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課程來源:TED
     

Brian Cox談為什麼我們需要探索者

Brian Cox: Why we need the explorers

 

 

 

 

講者:Brian Cox

20104月演講,20106月在TED Salon London上線

 

翻譯:陳盈

簡體編輯:洪曉慧

簡繁轉換:劉契良

後制:陳盈

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於此演講:

在艱難的經濟時代,我們的科學探索計畫 — 從太空探測器到大型強子對撞機都首當其衝地要遭受預算削減。Brian Cox解釋受好奇心驅動的科學如何有利於科學本身、有利於推動創新,且有利於深刻地審視我們的存在。

 

關於Brian Cox:

Brian Cox是一位物理學家,他有兩份工作:一是在歐洲粒子物理實驗室裡研究大型強子對撞機,二是向公眾解釋深奧的科學。他是曼徹斯特大學的教授。

 

為什麼要聽他演講:

Brian Cox受聘於曼徹斯特大學,並在日內瓦的歐洲粒子物理實驗室裡進行超環面儀器實驗,研究大型強子對撞機的前部質子探測器。他是曼徹斯特大學的教授,任教於高能物理組,也是皇家協會的研究員。

 

他還成為英國媒體中向公眾解釋物理學的一個重要人物。留著搖滾風格的髮型,魅力四射,他是英國電視和電臺回答物理疑問的專家,解釋一些讓人頭疼的概念。(如果你在英國,可以在收看他的The Big Bang Machine節目)。他是2007年電影《日光》的科學顧問。每週五,他都在BBC6電臺的早晨節目Breakfast Show中回答有關科學的問題。

 

「如果人們不理解科學是什麼,不知道科學家是幹什麼的,那麼他們可能就會覺得全球暖化只是一種看」法。

 

Brian CoxSeed 雜誌上說的話

 

 

[TED科技娛樂設計]
已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Brian Cox談為什麼我們需要探索者

 

我們活在艱難且富挑戰性的經濟時代,這是毫無疑問的。在經濟困難的年代,首當其衝遭殃的,我想就是肯定是此時處於最前線的投入到科學上的公共開支,特別對於那些出於好奇心的科學和探索。因此我想在大概十五分鐘內讓你們相信,這樣做很可笑很愚蠢。

 

為了給大家現場感,我想讓你們看看。我並不想讓接下來的幻燈片成為TED史上最糟的幻燈片。但這有點亂。(笑聲)但事實上這不是我的錯,它來自衛報,實際上它很好地顯示出科學的成本有多少。因為如果我要講繼續向出於好奇的科學探索投入資金的事,我就要告訴你們那要花多少錢。這是一個叫做「找出科學預算」的遊戲,這是英國政府的開支。大家看看那裡,每年大概6200億投入到科學上的預算實際上。

 

看看左邊,那裡一些紫色的圈,還有黃色的圈。撥給科學的預算是其中一個黃色圈,在那個大的黃色圈旁。每年大概33億英鎊,總開支是6200億,用來支付英國所有的支出。從醫療研究,太空探索就是我在日內瓦工作的歐洲粒子物理實驗室,粒子物理、工程學,甚至人文學科資金都來自撥給科學的預算,就是33億,那個很小很小的黃色圈,在螢幕左上方橙色圈旁邊,這就是我們在討論的。順便要說的是,那個百分比和美國、德國、法國的差不多,經濟體中獲公共資助的研發大概是GDP的百分之0.6。這就是我們在討論的。

 

我首先想說,並且直接從《太陽系的奇跡》中得出的,是我們對太陽系和宇宙的探索,向我們展示那無可名狀的美麗。這是土星附近Cassini太空探測器發回的圖片。那時我們已經拍完《太陽系的奇跡》,所以這不是在那個系列裡。這是Enceladus衛星的圖片。那個巨大的白色球體,角落上那個,就是土星。其實就是圖片的背景,那月牙狀的就是Enceladus衛星,跟英國幾個島一樣大,直徑大概是500公里。小小的衛星讓人心馳神往且異常美麗的地方。順便要說的是,這圖片並沒有處理過,是黑白的,直接來自土星軌道。

 

你們可能從邊緣那裡看到什麼是美麗,淡淡的,如煙如霧,一團一團,從邊緣處升起。我們在《太陽系的奇跡》裡就是這樣看到它的美麗的圖片。我們發現那些淡色的霧團其實是冰噴泉,從這顆小衛星的表面噴出來,很美麗迷人。但我們覺得激發噴泉的作用過程需要衛星表面之下有液態水的湖。重要的是,在我們的地球,有液態水的地方就有生命。因此,找出衛星表面下的液體、液態湖的有力證據,離地球七億五千萬英里,確實讓人驚訝。我們在說的,本質上就是太陽系裡面生命的一個棲息地。我可以說那只是一張圖,我想給大家看這張。這是另一張Enceladus的圖片,這是Cassini在Enceladus下面飛的時候,所以是很低空的飛行,離其表面只有幾百公里。再來一張冰泉噴射到太空的照片,非常漂亮。

 

但在太陽系裡,那不是生命棲息的首選地方。很可能是這裡,木星的衛星,Europa。同樣,我們要飛到木星系才能看到這顆衛星,和絕大多數的衛星一樣。不是一塊大石頭,而是一顆冰衛星。我們看到的是木衛二的表面是一層厚冰,厚度可能有一百公里。但是通過調節木衛二影響木星磁場的方式,並看看冰上的裂縫,在圖上可以看到,看裂縫是怎樣移動的,我們可以很有力地推測有液態海洋環繞木衛二整個表面。所以在冰下有一個液態海洋壞繞整顆衛星。我們覺得那可以有幾百公里深,也許是鹹水,意謂著在木星衛星上的水比地球海洋水量總和都要大。那個木星附近的小衛星很可能是發現生命存在的衛星,或者地球之外我們知道物質最可能存在的地點。這是個美麗的重大發現。

 

我們對太陽系的探索告訴我們,太陽系很美。這可能還能回答你們會問的一個最深奧的問題:「我們是宇宙中獨一的生物嗎?」探索和科學還有沒有其他用處,除了讓人吃驚之外?有的。這是一張很出名的圖片,在我第一個平安夜拍的,1968年12月24日。那時我大概八個月大,這是阿波羅八號拍的,那時它繞到月亮後面。在阿波羅八號上看去的地出,很有名的圖片,很多人說這是拯救了1968年的圖片。那是動盪的一年,巴黎的學生暴動,越戰處於白熱化。這張圖片受關注的原因Al Gore在TED說了很多次,也是可以證明的,就是這幅圖片是環境運動的開端。因為這是我們第一次看到我們的世界並非堅固、不能移動的、不可摧毀之地,而是一個很小,看起來很脆弱的世界,懸在漆黑的宇宙之中。

 

在宇宙探索上,還有關於阿波羅計畫的一點未經常被提及,就是它的經濟貢獻。我是說,當你提出它很棒,是個很偉大的成就並拍出這樣的照片,成本很高,不是嗎?人們的確做了很多經濟效用方面的研究,關於阿波羅的經濟影響。最大的一次研究是1975年大通計量經濟進行的。研究表明,在阿波羅上花一美元就會為美國經濟帶來十四美元。所以阿波羅計畫能為自己買單。在靈感、工程學,以及成果上,可以為年輕科學家和工程師提供十四倍的靈感。所以探索能為自己買單。

 

科學發現呢?驅動創新呢?這看起來是一幅什麼都沒有的圖片。這是什麼,是一幅氫的光譜。回看19 80和1990的年代,很多科學家、觀察家都研究原子發出的光。他們看到類似這樣的怪異圖片,通過棱鏡可以看到氫加熱後不僅發出白光,還散發出特定顏色的光。紅的、淺藍的、深藍的。這樣就讓我們瞭解原子結構。因為人們解釋說原子是單獨存在,周圍有電子,電子只能在特定的位置。當它們跳到下一個位置,又跳回來的時候,就會發出特定顏色的光。

 

所以當你加熱原子時會發出特定顏色的光。這個事實是量子理論和原子結構理論發展的重要推動力之一。我想讓大家看看這幅圖,因為這很特別。這是太陽光譜圖,這是一張原子的圖片,是太陽大氣層在吸收光。同樣,它們只吸收特定顏色的光,當原子來回跳動的時候,跳上跳下的時候。但我們看看光譜上黑線的數量,通過凝視太陽發出的光可以發現氦元素。因為我們發現其中的一些黑線和一些未知的元素相聯,這就是為什麼Helium叫做「氦」。這是Helios的意思,來自太陽的太陽神。

 

聽起來很深奧,確實是一個深奧的追求。但量子理論很快讓我們從物質上瞭解電子的行為。例如:矽,矽的作用方式。你可以製作電晶體。這完全就是量子現象,沒有好奇心的驅動,沒有對原子結構的瞭解,這造就了挺深奧的量子力學理論,我們就沒有電晶體,沒有矽晶片,就沒有現代經濟的穩固基礎。

 

我想,那故事還有一個很棒的地方,在《太陽系的奇跡》中我們一直強調物理定律是普遍適用的,是物理學最難以置信的東西之一。對地球大自然的瞭解就是,你不僅可以把它送到星球上,還可以送到最遠的恒星和星系上。關於量子理學最讓人驚訝的預測之一。只是通過看原子結構和描述電晶體的理論一樣,就是,在宇宙中沒有恒星。在整個存在過程中品質大於太陽的1.4倍,很精確。這是恒星品質的侷限,你可以在實驗室用一張紙算出來。把望遠鏡對著天空,你會看到沒有死亡恒星,品質大於太陽的1.4倍,很難以置信的預測。

 

當你看到一顆恒星的品質達到臨界點時,會發生什麼呢?這就是一張那樣的圖片,一張星系的圖片,「我們的花園」般的普通星系。內含什麼?一千億個類似太陽的恒星在裡面。這只是宇宙裡面幾十億個星系的其中之一,星系中心有十億顆恒星。這就是為什麼這麼亮,大概有五千萬光年遠。這是我們鄰近的其中一個星系,但那裡閃亮的恒星是星系裡面其中的一顆,所以那顆星離我們也是五千萬光年遠。它是星系的一部分,像星系的核心部分那樣閃耀著,裡面有十億顆恒星。那是 Type Ia 超新星爆發,讓人難以置信的現象。因為那時座落那裡的一顆星叫碳氧矮星,它在那裡的品質是太陽的1.3倍,它的周圍有兩個同伴,一顆大恒星和一大團氣體。矮星把旁邊那顆星上的氣體吸走,直到它達到所謂的Chandrasekhar極限,然後爆發。它爆發,像十億顆恒星那樣亮,持續大概兩週,不僅向宇宙釋放能量,還有大量的化學物質。實際上,那是顆碳氧矮星。

 

現在宇宙在大爆炸中沒有碳和氧,在恒星第一代裡,宇宙沒有碳和氧,就在這樣的恒星裡產生,鎖起來,然後回到宇宙。在那樣的爆發中為了把行星再凝聚起來,恒星,新的太陽系當然還有像我們這樣的人,我覺得這是力量、美麗和物理定律普遍性的一個非凡的展示。因為我們瞭解那個過程,我們瞭解地球上的原子結構。

 

這是我喜歡的一句美麗的話,在我們談論意外發現的緣分時,是Alexander Fleming說的:「1928年9月28日一破曉,我醒來時,我確實沒有計劃通過發現世界上第一種抗生素來改變所有藥物。」現在世界上的原子探索者沒有想著要發明電晶體,他們肯定沒有打算要描述超新星爆發的力學原理。這最終告訴我們

組成生命的部分在宇宙的哪個地方合成起來,我覺得科學可以——發現的緣分很重要,它可以很美,可以展示很多讓人吃驚的東西。我想最後還能讓我們看到

最意義重大的想法,關於我們在宇宙中的位置,還有地球的價值。

 

這是我們所在星球的一張壯觀的圖片,看起來不像我們的星球,像土星,當然因為這是Cassini太空探測器拍的。這張圖片很出名,不是因為美麗和土星環的壯麗,而僅僅是因為一個微小黯淡的點,懸在其中一個土星環下面。如果我放大這裡,你們可以看到它看起來像月球。實際上,這是地球的圖片。這是在土星體系裡拍的地球照片,這是我們的星球,從七億五千萬英里之外拍的。我想地球有個奇怪的特性,你離它越遠,它看起來就越美。

 

但這不是地球最遠或者最美的一張圖,是這個東西拍的,這叫「航行者」太空船。這張照片是我站在太空船前面做參照物。「航行者」是個很小的機器,目前距離地球100億英里,用那個碟來傳送,20瓦特的電力,我們還在和它聯繫。而它到過木星、土星、天王星和海王星。在它去過這四個行星後,我的偶像之一,Carl Sagan有一個很棒的想法,想讓「航行者」回頭給每一個去過的行星拍照。它拍了這張地球的照片,現在很難在那看到地球,這叫「淡藍點」圖片。但地球就在光柱裡,這是離我們40億英里的地球。

 

我想給大家讀讀Sagan寫的東西,作為結束。因為我不能用那樣美麗的詞語來描述他在圖片上看到的東西,那是他拍的圖片。他說:「再想想那一光點,在那裡,是家,是我們。上面有你愛的所有人,你認識的所有人,你聽說過的人。每個人在那裡度過人生,有快樂、有苦難,有很多大膽的信仰、意識形態和經濟學說。有獵人和掠奪者,英雄和懦夫,有文明的創造者和破壞者,有國王和農民,戀愛中的年輕人,有母親和父親,飽含希望的孩子,有發明者和探索者,有道德的教師,有腐敗的政客,有超級明星,有崇高的領袖,有我們族類的歷史上聖人和罪人在那裡居住,在一顆懸在光束裡的塵埃上。人們說天文學是讓人感到謙卑且塑造性格的經歷。也許沒有東西比這小小世界的遙距圖片更好地體現人類狂妄的愚蠢。對我來說,這突出了我們和他人更好相處,保護和珍惜這個淡藍光點的責任。這是我們所知,唯一的家。」

 

美麗的語句,關於科學和探索的力量。一直有人提出,一直都還會有,說我們已經夠瞭解宇宙。如果你在1920年代這樣說,你就不會有青黴素,如果你在1890年代這樣說,你就不會有電晶體。今天,在艱難的經濟時代也這樣說,當然,我們已經足夠瞭解,我們不需要發現更多關於宇宙的東西。

 

最後要引用一個迅速成為我的偶像的人的話,Humphrey Davy,他在19世紀剛開始時進行科學研究,一直受到攻擊。我們知道在19世紀剛開始時都在拓荒,在建設。他說:「沒有東西在人類思想的進步上比這更致命,那就是假設我們的科學觀點已經是極致,我們已經完全成功。自然已經不神秘,我們已經沒有新的世界需要征服。」

 

謝謝。

(掌聲)

 

 

 

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

In tough economic times, our exploratory science programs -- from space probes to the LHC -- are first to suffer budget cuts. Brian Cox explains how curiosity-driven science pays for itself, powering innovation and a profound appreciation of our existence.

About Brian Cox

Physicist Brian Cox has two jobs: working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and explaining big science to the general public. He's a professor at the University of Manchester. Full bio and more links

Transcript

We live in difficult and challenging economic times, of course. And one of the first victims of difficult economic times, I think, is public spending of any kind, but certainly in the firing line at the moment is public spending for science, and particularly curiosity-led science and exploration. So I want to try and convince you in about 15 minutes that that's a ridiculous and ludicrous thing to do.

But I think to set the scene, I want to show -- the next slide is not my attempt to show the worst TED slide in the history of TED, but it is a bit of a mess. (Laughter) But actually, it's not my fault; it's from the Guardian newspaper. And it's actually a beautiful demonstration of how much science costs. Because, if I'm going to make the case for continuing to spend on curiosity-driven science and exploration, I should tell you how much it costs. So this is a game called "spot the science budgets." This is the U.K. government spend. You see there, it's about 620 billion a year.

The science budget is actually -- if you look to your left, there's a purple set of blobs and then yellow set of blobs. And it's one of the yellow set of blobs around the big yellow blob. It's about 3.3 billion pounds per year out of 620 billion. That funds everything in the U.K. from medical research, space exploration, where I work, at CERN in Geneva, particle physics, engineering, even arts and humanities, funded from the science budget, which is that 3.3 billion, that little, tiny yellow blob around the orange blob at the top left of the screen. So that's what we're arguing about. That percentage, by the way, is about the same in the U.S. and Germany and France. R&D in total in the economy, publicly funded, is about 0.6 percent of GDP. So that's what we're arguing about.

The first thing I want to say, and this is straight from "Wonders of the Solar System," is that our exploration of the solar system and the universe has shown us that it is indescribably beautiful. This is a picture that was actually sent back by the Cassini space probe around Saturn, after we'd finished filming "Wonders of the Solar System." So it isn't in the series. It's of the moon Enceladus. So that big sweeping, white sphere in the corner is Saturn, which is actually in the background of the picture. And that crescent there is the moon Enceladus, which is about as big as the British Isles. It's about 500 km in diameter. So, tiny moon. What's fascinating and beautiful ... this an unprocessed picture, by the way, I should say. It's black and white, straight from Saturnian orbit.

What's beautiful is, you can probably see in the limb there some faint, sort of, wisps of almost smoke rising up from the limb. This is how we visualize that in "Wonders of the Solar System." It's a beautiful graphic. What we found were that those faint wisps are actually fountains of ice rising up from the surface of this tiny moon. That's fascinating and beautiful in itself, but we think that the mechanism for powering those fountains requires there to be lakes of liquid water beneath the surface of this moon. And what's important about that is that, on our planet, on Earth, wherever we find liquid water, we find life. So, to find strong evidence of liquid, pools of liquid, beneath the surface of a moon 750 million miles away from the Earth is really quite astounding. So what we're saying, essentially, is maybe that's a habitat for life in the solar system. Well, let me just say, that was a graphic. I just want to show this picture. That's one more picture of Enceladus. This is when Cassini flew beneath Enceladus. So it made a very low pass, just a few hundred kilometers above the surface. And so this, again, a real picture of the ice fountains rising up into space, absolutely beautiful.

But that's not the prime candidate for life in the solar system. That's probably this place, which is a moon of Jupiter, Europa. And again, we had to fly to the Jovian system to get any sense that this moon, as most moons, was anything other than a dead ball of rock. It's actually an ice moon. So what you're looking at is the surface of the moon Europa, which is a thick sheet of ice, probably a hundred kilometers thick. But by measure the way that Europa interacts with the magnetic field of Jupiter, and looking at how those cracks in the ice that you can see there on that graphic move around, we've inferred very strongly that there's an ocean of liquid surrounding the entire surface of Europa. So below the ice, there's an ocean of liquid around the whole moon. It could be hundreds of kilometers deep, we think. We think it's saltwater, and that would mean that there's more water on that moon of Jupiter than there is in all the oceans of the Earth combined. So that place, a little moon around Jupiter, is probably the prime candidate for finding life on a moon or a body outside the Earth, that we know of. Tremendous and beautiful discovery.

Our exploration of the solar system has taught us that the solar system is beautiful. It may also have pointed the way to answering one of the most profound questions that you can possibly ask, which is, "Are we alone in the universe?" Is there any other use to exploration and science, other than just a sense of wonder? Well, there is. This is a very famous picture taken, actually, on my first Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1968, when I was about eight months old. It was taken by Apollo Eight as it went around the back of the moon. Earthrise from Apollo 8. A famous picture; many people have said that it's the picture that saved 1968, which was a turbulent year -- the student riots in Paris, the height of the Vietnam War. The reason many people think that about this picture, and Al Gore has said it many times, actualy, on the stage at TED, is that this picture, arguably, was the beginning of the environmental movement. Because, for the first time, we saw our world, not as, well, a solid, immovable, kind of indestructible place, but as a very small, fragile looking world just hanging against the blackness of space.

What's also not often said about the space exploration, about the Apollo program, is the economic contribution it made. I mean while you can make arguments that it was wonderful and a tremendous achievement and delivered pictures like this, it cost a lot, didn't it? Well, actually, many studies have been done about the economic effectiveness, the economic impact of Apollo. The biggest one was in 1975 by Chase Econometrics. And it showed that for every one dollar spent on Apollo, 14 came back into the U.S. economy. So the Apollo program paid for itself in inspiration, in engineering, achievement and, I think, in inspiring young scientists and engineers 14 times over. So exploration can pay for itself.

What about scientific discovery? What about driving innovation? Well, this looks like a picture of virtually nothing. What it is, is a picture of the spectrum of hydrogen. See, back in the 1880s, 1890s, many scientists, many observers, looked at the light given off from atoms. And they saw strange pictures like this. What you're seeing when you put it through a prism is that you heat hydrogen up and it doesn't just glow like a white light, it just emits light at particular colors, a red one, a light blue one, some dark blue ones. Now that led to an understanding of atomic structure because the way that's explained is atoms are a single nucleus with electrons going around them. And the electrons can only be in particular places. And when they jump up to the next place they can be and fall back down again, they make light at particular colors.

And so the fact that atoms, when you heat them up, only emit light at very specific colors, was one of the key drivers that led to the development of the quantum theory, the theory of the structure of atoms. I just wanted to show this picture because this is remarkable. This is actually a picture of the spectrum of the Sun. And now, this is a picture of atoms is the Sun's atmosphere absorbing light. And again, they only absorb light at particular colors when electrons jump up and fall down, jump up and fall down. But look at the number of black lines in that spectrum. And the element helium was discovered just by staring at the light from the Sun because some of those black lines were found that corresponded to no known element. And that's why helium's called helium. It's called "helios" -- helios from the Sun.

Now, that sounds esoteric, and indeed it was an esoteric pursuit, but the quantum theory quickly led to an understanding of the behaviors of electrons in materials, like silicon for example. The way that silicon behaves, the fact that you can build transistors, is a purely quantum phenomenon. So without that curiosity-driven understanding of the structure of atoms, which led to this rather esoteric theory, quantum mechanics, then we wouldn't have transistors, we wouldn't have silicon chips, we wouldn't have pretty much the basis of our modern economy.

There's one more, I think, wonderful twist to that tale. In "Wonders of the Solar System," we kept emphasizing the laws of physics are universal. It's one of the most incredible things about the physics and the understanding of nature that you get on Earth, is you can transport it, not only to the planets, but to the most distant stars and galaxies. And one of the astonishing predictions of quantum mechanics, just by looking at the structure of atoms -- the same same theory that describes transistors -- is that there can be no stars in the universe that have reached the end of their life that are bigger than, quite specifically, 1.4 times the mass of the Sun. That's a limit imposed on the mass of stars. You can work it out on a piece of paper in laboratory, get a telescope, swing it to the sky and you find that there are no dead stars bigger than 1.4 times the mass of the Sun. That's quite an incredible prediction.

What happens when you have a star that's right on the edge of that mass? Well, this is a picture of it. This is the picture of a galaxy, a common "our garden" galaxy with, what?, 100 billion stars like our Sun in it. It's just one of billions of galaxies in the universe. There are a billion stars in the galactic core, which is why it's shining out so brightly. This is about 50 million light years away, so one of our neighboring galaxies. But that bright star there is actually one of the stars in the galaxy. So that star is also 50 million light years away. It's part of that galaxy, and it's shining as brightly as the center of the galaxy with a billion suns in it. That's a Type Ia supernova explosion. Now that's an incredible phenomena, because it's a star that sits there. It's called a carbon-oxygen dwarf. It sits there about, say, 1.3 times the mass of the Sun. And it has a binary companion that goes around it, so a big star, a big ball of gas. And what it does is it sucks gas off its companion star, until it gets to this limit called the Chandrasekhar limit, and then it explodes. And it explodes, and it shines as brightly as a billion suns for about two weeks, and releases, not only energy, but a huge amount of chemical elements into the universe. In fact, that one is a carbon-oxygen dwarf.

Now, there was no carbon and oxygen in the universe at the Big Bang. And there was no carbon and oxygen in the universe throughout the first generation of stars. It was made in stars like that, locked away and then returned to the universe in explosions like that in order to recondense into planets, stars, new solar systems and, indeed, people like us. I think that's a remarkable demonstration of the power and beauty and universality of the laws of physics, because we understand that process, because we understand the structure of atoms here on Earth.

This is a beautiful quote that I found -- we're talking about serendipity there -- from Alexander Fleming. "When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic." Now, the explorers of the world of the atom did not intend to invent the transistor. And they certainly didn't intend to describe the mechanics of supernova explosions, which eventually told us where the building blocks of life were synthesized in the universe. So, I think science can be -- serendipity is important. It can be beautiful. It can reveal quite astonishing things. It can also, I think, finally reveal the most profound ideas to us about our place in the universe and really the value of our home planet.

This is a spectacular picture or our home planet. Now, it doesn't look like our home planet. It looks like Saturn because, of course, it is. It was taken by the Cassini space probe. But it's a famous picture, not because of the beauty and majesty of Saturn's rings, but actually because of a tiny, faint blob just hanging underneath one of the rings. And if I blow it up there, you see it. It looks like a moon, but in fact, it's a picture of Earth. It was a picture of Earth captured in that frame of Saturn. That's our planet from 750 million miles away. I think the Earth has got a strange property that the farther away you get from it, the more beautiful it seems.

But that is not the most distant or most famous picture of our planet. It was taken by this thing, which is called the Voyager spacecraft. And that's a picture of me in front of it for scale. The Voyager is a tiny machine. It's currently 10 billion miles away from Earth, transmitting with that dish, with the power of 20 watts, and we're still in contact with it. But it visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. And after it visited all four of those planets, Carl Sagan, who's one of my great heroes, had the wonderful idea of turning Voyager around and taking a picture of every planet it had visited. And it took this picture of Earth. Now it's very hard to see the Earth there, it's called the "Pale Blue Dot" picture, but Earth is suspended in that shaft of light. That's Earth from four billion miles away.

And I'd like to read you what Sagan wrote about it, just to finish, because I cannot say words as beautiful as this to describe what he saw in that picture that he had taken. He said, "Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregates of joy and suffering thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there, on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam. It's been said that astronomy's a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Beautiful words about the power of science and exploration. The argument has always been made, and it will always be made, that we know enough about the universe. You could have made it in the 1920s; you wouldn't have had penicillin. You could have made it in the 1890s; you wouldn't have the transistor. And it's made today in these difficult economic times. Surely, we know enough. We don't need to discover anything else about our universe.

Let me leave the last words to someone who's rapidly becoming a hero of mine, Humphrey Davy, who did his science at the turn of the 19th century. He was clearly under assault all the time. We know enough at the turn of the 19th century. Just exploit it; just build things. He said this, he said, "Nothing is more fatal to the progress of the human mind than to presume that our views of science are ultimate, that our triumphs are complete, that there are no mysteries in nature, and that there are no new worlds to conquer."

Thank you.

(Applause)


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