Neil deGrasse Tyson

I went to see a question and answer session with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted by St. Petersburg College and WEDU at the Palladium in downtown St. Petersburg last night. Dr. Tyson hosts the show NOVA ScienceNow and he's been featured on talk shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report several times. Very funny guy, his focus is on quantum physics and astronomy.

Two best parts of the program: Someone asked Dr. Tyson about his thoughts on UFOs and extraterrestrials and he started talking about the way the mind looks for patterns and tries to associate the unknown with the known. Optical illusions are the best example of this, but he said they should really call them "brain failures." Reminded me of Fail Dogs for some reason, some... completely unrelated reason.

In closing he spoke about genetic differences and the chance that there is life on other planets. The top four elements that make up our bodies (oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon) are some of the most abundant elements in the universe. Combine that with the way life formed by heat and water, the number of stars and planets and the likelihood of aliens seems inevitable. The problem as he described it is that they could be so much more intelligent than us they would never want to talk to us.

Think about the slight genetic difference between apes and humans. Apes throw their shit, eat bugs off of each other and at most can use sign language. We dominate the earth and send unbelievably complex satellites into space. Now that's only with a 2% difference in genetic code. Think if there was just a 2% difference between humans and aliens, the aliens would be so much more advanced than us we would probably have trouble even comprehending their presence. He mocked a meeting between humans and aliens, "the aliens would look at our advancements and say 'Oh, quantum physics, how quaint!'"

Reminds me of the South Park episode "Cancelled".