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Welcome to Cosmic Perspective

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Our host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, takes a  broad view of all things earthly and astronomical. He wraps up each episode of NOVA scienceNOW with his personal reflections--what he calls "the Cosmic Perspective." These pieces are usually inspired by stories in the show.

On this page, you can watch and comment on these videos. We've posted the Cosmic Perspectives from previous seasons of NOVA scienceNOW, and we'll update with more pieces this winter, the day after each new NOVA scienceNOW program airs.

Let us know what you think. 

Please Note: While you are free to leave questions, this is not a Q&A forum where Neil will be directly responding to questions.

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34 Comments

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Dear Dr. Tyson,

Writing for the second time to compliment you on your work. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Issac Asimov Memorial Debate last evening (Main Room). I found the discussion very interesting and you "rode herd" on that unruly group of Physicists quite well! I would have liked to ask a question but as I was sitting among some somewhat elderly people I did not want to make them stand so I could get out. You were very gracious allowing people to have pictures taken with you at the end. I saw one person showing you a tattoo of an equation I believe (Embarrasing if it is ever proven to be incorrect!). I was also thrilled to get your autograph as well as the other members of the panel. I hope to see you at future events.

Best Wishes,

Michael Levy

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Thanks to Neil deGrasse Tyson for the great shows and information.

My comment: Could Neil do a show on just being human - for instance driving our own cars and using our brains to be active. There's a scene on a recent show of Neil sitting in a robot driven car eating a sandwhich - anyone like to do the little things in life to keep us physicaly alert and fit instead of wanting robots too? Could there be a show on how a person is proud to provide for himself doing the little things keeping active and mentally alert? Why would we want to hand over our existance to robots?

I guess this will be a big debate in the near future...

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The most recent episode was amazing. When I saw the preface I thought it would be boring compared to the others. But it's one of the best episodes yet. The last few segments just blew my mind completely. We created bacteria using basic elemental material, to make a clone dreamed up by a man. I only have a few questions, were there any errors in the code? Did they code the 'useless' segments of code that aren't expressed?

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Cosmic perspective, where did we come from?...great work people, very impressive work by Nova, Neil and crew.

Ideas I've had, I'd love you or your colleagues to play with:
-big bang producing very small to very large size tears in time-space fabric...very small to very large black holes.
-small black holes creating rotating stars and solar systems.
-galaxy size black holes creating spiraling galaxy's.
-black hole matter consumed over our universe's life...our missing dark matter?...going where?...seed matter for a new universe/dimension?

and again, good job, you people must love your work...it shows.

You are the best,
thank you,
Larry Norrena

Dr. Tyson,
I enjoyed the recent Nova Now show: 'Where We Come From' because the approach was well organized, fresh, comprehensive,and inspiring. It was easy-to-understand without being sophomoric. Familiar and age-old questions were posed in the show, but the answers were often given in easy-to-understand analogies. For example, the question of creation of life at the fundamental level of chemicals, was compared to creation of a special choux-type of pastry. As with the chemicals, the basic pastry ingredients are known, but how to put them together, the recipe, is shown to be the key element in creation of both life/pastry.
This show would be a wonderful classroom teaching tool.

Dr Tyson and everyone else at Nova Science Now
I just watched Nova Science Now and it was interesting about the lice and when humans lost their body hair - my comment or puzzled question is why did humans over the evolution NOT lose hair on top of the head,armpits and pubic area.
Thank you

I watched tonight's episode on the "smartest animals". On one of the interesting tidbits that was posted, it stated that that elephants and dolphins were the only animals that were able to recognize their reflections in a mirror.

I must, from personal experience, offer the following personal experience which will hopefully highlight, once again, that bird brains are rather grand.

I am owned by a Goffin's Cockatoo (parrot). Yes, as a pet owner, I believe he is very smart. This isn't because he is my feathered child though - I have another one and this guy's different.

In terms of awareness, my husband and I decided that it would be funny to put one of the fruit stickers on his beak --- delicately so he wouldn't know what we had done, or rather, strategically place it in his blind spot (as a prey animal, he doesn't have stereoscopic vision).

We laughed, but he didn't notice. At least not until I decided to see what he would do if we put a mirror in front of him. Well, it took him a few moments but soon realized that the reflection was his and then took his foot and ripped off the sticker with all the might that an embarrassed animal could.

I thought that from past experiences with him and the mirror that it showed that he had self-awareness but this little experiment cemented my belief.

Thanks for the opportunity for promoting adding parrots to the category of animals who can identify their reflections!

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My son and I watched, "How the Brain Works" last night...excellent show as always. The profile of David Eagleman and the experiment conducted while the subjects were in free fall got me to thinking about race car drivers. Although his experiment did not result in a definitive answer, I will remain wondering whether time slows down for drivers who race for lengths of time at 200 mph. As spectators, especially those with a smattering of science knowledge, we know events are changing for the drivers in mere fractions of seconds. But after an event, say a wreck, and in subsequent interviews, the drivers are able to describe everything around them as though it happened in slow motion. Admittedly, there is some relative motion at play here, but wrecks involve major changes in motion. I look forward to much more of this type of research by Mr. Eagleman. Perhaps he can attend the Daytona race in just over two weeks.

Dr. Tyson,
Just a different look at at the universe. Have you ever wondered at how the map of the universe looks simular to the
neuro map of the human brain? And yes I see different shapes in nebula. LOL
Never stop exploring and teaching and giving. You and your colleagues are my cartoons. No disrespect. All of you are what Television should be.
Waiting for your next mind bender.
Thanks to all of you.
Repectfully
K.B.Nendel

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Great shows! And now I understand the why of synesthesia. Your shows have been Tivo'ed!

And do we really want to live forever as a P1800?

Thanks Neil!

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How The Brain Works is an astonishing work.I'm very encouraged by the inroads scientists are making in these fields.Your program is very intelligently put together.Kudos to you all.Thanks so much for your efforts.Sincerly,Eddie Haworth

Awesome as usual. I was surprised that Mr. Tyson is interested in biological innovation as well as astrophysics updates.

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Dear Mr. Tyson and Nova Science Now Staff;
I had just finished watching the episode " Can We Live Forever." Truely facinating information on this but some of us don't want to live forever, we just want to make our present life worth while. I have watched one other episode and I have truely enjoyed the Nova Science Now series. I say ke3ep the info coming, we can never stop learning about our planet nor our bodies. We need to learn in order to feed our minds. Mr. Tyson has a soothing voice that keeps my ears perked up and tuned to what he has to present. your staff that works behind the scenes must make you all proud. I hope this show lasts for a long time. Keep it up, I'll watch.
Merle

Loved your episode tonite. Watch PBS almost all the time. But I definitely love what your show involves. The NASA Themis project is probably best item to come about at a vvery important time. Please do a story on Plante X if you would. Otherwise great shows. Plus I liked the make things smaller episode also...

Thank You

Wonderful program. Please keep it up. North America would be better if more such was available and watched. Thanks again.

Hello NOVA Science Now Staff.
I have a question I've been pondering for a while now.
It's known that space is limitless, When the Big Bang happened it shot matter throught the galaxy at a rapid rate.
Seeing space is endless, is there still "Virgin" space where the Big Band has'nt reached yet? If so how black and void would that be.?

Thanks
Tom

Ken, The speed of light in a vacuum is about 186,282 miles per SECOND, not hour. It's over 670 million miles per hour.

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It is great to see Dr. Tyson back with Nova Science Now. His ability to explain and present complex ideas to the average IQ is remarkable. I also enjoy the wit and humor of the show. (The cameo appearance on Stargate Atlantis was appreciated too!) I look forward to seeing more of these wonderfully produced episodes that are so enjoyable to watch and yet teach us about cutting edge science at the same time.

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ken the speed of light is "186,000 miles per SECOND,its a common mixup, but think for a moment just how fast that is,and how far just 1 light year is in distance.we have only just begun!

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ken the speed of light is "186,000 miles per SECOND,its a common mixup, but think for a moment just how fast that is,and how far just 1 light year is in distance.we have only just begun!

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Dear Dr. Tyson and Nova Science Now Staff,

Just finished watching the new show "can we make it to Mars?", Hats off and well done. The show is great, the pace the editing and the down to earth explanations and it was great to hear from astronauts and scientists and their perspectives.

I must say Dr. Tyson you are a lot braver than I and I now know that until they can solve the food issue I can't really consider going. I was laughing as I watched your face as you tried some of these "old" foods. I just can't imagine a trip of several years or even months of mediocre food. Best of luck and Godspeed to those that are trying to solve this problem.

Your comments at the end of the show about bravery and the unknown had me nodding in agreement. I live in Virginia just a few miles from NASA Langley and have friends that work there. Not far away is Jamestown and the replicas of the ships that brought the colonists. Every time we think about the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, the unknowns in colonial times, how long it took to cross, and the small size of the ships, we are amazed that anyone came at all. Your comments apply equally well to those that colonized the Americas.

Once again congratulations to all involved with the production of the show and I look forward to more quality shows that not only inspire new scientists, but open our eyes to the magic of modern science in engaging and informative ways that non-scientists can enjoy.

Sincerely,
Paul Robert
Portsmouth, Virginia

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Dear Dr. Tyson
my son and i just watched the "can we make it to mars " episode on Nova SCIENCE NOW ,While watching the rover on the martian surface, we remembered talking about why the rover is not equipt with a blower or fan type device to keep dust off the solar panels as not lose power ,which almost killed a previous rover we believe . (if not for a wind storm that cleared the panels)Is there or will there be something to prevent a problem with dust blocking these solar panels,the lifeline to these amazing explorers we send into our solar system and beyond. anxiously awaiting your answer, Two of your biggest fans
thanks in advance Frank(50) Sean(9)

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THank you for asking for our opionions on this broadcast:
I feel scientists and engineers should use their skills to clean and green up our planet and serve the people and earth and water systems that have been neglected to build a better life rather than pollute up our solar system and litter up other planets.
Sincere thanks,
Stephanie Hersh
our hope is in the Lord

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Dear Dr. Tyson,

I recently saw you commentary on Nova SCIENCE NOW where you were discussing the Aurora. In that commentary you said that solar particles swirl around the planets at "up to a million miles per hour". I'm curious how anything, particle or otherwise can exceed the speed of light, which I understand to be 186,000 miles per hour, considerably less than a million miles per hour.

What am I missing?

Thanks

Ken Despain

Alan Turing was a pioneer in computer theory, wasn't he? I guess that's why the computers thought that would be the perfect date. The only thing I could think of when they said 1912, was when the Titanic sank.

Sirs,
Love to watch Neil explain often complex facets of science.
In a recent program he discusses how, theoretically of course, what happens as a body falls directly through the center of the earth to reach the other side and how long it would take. I thought it would have added extra interest if Neil had also told that that time is exactly what it takes a body to go around the earth in low earth orbit. Furthermore, under the same assumptions of zero air resistance and no friction, that is also the time it would take for the body to go "chordwise" through the earth (-- eg, from LA to NY). In fact, I believe that was the subject of a doctoral student's serious thesis on a possible future mode of long distance transportation, using magnets and evacuating the air to minimise resistance.
Aubrey Stone

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The world of science is under attack from un educated people with an agenda. They wish to return the world to the dark ages of witchcraft and fear of demons. Some of this is political because stupid people are easier to lead into a life of consuming with a belief that you are powerless to change the world. I have always loved Astronomy but I don't know enough about it to refute in logical, simple terms any moron (God worshiper) can understand, why they are wrong if they say the Sun travels around the Earth. The Geocentric view of the universe. I've seen videos on YouTube of people saying everything works the same with the Earth at the center, you just cannot see it because you cannot get far enough from the Earth to see it is in the center. I post an example of such a bozo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZb_Y95uCtI&feature=related . I know from space flights that the Earth is not the center of anything, but what do you say to these people that is inarguable?

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Neil,

Great show last night!! Two items:

1) How you can tell me light *ALWAYS* goes in a straight line to "infinity" w/o returning and then announce on TV that a black hole bends light back into itself without those two concepts being a logical (not philosophical) contradiction is truly amazing. Similarly, I suppose it goes "straight in" to an "infinitesimally small point" never to return (even if a point is allegedly round) also, right? I mean this is TRULY amazing. Did anyone ever consider black holes when this so-called immutable law of science about light going straight out and never returning was measured, determined & declared? I thought science was all about working hypotheses. Weren't you yourself talking about being open-minded last night? Do those previously determined immutable laws of infinity take into account the observer? If "we" (bundles of atoms) look at (polarize towards) the sun, we see it from the "outside looking in" (you know, that round little yellow thing we see on a sunny day) and if we turn around 180 degrees and look toward the night sky (polarize away from the sun), we see the same phenomenon from the "inside looking out", i.e as if we live inside the sun on a planet that is in the electron cloud of the orbit of one of its hydrogen atoms. Did somebody say a white hole is the far side of a black hole and visa versa? Are we really so certain that, to us the observers, the Universe is not a reflection of its smallest (functional) building block, the hydrogen atom?

2) The item about algae sparked a wonderful thought that I hadn't considered before. As you probably know, contamination of invasive species of algae affects even "controlled" indoor algae growing facilities (a friend of mine has one such pilot project in VT, supported by the VT Dept. of Ag and the Univ of VT.)

Another friend has a completely "novel" (read: patented w/no challenges) sub-micron-sized particulate removal system that uses alternating current to attract both the positive and negative sub-micron-sized particles into the machine, causes them to collide in an "inelastic collision" (they don't come apart), thus reducing their charges. In addition, and perhaps just as important, once stuck together, they are now a combined particle that is larger than either of the two that collided. That is to say, "they grow", eventually large enough and neutral enough to be captured in a media filter. That one section of the segment on your show about collecting various algae from the open air in the car gave me the hint to pursue this possible opportunity. Thanks again. BTW, if you'd like to do a segment on this most important improvement to indoor air quality since the window, please let me know.

Thanks again.

P.S. to Dave Eger, below: Several teams are working on feeding the post-biodigester sludge to algae for dinner to fatten them up, then squish out the lipids to become biofuel (gas and diesel) then feed the cellulosic leftovers to the farm animals or maybe the algae in the biodigesters. Voila! By using what we've got more effectively, theoretically at least: No more pollution into the water supply, including heavy metals and phosphates.

john

What if, instead of spending energy to pump sewage, using dangerous chemicals to sterilize it, and then dumping whatever is left into the ocean, we were able to compost it into usable fertilizer, capturing energy in the process? I believe that this could play a big role in shifting human civilization away from dependancy on fossil fuels, currently used both for making fertilizers and producing heat, while also reducing pollution of the oceans.

Just as Neil said in the episode I watched today about people avoiding bad news, I think that people in our society have tried to ignore their waste, whether it be feces or product packaging. Nature has no concept of waste. Everything has it's place in the chain, which is what allows nature to continue sustaining life. The hubris of modernity leads humans to believe that they are better than nature, and therefore separated from it. This dooms us to create non-sustainable systems.

Only by confronting the bad news that we've been putting aside or burying for so long will we be able to close the loop and make our civilization sustainable. This same theory applies to all of the able bodied people who lack opportunities to participate in the systems that maintain the world. We have more than enough people and more than enough wasted resources to work with, the challenge is how to organize them to produce usable goods. Your show is a great starting point for getting messages like this out, and inspiring the kind of thinking needed to make these changes happen.

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Has anyone thought to look to the six "curled" dimensions put forward by string theory to see if maybe what we see as dark matter and dark energy might be coming from there?

What if recombination never happened?

Dear Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and everyone else at Nova Science Now,

I have waited all winter and spring for your show for the new season and it's the highlight of my week!

I just wish that the season would last longer. But of course I have Nova to fill my craving for great science T.V. in the fall.

I love the Cosmic Perspective. It is a great way to end a show that I don't want to end.
Remember when you were a kid and you felt that emptyness when your favorite show ended? Well, I know it's silly, but the Cosmic Perspective takes care of that feeling and get's me exited for the next weeks show.

Thanks for such a great show!
Dan Lee
Ann Arbor, Mi.

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I'm wondering if we know the physics of the Bermuda Triangle and the Devil's Triangle. It seems more than a coincidence that they are on opposite sides of the earth. I've heard this could be a worm hole or a small black hole, but I know you can't go through the earth to get there.

Some people have said that this is where the magnetic poles might have once been. I thought the poles just flip end to end. I didn't think that they moved sideways. Has anyone looked at the magnetism in the rocks in the triangles?

Lots of questions I know. I'm very curious and love science!

You have the best show on TV.

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June 23, 1912 is the birthday of Alan Turing early math/computer whiz.