Science Matters with Lawrence Krauss: Meteors, Galaxies and Fossils


TED SIMONS: IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN TIME FOR WORLD REKNOWN PHYSICIST AND SCIENCE WRITER LAWRENCE KRAUSS TO GRACE US WITH THE LATEST IN SCIENCE NEWS.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: AND IT'S A THRILL TO GRACE YOU.

TED SIMONS: LOOK AT YOU CLEAN SHAVEN WHAT HAPPENED THERE.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: YOU WERE MAKING REMARKS.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S ALL IT TAKES.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: THAT'S ALL IT TAKES.

TED SIMONS: LET'S GET GOING HERE AND DON'T HAVE A HECK OF A LOT OF TIME THERE WAS A FIREBALL IN THE SKY IN THE UPPER MIDWEST, I MEAN PEOPLE FROM PITTSBURGH TO MADISON WISCONSIN FROM MISSOURI UP NORTH OF ONTARIO SAW A FIRE IN THE SKY.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: IT’S UFOS. OKAY, IT WAS THAT PHENOMENON HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. THERE ARE BITS OF MATERIAL, METEORITES THAT ARE FALLING TOWARD THE EARTH, EVERYDAY IN FACT AND IF YOU ON A GIVEN NIGHT IF YOU LOOK IN THE SKY FOR AN HOUR YOU WILL SEE A SHOOTING STAR. NOW THAT WAS THE FIREBALL THEY SAW.

TED SIMON: HERE IT IS AGAIN.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: OKAY, BOOM AND DID YOU SEE IT BUT YOU HEARD IT IT SOUNDED LIKE A LIGHT BULB POPPING.

TED SIMONS: I HEARD A SOUND A LOT MORE THAN THAT.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: DEPENDS WHERE YOU WERE THE POINT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING IS JUST A SMALL BIT OF MATERIAL IS HITTING THE ATMOSPHERE AND BURNING UP THAT WAS PROBABLY MOST METEORITES ARE SMALLER THAN A METER THIS ONE WAS PROBABLY 2 OR 3 METERS ACROSS. THIS THESE THINGS HAPPEN PROBABLY A FEW TIMES A YEAR. THERE IS ALMOST 100 TONS BETWEEN 50-100 TONS OF MATERIAL IS FALLING ON THE EARTH ALL THE TIME.

TED SIMONS:A LITTLE THING 2 – 3 FEET WIDE… THEY SAY IT CAUSED A MAGNITUDE OF A 2.0 EARTHQUAKE.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: AND I THINK HE WAS PROBABLY SOME FRACTION OF A KILO TON IN THE FORCE. YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THE MOTION OF THE EARTH AROUND THE SUN IS 30 KILOMETERS PER SECOND SO 30,000 METERS PER SECOND. WHEN THEY COME IN THE ATMOSPHERE THAT IS THEIR AVERAGE SPEED AND WHAT IT TAKES WHEN IT COMES IN THEY BURN UP AND DEPOSIT ALL THAT ENERGY BOOM.

TED SIMONS: AND A FIREBALL CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG IS ANYTHING THAT IS BRIGHTER THAN VENUS.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: THAT’S WHAT THEY DEFINE IT AS. ANYTHING THAT IS LOOK LIKE ITS BRIGHTER THAN VENUS IN THE SKY AND THERE IS A WHOLE SPECTRUM AND ONES THAT ARE MUCH BIGGER THAN THIS AND ONES THAT ARE MUCH SMALLER. IN FACT THE ONES THAT ARE BIG THE WAS BIG 65 MILLION YEARS AGO THAT WIPED OUT THE DINOSAURS AND HAPPILY THEY DON'T HAPPEN THAT OFTEN BUT THIS THING HAPPENS A FEW TIMES A YEAR.

TED SIMONS: THAT IS THREE FEET WIDE CAN YOU IMAGINE 30 FEET WIDE OR 300 FEET WIDE?

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: A CRATER AND IF YOU HAD ONE A KILOMETER ACROSS IT WOULD BE ENOUGH TO KILL A DINOSAUR.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT WELL LET'S MOVE ON BECAUSE WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME ALREADY HERE. LITTLE TALKATIVE OVER HERE. THE HUBBLE TELESCOPE WHICH IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS RELATIVELY SOON CORRECT.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: GOING OUT OF BUSINESS AND BEING REPLACED BY THE JAMES WEB SPACE.

TED SIMONS: BUT IT FOUND AN OLD GALAXY.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: SEE THE NEAT THING IS THAT JAMES WEB TELESCOPE CAN SEE THE FIRST GALAXIES EVER FORMED AND IT'S MUCH BIGGER THAN THE HUBBLE AND MORE LIGHT COLLECTING POWER AND CAN SEE MUCH FURTHER BUT WHAT THE HUBBLE USED IS SPACE ITSELF AS A LENS. WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT GRAVITATIONAL LENSING. MATTER BENDS LIGHT AROUND IT AND USED THAT EFFECT FROM A LARGE CLUSTER OF GALAXIES TO MAGNIFY. SEE THAT OBJECT IN THE SQUARE THAT'S A DISTANT GALAXY WHICH WE WOULD NEVER SEE IF SPACE ITSELF HAD MAGNIFIED IT WOULD HAVE APPEARED LIKE A SMALL DOT OF LIGHT AND GALAXY FORMED 500 MILLION YEARS AFTER THE BIG BANG WHICH IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE FIRST GENERATIONS OF GALAXIES TO FORM AND THAT IS THE KIND OF THING THAT THE JAMES WEB SPACE TELESCOPE WILL BE LOOKING FOR BUT HUBBLE USED SPACE AS A GIANT TELESCOPE MAGNIFIED AND TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IT LOOKS LIKE A DISK ALMOST LOOKS LIKE IT'S SPREAD OUT AND HOW DO GALAXIES FORM? DO THEY FORM EARLY ON? ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS WE WILL BE ABLE TO ANSWER AND I THINK IT'S AMAZING HUBBLE WAS ABLE TO USE SPACE TO MAKE IT A MORE POWERFUL TELESCOPE.

TED SIMONS: WHY DO GALAXIES ALWAYS LOOK LIKE DISKS?

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: NOT ALL ARE DISKS. IN FACT IN 5 BILLION YEARS OURS WILL NOT BE A DISK ANY LONGER BECAUSE WE ARE COLLIDING WITH ANDROMEDA AND WHEN THEY COLLIDE IT WILL FORM A BIG ELLIPTICAL GALAXY, SO THERE ARE A LOT OF GALAXIES THAT INTERACT WITH OTHER GALAXIES. THE PRISTINE ONES ARE DISTANT AND TURNS OUT YOU CAN SHOW THAT WHEN MATTER COLLAPSES THERE IS INSTABILITY FROM A DISK BUT WOULD NOT BE STABLE IT TURNS OUT IF IT WAS NOT EMBEDDED IN A SPHERE OF DARK MATTER AND WHY WE THINK AMONG OTHER THINGS MOST OF THE GALAXY IS MADE OF DARK MATTER.

TED SIMONS: IT ALWAYS DARK MATTER. ONE MORE THING A FOSSILIZED HUMAN BONE FOUND, WHY IS THAT A BIG DEAL?
LAWRENCE KRAUSS: THIS IS A BIG DEAL BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE A MODERN HUMAN AND LOOKS LIKE AN HOMOSAPIEN RATHER THAN NEANDERTHAL AND THAT IS FAR EARLIER THAN MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HOMOSAPIENS LOST AFRICA. NEANDETHALS LEFT EARLIER AND THE HOMOSAPIENS WAY AFTERWARDS IF THIS IS CORRECT AND THERE IS STILL CONTROVERSY IT WILL MEAN THERE ARE PERHAPS MANY WAYS OF HOMOSAPIENS THAT LEFT AFRICA AND THIS COULD BE AN HOMOSAPIEN AND THAT LOOKS MORE LIKE AN HOMOSAPIEN THAN AN NEANDERTHAL. IT MAY NOT EVEN BE RELATED TO US AND MAYBE HAVE DIED BEFORE THAT WAVE FROM AFRICA.

TED SIMONS: BASICALLY THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT CAME OUT A LITTLE EARLIER THAN WE THOUGHT PEOPLE WERE COMING OUT OF AFRICA.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: ABOUT 100,000 YEARS AND LEARNING ABOUT THAT AND HUMANS INTERACTIED WITH NEANDERTHAL. AND I KNOW MICHAEL CROW IS PROUD OF 3% NEANDERTHAL BECAUSE HE’S GOT 23 AND ME AND IN ANY CASE WE ALL PROBABLY HAVE PART NEANDERTHAL AND LEARNING OF THE EARLY HISTORY WE ARE BEGINNING TO DO IT AND AS WE DISCOVER THE THINGS THE PICTURE CHANGES.

TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION ON THAT CAN YOU DO CARBON DATING ON SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: NOT CARBON DATING BUT OTHER WAYS OF DATING. ONE OF THE WAYS THEY DATED WAS THE BURNING OF THE FLINT IN THE CAVE THEY CAN TRY AND DATE THOSE MATERIALS.

TED SIMONS: OH, I GOT YOU.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: IN THE PROCESS AND ALSO LOOK AT THE LAYERS THAT IT'S IN AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF INDEPENDENT METHODS TO TRY AND DATE THAT AND THAT IS I HAVE TO SAY THEY SENT THE SAMPLE ABROAD FOR FIVE YEARS TO BE STUDIED BECAUSE IT WAS A PRETTY DRAMATIC CHANGE FROM WHAT MOST PEOPLE THINK ABOUT WHEN THEY LEFT WHEN HOMOSAPIENS LEFT AFRICA.

TED SIMONS: THIS COULD’VE BEEN A CROWD THAT JUST DIED OFF.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: EXACTLY NOW I THINK THE CONSENSUS MAY BE THAT HOMOSAPIENS WERE CONSTANTLY LEAVING AFRICA AND EVENTUALLY SOME OF THEM SURVIVED AND KILLED OFF THE NEANDERTHALS.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU, THAT’S THE NICEST THING YOU’VE EVER SAID TO ME. YOU HAVE A COUPLE EVENTS COMING UP, TALK TO US ABOUT THAT ONE AND ABOUT A FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: WE’RE HAVING A BIG THE ORIGINS PROJECT I RUN IS HAVING A BIG WORKSHOP ON AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS AND NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SPECIALTY NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND A PUBLIC EVENT FEBRUARY 16 WITH SECRETARY WILLIAM PERRY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE UNDER CLINTON AND INVOLVED IN DEFENSE FOR 40 YEARS AND PROBABLY THE MOST RENOWN EXPERT ON NATIONAL DEFENSE, NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY AND BY THE WAY HE HAS SAID AS YOU KNOW CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF SPONSORS OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS WHO SET THE DOOMS DAY CLOCK I QUOTED HIM WITH THE DOOMS DAY CLOCK BECAUSE HE SAID THE CURRENT TIME IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN ANY TIME DURING THE COLD WAR AND THAT IS A SURPRISE BECAUSE DURING THE COLD WAR WE HAD 70,000 NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND WE WILL TALK ABOUT THAT NATIONAL SECURITY AND OTHER THINGS FEBRUARY 16 AT TEMPE CENTER FOR THE ARTS.

TED SIMONS: AND WE HAVE ONE MORE THING YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH TOO WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: DOING ANOTHER EVENT WHICH IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ASU IT'S A CELEBRATION OF SCIENCE AND REASON WITH MY FRIEND SAM HARRIS AT THE COMERICA CENTER ON FEBRUARY 23.

TED SIMONS: YOU GUYS SIT ON THE STAGE TALKING.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: CHATTING LIKE YOU AND ME SAME THING.

TED SIMONS: THAT EXCITING HUH.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: NO WHERE NEAR AS EXCITING AS YOU AND ME HOW COULD THAT BE.

TED SIMONS: YOU’VE GOT A GOOD POINT THERE, YOU ARE A SCIENTIST. ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE YOU.
TED SIMONS: WEDNESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS WILL JOIN US TO DISCUSS A REPORT RELEASED TODAY ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS AGAINST STATE LAWMAKERS AND WE WILL HEAR ABOUT EFFORTS TO USE E COMMERCE FACING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS WEDNESDAY 5:30 AND 10 RIGHT HERE ON ARIZONA HORIZON. THAT IS IT FOR NOW I'M TED SIMONS THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US, YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. º ARIZONA HORIZON IS MADE POSSIBLE BY FRIENDS OF THE PBS MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION, THANK YOU.

Arizona State University Physicist Lawrence Krauss joins Arizona Horizon to explain some of the exciting discoveries recently made, including a fireball that lit up the sky in January, the telescope that will be replacing Hubble and a 180,000-year-old fossil of a human jaw found in Israel.

 

Meteoroid Over Michigan

On Jan. 16, people throughout Michigan reported seeing a bright shooting star light up the sky. Though it was initially described by some as lightning or a small explosion Krauss says the fireball was actually a meteoroid. According to Krauss, this sort of phenomenon is not uncommon; every day the earth is pelted with small meteorites that are typically smaller than a meter in diameter. The reason this particular meteoroid was so bright, says Krauss, is probably because it was two or three meters in length. The rule of thumb when identifying lights in the sky, says Krauss, is this: if the light is brighter than Venus, it’s a meteor.

 

Hubble’s Replacement

Hubble Space Telescope will soon be laid to rest as NASA takes on a new piece of equipment to guide them through space for the next decade. Krauss says the James Webb Space Telescope is designed to see the formation of the first galaxy in existence. Hubble was designed with a lens that could see farther into space, and with advances in technology, James Webb is expected to see even more.

 

Fossilized Jawbone Discovered in Isreal

An ancient fossilized human jawbone discovered in Israel last week is estimated to be around 177,000-190,000 years old. The most startling fact of this discovery is where the fossil is its location, Krauss says, because until this discovery, it was widely believed by scientists that homo sapiens didn’t leave Africa between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.

This discovery raises the idea that homo sapiens left Africa in waves, Krauss says, although it’s not known yet which waves ended up surviving and which ended up dying. In order to date the fossil, Krauss says scientists will date the burning of the flint in the caves where it was found.

 

About Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss is the founder and director of the ASU affiliated Origins Project which hosts discussions with other scholars about mankind and its origins. The next event will take place on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. and will cover national security and the threat of a nuclear war with one of the leading authorities on U.S. Foreign Policy, William J. Perry. More information on The Origins Project can be found here.

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Lawrence Krauss: Physicist, Arizona State University

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