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Bryan Cranston
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Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
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Amaryllis Fox
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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Neil deGrasse Tyson on Competition in Science

Question: Are Americans still leading in scientific innovation?

DeGrasse Tyson:    If I put on my pure scientist hat as opposed to my American scientist hat, pure scientist hat, I say, if we don’t build the land, somebody else will and the science will get discovered.  If we don’t explore the moons, somebody else will.  It will get discovered.  That’s one of the hallmarks of science that distinguishes it from art.  In science, if you don’t do it, somebody else will.  Whereas in art, if Beethoven didn’t compose the Ninth Symphony, no one else before or after is going to compose the Ninth Symphony that he composed, no one else is going to paint Starry Night by van Gogh.  So science, when done properly, is never owned by one nation or another.  So… That’s what happened with particle physics in America.  We were building the largest super collider ever was, the Superconducting Super Collider, to be based in Texas.  Two hundred mile circumference ring, we accelerate particles, smash them and explore the conditions that were common in the early universe.  That budget got cancelled by congress as we were winding down out of the Cold War.  So no longer was the physicist [IB] the way they were after the Second World War going into the Cold War because it was the innovations of physicists that created the bomb in the Manhattan Project.  Physics basically ended the war.  So, without a war, certainly without a Cold War, there is a question as to what the value of the Super Collider was to the nation.  Now, I don’t know how many people you get to admit that fact but my [read] of history is that when nations spent huge amounts of money on things, it’s hardly ever for the pure value of exploration, there’s usually secondary motives.  Primary motives that are presented secondarily like military, like economics or some other sort of factor that matters to national security.  So what happened?  Europe took up the task.  So, at CERN, which is the acronym for the super collider, the European consortion super collider in Switzerland, they now have the most powerful collider in the world.  They are the ones who are going to be probing the conditions near the Big Bang, not us.  So my pure scientist hat is I don’t care who does it as long it’s done, long as somebody does it.  The American scientist in me, ‘cause I’m born and raised in America and I care deeply for this nation, is I kind of prefer that we did it because I know we can.  If we weren’t wealthy or if we had… I’d say, you know, now is not the time.  Let some other wealthier, more powerful nation do it than us.  But is it time for me to say that?  Are we really that poor?  Are we really that… without means of a 3 trillion dollar budget to spend?  It’s about the balance of that portfolio of spending that makes a nation, how much do you spend on art, health care, poverty, research and development, the veterans, military.  You layout the portfolio, that is the country that you live in.  Three trillion is enough to buy, as far as I’m concern, anything we want, anything we choose to.  And so, I wish it was here because if we make it here, the opportunities arise here, the engineering opportunities, the engineering solutions to problem we never seen before, that then create a climate, a landscape of innovation that… I remember growing up, America had, like, the longest bridge, the longest tunnel, the fastest planes.  And for awhile there, I thought, well, it’s just [bragging] rights, what are you doing.  And then, I realize, in order to create the extremes of these technologies, you have to innovate.  You can’t just step there, it’s not… it’s hardly ever just make it a little longer.  This was longer so it’s more stress on the structure, there’s… so we have to invent something new to accommodate this need or this desire.  And there, [you know,] the seeds of innovation

The astrophysicist puts on his "pure scientist" and his "American scientist" hat.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
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How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

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How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
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