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Sir Martin Rees, Sunday, 6-17-12 June 18, 2012

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Sir Martin Rees, Sunday, 6-17-12


Guest:  Sir Martin Rees.  Topics:  Science in our society, space development, political leadership, education & more.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed back Sir Martin Rees to discuss his new book, “From Here To Infinity: A Vision For The Future Of Science.” Please remember that if you order this book from Amazon using www.amazon.com/Here-Infinity-Vision-Future-Science/dp/0393063070/ref=onegiantlea20, Amazon will make a contribution to The Space Show/One Giant Leap Foundation.  Lord Rees started our discussion by talking about the amazing things we have learned about the cosmos in a very short period of time.  He also explained that this new book is based on a series of lectures he did with BBC Radio.  We also talked about science reporting in the media but we focused on teacher issues, both in the UK and the U.S.  Another topic covered in his book was religion and science conflicts. An example cited was creationism.  We also talked about space as a spiritual experience.  We then talked about commercial space development with companies such as SpaceX, the high risk averseness of NASA, and the fact that private companies can take on more risks.  Lord Rees expressed the view that for human spaceflight for sure, we will see more and more of it being done by the private sector. Our guest was asked about science on the ISS & he said it was hard to justify the ISS on the grounds of science.  Jack called in to ask talk about the outstanding history programs on the Royal Society website, http://royalsociety.org/Podcasts-of-Library-events.  He also mentioned famous sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, www.amazon.com/Quicksilver-The-Baroque-Cycle-Vol/dp/0380977427.  Jack’s call was followed by John in Atlanta who talked about spirituality, consciousness, religion and the work of Roger Penrose.  This led to an interesting discussion about the search for the unified theory and the difference in perspective with cosmology and fundamental physics.  Our next topic was in response to a note from Fred about political leadership and space/science issues.  Out last topic of the segment dealt with the Kepler Space Telescope (KST) and the search for extraterrestrial life.  We asked questions about the impact on cultures were life off Earth discovered.  Sir Martin had much to say about this subject.

In our second segment, we started out talking about science fiction.  Sir Martin is fascinated by the ideas in science fiction so don’t miss his comments on this subject.  Harold in Los Angeles asked if we might be slowing down in our rate of discovery of new science & space information.  This is another terrific discussion.  We then talked about the Earth’s population growth and the intellectual shift to Asia away from the west.  Lord Rees talked about the need to balance out science and development in the under developed regions, focusing on Africa for example  Later in the segment, we talked about bringing space resources back to Earth & our guest said the economics of doing this are still up in the air.  Space settlement and returning to the Moon came up as did private missions to Mars and the asteroids.  Our guest suggested that one way Mars missions might be possible in the future, but the probability of doing it near term & funding such a mission remains somewhat low at this time.  Our guest also mentioned genetic modification for those that do settle off Earth but thought the ethics of doing it on Earth would make it unlikely to happen here.

If you have comments/questions for Sir Martin Rees, please post them on The Space Show blog.