Neil deGrasse Tyson on Stem Cells

Question: Is stem cell research at the forefront of medical innovation?

DeGrasse Tyson:    This… All this talk about investing in medical breakthroughs, predominantly, through the National Institute of Health, that‘s the primary sort of government agency for medical research.  What I caution is… Fine, we all want to live healthy.  That’s not even [here] to debate.  But keep in mind that if you take a tour through a hospital and look at every machine with on and off switch that is brought into the service of diagnosing the human condition, that machine is based on principles of physics discovered by a physicist in a machine designed by an engineer.  Nowhere in that equation was there a medical doctor or a medical researcher.  And so, you can’t just fund one branch of scientific inquiry, you have to fund them all.  Because these advances… For example, the MRI came from principles of physics discovered by a physicist who had no interest in medicine.  That wasn’t his point.  That wasn’t what drove him.  Yet, it has this marvelous application that we could diagnose, release probe inside your body without cutting you open first.  So the cross pollination of disciplines is fundamental to truly revolutionary advances in our culture.  And so, you can’t fund any one thing without the other, [unless] you believe you were right on top of the solution when, in fact, you’re not. 

The astrophysicist speculates on the next great scientific breakthroughs.

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.

USA ranked 27th in the world in education and healthcare—down from 6th in 1990

America continues to tread water in healthcare and education while other countries have enacted reforms to great effect.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The American healthcare and education systems are known to need some work, but a new study suggests we've fallen far in comparison to the rest of the world.
  • The findings show what progress, if any, 195 countries have made over the last twenty years
  • The study suggests that economic growth is tied to human capital, which gives a dire view of America's economic prospects.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • There are 2 different approaches to governing free speech on college campuses.
  • One is a morality/order approach. The other is a bottom-up approach.
  • Emily Chamlee-Wright says there are many benefits to having no one central authority on what is appropriate speech.