Ask Your Science Questions by Video

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Want your own question answered? Put it in a video and post it here on YouTube. We'll have NOVA scienceNOW's experts answer selected submissions. This is a rare opportunity, so come up with questions, make a video, and send it in.
Video questions will be selected and posted on the Cosmic Perspective page on the NOVA scienceNOW website and then be answered by our experts throughout the season of NOVA scienceNOW, via text on our website, with the last question being answered September 20, 2009.

Submission Guidelines

1. Submission deadline is September 15, 2009.

2. Make a submission asking a question using video via YouTube. Upload your creation as a response to our Ask The Astrophysicist video promo on the NOVAonline YouTube Channel (Tag your submission & be sure to include the tag "ask_ astrophysicist")

3. Please keep your submission to three minutes or less.

NOVA scienceNOW does not claim ownership of the submitted materials you post to YouTube (collectively, "Submissions"). In addition to the YouTube Terms of Service, by posting, uploading, or submitting your video you are granting NOVA scienceNOW permission to post your Submission on the NOVA scienceNOW website in connection with the Ask The Astrophysicist.  

No compensation will be paid with respect to the posting of your Submission on the NOVA scienceNOW website.  NOVA scienceNOW is under no obligation to post or use any Submission you may provide and may remove any Submission at any time in NOVA scienceNOW's sole discretion.

By posting your Submission to YouTube in response to our Ask the Astrophysicist video promo, you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights necessary for you to post, upload, input or submit your Submission, including, without limitation, obtaining all necessary clearances for persons, places and materials contained in your Submission.

NOVA scienceNOW is a trademark of the WGBH Educational Foundation.

NOVA scienceNOW is produced for WGBH/Boston by NOVA.

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I am a communications engineer and was stationed at the White House during my Air Force career. I completely enjoy your NOVA programs and support PBS. Please keep up the fantastic work and thank you for what you all do.

I look forward to your program every week. It is exciting, human, creative, informative, funny. Why oh why can't it be on all year long? So far my PBS station in WI, WLEF Park Falls, only has it in the summer.

Dear Neil Degrasse Tyson, I have a science question. In the science fiction movie “At the Earth’s Core” two explorers drill to the earth’s core in a giant rock-drilling machine, here’s a link There they find a mysterious underground world whose sky is illuminated by the underside of the earth’s mantle layer. We know there is life at the bottom of the sea and in underground caves where there is no sun light present, but can there be an ungrounded world deep with the earth where the sky is illuminated by magma providing the necessary light for plants to carry out photosynthesis?


Dear Dr. Tyson

Humanity has two problems regarding our CO2 emissions.
First is that most people simply can't visualize their CO2 footprint and its relation to the environment. This really impedes their ability to sign up for immediate action.
The second is that too many people assume a technological solution can be developed yet have little appreciation that technology always adds its own embodied energy + carbon footprints.

What if we stopped trying to visualize our CO2 footprints as some huge diffused volume of gas and instead visualize a standard volume of biomass solid form with equivalent carbon content.
From the U.N. figure that each American's CO2 footprint is 20 tons, the carbon content is 5.45 tons. By crude reckoning, that same carbon is present in about 14 tons of dry grassy / leafy biomass. It would have a packed volume of 27 cubic yards (20m³) or fill a volume 9 ft (2.74m) on each side. This yearly shed size volume is now very visualize-able especially as each ton of CO2 gas has about the same carbon as 1m³ of biomass.

Now what if we rethink the method of CCS, by going after carbon in the carbon cycle instead of carbon released close to our CO2 emissions. Nature constantly does the heavy lifting of converting solar energy + CO2 + water + nutrients to myriad solid forms of biomass in photosynthesis all around us. In time, the carbon cycle decomposes this same biomass back to CO2 + water vapor + soil nutrients and interestingly considerable lost heat energy.
We could partially offset some of our CO2 emissions by burying vast quantities of biomass if we could first deem some of it to have no local decomposition benefit. This could include algae blooms, much urban yard waste, power-line / road side cuttings or even special purpose farms just to grow algae. If we buried this offset biomass in biomass only fill-sites the carbon would be mostly locked up. The anaerobic decay would release methane in very predictable rates so it would be captured for DPW / municipal use. Harvesting algae blooms has the additional benefit of mitigating the oxygen loss for sea life.

Humanities' current 30 billion ton CO2 emissions could be represented as 30 billion m³ or 30 cubic kilometre volume of biomass. The U.S. portion would be 6 cubic kilometres which is about 1/1500 of the volume of the Grand Canyon. Ideally, biomass would always be buried locally to minimise embodied transport energy. A city of 100,000 would take 50 years to fill a hole 1km sq, 100m deep.

Though it would also make good sense to make biochar, or make compost in thermophilic systems or home heating systems using thermophic compost process, or methane from bio digesters etc, these options while interesting are secondary to the goal of CCS.


NovaNOW program on planets OUTSIDE the solar system. Show explained that several hundred planets were discovered by the "star wobble" method. Other planets were discovered by "star dimming" method.

Have any "star wobble" planets been confirmed by "star dimming"?

Any "star dimming" been confirmed by "star wobble"?


why am i getting tired of ndt in every cameo


Since seeing a NOVA episode about the reversal of the earth's magnetic poles, and the exposure of our planet during the time of the reversal to high levels of UV radiation, I have wondered whether any evolutionary biologists have tried to correlate the time periods of these historical pole reversals with sudden species extinctions or developments. It seems obvious, yet I have never heard of anyone looking at evolutionary jumps with this as the engine of change.

Hi Jose,

We are asking for video questions because we thought it would be an interesting way to communicate with fans. We already do text submission for our segments on our website.



Send in your question as a video!


Nova is an Excellent show that I looking forwarded watching on a regular basis. Thank you! Jim


Are a persons thoughts any type of energy? If so, where does this energy go after the thought is complete? If not, how can thoughts be created?

Since you can use X-Rays to explore holes in diamonds - make great wire dies - it may follow that even in flawless diamonds there is structural imperfection. My guess is light is bent not only by the carbon structure but also the imperfections.

Doctor Tyson -

How do dimples on a golf ball function? Would a different shape, size, density, or depth yield different results? Are dimples effective at lower speeds? Thank you.

Does the speed of light remain constant through the manufactured diamond? Does the speed of light remain the same in a Black Hole?


Dear Doctor Tyson..

The thing that makes June 23, 1912 is the birthday of mathematician Alan Turing.

why or how can a fly find a hole in a screen window that is up 11 stores high and be only the opening of a dime???????


Great Show Dr T! What was the wild goose chase with the perfect date about? Why was there a copyright problem with youtube? The story on the DUDE was cool but I never could see the video. Strange. How about a segment on global cooling? Why is the press hiding the fact that the Artic ice is growing and Alaskas glaciers are growing for the first time in 250 yrs? Whats the correlation between sunspots and Earth temperature and why don't we hear more about solar weather driving our weather instead of co2. I'm confused. Help!

if a diamond slows down the speed of light, might it also slow down time?


Why does every other website owner now ask for a "video" question???

Is it not more straight forward and logical to provide a written question medium?

Not everybody have a video camera attached to a PC.

What I'd like to know about science is...Why the U.S. government aloud huge corporations to bribe politicians. And to aloud such corporations to falsely make or produce products that only benefit the pockets of investors, the factories and the bribed politicians. For example...The three large auto makers that managed to destroy the electrical trains and mass transportation systems decades ago. According to Mr. Chomsky, this corporations were found guilty of a conspiracy. But they were not made to repair the destruction that they caused.

I would say this is a political science question. Every other mean of information is asking what can the citizenry do to alleviate our present energy crisis. Why not bring back the electrical mass transportation system using renewal energy, not nuclear energy and its toxic by-product?


on what planet is the daly crater 99km crater at 66.4 south,23.0 west


Dear Dr. Tyson,

Oops! After a convincing demonstration of the amazing thermal conductivity of diamond (worthy of Feynman) you go on to posit the use of diamond as a window for spacecraft. I think not! How many viewers caught that one?

By the way, I am still working my way through Death of a Black Hole.


Fred J Abrahams


June 23rd, 1912: is the birthday of Alan Turing, the scientist that deciphered the Nazi Enigma coding machine during the 2nd World War. He worked at Bechly Park in England. Unfortunately, he commited suicide shortly after the conclusion of the war for being 'black-listed' as a gay man. A loss to the scientific community and the world.


is now 1/infinity????