Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 2, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

ASU Origins Symposium


  • From April 3 through April 6, Arizona State University will host a conference to discuss the origins of everything from the universe to humanity. Scientific luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins will take part in the Origins Symposium. Lawrence Krauss, an internationally known theoretical physicist and ASU professor, will give a preview of the event.
Guests:
  • Lawrence Krauss - Theoretical physicist, author of "The Physics of 'Star Trek'," Professor, Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration
Category: Science   |   Keywords: Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss,

View Transcript
Jose Cárdenas
>> did you ever wonder how the universe started? how life began, or how consciousness arose? some of the most brilliant minds in science will provide answers to those questions and more about the origins of everything at the Arizona State University's origins symposium. it starts tomorrow, but today students at North High School in phoenix got a taste of all those big answers to everything as they heard from three noble laureates. we'll get a preview of the symposium, but first here's a bit of what the North High students heard this afternoon.

Lawrence Krauss
>> we have someone here who literally has saved millions of lives. he won the Nobel Prize for discovering the virus for hepatitis b and inventing a vaccine. [cheers and applause]

Baruch Blumberg
>> in most of the countries in the world, there are now vaccination programs that are universal. they vaccinate children when they're born or later in life, and there's been a big decrease in the amount of hepatitis b in the world.

Lawrence Krauss
>> the next Nobel prize winner, Steven Weinberg, I was actually a student in his class the day he won the Nobel prize. and he gave that class, it wasn't a great class, I think he was a little distracted. but you gave it, and --

Steven Weinberg
>> I don't think physicist were very impressed by – or scientists are very impressed by each other's Nobel prizes. we all know of people who should have gotten them and didn't, and some who shouldn't have and did. and -- but it is certainly very nice. not least of all because you get invited to occasions like this. and I get a chance to -- how else would I speak to 900 high school students in this beautiful room? [applause] so thank you.

David Gross
>> it's great to be here and to see such enthusiasm. I hope some of it is enthusiasm for science. [cheers and applause]

Jose Cárdenas
>> here to tell us about the origins symposium is Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist the author of several books on physics, including "the physics of 'star trek'." Krauss is also a professor at the Arizona State University school of earth and space exploration. professor Krauss, thank you for joining us on "horizon."

Lawrence Krauss
>> it's great to be here.

Jose Cárdenas
>> we just saw a clip of and you three Nobel laureates talking to the students at north high school. what was the goal that you were trying to achieve?

Lawrence Krauss
>> well, we were trying to reach out to kids who may never have heard what a scientist is or what they do. and inspire them. I think one of the great things about the symposium is not just that we're going to bring the best scientists here to talk to each other, but we're going to reach out to the community. the university is an amazing resource, and I think this was -- for me one of the highlights of the symposium. the fact we could see a room full of a thousand kids who were excited about science. and couldn't wait to ask questions. if we inspired some of the young people here to one day become a great scientist, it will all be worthwhile.

Jose Cárdenas
>> the popular perception is science is much more interesting in Sweden, for example, where the prizes are awarded. than it is here. do you think that's changing?

Lawrence Krauss
>> I want to work to help the change. it's changing a little bit. I have to say, all of the Nobel laureates I was with said they had never seen a high school event like this where they would have spoken to this many kids in one place. it speaks well for the program they ran at that high school, but I think we, one of the things we're doing here is not just bringing great scientist, but scientists who can attract the public. on Monday we're going to have an all-day, 12-hour public event. 3,000-seat auditorium with some of the most famous public science intellect walls. Eight Nobel laureates, a panel of six. and then in the evening Steven Hawking. it's just -- and it's already sold out. and I think that says something.

Jose Cárdenas
>> and speaking of Ira Flato of NPR, tomorrow you will be featured on science Friday.

Lawrence Krauss
>> yes. we're having a live broadcast of science Friday from the catsen auditorium where we're going to -- at a.s.u. where we're going to have the scientific symposium follow that. it will be two full hours with different selected panelists. one hour on the origin of the universe, another one on astro biology with two other scientists from a.s.u. so it's nice that we can integrate those things together. I think it's really important that science and universities are about both the generation of knowledge and also the dissemination of knowledge. that's not just in the scientific community, but in the community as whole. one of the things we talked about with the students today is that science is a vital part of almost every public policy issue you can imagine. from national security, to the environment, to energy, and fundamental questions will affect our civilization in a profound way in the long term, but also our standard of living in the short term.

Jose Cárdenas
>> how did this particular event come to be?

Lawrence Krauss
>> well, I -- it came to be because I moved to a.s.u. and working with Michael Crow and a number of other people to create this origins initiative where we will explore these questions you mentioned at the beginning of this segment. key questions at the forefront of science. and what was really exciting to me was that there was this entrepreneurial spirit at this university to try and create an interdisciplinary program that will bring scientists together from different fields. it's something I wanted to do at a private university I worked at, but I saw the chance to do here at a.s.u. to build on the strengths that exist here. I don't think -- I think the university is perhaps not as appreciated as it should be as an incredible resource. and so I came here to give a public lecture on the physics of "star trek," met with some people and within six months was recruited here to help lead this program. and for me it's very exciting.

Jose Cárdenas
>> tell us about the webcast.

Lawrence Krauss
>> there are public events, science Friday and the Monday events, but there will be scientific symposium from Friday through the weekend, which will just be for the scientists. but everything from the first broadcast to the Monday events is going to be webcast live. you can go to www.origins.asu.edu. click there and see the link. wherever you are around the world, you can watch the whole symposium. and then it's going to be archived so you can see it after the fact, and we're actually producing it and in partnership actually with your station, and also with the science network in San Diego. and it's going to be broadcast in its entirety later on. and also d.v.d.s will be made available for teachers and students.

Jose Cárdenas
>> thank you so much for joining us. good luck on the symposium.

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