving bodies. That’s the name of that paper, of the Special Relativity paper. – Grabbing title. But the amazing thing.
– Page-turner. So that was, wait, 1905,
then a General Theory comes out when? – 1915. – So, that’s 10 years, and he basically pulled
that out of the ether. – It’s probably published in 1916, but it’s 10 or 11 years of
struggling with the mathematics to elevate what we now
call the Special Theory to the General Theory.
– Working alone. – Yeah, he was being influenced
by people like Grossmann, who was a mathematician. Hilbert was very influential. So Einstein wrote down several
wrong theories along the way, and there’s actually a
kind of adorable story when he was thinking about something like gravitational waves, where he kept changing his mind, in print. He would write papers, say they’re real. – You used the word adorable
for a physics story. – Let the record, adorable
for a physics story. – Let the record catch that. Pause for a moment. – And right after this, believe me, we’re gonna get to some
very darling theories. – With cheeks you just wanna pinch. All right, go on.
– He writes a paper saying gravitational waves are not real. Then he writes a paper saying they are. Then he writes another
paper several years later, saying that they’re not. And between acceptance of
his paper and publication, he sneaks in a draft of a manuscript that says that they are. And one of his colleagues says, Einstein. You have to be really careful, your famous name is
gonna be on these papers. And he just laughs. He says, my name is on
plenty of wrong papers. You do not need to worry about that. So it takes him a long time. I mean, there’s decades of him figuring out gravitational waves, and the General Theory was 11 years, and he needed help from other people. He wrote down several wrong theories. – Ha, no.
– What’s hard to hear is he needed help. Deadbeat.
– Einstein, you dumbass. – 10 years, damn. – Is that actually something that is, did that do anything to? – In retrospect, that is short order. Look at String Theory,
where we’re decades deep. – Still in it, for decades
after decades after decades. – It might be hundreds of years. – And that’s dozens of
leaders in the field. – [Janna] Really brilliant people. – And we have one guy, Einstein. – By himself.
– Basically, yeah. I didn’t mean to take away Janna’s point, that there are others
trying to push things along. – They’re nudging him along. – Right, right.
– They’re nudging him along because he’s actually
putting something out there to be nudged.
– Good point, good point. – It was really interesting that it was really him
on the, I mean, largely, there were other physicists. But him largely on the physics side, and the mathematicians pulling him up. Because he was not actually the most sophisticated
mathematical thinker. Another one of my
Einstein quotes, it says, “You think you have a lot of
difficulty with mathematics? “You should see my
difficulties with mathematics.” So, he was a very intuitive thinker, and he really, originally,
rejected the idea that you had to do all of
this differential calculus, and this really elaborate mathematics. He thought, that’s ridiculous,
it’s totally overkill. – Pure thought should be able to– – You could just think it through, and it would be like algebra. And he did that with the Special Theory. It was stunning, but he could not do that
with the General Theory. He had to step it up to
be differential calculus and curved manifolds, no mean feat. – Wow.
– Yeah. But it’s pretty. It’s not only adorable, it’s pretty. – What grade did you get
in that class, Chuck? – I was gonna say that
what I kinda go with is that you don’t need that. – You say, I will never
need that in my life. – I will never need that in my life. Like I actually use that. – So, he does this, and then in 1921, he wins the Nobel Prize. So, but he did so many things, what did he win it for? – Well, he didn’t win it for Relativity. – That ain’t right.
– Wow. – Which is really interesting. – That’s pretty crazy. – Yeah, was it the photoelectric effect? I think technically, it
was the photoelectric. Contributions to quantum, I
don’t remember the phrasing. Do you have the phrasing? – I might, in my notes here.
– It was something like contributions to quantum. Like, often they’re
phrased in a way that… – Give you latitude. – Moves you from a specific, right. But it was not for Relativity, and that is clearly his
greatest accomplishment. – Wow, so it’s kind of like if, when an actor never wins an Oscar, and then they’re just like, all right, we’re just gonna
give you a Lifetime Achievement. – He won it in ’21, which
is quite early, in a way. I mean, it was pretty
soon after he proposed, it’s not staggeringly
late after he proposed this revolution of quantum thinking. And the interesting thing is that he never really accepted
quantum mechanics, right? So he initiates this revolution. – What is up with Einstein? – I just keep insulting Einstein. – But wait a minute,
is that his brilliance, the fact that he was
so self-contradicting? He just, no, I can’t, it couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be that. – I think there’s something to that, which is his refusal to accept something that he didn’t actually understand. – That’s a good point. Plus, you gotta remember
the era he came from. In the 19th century,
into the 20th century, this was the towering
achievement of classical physics, where the world, the
universe, was deterministic. If you tell me where to stand, and I measure the
motions and the momentum, I will predict all
future of this universe. That was a certain posture the
community of physicists has. Up comes quantum physics, is it a wave, is it a particle, is that some percent of the time? And what was his famous quote, he was trying to tell God what to do? What was it? – “God doesn’t play
dice”, was that the one? – [Neil and Chuck] God doesn’t play dice. – Well, telling God not to throw dice. – Oh, he tells God not to throw dice? – I think so. I think as quoted by
Niels Bohr, or somebody, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.” – No, He plays roulette, instead. – Roulette. He plays craps table. – He plays craps, you know? – Then what does Stephen
Hawking say later? “God not only plays dice, “but He sometimes throws the
die where you can’t see them.” – Yeah, there ya go. – Sounds to me like God’s a grifter. – And then, Einstein said something else, at another point about God, and then, I think it was Niels Bohr, said, “Einstein, stop telling God what to do.” Just got pissed off. So, tell me if you agree with this, Janna. So, this is my measure of why
I think General Relativity is a crowning achievement
of the human mind, greater than almost anything else. Special Relativity, from 1905, I think there were enough
people on the tail of that, on the trail of that, that
if Einstein were not around, Special Relativity would
have been figured out within a few years of that date. Maybe by 1910. Whereas General Relativity is so different from how anybody was thinking, it might have gone another 50 years. And so this, for me,
makes General Relativity a greater singular
achievement than Special. – Wow. – I do think that you’re right, it would have been many decades
before it was discovered, if it had not been discovered by Einstein, General Relativity,
and that is intriguing. – That’s how I know you
badass among your colleagues. – I also think it would have
looked totally different. So Einstein gave us all of this, the General Theory of
Relativity is a theory of curved space-time, and we follow the natural curves in space. And all of this elegance of geometry. But none of it is necessary. There’s a whole bunch of
extra degrees of freedom, in thinking about geometry,
that are not at all required. And I think what would have happened, is that somebody like Richard Feynman, who was a particle physicist, who was thinking about
interactions of particles, would have discovered General Relativity, but would never have hung all of this space-time language on it. It would have just been masses exchanging gravitons.
– Would have had a different facade. – Yeah, it would’ve
looked totally different. – And a completely different frame of reference.
– And completely different machinery, yeah. – Everything would have been, wow, that’s incredible. – Yeah, I really think
it would’ve been like, oh, particles exchange light, and that’s electromagnetism. This would’ve been,
particles exchange gravitons, and that’s the Theory of Gravity. – Gotcha, yeah. So, was Einstein more of a poetic thinker when it came to these things? I mean, where do you get
this kind of expanse, and elegance, that you can attach to what you’re talking about? – I mean, I don’t want to presume to know, but you do have a sense that
here is a very visual thinker, and very intuitive. And so all the space-time machinery, there might be excesses to it that are not formally required, but create such powerful
imagery and tools, that in that particular
example, which is often rare, it’s kind of the contrary
of Occam’s razor, where the extra machinery actually leads to better, clearer intuition, than the total, leanest abstraction of just particles exchanging gravitons. – That’s beautiful, right there. – Yeah, you should write
a book or something. – Yeah, yeah. Book in there somewhere, isn’t there? – Somewhere, man. – So Janna, your book
The Black Hole Blues, it explored LIGO. Not so much LIGO, but the
quest to measure gravity wave. – Yeah. – And what effort that would take. Could you describe to me what’s going on when two black holes collide? And how they’re gonna
give us a gravity wave? What I think of as gravity
waves all the time. – Yeah, so in principle, they
do give us gravity waves. – Are we giving off gravity waves now? – Yeah, right now, Chuck and I. – Okay, right. – It’s just pretty modest.
– Right. – If you think about how weak gravity is, the entire Earth is pulling on me, and with my little arms, I can resist. – [Neil] You can lift
stuff away from the Earth. – Yeah, whereas if it was charged, if it was that much charge
pulling on me, I’d be liquified. So, gravity is incredibly weak. It takes an entire planet,
– I’m gonna say thank God. – To even make it hard for me to walk. – That’s a good thing, then. – You know the quick
calculation you can do? Back when we had a Space Shuttle that would launch people into space. If you took all the electrons out of one cubic centimeter
of the nose cone, just remove the electrons, and put them at the
base of the launch pad, the shuttle wouldn’t be able to launch. – Wait a minute. – Because the electrons would be– – Just the electrons. – In one cubic centimeter.
– One cubic centimeter. – At the base of the launch pad. They would be pulling on
the leftover extra protons that are at the top, they would be attracting one another. – Right.
– You would not be able to launch the, right. – Oh, wow.
– One cubic centimeter. – One cubic centimeter.
– Right. – So the difference between
the gravitational attraction between an electron and a positron, and their electromagnetic attraction, is something like a
trillion trillion trillions. So, it’s that much stronger,
the electrical attraction, than the gravitational attraction. – The gravitational pull. – It’s weak. So, gravitational waves
are incredibly weak, so what you need in order
to have any aspiration, even Einstein didn’t think
this would be possible, because he didn’t think
anything in the universe could possibly bring space-time out enough.
– It’s pre-black hole. – Pre-black hole. So, you need something like the tremendous radical
concentration of mass and energy in a black hole. Not only that, but you need them to be in the final throes of
their orbits together. So, it’s like mallets on a drum, when they get closer and closer, they’re getting louder and louder. And it’s like this crescendo. So when LIGO made its first detection, it was the last one fifth of a second of the orbits of two black holes, each one about 30 times
the mass of the Sun, a couple hundred kilometers across. They’re going very nearly
the speed of light, and they’re executing a few orbits in the final one fifth
of a second, and boom. It’s finally loud enough, that even though it’s traveling for 1.3 billion years across the cosmos, by the time it hits the Earth, if you think about the time it left, that just multi-celled organisms were differentiating on the Earth. – Yes, they were.
– You know, and then there’s this race. They’re building LIGO, you know,
in the final hundred years. And then boom, when it hits,
it’s just barely loud enough. – And all the while, that
wave is heading towards Earth. – That’s right. But it could have been the
previous several billion years, it’s been ringing the Earth, but there was nothing there
capable of detecting it. – Now, is there any way that
we could have missed it? – Yeah, many ways. So that actual night that
the first detection was made, was supposed to be the first science run of the advanced instruments. It was in September 2015. And they decided they weren’t ready, yet. So they canceled the science run. And instead they were
there, it’s Sunday night, Monday morning, in the
middle of the night, hammering on the instrument,
trying to mess with it, just as tests. They’re literally driving
trucks along the access roads, slamming on the brakes to see if it screws with the instrument. And then in the middle of the
night, they get exhausted, they put their tools down, they go home. The same thing happens
in Washington State, this was in Louisiana. And within the span of an hour, this thing that’s been
traveling 1.3 billion years smacks the instrument. – Doesn’t that tell you
that this is happening more frequently than we think? – Way more frequently,
because everyone told me, with the exception of Kip Thorne, that black holes would be years on. That we would detect all
kinds of things first that we predict existed, but black holes were
far off in our future. And they were not only the first thing detected–
– The first thing. – It was beautiful black hole signature, but it was the first
four things we detected, were all black hole collisions. – Wow, look at that. – Black holes all the time. – All black holes, all the time. – Exactly. – So, what’s the future of this? – Well, a wonderful thing
happened not too long ago, they made an announcement
that they detected the first neutron stars colliding. So neutron stars are dead stars that aren’t quite big enough
to become black holes. They’re under two times
the mass of the Sun, and they’re dense dead stars. They’re often highly magnetized. But the interesting thing,
see, black holes are empty. They’re just darkness, empty space. There’s nothing there. So when they collide, it’s in darkness. The black hole collision–
– Just to be clear, when we say that a black
hole has a certain size, that’s not a physically occupied volume. Describe the size of a black hole. – The size of a black hole is really just the extent of the shadow
it casts on the sky. – By convention, that’s what we use. – Yes, by convention, it’s
the region beyond which light cannot escape. And so it is literally just
the shadow cast on the sky, if you were to–
– Three-dimensional shadow. That cool? – Yeah.
– Okay. – Did you know you can have
a three-dimensional shadow? – Yeah, you should call it
black ball, not black hole. – Yeah. – What could go wrong? The French already objected to black hole. – Did they?
– Yeah. Trou noir, it’s offensive
in French, apparently. – What do they call it? – A black hole. They gave in, you know? – They gave in. – Couldn’t resist forever. So, that’s the fascinating
thing about a hole. When we think of a hole, we think of a circle
in a horizontal surface that you go through in a plane. Whereas this is a hole in
three-dimensional space you can fall into from any direction. – Whoo! – And walking into the
shadow should be as harmless as walking into the shadow of a tree. Nothing’s there, you
wouldn’t notice anything. You’d cross right over. There’s no dense material there, there’s just nothing there. So when black holes collide,
it’s truly a dark event. Which, even though this,
the first collision was the most powerful event ever detected since the Big Bang, none of it came out as light. None of it. – So can I ask you this? – If it did, it would
be the brightest thing in the night- and day-time sky. – It would have outshone all the stars in the observable universe, combined. – So, okay. If we don’t see what’s colliding, what is colliding? – Space-time itself. So the black holes blob together. – Damn. – And the shadow distorts.
– Hold on for a second. Wait, just hold on. Ah, my head! – A bout of existential angst.
– Oh, God! Ah, space-time itself! – Space-time colliding, yes. – Then, this blobby thing, it sheds off all its imperfections, and it settles down to
be one bigger black hole. So there’s a black hole out
there, as far as we know, a little bigger than 60
times the mass of the Sun, that’s just wandering
the cosmos aimlessly, completely dark and completely quiet. – I’m just a hole.
– But the fantastic thing is they settle down.
– Yes, I’m only a hole. – Don’t get in my way. – That’s amazing! – Yeah, you see it, I mean you hear it, in the recording that LIGO makes. You hear it ring down. You hear it settle down
to a final black hole. – So, tell me how 1.3
billion light years away, we can know it’s two black holes, one 28 times the mass of the Sun, one 36, what is getting modeled there,
to give us that confidence? – There’s an old-fashioned
mathematical problem, can you hear the shape of a drum? And it’s very similar. If I bang a drum–
– That’s beautiful. – Yeah.
– That’s beautiful. – I think that’ll be
the title of my memoirs. – Can you hear the shape of a drum? – Can you hear the shape of the drum? – We all recognize sounds. Our phones go off, and we’re
like, that’s my ringtone. So, it’s kind of similar. We have a prediction for how
the mallets, the black holes, bang on the drum of space
time, creating a sound. And it’s a very specific prediction, it’s not a whole range of possibilities. We can literally hear, if I
played for you our predictions, the difference between black holes that were extremely disparate in size. It sounds different. If the black holes were on
wildly eccentric orbits, it sounds different. So, you can reconstruct the
motion, size, behavior, spins, of the mallets.
– With high confidence. – With some things, less
confidence than others. So, like, the spin of the black
holes is hard to determine. They’re both probably spinning. Some things with less confidence. But that they were two black holes, with a pretty good degree of confidence. – And with the masses
that they were ascribed. – Right, with the masses
they were ascribed. So you can tell how big they are, too, because you can hear the orbits, again, just like how you can
hear mallets on a drum. And even knowing–
– But that’s a weaker signal, though. – Well, it is, but it’s .7
times the speed of light, and you can tell when
it’s done one full orbit, and that tells you how big the system is. And that means you’ve
got these two black holes summing to a little more than
60 times the mass of the Sun, in a region only of a couple
hundred kilometers across. And so how are you gonna do that? – Yeah, there’s only one way. – So, are there any
black holes tiny enough that they spin and collide, and create the sound of a triangle? Ding. – Well, it is fantastic that black holes that are just a few times to
10 times the mass of the Sun, something in that range, actually ring space-time in
the human auditory range. – What?
– Yeah. LIGO is an instrument– – You told me that once, and I said, what are you talking about? There’s no sound in space.
– LIGO is an instrument sensitive to the range of the piano. So, it’s true, there’s no sound in space, because there’s no air. And anyone who sees somebody
screaming outside a space ship is gonna write complaints on Twitter that they don’t know what
they’re talking about. But if you were near enough
those two black holes, really near enough, your
ear could technically ring in response to the gravitational waves. – What you’re saying is, your eardrum that is
normally set into vibration by vibrating air molecules, in this case would be set to vibrate by vibrating fabric of space-time. – Yeah, it would pluck it like a string. – Yeah, like a harp string.
– Yeah. – Ooh.
– Wow. – That’s weird.
– That is weird. – I don’t even wanna… – That’s really wild, I like it. – If you heard that, like, get out. Move away. Like imagine, you would see nothing. – Oh no, if you heard that, it’s too late.
– You would see nothing, but you would hear. – Right. Too bad it doesn’t, actually, maybe that’s what it
says when you hear it. – It’s a warning sign.
– Instead of a boom, it’s just like a ha, ha, ha, you’re cooked. – So what would, hold my eardrums aside, what would my body feel if
a wave went across my body? – So, presumably, right now, there are black holes colliding
all over the universe. We’re being squeezed and stretched, but again, it’s so weak,
that we don’t even notice. – If it’s strong, will I
say, “Ooh, I felt that”? Or, if it’s reshaping the
fabric of space and time, and I occupy that coordinate, wouldn’t I just shake with
it, and I wouldn’t even know? – Yeah, probably most of these– – Get that, Chuck, what I was just saying? If I draw a stick man on a rubber sheet, and I bend the rubber sheet,
the stick man goes with it. – Without even knowing
that he’s being bent. – This is just how I’m doing it. – The difference with the stick man, is that we’re bound together. So, for instance, your head is
harder to squeeze and stretch than your eardrums. – Speak for yourself. – If you were there, your
ear would start resonating more willingly than your head would. So, the fact that we’re
bound means we’re resisting to some extent. So the whole Earth, when the wave passes, doesn’t really notice it. It’s just so atomically bound to itself. – It would just be so
funner if, in fact, we did. – Yeah, I think it’s gonna be more like, for these long waves, it’s gonna be more like
bobbing on an ocean. You know, just kind of what the mirrors in the LIGO instrument do. When the wave passes,
they bob on the wave. It’s not that the mirror itself is being squeezed and stretched, it’s that it’s starting to swing. – Okay. – And that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the
motion of the mirror. – This opened a whole new way
of observing the universe. Any way to bring LIGO to
bear on the Big Bang itself? – Definitely gravitational
wave experiments, but probably not LIGO. LIGO can put limits on the Big Bang. So the Big Bang might’ve
actually made a bang. When the universe was created, gravitational waves
probably really cacophonous. It probably sounded like noise. But, it’s outside of really the range LIGO’s optimally designed to detect. It’s much more likely that
a space-based instrument like LISA, the Laser
Interferometer Space Antenna, if it ever launches, that
LISA would be able to detect the sound of the bang. – It would be a cacophony. – Yeah, noise. Just like (whooshing). So you asked me, how do
you know it’s black holes? Those two things sound really different. – Different, yeah.
– Wow. – Black holes sound
like (ascending trill). – That was good. Let me hear that again? – I don’t know if I can do it again. (ascending trill) – It’s a black hole.
– It’s called a chirp. – Black hole colliding.
– Black hole colliding. – Those are two black holes colliding. Much less, I don’t know,
macho, than most people expect. It has this sort of sweet little chirp. – Has anyone thought about how you get a 30 solar mass black hole? – That’s a really excellent question. So not only was the first– – I don’t know how you make one of those. – Right, and not only did they detect the first gravitational waves, but they actually started
probing new astronomy. We had no idea there were
black holes that big. The projections were
for much smaller ones. And now we know there’s
one 60 solar masses, so maybe there are hundred, or hundred and fifty.
– Maybe there’s some that are bigger than that. – Right, so did those already
collide with other black holes to get that big? Or were they formed by direct collapse? Did they skip the death star state? We don’t really know. So that’s, already people are working on– – Yeah, because normally, if you wanna learn about black holes in your astrophysics class, what did you get in your astrophysics? – My astrophysics… – He’s taking it with me next semester. – Okay, excellent. – No, I got an incomplete. I got an I, I got an I in astrophysics. – So, you learn that one
way to get a black hole is the end point of a high-mass star. But, high-mass stars are
20, 30, 40, 50 solar mass, but they lose a lot of mass en route. So by the time it’s done, you don’t really have 30, 40, 50, 60– – Solar mass. And so, but now we know for
a fact that we do have one, because we’ve watched them collide. – LIGO picked them up. – There are some people that
think they’re pure dark matter. That they don’t form
from stellar collapse, that they’re not the
death state of a star. That they’re an example of dark matter. – I’ll tell you this, just as a vote for science here, any time we have a new instrument that takes us into a parameter space where we have not previously looked, you discover stuff that nobody ordered. – [Chuck] Right. – Now, a well-designed experiment is thought up to test for something that you have an idea about, right? So, we think we will detect
colliding black holes. You do it, and oh my gosh,
it’s a kind of black hole we never even thought was there. Good science is that
which shows that maybe you were on the right track to begin with, but then opens up whole new places that you never even knew. So now the next generation LIGO, you’re gonna know how to… how to be better at what
it is for the new stuff. – And they’ll discover
60 solar mass black holes that will collide, and
say, damn, look out. Watch where you going. – It wouldn’t be the 60s, because the 60s would be
more powerful than the 30s. – Oh, right. – It would detect lower mass black holes, or the 30 mass black holes farther away. – Father away.
– Right? – Also, what about something we’ve never even thought of before? And when you think of the time Galileo first pointed
the telescope at the sky, he’s looking at Saturn, and
he’s looking at the Sun. He’s not thinking quasars and black holes, those things aren’t
even conceivable to him. And what we all really hope, secretly, is that we’re gonna discover
stuff in gravitational waves that we couldn’t possibly see in light. After all, 95% of the
universe is completely dark. – Right.
– Right, exactly. So, maybe there’s something out there that we have not even thought of, and that is what everyone
hopes for, to be honest. – Have to think about that. – [Chuck] It’s very cool, man. – [Janna] Some crazy noise. – Yeah, ’cause the stuff we
had no idea even existed, so we opened up new windows of observation onto the universe. Stuff that only talks
to us in ultraviolet, or in infrared. Until we had ultraviolet
or infrared telescope, it was not there. The birth call of the universe itself. – Hacaw! Hacaw! – The cosmic microwave
background, is microwaves. – Right. – That was a non-thing–
– You gotta see them, now. – Until we had microwave detectors. Nobody even talking
about the early universe, until you could do that. – Now, thanks to them,
we have Hot Pockets. – So, can you give us just
some final reflections on Einstein’s life, so
that if we wanna think, if we wanna live, you know how a religious person would say, I wanna live the way Jesus lived? And so, in the geek world, you say, I wanna live the way Einstein lived. Is there anything that you can tell us? – I really admired, above all else, Einstein’s independence
of mind and spirit. So, when everyone else was saying, oh, there’s something
wrong with this supposition that speed of light is a constant. That just makes no sense whatsoever. – Still doesn’t really make sense. – It’s really challenging. But Einstein accepts, and this is something
that’s often misunderstood in the idea of relativity. He accepts the rigidity of the constraint. That’s what he does. And then around that constraint, he sees where he’s free to
move, and it’s very limited. But from this tight
constraint, he makes this, it’s like squeezing a
balloon in one direction, and it blows out in the other direction. It leads to things that were
so much more magnificent than just allowing the speed
of light to not be a constant. – You know, it’s interesting
that you say that. I just thought of this now. The worst thing you can
tell an engineer is, build this, and there are no constraints, and spend as much as you want. – Right. – It’s like, oh, my gosh,
I don’t know what to do. But if you say, it’s
gotta be 30 kilos in mass, and it’s gotta use this much power, and it’s gotta fly in this way, and it’s gotta be made
of theses materials, go. Then, that’s where the creativity– – Absolutely.
– And so, for example, how do you get a telescope bigger than the width of
your rocket into orbit? How do you do that? And people say, oh, okay,
you just tell the engineers. They invent a telescope that–
– Unfurls. – [Neil and Janna] Unfurls. – Who would’ve ordered that?
– I didn’t think of that. – Who would’ve thought of that? – Necessity is the mother of invention. – You think of it because I didn’t let you do something else. I loved your reference to
Einstein in that context. It didn’t constrain him, it liberated him. – That’s right, exactly.
– So, I wanna ask you something, ’cause you
just sparked a question– – Make it quick, ’cause
we’re running out of time. – Out of time. Okay, so you said about Einstein, and light being a constant. So, when LIGO detected the pulsar, the neutron star–
– Oh, the neutron stars. – The neutron star. When they detected that, did they make the
detection and see the light at the same time, since
light is a constant? – This is why everyone
was incredibly excited. It might be, at the end of the day, the most highly studied
astronomical event in history. Basically, some huge fraction of the entire international
astronomical community turned telescopes, satellites,
all kinds of instruments, in the direction of the collision. – We do that.
– Yeah. It was a network.
– We good about that. – Astrophysicists. – We good that way.
– Just imagine. – Yo, I got your back.
– We got your back. It’s a very important thing. I’m in the middle of my
own research program, then, in the old days, it
would’ve been a telegram, now it’s that, oh, my gosh,
there’s an event over here, and I have my detector, which is different from your detector. Now we have 9,200 different
kinds of detectors getting different aspects– – Of that one event.
– One event. – Yeah.
– And you look at this part, and I look at that part, and I look at this wavelength, and you look at that wavelength. And you put that all together,
all eyes, all hands on deck. All telescopes, check it out. – It was really remarkable. So LIGO caught about a
minute in the recording, but all of these telescopes
combined caught a month. – Wow. – And it kept spiking in
different wavelengths. It would go in the
infrared, in the gamma ray, in the x ray. And so all these different
instruments had their time. – Wow. – Yeah, so that’s how we roll. – Collaboration. International collaboration.
– Got each other’s back. All right, guys, we
gotta shut it down, here. But, Chuck, always nice to have ya. – Always a pleasure. – Janna, even more nice to have you. We’ll find some excuses
to talk about Einstein and the universe just to get you back. – Love it.
– All right. You’ve been watching, and
possibly only listening, to StarTalk. I’m your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, your personal astrophysicist. And as always, I bid
you to keep looking up.

About the author


  1. Mr pearshapes advice to mankind;….do not trust your senses……thanks…why do you even bother talking to us

  2. neil, are you a physicist or a talk show wannabe ? oh, you're both, depending where we see you. You are stating to lose your quantum Neil, really.

  3. Great content and an even greater neutrino-panel. Cannot…stop. watching.

    Rumor has it that the Cosmos series will only go up to 8 with season 9 being canceled after it's announced. This is what happens when you give Pluto some s**t. 😛

    ಠ_ಠ It's a good thing I don't do stand-up.

  4. One of my modern time heroes discussing one of my all time favorite heroes! Mr. Tyson you are an inspiration!

  5. This comedian is very smart. The homo-sapien that you had on the last show was not good. Or maybe the next show.

  6. Hey Chuck, I put my phone in between my legs close like that, but usually quickly remove it! I know the science shows that the em radiation is not a threat but still freaks me out so close to the baby factory part supplier truck. Does it not freak you out a little?

  7. I read Janna Levin's book after I had booked a visit to LIGO in Hanford WA because I was in the area for the Eclipse. They were to shut down at the end of that week, and I felt lucky to have gotten a spot for myself and my sister and her grandson. It was the last tour before the shut down for making more improvements and the folks in the control room were celebrating with cake and punch (no champagne as it is on a Government reserve) and our guide was not willing to tell us what it was about. Some others on the our whispered "neutron star" loud enough for me to hear.
    I serve as a docent at the Mt. Wilson Observatory above Pasadena CA, and the Carnegie Observatories headquarters had their open house the day before the announcement that it was indeed a neutron star collision forming perhaps a new black hole. Carnegie built Mt. Wilson, even though they do not fund the observatory any more, so we share people for some functions still. Many of the astronomers at Carnegie knew what was about to be announced, and I had a number of them looking through the Lunt Solar telescope that I had been assigned as a volunteer to show sunspots to visitors there that Sunday. I asked several if they knew what was to be announced the next day, and none of them would divulge.
    It was a pleasant surprise to see the videos of the announcement, some of which took place right in the Library and featured some astronomers I had just talked to the day before. Good to know my experience of official silence in the name of scientific integrity was probably being repeated in some form all over the astronomical world that day.

  8. One theory about behavioral “tells” involves watching a person’s hands (rather than their face)… watching Chuck’s hands they move, fiddle, clasp, scratch his hair, etc. in the beginning while he’s listening. Then he seems to calm down, which as a viewer is more relaxing.

  9. Chuck is too distracting. He just doesn't help the show and takes away from the fluidity it should have. Neil should bring in an expert and together they could tackle a chosen subject.

  10. & bruh Dave: and yeah, what about celebrating All the Black People and culture that was stolen, that taught people like Einstein and invented a lot of products that they couldn't claim 🤔

  11. so glad Neil is back in the public square, we should believe women enough to investigate serious allegations made, while at the same time not jumping to conclusions and scapegoating someone.
    glad he's made out unscathed

  12. WHO WANTS TO HEAR A SPACE JOKE: What do u call a warm ousing ball of energy in the cosmic microwave background, A HOT POCKET!! get it hot pocket of energy am a genius🎤🎤😁

  13. 19:48 "They (the French) gave in. They couldn't resist for ever." That cracked me like a really REALLY dark joke xD. #Funwithstereotypes

  14. My knowledge on Blackholes just increased by leaps n bounds. I'm amazed. It was a brilliant and open discussion. Thank you all.

  15. One great thing about Neil here is that he for sure knows a lot of this stuff that lady is telling but he is questioning her and showing enthusiasm just like an astro Joe like you and me. He never tried to superimpose his understanding on lady's explanation. What a great host!

  16. In fact Einstein's GR plus SR can deduce QM by 8*pi*g*(mc^2/2)^2/c^4=2*pi*gm^2=ch.(m=2.17*10^-8,g=6.67*10^-11,c=299792458)

  17. I could be wrong but if we know without a doubt that in space there's tons of gravity waves and radiation and pulsars radio waves and ALL of these WAVES why can't we create a device that will pick up and receive all of these waves and use them as a power source just like a crystal radio make a big enough crystal radio that picks up all the levels of radiation and radio waves and converts it into electricity then we could travel wherever we want in space as long as we get closer or farther from the source and we can connect two other sources at any point we want

  18. Chuck really cracks me up. The science instills wonder and curiosity in me. The humor fits so perfectly with the discussion. Not over the top, and it’s relevant, so we’re not wasting time per se.

  19. Right after he hates on trump, the allegations began. Was all true fake news. Glad he’s back. True American hero and philosopher.

  20. Neil degrasse tyson what will you do if you fell in a black hole and what will you see from the inside of the black hole and what will you see as you fall into the black hole.?

  21. 19:40 True that the image of a hole is a total misrepresentation about what is a "black hole"… The French were right on this.

  22. With all the media events neil does, I dont know how he finds time to write papers and make those earth shaking discoveries he has and is making about the universe.

  23. 19:30 — "black hole" — With all the talk of how this word is regarded as offensive in French, and also just referring to it, I'm surprised Neil doesn't mention/know that the term was coined by John Wheeler as an INSULT, against the person who proposed this spacetime anomaly.
    EDIT: Wait, or was that "The Big Bang" that Wheeler coined as a joke?…

  24. Ehm Enstein and Atomic bomb…. ehm ehm and research on AI is another atomic bomb enjoy when you can or till you can ….bye bye future i am glad i am not most certinaly,withnes that ….funny cause we are moratl but scarry in large scale and fuckin crazy we are still here ´=D ´=))

  25. We don’t know what the 💩 we are?
    Where 💩 is?
    Where 💩 is going?
    Where we are within the 💩?
    If 💩 exploded was hypothesized: then that has failed. That’s #1

  26. All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, “What are light quanta?” Nowadays every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken. – Einstein

    So, what is photon? Neil? How photon can pass through water at same speed without slow down like a real particle? How photons can accelerate into air? What is the mechanism? Magic?

  27. For any fellow Buffy nerds, isn't 314 the number of the secret room where Dr. Walsh is creating Adam, her frankensteinian monster? If it is, does anyone know if the room number is related at all to pi, or if it's just coincidence?

  28. The resultant force of gravity is relatively weak, however, the component vectors that make up the net force of gravity are very strong.

  29. IMAGINE vongough buy himself and that there's no art anywhere ever and then paint is given to him as a gift he is as good as we know him but he has never painted would you really knock his first effort I think we're to hard on NASA WE SHOULD STOP SHUTTING OUR EINSTEINS DOWN OVER MONEY THEIR'S COMING A TIME WERE FEEL ULTRA DUMB WE DIDN'T GIVE SCIENCE MORE AND OUR TEACHERS WE WILL BE SORRY!RAW

  30. Einstein was a fraud, wife beater, communist and a racist Jew-supremacist. He stole the works of Heinrich Hertz, Philipp Lenard, James Maxwell, Josiah Gibbs, Ludwig Boltzmann, Friedrich Hasenöhrl and others

  31. This could have been explained in 4 minutes if the lady was just talking. Rest of this video is Neil just repeating what she said and the other guy saying some weird jokes. Cool video 🤦🏻‍♂️

  32. When the gravitational waves are created by the void hole , it's a drill effect. To bore holes would bounce and have to destroy a barrier to unite. If the are nothing but a cluster of positrons they would not make a wave as they merge. Rock on master TYSON!!










    ERIC …


  34. 18:46 For real, earlier today I was thinking, "Then what is the difference between a neutron star and a black hole, besides the obvious?"

    This is the first StarTalk video to have me burst into tears. Not helping is that I had a rough day anyway but I have for YEARS not understood what a black hole is, and now I think this video explains it perfectly. The size of the black hole, as explained by NDT in another video, is measured by the event horizon, but the event horizon, as explained here, is the edge of the shadow created by the actual black hole. There is nothing there. In another video, NDT explains that you would actually be conscious as you fell into the event horizon and before you die, you would actually be aware of not only your surroundings, but of quite possibly a whole other universe opening up before you, which can exist inside the black hole. (Btw, In his book "Death by Black Hole", NDT explains that spaghettification doesn't occur with every black hole, only smaller ones relative to your size; has to do with the size ratio of the black hole and you as a person.)

    Chuck Nice finally asks the question that no one else ever seems to ask, and that is: but when two black holes are colliding, what exactly is colliding. When Janna says, "Spacetime itself", I basically broke down. (On a rewatch, I still teared up — I think this is important stuff lol.)

    By the way, all shadows are 3-dimensional, but what we see and call a shadow a "shadow" is the 2-D image that represents the lack of light on, say, the ground or a wall. But the shadow itself is being cast like a beam of dark. So a tree in sunlight will have a 3-D shadow cast shooting perfectly straight from its leeward side (as it were) that you can, as Janna says, step in and out of without feeling anything.

    (What you would feel is the sudden lack of radiation emitting from the sun, which is why the shadow of the tree is cooler and more refreshing; has nothing to do with ambient air temperature. Source: startalk again!)

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