What if Everything You Know is Wrong: Bob McDonald at TEDxVictoria 2013

Video Statistics and Information

Captions Word Cloud
are you kidding good afternoon everyone thank you for coming back we were all worried that once we let the audience out at 4 o'clock it wouldn't come back so thank you for being here I am in a very privileged position to do what I do i watch science happen and then I write stories about it for radio or television or print but I feel like a surfer on the cutting edge of our knowledge as we penetrate our ignorance and we emerge into enlightenment that's what I do for a living i watch science happen and then watching science happen and this is also a significant year for me 2013 is my 40th year of doing that can you believe it well but it's not me it's taught me a couple of things that science makes you see the world in a way that goes beyond your intuition and beyond your five senses it's a pair of glasses that you put on and when as soon as you look around everything is different and it has shown us that the way we actually see the world is wrong and it's through science that we're starting to get it right and that is why I would like you to ponder the question what if everything we know is wrong the reason I'm asking that is because throughout almost all of our history here on this planet we have been wrong in how we've seen it so our lineage as Homo sapiens goes back well the whole lineage of upright humans goes back about 6 million years and back then somebody and we don't know who had an idea to change our locomotion we changed from being knuckle-walking quadrupeds to upright walking bipeds and when we did this by the way I don't think that was somebody's idea that's not how evolution happens there was an evolution of our pelvic joints that allowed our legs to point straight down instead of being permanently bent but this revolution enabled us to look up our head is now a metre or so above the ground our eyes are pointing forward not down and our hands are free so that we can carry things as we walk and we did walk we walked out of Africa took a long time took thousands of generations and actually took millions of years to do that and as we did we built tools with our opposable thumbs and we emerged out of Africa into Europe and Asia we spread ourselves around the world what a remarkable journey but during this whole time as we explored our planet the way we saw it was actually incorrect because if you think about the way you see the world right now you just go outside and look around it looks pretty solid does it move just sits there you walk in any direction doesn't matter which way you go if you walk long enough you will come to an ocean so we live on an island the sky looks like this big blue dome over our head actually it's two colors half of it's blue half of its black and it rotates around and the Sun is stuck to the blue side and the moon and the stars are stuck to the black side that's what it looks like and it's no no wonder why the ancient Hindu model of the earth was that this is how you see the world to your five senses of course the Hindu ask what's the world standing on what's holding it up so why not put it on the world's biggest animals so the elephants are standing on the back of a giant sea turtle that is swimming in that endless sea that surrounds us that's not too bad that's how you see it with your five senses and when those elephants get uncomfortable I guess that's an earthquake how far we have come how far we have come it took so much science it took so much engineering so much technology so much philosophy to go from this to the fact that we live on a ball we live in a ball it doesn't look like a ball but there are as many stars under your feet right now as there are over your head and not only that it moves it moves there was a fellow named Galileo got into a lot of trouble for saying that but it moves do you know that since this time yesterday you've been all the way around the world yeah the world took you with it and you're moving pretty fast Victoria which is right here Victoria is moving right now around the center of the earth at about the speed of a jet airliner so if the world was to suddenly stop turning right now all of you would launch out of your seats and hit me at 800 kilometres an hour I would not be a good day for any of this and then we're whipping around the Sun we're going around the Milky Way galaxy the galaxy's part of an expanding universe wow that's astounding it's astounding that we know this that we figured that out and the pinnacle of this of seeing ourselves in its true light came in 1968 with this historic photograph taken from the moon and just take a second to look at this because there we all are all of us all of humanity all of our history everything that's ever happened here all of our six million years on this plan is there you also notice how flat the moon looks get close to a ball it looks flat but there we all are hold up your thumb if the earth disappears behind your thumb you're at the right scale for this picture from only the moon which isn't that far away you can hide the earth behind your thumb it's small but it's alive and so have we figured it all out oh and the the last picture that was taken by a human being by the way was this one on Apollo 17 the very last mission to the moon on their way back they got a full earth they took this shot and look what's in the middle of the picture Africa where we first stood up when we first started making tools by the way only 24 human beings have seen the entire Earth in one shot you cannot see this today our great Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and all those who've been up at the International Space Station there are only 400 kilometers up that's like Keir to Kelowna and from the space station you cannot see the entire Earth on this scale the space station is about hey that's what you see you can see the curve but that's about it you can't really get away from it before you can see the whole thing we can't do that today so only 24 astronauts who went to the moon are the only humans to see this so this picture was the last time that the earth was photographed using an actual camera in a person's hand hand the hand the same hand that got three six million years ago so have we figured it all out does that mean that everything we know now is right not quite it turns out we once thought we had it all figured out and it's very dangerous to do that to say oh yeah I got it all figured out here's a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope and this is a very deep deep space picture so every dot in that picture is a galaxy not a star so that means that every smudge there has about a hundred billion stars in it if not more but you'll also notice towards the left side of the picture that there's a circular distortion it looks like somebody's holding a lens up in this picture and actually there is a lens there it's called gravitational lensing and this is where gravity bends light Einstein predicted that and he's since been proven right but in order to get gravity you have to have an object you need a planet or a star or even just a cloud of gas you need something to make that gravity gravity just doesn't happen by itself the problem is there's nothing that we can see there that's making the gravity that's distorting that light there's something there but we can't see it it's called dark it's matter and it's called dark matter when scientists don't know what something is they say dark that scientific speak for hello so it turns out that dark matter actually comprises about a quarter of the universe twenty five percent of the universe is made of dark matter not only that those galaxies are being pushed apart by the expansion of the universe now we know the universe expands we know that for a while but only within the last decade or so we've discovered that not only is it expanding it's speeding up there's something pushing it outwards even faster going against gravity and we don't see it so they call it dark energy dark matter dark energy these two things are out there in the blackness we don't see them and you know something they make up more than 95% of the universe more than 95% of the universe is made up of stuff that we haven't got a clue what it is which is why the people at the Large Hadron Collider got so excited about finding the Higgs boson because it could introduce a whole new level of physics that we'll look at that stuff and we're trying this right here in Canada as well to try to find dark matter and figure out dark energy so we're still in the dark about how we see the universe when you look up on a dark night you say well look at all the stars that's not all that's there the blackness actually contains more than what you see in light so we are still more ignorant than we are knowledgeable our cutting edge still has a long way to go so here we are on our planet we become a super species and we know that ever since the 1800s when we started burning fossil fuels that the planet is warming up we are the first species to actually change the chemistry of the atmosphere and that's a scary thought so we know that it's going up there's no debate about that in the scientific community the so-called debate is among industry people and politicians but it's not among the scientists so what are we going to do about this what are we going to do about this fact that we are now changing the planet itself as we look at ourselves we now show up from space you can see humanity from space this was a project called the black marble that was done by satellite but when Chris Hadfield was up on the International Space Station when he was looking down they had quite a remarkable view now this is a very speedy animation sped up movie of what they were seeing and just look at how much of the planet we have covered the white flicks by the way or lightning but all the orange ones are us so we're just down there our fires are now visible from space our fires are so bright we're just down here burning up we're burning everything up it's amazing what we're doing and you know in nature the things that burn the brightest are the shortest-lived the things that burn the brightest are the shortest-lived and here we are burning really really brightly can we keep doing this can we keep doing this what is our future as we look ahead as we emerge into that darkness well I have a plan I have a plan let's have a party I want to have a party but I would like to hold off on this party for just a little while I would like to hold off on our party until we have doubled our time on this planet so we've been here already for six million years how about if we have another party in six million years from now can we have the party in the year 6 million 2013 right could we do that can we reach can our species make it for another 6 million years when we look the same will we have evolved into something else I don't know when we still be on this planet will we even be in this dimension I don't know but could we make it and if we want to make it we have to start planning for this party right now and there are a few things that we can do right now to plan for this six million year old party one let's stop giving our garbage to the future let's stop giving the future our plastic our nuclear waste our toxic chemicals that we're putting into the soil and the water let's stop giving them our carbon dioxide our heat let's just stop that right now okay let's cut it off okay let's stop giving them our garbage second let's ask ourselves a question the question is this can we keep doing this and this can be anything that we do today anything in your life from the time you get up in the morning till the time you go to bed can we keep doing this for six million years can we continue to burn up and eat up everything on the planet can we continue to cut down for us faster than they're growing back can we continue to force species to go extinct at a rate that hasn't been seen since the dinosaurs disappeared can our numbers our own numbers exceed twenty billion or more can we do that and if the answer is no to those questions then we have to think of alternatives but we can do that because we are smart we're really smart and we're good at making tools so for example energy do we have six million years worth of fossil energy on the planet No okay what's gonna last for six million years well there's six million years worth of sunlight that's going to be around six million years from now a lot longer than that and in fact there is more energy falling out of the sky every year from the Sun then all of our fossil fuel reserves we're just not very good at catching it yeah we have solar panels and solar fun but they're not very good let's get better at that let's just get better at capturing the energy that's around that we don't dig out of the ground we can do that maybe it's in the form of a big satellite in space where you can put it up where the Sun shines 24/7 gather it up there beam it to the ground on a microwave do you know that one of those satellites and by the way this has been already engineered and thought about one of those satellites could power all of Victoria Vancouver and Seattle one satellite could do that but we're not doing it we're too busy getting giddy over the fact that we can make a lot of short-term money burning stuff that we dig out of the ground so this is just technology it's knowledge in terms of our own numbers that's a little more difficult because that's not just a scientific issue that's a political issue in a social issue but we could start with that by perhaps giving women equal rights around the world that might help so there are a lot of things that we can do but along the way along the way as we come up two answers to these questions we have to keep the big picture we have to keep that six million years in mind we have to keep the single planet idea in mind if we don't if all we think about is ourselves if all we think about is the economy if all we think about is our old country or old family we are narrow minded and in fact we're as narrow minded as we were when we were just looking around on the ground we've got to be open-minded which means keeping science alive having a scientifically literate society we don't have to become scientists but no science and know that what we don't know exceeds what we do know so that we can make intelligent wise decisions we can do this and we need to do this because this is it this is it okay this is it there are probably lots of other nice planets out there then we're gonna find but they're gonna be really far away and out of reach we can't even go to the moon for God's sake this is it so let's deal with this one first before we start thinking we can go running off somewhere else we can do that but we still have a long way to go you know we can't even predict the weather beyond a week we don't know when the next hurricane or typhoon or cyclone is going to hit we don't know where the next volcano or it's pretty gonna happen we still have a lot to learn but we're smart I believe we can do it see you in six million years
Channel: TEDx Talks
Views: 612,513
Rating: 4.2881179 out of 5
Keywords: education, bob mcdonald, cbc, tedx talk, Science Education (Field Of Study), The National (TV Program), ted talk, journalist, CBC Radio One (Radio Station), science journalism, tedx, space, ted talks, Wonderstruck (TV Program), ted, science, tedx talks, quirks & quarks, TEDx, ted x
Id: B7UVfqtfQBc
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 17min 58sec (1078 seconds)
Published: Wed Dec 18 2013
Reddit Comments
Related Videos
Please note that this website is currently a work in progress! Lots of interesting data and statistics to come.