Brian Cox tips off Session #8, 'What's out there'.
Below, a shot of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), going online shortly in a quest for Higgs particles (amongst other things...)
Some notes -
Ernest Rutherford said "All science is either physics or stamp collecting" - that is, you can discover particles, but unless you understand the underlying reasons why, you've only collected stamps, not done science. The LHC is built to understand. Cox shared an anecdote - when funding was sought for the LHC, Margaret Thatcher said "if you can explain, in language a politician can understand, what you guys do [with the LHC], you can have the money". So they used a party metaphor - imagine a room full of people at a party. Someone unpopular can move through easily, particles will move out of the way to let them pass. Conversely, someone popular will get clogged in people who will gravitate to them. Known particles of matter are believed to be heavy because they collect theorized, but as yet undiscovered, particles - Higgs particles. The LHC is meant to help find them.
"What does particle physics mean to me? It's given us a wonderful narrative, a creation epic for science - at least as valid as the creation myths of the peoples of the high Andes, and frozen north."
Brian Cox's creation myth of science:
Below, Brian in the LHC, from Google images
Robert Ballard, geo-physicist and explorer, goes next. He asks,"why are we ignoring the oceans?"
"NASA's one year budget would support NOAA's efforts for one thousand years. Why are people afraid of the ocean? Or uninterested in 72% of the earth's surface? Most oceanic discoveries were found by accident...they were looking for one thing, but found something else. And by the way, there were more ships exploring the southern hemisphere during Captain cook's time."
50% of the US lies beneath the sea. And we have better maps of mars than we have of this part of the US mass.
The greatest mountain range on the Earth, 42,000 miles long, is under the water. Almost a quarter of our planet is a mountain range we hadn't even visited until after we went to the moon. The Rift valley is the "boundary of creation". Photons cannot reach the average depth of the ocean (12,000 feet).
Along the Galapagos rift they found heat vents and pipes - a pipe organ of chemicals coming out of the ocean. massive heavy metal deposits, large commercial grade ore along the range. But that discovery was dwarfed by the life forms they found. New life forms - Clams with different organs, that had been taken over by alternate biologic systems using chemosynthesis rather than photo synthesis.
Developed a new system of telepresence to replace the up down 5hr commute of the submersible - automated submersibles began discovering vast undersea edifices they dubbed the "Lost City"...just off San Torini, in a caldera nearby, they found phenomenal vent systems just 2 miles from where folks were sunning themselves on the shore, completely unaware. And more and more - undersea brine pools and methane volcanoes. They've discovered our past as well - the Bismarck, the Yorktown, Titanic, Phoenician ships laden with amphorae, ships carrying pre-fab stone temples.
Now they have a boat - decommissioned US naval ship the Okeanos Explorer (below)
Okeanos Explorer will be run like a emergency command center - live hardwired into the 12 universities with oceanic research departments - the boat will be a command center for feeding information from the sea into our minds...
I will not let an adult drive my remote underwater submersibles...they don't have enough video gaming experience..but I will let a kid drive.
We want the children involved, because when you get a jaw drop, you can rewrite that mind...
Why are we not looking at moving out onto the sea? Why do we have programs to colonize the moon and mars? Why are we not looking at colonizing our own planet when the technology is at hand?"
Q. are we ready to spread the human meme underwater?
A. Yes. And we will preserve as well - are building under sea museums - immersionpresents.org, streamed live to visitors online...
Next up, a 3 minuter - Dialog in the Dark - you enter the experience with a dog and a guide - the only way to learn is to encounter...
Then comes Paul Stamets.
This one made my head hurt. Still trying to figure out what happened. if you do, let me know.
"Mycyleum infuses all landscapes. Grand molecular disassemblers of nature. We are most closely related to fungi than any other kingdom. we share the same pathogens. 8 miles of mycyleum cells can fit in a single square inch of soil. They are microfiltration membranes...essentially externalized stomachs and lungs. Extended neurological membranes. Mycyleum is the earth's internet - membranes broken will be repaired by the system. It is system sentient - if you walk a mycyleum field,it will leap up to capture debris after your path. The Internet, then, is a pattern built on a previous proven system."
Fungi gives off Oxalic acid, which crumbles rock, and creates soil...
Fungi, he suggests (and the fossil record seems to support) inherited the earth after the impact and extinction event - they use radiation as a source of energy, like plants use light. They grew over twenty feet tall (see above). Forests of fungi.
In Eastern Oregon, apparently, lives the world's largest mycyleum colony - 2200 acres in size and one cellwall thick...
Fungi are gateway species that open the door for other species - spores attract insects, insects lay eggs, larva are born, birds come, bring seeds and fertilize creating a green field...
We should save old growth forest as a matter of natural defense - the fungi that grow within house incredibly powerful anti-viral pathogens
We need to engage with mycyleum to save the world."
Joshua Klein - on crows, co-existence, and vending machines for adaptive training
"Crows aren't just surviving with human beings, they are thriving with human beings. And adapting in pretty unusual ways. He shows a video of a New Caledonian crow using and improving tools to retrieve foods. In Tokyo they've learned to drop nuts into traffic so cars can crack then. Then they stand by the sidewalk until the light changes so they can go out into traffic to retrieve the food safely. They are learning - from situations then from each other. And they teach each other as well.
The vending machine as training tool:
They can be trained - what about trash removal? search and rescue? he's excited by possible of interacting with other species and finding ways to co-exist and mutually support - rather than exterminate..."
Richard Preston, author of Hot Zone, now 'Wild Trees'
"Coastal Redwoods grow up to 380 feet tall, and the oldest living ones may be 2500 years or more old (contemporaneous with the Parthenon). In recent times (the 70's through the 90's), 96% of the US coastal redwood forests were cut down...about 4% of the primeval forest remains in a string of small parks along the coast of Northern California.
The redwood seem to exist in their own time. They are constantly in motion, upward, articulating and filling redwood space over redwood time. Standing at the base you can't know the tree - like a mouse looking at the foot of the elephant - the bulk is above you. It was believed that the canopy was a 'redwood desert', but when the first free climber scaled a giant, they discovered a wildly biodiverse 3-dimensional redwood labyrinth, where you lose the ground and the sky - hundreds of feet above the ground.
...Children don't seem to have the same fear of heights as humans [laughter]...
A redwood is a fractal. They "reiterate", that is, limbs will grow out then spawn a new redwood at the end of the limb which in turn grows up. If we reiterated like them, our fingers would sprout independent humans. They also spawn buttresses - limbs that grow across between trunks and re-enter, connecting and supporting. If portions of it rot, it sends new roots into the rot to extract the nutrients. They are finding crustaceans living in the soil off the redwood canopies - the same that baleen whales feed off in the oceans. What they are doing there, no-one knows."