Mario Livio

  • Aired:  09/04/13
  •  | Views: 23,935

Astrophysicist Mario Livio explains how science's embarrassing failures are just as important as its revolutionary successes. (5:37)

>> Stewart: WE ARE BACK, OUR

GUEST TONIGHT IS AN AS SPREE

PHYSICIST AT THE SPACE TELESCOPE

INSTITUTE.

>> IT IS CALLED BRILLIANT

WONDERS.

>> COLOSSAL MISS MISTAKES THAT

CHANGED OUR CONCEPT OF LIFE.

PLEASE WELCOME MARIO LIVIO!

>> HOW ARE YOU, MY FRIEND?

>> GREAT.

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, THERE

IS NOTHING I LIKE BETTER THAN A

BRILLIANT PHYSICIST.

THIS IS WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE

BOOK F EXPECTATION ABOUT THE

SCIENTIFIC BLUNDER IS ALWAYS

THAT STORY OF THE FRENCH GUY WHO

DISCOVERED, YOU KNOW,

RADIOACTIVITY THROUGH LIKE

URANIUM OF HIS DESK AND PENS

SILL LYNN BUT THAT IS NOT REALLY

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT.

NO THAT IS SERENDIPITY.

>> BUT THIS IS NOT THAT.

THIS IS BIG SCIENTISTS MAKING

BIG MISTAKES.

>> Stewart: EXACTLY.

AND IT MAKES THEM SEEM.

EINSTEIN AND DARWIN, THESE ARE

THE GREATS, THE IDEA ALONG WITH

THEIR BRILLIANT THEORIES THEY

HELD STUBBORNLY WRONG BELIEFS.

>> COMFORTING, ISN'T IT, TO ALL

OF US.

>> Stewart: WHAT ARE THE

THINGS ABOUT THE WORLD THAT

BOTHERS ME SO MUCH IS HOW MUCH I

DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT.

AND HOW WRONG I AM EVERY DAY.

AND FROM NOW ON, I AM JUST GOING

TO GO, YEAH, I AM JUST LIKE

DARWIN.

>> BUT YOU SHOULD SAY, YOU KNOW,

I DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT IT AND,

THEREFORE, I SHOULD KNOW MORE.

AND THAT IS THE REAL THING.

>> Stewart: YOU SAY THESE

BLUNDERS DROVE SCIENTIFIC

DISCOVERY,.

>> #02: BREAKTHROUGHS, RIGHT,

EVENTUALLY, BECAUSE YOU SEE

THERE IS THIS MISS CON SENSE

THAT SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS IS SOME

SORT OF A DIRECT MARCH TO THE

TRUTH.

NOTHING REALLY CAN BE FURTHER

FROM THE TRUTH.

SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS GOES IN A

ZIGZAG PATH, A LOTS OF BLIND

ALLEYS AND FALSE STARTS AND

THAT'S THE MAIN POINT I WANTED

TO MAKE HERE THAT IS HOW IT

GOES.

>> Stewart: IT IS VERY

INTERESTING AND EVENS SITION

BACK ZIGS BACK.

>> HE ADDED TO HIS EQUATION, HE

THOUGHT THE UNIVERSE WAS STABLE

BUT HIS EQUATIONS MADE IT SEEM

THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE SO HE

JUST ADDED SOMETHING IN.

>> RIGHT.

JUST -- YOU SEE, HE THOUGHT --

THAT'S RIGHT, WITH A PENCIL.

YOU SEE, HE THOUGHT -- PROBABLY

IN HIS CASE IT WAS A PENCIL.

>> SO, YOU SEE, HE THOUGHT THAT

THE UNIVERSE WAS STATIC, BUT

THEN HE REALIZED, WAIT A SECOND,

BUT THERE IS GRAVITY.

EVERYTHING PULLS ON EVERYTHING

ELSE, SO IT SHOULD COLLAPSE,

RIGHT? IT COULDN'T STAY STATIC,

SO IT ENDED LIKE A FUDGE FACTOR,

HE ENTERED ANOTHER TERM THAT

WOULD PRODUCE A REPULSIVE FORCE

THAT PRECISELY BALANCED GRAVITY.

IT WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

IT WAS A BIG LIKE BALANCING A

PENCIL ON ITS TIP, BUT, YOU

KNOW, WE THOUGHT THIS WAS IT.

THEN AFTER HUBBLE TELESCOPE, HE

DISCOVERED THE UNIVERSE IS

EXPANDING WHEN HE DISCOVERED THE

UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING, WAIT A

SECOND IF THE UNIVERSE IS

EXPANDING I DON'T NEED TO

BALANCE EVERYTHING LIKE THIS.

GRAVITY WILL JUST SLOW DOWN THE

EXPANSION, YOU KNOW, LIKE I TAKE

MY KEYS OUT OF MY POCKET, I

THROW THEM UP, GRAVITY OF THE

EARTH SLOWS THEM DOWN, RIGHT?

>> Stewart: THAT WORKS.

>> SO FOR THE KEYS, IT DOES.

SO HE TOOK THAT TERM OUT OF HIS

EQUATION.

NOW GUESS WHAT? 15 YEARS AGO WE

DISCOVERED THAT, IN FACT, OUR

UNIVERSE EXPANSION IS NOT

SLOWING DOWN, IT IS SPEEDING UP.

IT IS ACCELERATING.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT IS PROPELLING

THIS ACCELERATION?

>> Stewart: YOUR KEYS?

>> GOOD TRY.

THAT TERM THAT EINSTEIN TOOK OUT

OF HIS EQUATION.

>> Stewart: YOU GOT TO BE

KIDDING ME SO IT HAS COME BACK

AROUND, HIS ORIGINAL BLUNDER WAS

CORRECT?

>> WAS A HUGE INSIGHT.

SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST SO SMART

THAT THEIR BLUNDERS -- YOU KNOW,

I WISH I COULD MAKE A BLUNDER

LIKE THAT.

>> Stewart: HE IS LIKE A

BRILLIANT MR. MAGOO, LIKE HE

WONDERED INTO IT AND IT IS

BRILLIANT AND HE DIDN'T KNOW BUT

LINUS, HE CLUNG TO THIS UNUSUAL

STRUCTURE OF DNA THAT WAS

INCORRECT.

>> RIGHT.

>> Stewart: BUT WITHOUT THAT

WE DON'T GET CRICK KEN ROSEN.

>> YOU KNOW, THEY ADOPTED HIS

WAY OF THINKING, AND HIS METHOD

OF THINKING, BUT HIS MODEL WAS

REALLY WRONG, IT WAS BUILT

INSIDE OUT, IT HAS THREE STRANDS

INSTEAD OF TWO, I MEAN HE HAD

ALL KIND OF THINGS WRONG WITH IT

AND THIS WAS THE WORLD'S

GREATEST CHEMIST AT THE TIME

DOING A MISTAKE LIKE THIS.

BUT WHAT HE.

>> Stewart: BUT HE TRULY

BELIEVED IN IT AS WELL?

>> YES.

YOU SEE, SO, HE HAD SO MUCH

SUCCESS BEFORE SOMETIMES WE ARE

VICTIM OF OUR OWN PREVIOUS

SUCCESS.

>> Stewart: EXACTLY.

YOU THINK YOU CAN GO OFF AND DO

SOMETHING ELSE AND THEN --

>>

>> Stewart: WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL

ABOUT THIS BOOK IS, FIRST OF

ALL, IT IS VERY NICELY WRITTEN,

JUST FUN TO READ, BUT IT GIVES

YOU INSIGHT INTO THE METHODOLOGY

OF BRILLIANCE AND SCIENCE AND IT

IS A WONDERFUL THING TO READ.

YOU HAVE TO GET THIS, "BRILLIANT

BLUNDERS" ON THE BOOKSHELVES

RIGHT NOW, MARIO LIVIO, THANK

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