Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer and lead designer, speaks to the news media during a news conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the successful liftoff of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A.
Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer and lead designer, speaks to the news media during a news conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the successful liftoff of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A.

Things You Thought You Knew – Billionaires in Space

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Bezos? Branson? Elon Musk? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice break down why all these billionaires are going to space, how achieving orbit works, and how to wrap our heads around large numbers. What does “first commercial space flight” even mean?

We get into all the hoopla about the billionaire space race. Is pooling resources to try to send their private businesses into space really worth it? Didn’t we already send people into orbit already? We break down these landmark space flights, why they matter, and what they mean. How far into space did they go? Discover the sensation of weightlessness and how many Gs the human body can withstand. 

Next, discover the history of orbits with Sir Isaac Newton. What would happen if you fired an apple from a mountaintop? Learn how Newton connected the falling apple to the orbiting moon. Are the apple and the moon the same? What does “falling” even mean? Why are astronauts weightless when they are in orbit? Neil voices some qualms he has with the film Ad Astra and you’ll hear a reading list to learn more about Newton. Is he truly the world’s greatest intellect? 

We wrap our brains around exponential numbers. Why are humans so bad at thinking about big numbers? Find out about linear versus sequential thinking and how we approach increments. How do we get better at thinking exponentially? Discover why models of the solar system are inaccurate. How many earths can fit into the sun? How many suns can fit into the red giant version of itself? Also find out why Chuck needs to call a mortgage broker. All that and other reminders of why the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you, on another Things You Thought You Knew episode of StarTalk! 

Thanks to our Patrons dustin fenwick, Michael Borger, Gautam, Gayle Phillips, Stefanie Davis, Meghan Pearson, and Johannes Wagner for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

 

In This Episode

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