Arizona Horizon Banner

Science Matters with Lawrence Krauss

Airdate: May 11, 2016
Get the latest science news along with an explanation of the science behind the stories from Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss.

  • Lawrence Krauss - Arizona State University Physicist
Category: Science

Keywords: Lawrence Krauss, science,

View Transcript
Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions by the friends of pbs.

Ted Simons: good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Lawyers for the Gila River Indian group claim that the state approved the free weigh without ever intended to consider alternate roots. Construction is set to start this summer.

Ted Simons: legislatures passed a budget and a number of bills. Here now with a look at the session is Ben Giles and Hank Stephenson, both of the Arizona capitol times. Before we get to all it budget stuff. The may 17 election, there's an effort to postpone this thing. What is going on?

Ben Giles: There's at least an attorney. Tom Ryan is trying to find a way to block or delay for propers 123, which is education and proper 124, which would overall the state retirement system for police and firefighters.

Ted Simons: Because they didn't meet the deadline for pamphlets.

Ben Giles: there are things to inform voters about this special election and about 200,000 pamphlets were sent out past the deadline so tom Ryan is saying you misinformed 200,000 voters, as many as 400,000.

Ted Simons: secretary state's office didn't send these out because?

Hank Stephenson: It seems to be a problem with the vendor. It's always the vendor's fault. I'm not sure who these people are and why they can't get these things right but there was a significant delay and 1.5 million households did get it. But a lot of households throughout the state didn't receive it in the time frame. They've received their early ballots, they could have voted and said, wait a minute, this is what this is about is and thought, I should have voted differently.

Ted Simons: For this election, we have had Spanish language ballots not up to snuff and 200,000 to 400,000 voters wondering where their pamphlets are.

Hank Stephenson: Most of these things seem like clerical errors. They labeled proper 124 as an education question. I mean, somebody should have caught this. This problem with not enough of these publicity going out. You got to think that at some point, the Secretary of State, or top-levels of government should be signing off. We don't know where the buck stops at this point.

Ted Simons: The attorney, tom Ryan, we've had him on the show and he gets around and he makes noise. One of the points he's making is the legislature tightened the rules.

Ben Giles: The legislature has tightened many rules related to elections and in particular the refer end process. Usually they tighten it to make it more difficult for average citizens to vote. But in this case, the Secretary of State is claiming that there's actual nothing in state statute that gives her, Michelle Reagan, to block it. She's saying, I don't have the power to stop this. We admit the law was broken in the sense that the ballots didn't get there in time.

Hank Stephenson: I would consider it very unlikely, at this point. We've got an election on Tuesday. It's very late in the game for this kind of thing. If you do cancel or postpone the election, what do you do? You know, you've had a lot of people who have already cast their early ballots. You disqualify those votes? Save them and let other people vote at the delayed election?

Ted Simons: I'll see what the attorney general does. As far as the last days of the legislative session. We can talk more about that quickly here. You were there, you saw the end, as you see the end in previous years. How did this one come to a finish?

Ben Giles: It gets blurry at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. This was a slow crawl. That was the biggest complaint was about at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, everybody came to work and realized there are hundreds of bills left to vote on and all of them are very special and important and it did take about 18-20 hours of legislative activity that day to get through as many of the bills as you could. The legislative process takes along time, people have a lot of things to say, especially in the house, where there's 60 members.

Ted Simons: As voters, we're supposed to think that the lawmakers looked over each and every one of these bills on that long day and considered both sides?

Hank Stephenson: To be fair to the lawmakers, they should have looked at these long before the process. The governor, in march, said don't send me anything else until the budge. So, it was hundreds of bills awaiting one vote a piece. Maybe, one vote from the senate, one vote from the house. That said, these things move quickly. You're looking at a bill number and a short title and you're saying, is that this water bill or that water bill? When there is policy based off of sbxxx, it's very hard to keep things straight, especially when you've been going from 9 a.m. and I think we got out of there at 5:45 the next morning.

Ben Giles: a part of that purpose is by keeping everything there at the capitol, you wear them down because there is a push-back from folks who are upset that, why am I still here at 2 a.m. voting on bills? This is not very transparent to the public.

Ted Simons: A couple of the bills that passed regarding through the entire legislative process, the governor vetoes -- both of those regarding water and development in southern Arizona. Talk to about that.

Hank Stephenson: it's important that he has signed 206 bills so far, and vetoed six. Three of the six were two water bills. Basically allowing developers to go around rules that cities or counties have imposed to insure there is enough water in the ground. Vetoed both of those -- it was strong language, really. There was another one dealing with a developer down in Cochise county. They would have created special taxing districts that would have been able to levy taxes, do bonding, basically without the authority of the general citizenship and based on just who the land owners and the chunks of the state are. Would have been a big boon to a guy who is very close with the speaker and working on a development in Benson, Arizona.

Ted Simons: As far as gun bills, two signs. One was vetoed.

Ben Giles: That was a compact bill saying we're going to honor and follow gun laws from other states and that's not a popular idea, the compact legislations that we're going to be in cahoots in other states. But what the governor did sign is one bill that would allow you to have a gun in your automobile if you're driving on a main campus or past a school. I think a big part of that was the downtown Phoenix campus has a lot of major roads for traffic unrelated to school and the other gun bill.

Hank Stephenson: The other one -- remind me, ted. This was aimed at Tucson.

Ted Simons: You can't -- if a local municipality passes a bill that's tougher, forget about it.

Hank Stephenson: Trying to enact their own gun policies. I got an email saying, are you going to write anything about this bill that's aimed at Tucson? This is an interesting piece of legislation because it would allow the state to go in and fine individual, like, city council people who enact regulations stricter than the state.

Hank Stephenson: and I, as an individual wanted to sue, I would have standing.

Ted Simons: Or nra.

Ted Simons: Get some sleep and we'll see you soon.

Ted Simons: Time again for our monthly look at our science news. The discoveries of a nearby dwarf galaxy. Here now to explain it all, ASU's Lawrence Krauss.

Lawrence Kraus: It's great to be here to talk about dwarfs and giants on the moon.

Ted Simons: A moon orbiting a dwarf planet.

Lawrence Kraus: The whole idea, Pluto used to be a planet when you were young. It's not now, it's a dwarf planet because outside Neptune, there's a Kuiper belt. We thought Pluto was the only planet there. What happened is telescopes got better. Embarrassingly, there were more objects and that caused this big discussion. The Aries is now the dwarf planet, that is larger than Pluto. There's one in the asteroid belt. What is a dwarf planet? Something that is small. There are distinctions. One of these dwarf planets -- there five known, MakeMake. We have discovered a moon around it. It reinforces a notion that Pluto is not unique. It's got these planets and a moon and Aries has a moon around it. It turns out, so does MakeMake.

Ted Simons: Let's take a quick look at the image. This is the second brighten dwarf and 2/3 the size --

Lawrence Kraus: that's an artist rendition.

Lawrence Kraus: It's the third largest object outside of Neptune. Pluto, Aries and MakeMake. It is eight miles across. The moon is about 100 miles across. It reinforces the notion that.

Lawrence Kraus: the moon of the planet is dark and black. And the answer, why would the moon by black? The moon may be too small for the gravity and it becomes dark.

Ted Simons: Let's move on then.

Ted Simons: Dismissive of the Kuiper belt?

Lawrence Kraus: There may be many more. Pluto's not alone and there may be many, many more. We're going to move out.

Ted Simons: 40 light years away, we're moving out.

Lawrence Kraus: It is something -- our galaxy across. You can imagine getting to, like a recent proposal made by a billionaire who is getting $100 million to get something -- 20% of the speed of light. You could get there in 120 years or something like that. Around this dwarf star, okay, there's now three earth-like planets.

Ted Simons: I think we have an image of this, as well.

Lawrence Kraus: Let's look at it.

Ted Simons: That's your image right there.

Lawrence Kraus: another artist rendering.

Ted Simons: Who took that shot?

Lawrence Kraus: The reason I want to talk about this is there's a lot of excitement about potentially habitable planets and earth-like planets. This was -- this was able to be seen because the star is so faint that unlike most stars, you could see the planets around it. It's so faint that you can distinguish the planets around it and see it with the telescope and we may be able to look for atmosphere.

Ted Simons: It's an ultra cool dwarf star.

Lawrence Kraus: The planets are orbiting the star once a day. But you might say, well they're so close. Because the star's so faint, the planets that are orbiting once a day are actually getting about the same amount of sunlight as our earth gets. Earth-like planet, people get excited. There's a great deal of excitement, but at the same time, we shouldn't get too excited. I would bet that the planets that orbit the star once a day, the fact that they might have liquid water on them is not going to imply life and if they're tightly locked, like our moon has the same thing facing the -- all parts of the earth get warmed and cooled each day, so they're exciting. We're going to be able to look at them with x-ray telescopes to look at the atmosphere, to see if they have a thick atmosphere. As exciting as it is, we shouldn't jump that there's life. The fact that is 40 light years ago makes it exciting. If it really were habitable, you would imagine sending missions there.

Ted Simons: You're not totally dismissing it?

Lawrence Kraus: Not totally.

Ted Simons: What about the giants dwarf galaxy? [LAUGHTER]

Lawrence Kraus: The there are a bunch of galaxies around there. There are the Magellan clouds and they're about 150 light years away. Around the galaxy, there are lots of other galaxies, some of which are being absorbed. We have theories about how galaxies form and we think -- as we said before -- most of the mass is invisible. We think it initially collapsed and the visual matter fell into that potential well and formed our galaxy. We predict lots of little dwarf galaxies and we've only seen 15 to 30 or so. What was discovered is that there are, in fact, dwarf galaxies that were previously invisible. This one is giant, 6,500 light years across, but it's still very small in number of stars and the actual brightness of it is 100 dimmer than the Magellan cloud. This may be the beginning -- these are the dwarf galaxies that have been discovered around the milky wail. There may be money more dwarf galaxies hidden. The fact that a huge galaxy, a huge dwarf galaxy, 6,500 light years across could be visible because it's faint gives us hope.

Ted Simons: Which would prove the theory true?

Lawrence Kraus: Which would give confidence. It means there's much more out there that meets the eyes so dwarf galaxies are interesting.

Ted Simons: The last issue, nothing dwarf about this, a massive black hole.

Lawrence Kraus: There are black holes in most galaxies. There's one that's a million here. We talked about gravitational radiation. Those were 30 the mass of sun. This 1.8 billion light years away, we can see them colliding. In the center, by looking at gas swirling around the center was discovered a massive black hole, four billion times the mass of the sun. The interesting thing is by seeing the gas, you get these new telescopes that can measure the velocity of the gas and determine mass of the black hole directly. It's a chicken and egg problem. Most galaxies have black holes. The question is, did the black holes exist first or did they form after the galaxy's formed? Like the dwarf galaxies and three massive galaxies. So, seeing a significantly large black hole will help us understand how our galaxy ultimately formed.

Ted Simons: When they show a picture like that, what are we looking at? [LAUGHTER]

Lawrence Kraus: in this case, we're looking at a picture of the galaxy. The galaxy that's been formed by the can collision of three spiral galaxies. That's how we know it is formed by that collision. It's an ongoing collision. You'll look like a round galaxy. That was galaxy before it began to emerge with the central object in the middle. They are coming together and doing that. Our own galaxy, about two million light years away, it's heading right towards about. In about five billion years, our two galaxies will collide looking a lot like that.

Ted Simons: And when they collide, black hole results?

Lawrence Kraus: I doubt it, but maybe.

Ted Simons: why do you doubt it?

Lawrence Kraus: Galaxies collide, they are mostly empty mass. No stars will hit any other stars. They'll go through each other and you'll form one, big massive galaxy. Is it possible at the center that black holes form? We don't know the answer.

Ted Simons: This is amazing stuff. The idea of three galaxies colliding?

Lawrence Kraus: It's amazing. Some of the things we've talked about were hidden things and each one gives us more inklings.

Ted Simons: I knew you'd pull that Shakespeare stuff. Congratulations to ASU.

Lawrence Kraus: Two new ones in the last week, both of whom who have been professors. It's going to be -- ASU is a great place for students, faculty and for the community.

Ted Simons: And we may have a new segment with new guests.

Lawrence Kraus: There you go. Maybe they can get twice the amount I get. [LAUGHTER]

Ted Simons: I can guarantee you, they will.

Ted Simons: that's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

Video: Arizona horizon is made possible by contributions. Thank you. CAPTIONING PERFORMED BY LNS CAPTIONING