– Brooklyn in the house. Welcome, can anybody hear me? Welcome, did you hear that?
– Yes. – There you go, Brooklyn in the house. (applause)
(audience cheers) – Thanks for comin’ out and
givin’s us your Friday night. This is a special
presentation of StarTalk. StarTalk at BAM. And in this presentation you’re gonna get three versions of what our
StarTalk franchise is all about. The first one lasting
30 minutes is StarTalk. (laughing) StarTalk flagship, where I’m the host and we have special guest
talking about special topics. We then go to another 30 minutes featuring StarTalk All Stars and
that’s where we have a cadre of counter parts to me, who are experts in other fields of science and they each have their own radio show, with a comedian similar format, but they get to do it their way. StarTalk All Stars, you’ll
get a sampling of that for 30 minutes and then we will end with one of our favorite new
franchises of StarTalk, StarTalk Playing with Science, which is all about the science of sports and tonight we’re gonna talk about the physics of figure skating and we’ll get back to that in a minute. But right now, we will
begin StarTalk at BAM. I’ll bring out my comedic co-host, the one, the only, Chuck Nice. Come on out.
(applause) (audience cheers) – Chuck.
– What’s up buddy? – Oh man.
– How are you man? – This is my man.
– It’s good to see ya. – Very cool, and so tonight,
we’re gonna talk about the physics of the early universe. And I realized, this
whole event was introduced as a radio love fest, but
he didn’t say it right. You gotta save a radio love fest. (Neil laughs)
You gotta do that right. – Yeah, exactly. I think you just made
the universe pregnant. (laughing) – Love fest, let me introduce
a colleague and a friend. One of the smartest people on Earth, Theoretical Physicist,
Brian Greene, everybody. (applause) Brian Greene, best known
for popularizing concepts like String Theory and the Multiverse. – You just made String Theory pregnant. (laughing) – You’re best selling author
of The Elegant Universe. A beautiful book. That person read your book.
– One sold. – Right there, that person read your book. (laughing)
– I know the rest of you are just posers. – [Neil] That was followed
with Fabric of the Cosmos. A beautiful book. Hidden Reality was a third book
and then you are co-founder of the World Science Festival.
– That’s right. (applause) – [Neil] It’s a bit audacious to call it the World Science Festival? – Well, we were gonna
call it the universe but, pulled it back to world.
– It’s great. It’s a World Science
Festival, held in New York. – Also in Australia, so
it is world in that way. – Co-founded with your wife?
– That’s correct. – Very good.
– Smart man. (laughing) Very, very smart.
– How to keep that marriage goin’.
– There you go. – So Brian, there’s recent news of the earliest star ever formed in the universe. So were you on top of that story? – Been following it, yeah. – Because what we know as astrophysicists is you get the Big Bang, got that. Then you have the Cosmic
Microwave Background, got that. But nothin’s formed yet. You gotta make stuff that you
can recognize in modern times and there’s this long period, hundreds of millions of years, where nothing is happenin’. And so we call that the Cosmic Dark Ages. Say it right, Dark Ages. Let me hear dark.
– Dark. Ages.
– There you go. You give him a B plus?
– I’ma give him a B plus. – I’ll work on it, I’ll work at it. (laughing) – The Dark Ages, before
the first stars had formed. There was the hunt, the eternal hunt. Can we find that first star? Recent news announcement said what? – Well, there’s now evidence
that those first stars may have formed about 180 million years after the Big Bang and
it’s hard to find them because they’re not
actually sitting out there waiting for us to see them directly. You have to find an indirect
test to see their presence by virtue of their impact
on their environment. And in a very clever experiment,
that’s what was done. – And how’d they do that experiment? – You mentioned the Cosmic
Microwave Background Radiation. People know what that is? Let’s just hear. – There are some people
at home, listenin’, that may not know.
(laughing) I’m just sayin’ for their sake, maybe you should tell ’em. – This is heat leftover from the Big Bang. The Big Bang’s very hot,
as the universe expands, it cools down, but the
heat doesn’t disappear, it’s still there and indeed, we can see that heat coming to us through powerful satellite
borne telescopes today. Now that is a fantastic
discovery in its own right, that won the Nobel Prize, the discovery of the Microwave
Background Radiation, but now imagine this. – It’s won the Nobel Prize twice. – That’s true, yes, absolutely. The initial discovery and then– – The flowers.
– I gotta tell ya. That’s very good.
(laughing) The same thing, five
years later, oh my god, we should give it to him again. (laughing)
– Give it to him again, right. That was a bad ass thing
we found in the universe. – And it was found by mistake.
– Mistake, yeah. – So you do know about this. You said mistake before I did. – I didn’t mean to.
(laughing) – How did the Cosmic
Background tell us this? – The theory was that when
these initial stars formed, they would be very large, much larger than the sun and very hot and they would emit a lot
of ultraviolet radiation. And that radiation would have had an impact on the environment. A lot of hydrogen around it
would’ve ionized the hydrogen. Why does that matter? When you cause the hydrogen
to change in that way, it has an impact on the
microwave background radiation that otherwise would’ve passed through it. – With no incident.
– With no incident. – And now it’s been perturbed.
– That’s right. Now actually, some of it gets absorbed, which means when we look out, there should be missing
parts of the spectrum that are being absorbed by this hydrogen, which itself is being
affected by these early stars. – So we’re not seeing
the stars themselves, we’re seeing some kind of
smoking gun of the stars? – Yeah, we’re seeing a shadow
of some sense of the stars. – Oh my god, it’s just like
the Russia investigation. (laughing) – So Chuck, I didn’t tell ya. The reason we have such Big Bang expertise is ’cause we have both
independently appeared on The Big Bang Theory.
(laughing) – That’s true actually.
– Actually I was only on once. Were you on once or–
– Only on once. – Oh, they didn’t invite you back? – No, they didn’t.
– They didn’t invite me back– – Invite you either.
(laughing – Welcome to my world.
(laughing) – I thought you did really well. – I thought you did really well. – I’m so not an actor
and I depend on people allowing a little latitude for that cameo, non actor delivered lines. You’d say okay they’re
not really an actor, but we’ll let it slide. You were good.
– Well thank you. I appreciate that.
– And plus, Sheldon gave both of us a hard time.
– He did. He told me that I should give up physics and consider reading to the elderly, (laughing)
but he said don’t read your own books to the elderly. – He was pissed off
that I was an accessory to the demotion of Pluto. He said Pluto was one of his favorites. (laughing)
– And you told him to get over it.
– To get over it, yeah. But he’s scripted to just get angry, so he just got angry. I couldn’t rely on a natural response. – That’s ’cause he’s not real.
(laughing) – This early star, does it
tell us something backwards towards the Big Bang that
we should know about? ‘Cause you’re a Big Bang guy.
– Yeah, it does. The curious thing is that
the signal is stronger than the theory predicted. The signal’s there in
the sense that you’ve got this missing part of the spectrum. – So you have people saying what would a first star look like, let’s map it out, now you compare it, and now we got somethin’
stronger than that. – That’s right.
– So that means you gotta go back and recalculate what?
– You’ve gotta tweak the theory and people are
suggesting that dark matter may play a key role.
– See how he did that? Gotta tweak.
– Tweak. – Yeah.
– Right. – So I don’t know what he’s cookin’ up. He just tweakin’ stuff.
– But the tweak also kinda spilled over into the dark matter, so I’m not sure what this means. – I don’t know what either
of you are talkin’ about. (laughing) – What of the Big Bang
do you have to tweak in order to allow our hypothesis
to match the observation? – Well it may be that the dark matter interacts with ordinary matter in a way that differs from the
conventional description. This is very speculative. We’re right at the beginning
of this kind of experiment. – At what point do you say
I need to tweak my theories and at what point do you say, I need to throw out my theory?
– Well, that’s the art. That’s the art of science. Some people criticize scientists
for sticking to theories long after the data seems to suggest that they really need to move on. People say that even about String Theory. They’re wrong, but–
(laughing) It’s an art and it’s a personal choice. – To his face, just to be clear, ’cause I’ll say this again publicly, but I did really say this to his face, – Oh snap.
(laughing) – When I asked Brian, I said
Brain, I remember y’all, I’m that old, from the 1980s. String Theory was being born
and I said wow, this is great. A new understanding of the universe. General relativity married
with quantum physics, a marriage that Einstein
died trying to find. How soon will you have this? Said we’re about five years out. About five years and then
10 years later, how far? We got another five years. And then 10 years after that, just another five years.
– I’m consistent. (laughing) – It’s the year 2018. Brian, how–
– ‘Bout five years I’d say, somethin’ like that.
– How close are you? So then I said, so Brian, why? He said well, it’s a hard problem. So then I said or every one
a you working on this problem is an idiot.
(laughing) – He did.
– I said that to his face. – Brian, I’m gonna go with hard. (laughing) – I said that rib jokingly. At what point do you say,
we’re simply not smart enough to even answer the question
we ourselves posed? Or do you just say it’s hard? ‘Cause Einstein figured
out general relativity basically by his lonesome in 10 years after he had special relativity. And you got how many dozens of you guys. (laughing)
– Yeah. – [Neil] For 35 years. – I gotta tell ya, the reason I accepted to
be on the show tonight is. (laughing) Here’s the situation. If we were not making progress, then I wouldn’t need you
to tell me to give it up. I don’t believe in re-incarnation. I think you live once and
I don’t wanna spend my life workin’ on a theory if
I really don’t think it has a promise to reach the goal that we have set for ourselves. – [Neil] So you’re honest with yourself. – Totally honest.
– We have so much in common ’cause I don’t believe in it ’cause I don’t wanna be a turtle. (laughing) – Okay.
(laughing) – No, you said I don’t
believe in re-incarnation. For some reason, I think
I’m coming back as a turtle. – I hear what you’re sayin’.
– Oh, yeah, we both missed that.
– Shh, went like this. – And you’re the astrophysicist. – We both missed that.
(laughing) – They got it.
– Here’s the thing. – They did not get that.
– Oh they got. Did you not get that?
(applause) (audience cheers)
– I was thinkin’– – Stupid people unite.
(laughing) – I was thinkin’ the
turtle was a reference to sort of the Hindu on
the back of an elephant. The elephant’s standing on turtles and it’s turtles all the way down. – See that’s why you got
doctor in front of your name. (laughing)
And I tell dick jokes. – Where were we?
– I know exactly where we were.
– I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Go ‘head.
– I know exactly where we were. What I’m asking you as
a theoretical physicist, leading theoretical physicist, we have an observation, an
astronomical observation and it forces you to go back and tweak. Are you tweaking Big Bang,
you tweaking quantum physics? What are you tweaking?
– In this particular case, you really are tweaking something that we yet don’t understand
fully, which is dark matter. So that’s ripe for being tweaked, but look, there are other things. – Dark matter is mysterious
gravity of the universe. We have no idea what’s causing it. – But I’ll give you another example, which has happened recently. There’ve been measurements of the rate of the expansion of space and those measurements, very recently, are seeming to be incompatible with earlier measurements
done in a different way. – [Neil] You see a whole
other recent result. – A whole other recent result, exactly. And this one, if it’s correct, this is one that could really change our understanding of the
early universe dramatically. In order to get the measurements that are done on the expansion of space looking at the microwave
background radiation and those that are coming from looking at supernova explosions, to get those compatible, right now, is gonna require perhaps,
tweakin’ the dark energy. It may require tweaking
our understanding of the gravitational force. There are many things that may come into that particular reconciliation. – Tweak our understanding of
the gravitational force itself? – Yeah, whenever you
talk about dark energy, everyone knows what dark energy is? – Some people at home may not.
(laughing) – This energy filling
space that we believe yields a repulse of gravity
that’s causing the universe to speed up in its acceleration. – When it theoretically
should be slowing down. – That’s right, ordinary
gravity pulls things together. It should be slowing down. The shock that we got in 1998
is that’s not slowing down, the rate of expansion speeding up. – Against the wishes of gravity? – Here’s the thing, we didn’t understand gravity well enough. Gravity can not only be
attracted, it can be repulsive. And that really wasn’t taken
into account until about 1998 when it comes to Cosmology. Now, the possibility is
maybe this outward push is itself getting stronger over time. – So that means thinking it was one thing, would be an incomplete
understanding of that phenomenon. – Yes, and that’s what science is. – Which would actually change everything. – But that’s what science is.
– Which is why, you have to tweak String Theory. – Yeah.
(laughing) – If it affects gravity, then
every moment of our models from the Big Bang forward
would have to be rethought. Put back in the computers, say now what are you gonna give me with this new understanding?
– Literally. Because these equations are so complex, there’s so many features
that come into play that you have to put it on a computer and simulate and see what happens. – Does that affect any
thinking of what’s going on before the universe began?
– People play with those sorts of ideas, but it’s hard to know if that question even makes sense. It makes sense to say what
happened before you were born? What happened before the Earth formed? Those sorts of phenomenon
certainly were preceded by something else in the universe. But the Big Bang may have
been not just the beginning of the universe as we
think of it as stuff, it could’ve been the
beginning of time itself. – This past Sunday, we aired my interview
with Stephen Hawking, went to the dude’s office in Cambridge. I asked him, what was
around before the Big Bang? He gave an answer and nobody
understood the answer. Check it out. – I have no idea what he was–
– What was he saying? – I have no idea, I
haven’t seen the podcast. – You gotta watch the show.
– Yeah, I will. You didn’t prep me on this one. – Allow me to explain what he was sayin’. (laughing) – You can give me two or
three ideas that people have about what preceded the Big Bang. – Absolutely.
– Whether or not they’re your ideas. – One idea is that the
Big Bang may not have been a unique event, there may
have been many Big Bangs, giving arise to many universes. – We are one of those–
– And we’re just one of those. Sort of like a cosmic
bubble bath of universes, and we’re just one bubble expanding in that larger landscape of reality. If that’s the case, then our Big Bang was not the beginning of everything, it was just an interesting
event that we hold dear because it gave rise to us, but there would’ve been a time before it that wouldn’t have been any more exotic than the time now.
– A time measured by some methods we have yet to divine because every method of
measuring time exists within this universe.
– That’s right. The notion of a time goin’
across all of the universes, a very difficult idea to
make mathematical sense of. – Like a meta time.
– A meta time of some sort, but people don’t fully appreciate– – But that wouldn’t be time.
– It wouldn’t be time as you – That would not be time.
– as you experience, you’re absolutely right. So in this universe,
the fact that we can say that the universe has an age of whatever, 13.8 billion years, is
only because our universe is highly symmetric. You look at one chunk of
the universe over here and another chunk over
here and on average, their properties are the same. If that weren’t the case there
would be no notion of time across even our universe.
– Because of this symmetry of appearance, you’re saying,
we can justifiably say we are all experiencing the
same age of this universe. – That’s right.
– But if we had looked over there and stuff was being born and over here stuff was
dyin’, out of proportion, we would be forced to say
there’s not one coherent time across this space time continuum. – Right, because Einstein,
as we’re all familiar with, taught us that if you’re moving, time ticks off at a different rate, if you’re near a black hole, time ticks off at a different rate, so you should ask yourself, when people say the universe
is 13 billion years old, according to which clock? If those clocks are moving or
if they’re near a black hole, or a strong gravitational field, they’ll tick off time at different rates and the way we get outta that conundrum is what you’re saying. The overall uniformity
means that on those clocks, that are experiencing basically the same physical conditions, they’re gonna
(laughing) experience time the same way. – I love your clock pantomime. It’s beautiful.
– I love it too. Man, I have never in my life
wished that I smoked weed more than I do right now.
(laughing) Now I know why they do it, man. (laughing) – We gotta land this plane. Two final questions. If we’re asking what was
around before the Big Bang, you’re saying maybe there was
this bubble bath Big Bangs, then that just pushes that
question a little further, what was around before the bubble bath? – Or it may push it infinitely far back. That’s a possibility too.
– Turtles all the way down. – It could be turtles all the way down. – See, the turtle thing.
– The other idea that does come outta String Theory initially is that maybe our universe is a slice of space, floating in a larger cosmos. Higher dimensions of String
Theory allow for that freedom. So our universe is like a slice of bread in a big cosmic loaf that
may have other slices, which would be other universes. I bring that up because
– He’s high. – there’s a theoretical description– (laughing) I’m gonna ignore these guys. – We were good, now we’re
like slices of bread. Slice of bread, I got you. This is a bread, loaf universe. – Exactly and there’s a way
of describing the Big Bang where it’s actually
arising from the collision of these two universes. It’s knowing what we call the Big Bang or it’s called the Big Splat, so it’s a little more evocative
way of thinkin’ about it. In which case, before the Big
Bang, before the Big Splat, would just be the these
two giant sheets of space slamming into each other.
– They created yet a subsequent Big Bang.
– That’s right, it’s a cyclic universe. It happens over and over and over again through these collisions. So then what’s before our Big Bang? It would just be an era of the universe, similar to this potentially, but was just a different
part of the cycle. – So therefore, and my
last question to you, the very distant future universe, where we’re accelerating
at whatever rate it is, does what you’re saying now affect that very distant universe?
– It can, absolutely. Because if for instance,
we’re talkin’ about a cyclic universe–
– But my slice of bread is gettin’ bigger.
– Your slice of bread is getting bigger, but that other slice may be coming toward you. So it truly, in years from
now, we may get hit again, and be completely obliterated. – How will we know if
another slice of bread is coming towards us?
– That’s the thing, we won’t. (laughing) – All I know is I am hungry right now. – Brian Greene, thank you for totally fucking with our heads here.
(laughing) Brian Greene.
– That’s awesome stuff. (applause)
– Thank you. – It’s phenomenal.
– Hang on for a second. We’re gonna wrap up this parta the show. Before I hand the baton over to Neuroscientist Heather Berlin, one of our StarTalk All Stars. And while she comes out.
but before that happens, we are going to have a special musical interlude. Musical interlude.
– Oh sweet. – We are going to have a special performance by Baba Brinkman. Baba Brinkman come on out.
– All right. (applause) – Baba, you’re a science rapper. – I am a science rapper,
such things do exist. – That’s a thing.
– It’s a thing now. – You will demonstrate that now? – Let’s all hope so.
(laughing) – [Neil] Baba Brinkman. (applause) – They gave me one song to demonstrate that science rap exists. And all this physics stuff is gonna mix with neuroscience and pretty soon we’re gonna
start talkin’ about free will and as a rap artist, who’s
been at this for over a decade, you gotta get into freestyle. So I’m about to do a
freestyle interpreting a lot of what was discussed
through this last half hour. And I want you to think about this. Either every word they said
and every word I’m about to say was pre-determined since
our Big Bang, on our slice, or there is some kind
of free will possible. Alright, hit it. (electronic music)
Now I’m from Western Canada. When I was a young rapper,
picturin’ myself on MTV, this is the rap I always
pictured myself kickin’ ♪ Listen to this lyric ♪ ♪ It isn’t freestyle, it’s written ♪ ♪ I wrote it of my own free
will, it was my decision ♪ ♪ Every intimate constituent ♪ ♪ Part of it was deliberate ♪ ♪ I considered how to script it ♪ ♪ And how to stand and deliver it ♪ ♪ I wanted to get up on stage ♪ ♪ And do a lotta damage ♪ ♪ And talk about how all the universes ♪ ♪ Were like a big sandwich ♪ ♪ And I could just step up here ♪ ♪ And do some things
that are drunk on beats ♪ ♪ And find out why astrophysics
makes people feel hungry ♪ ♪ That was forethought but
that doesn’t mean nothing ♪ ♪ Comes before thought ♪ ♪ Look at the source of your thoughts ♪ ♪ You might find the door’s blocked ♪ ♪ If every decision is made
in a part of my brain ♪ ♪ That’s invisible to me ♪ ♪ That’s will, but with
this subliminal origin ♪ ♪ I’m not thinkin’ it’s too free ♪ ♪ See, I break it down ♪ ♪ I show you the freestyle basics ♪ ♪ You can’t see me ♪ ♪ All you can see is the
imprint of my radiation ♪ ♪ See what I’m sayin’ ♪ ♪ That’s the way that I spread
it with freestyle bars ♪ ♪ Lookin’ for me is lookin’ for ♪ ♪ In the universe the first star ♪ ♪ But what am I doing here? ♪ ♪ Why am I choosing to bust the rhyme? ♪ ♪ Am I a puppet on this string ♪ ♪ Who could not have done otherwise? ♪ ♪ A slave to my subliminal
migdal reptilian forces ♪ ♪ With no self control ♪ ♪ Up in my neocortex ♪ ♪ I can’t stop ♪ ♪ I’m stuck here tryin’ ta bust raps ♪ ♪ I could no more stop ♪ ♪ Than Neil could shave off his mustache ♪ ♪ I’m tryin’ to figure that out ♪ ♪ Maybe perhaps it could happen ♪ ♪ But we’re all stuck up in
this quantum bubble bath ♪ ♪ I can’t stop believin’
in the option to choose ♪ ♪ I couldn’t stop if I wanted ♪ ♪ It’s down to the molecules ♪ ♪ I choose words and deeds ♪ ♪ Not wants and moods ♪ ♪ Freedom is like a muscle ♪ ♪ It’s only strong when it’s used ♪ ♪ I can’t stop ♪ ♪ Well I probably could ♪ ♪ But I probably shouldn’t ♪ ♪ ‘Cause right now I gotta kick a rap ♪ ♪ And make it really good ♪ ♪ And maybe, maybe interpret everything ♪ ♪ That they talked about a second ago ♪ ♪ Alright, let’s do a little rewind ♪ ♪ Y’all people could
be checkin’ the flow ♪ ♪ See, I’m gonna drop this ♪ ♪ And say everything clearly ♪ ♪ I’m five years from stardom ♪ ♪ Like Brian explaining String Theory ♪ ♪ It’s about to happen ♪ ♪ Any second is comin’ next ♪ ♪ Every word I spit is peer reviewed ♪ ♪ Somethin’ you can check ♪ ♪ Like the literature works of freestyle ♪ ♪ Now as I spit it at you ♪ ♪ Indeed, that’s the
place that I take it ♪ ♪ Breakin’ down the basics ♪ ♪ Yeah, check it out ♪ ♪ Freestyles, people always felt them ♪ ♪ I’m gonna get on the Big Bang Theory ♪ ♪ So I could get dissed by Sheldon ♪ ♪ Yeah one day that’s about to happen ♪ ♪ That’s the cameo ♪ ♪ Baba Brinkman comin’ through right now ♪ ♪ With nothin’ but a damagin’ flow ♪ ♪ Yeah, check it ♪ ♪ I’m gonna have to come sparkin’ in ♪ ♪ I’m cookin’, it’s not
gonna get the same reaction ♪ ♪ As it did with Neil when I say ♪ ♪ Is there a house full of Brooklyn ♪ ♪ No, I screwed it up, that’s okay ♪ ♪ I’m just blazin’ ’em ♪ ♪ That’s the way that we say it ♪ ♪ Where I come from ♪ ♪ I’m Canadian tryin’ ta bust the rap ♪ ♪ So I’m gonna say a shout out ♪ ♪ To the plaid shirt right there ♪ ♪ Me and him were reppin’
the lumber jacks some ♪ ♪ Can’t stop believin’
in the option to choose ♪ ♪ I couldn’t stop if I wanted ♪ ♪ It’s down to the molecules ♪ ♪ I choose words and deeds ♪ ♪ Not wants and moods ♪ ♪ Freedom is like a muscle ♪ ♪ It’s only strong when it’s used ♪ ♪ Well I could stop ♪ ♪ I could stop if I want ♪ ♪ The question is why
would I wanna stop? ♪ ♪ I could stop, it’s
just not recommended ♪ ♪ At least not ’til this song is ended ♪ ♪ ‘Cause I spent a lotta time ♪ ♪ Training my brain to rhyme ♪ ♪ At the drop of a dime ♪ ♪ That’s the kind of freedom ♪ ♪ I could claim as mine ♪ ♪ Freedom isn’t a metaphysical state ♪ ♪ At the level of atoms ♪ ♪ It’s a collection of talents ♪ ♪ Each of us can develop and manage ♪ ♪ Freedom evolved ♪ ♪ Evolution gave us the building blocks ♪ ♪ Absolute freedom, maybe not ♪ ♪ But more than a digger wasp ♪ ♪ And more than prefrontal cortex ♪ ♪ Lesion patients living today ♪ ♪ I’ll take the freedom I’ve got ♪ ♪ Over the non-freedom of Phineas Gage. ♪ ♪ Freedom is having a brain ♪ ♪ That can reject options ♪ ♪ Detect imposters ♪ ♪ Dodge sucker punches like boxers ♪ ♪ Freedom is having a brain ♪ ♪ That can navigate obstacles ♪ ♪ In a continuous exploration ♪ ♪ Of the adjacent possible ♪ ♪ A brain that’s free enough ♪ ♪ To recognize goals and pursue them ♪ ♪ And recognize the reasons why ♪ ♪ Even if it’s prone to allusions ♪ ♪ Freedom ♪ ♪ If you’ve got that kind of mind ♪ ♪ And it’s at fault, congratulations ♪ ♪ You can now be tried as an adult ♪ ♪ Free will ♪ ♪ It’s similar to freestyle ♪ ♪ It’s a learnable system
that’s deterministic deep down ♪ ♪ But even if every syllable
has a physical cause ♪ ♪ Freedom is just the belief ♪ ♪ That I should still get some applause ♪ (screaming)
(applause) Thank you.
– Oh my god. – Well done. – Fantastic man. – What parta Harlem were you from? – 139 and Lennox, that’s the danger zone. (laughing)
Could you tell by the way I said is the house
somewhere around Brooklyn? – Yeah, yeah, yeah, Brooklyn in the house. You’re actually Canadian.
– Yeah, I’m from Vancouver. (audience cheers) – That’s just a little
creepy, I think, I don’t know. It’s good, but I think it’s
the universality of the medium that I think is speaking to us all, where you wanna express
yourself, it comes out. It comes out just how you
feel it in that moment. – The question is if you
imagine hip hop culture spreading to Western Canada
and then getting adapted and coming back to Brooklyn,
would you imagine it sounding any different than what I just did? (laughing) – All I know is this, I
can’t be Black anymore. I’m goin’.
(laughing) – So you gotta run,
’cause where you gotta be? – Okay so that was a piece from an Off Broadway production I’m doing, hip hop theater, very
inspired by Hamilton. It’s called the Rap Guide to Consciousness and it’s all neuroscience,
cognitive psychology– – And you performed that tonight. You gotta leave here
tonight to perform that. – The show starts in 45 minutes. – Well, get the hell outta here. At the SoHo Playhouse.
– SoHo Playhouse, downtown, it’s running
until the end of April. I hope y’all can come see it. – Dude.
– Thanks for having me here. I appreciate it.
– Love you man, love you man. (applause)
– Thank you Neil. – Baba Brinkman. – That guy is my favorite rapper now. (Neil laughs)
Jay-Z suck it. I ain’t never heard Jay-Z say anything about his prefrontal cortex. (laughing) – You have some good
vocabulary runnin’ down there. – That was serious.
– Just to be clear. He did that in rehearsal
and 5% of it was the same. The rest was completely
invented in that moment. – Yeah, it was unbelievable.
– What’s the dude talkin’ about my mustache?
(laughing) – See, he knew better than
to do that in rehearsal. (laughing) – Our next segment is gonna
be StarTalk All Stars, where I take a backseat
and we bring on the host. One of our many talented
StarTalk All Stars. Neuroscientist Heather Berlin. Heather, come on out.
(applause) Hey. So Heather, it’s your show. – Okay.
– Go for it. – All right Neil, you can take a backseat. – Yeah, I don’t think so.
(laughing) – You don’t know me very well, Brian. You don’t know me very well. Welcome to StarTalk All Stars at BAM. I’m your host, Heather Berlin. I’m a Cognitive Neuroscientist. I’m based here in New York at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. So Neal, Brian, thanks for
being my guests tonight. – And Chuck, forget about you.
(laughing) – You’re just ingrained in my mind. We’ve become one. Chuck, my co-host, for
bringing all of the wonderful scientific insights and comic relief. – Well thank you.
– Thank you for being here. – So wonderful of you to say. (Heather laughs) – We’re gonna talk a little bit about the intersection between
neuroscience and physics. Talk a little bit about
consciousness, time and free will. So we’re just gonna keep it light. (laughing)
Light and easy. – Free will. Not Free Willy, right, free will. – It’s not that kinda show.
(laughing) – That was a movie. – I took that reference differently. – You know what’s funny,
I was thinkin’ that. (laughing)
And I was like nah, I better not say it.
– I told you, we are one, you’re like my subconscious, but I just kind of try to keep at bay, but it keeps comin’ up. – That’s a very good plan, actually. – Brian, you once tweeted, you said, free will–
– Wait, you’re gonna quote a tweet of mine
– I am quoting a tweet– – in front of this guy over here? That’s like saying I play
baseball in front of Babe Ruth. It’s like saying I write
music in front of Mozart. (laughing)
– Your tweets matter. Your tweets matter.
– Thank you. – Free will–
– All tweets matter. – Not all tweets,
(laughing) not all tweets.
– Blue tweets matter. I had to do it, I’m sorry.
– We got some red tweets in the house, we got some red tweets. – So you said, free will is the sensation of making a choice. The sensation is real, but
the choice seems elusory. Laws of physics determine the future. – I had to say that.
(Heather laughs) – You were compelled. It was determined from the Big Bang. What does physics have
to say about free will? – It’s not definite, because we don’t fully
know the laws of physics, but the laws of physics
that we currently have at our disposal have no opportunity for intersection by human will. We are a collection of particles governed by laws that you can write down and fit on a t-shirt and those laws don’t at any point in the evolution of the particles say hey, can you tell me
now what to do, person? They just determine the future based upon what things
were like in the past. – But Brian, can’t there
be an emergent property of that collection of molecules, that we can call free will? Because the emergent property,
if you know emergence, it’s a feature of an ensemble
that cannot be deduced by the study of the individual. – Like ants.
– Like ants. You study one ant, you say hi
ant, they’ll shake your hand. You have no idea that a
thousand ants together are gonna make an ant mount, or a thousand termite
make a termite mound. Or that birds will flock. You have no way to predict that. – It sounds like Woody Allen.
(Heather laughs) – If free will doesn’t exist
(laughs) at that level of physics, in other words, if it doesn’t
exist at the level of physics could it not exist at
the level of biology, – It depends.
– or say psychology. – It’s a really good point
and it really depends on what your definition of free will is. Normally, the intuitive definition is things could’ve been different, and I could’ve made a choice for things to turn out differently. And if that’s your
definition of free will, does that resonate with your
perspective of free will, then I don’t see any way to square that with the laws of physics
because anything that you do is your particles executing
some kind of motion and the motion of your particles, in your brain, in your body, have no opportunity to allow you as a conscious being to direct them. What force could possibly
that direction come from? Is it the electromagnetic force? Well that one we understand from Maxwell. Is it the gravitational force? We understand that one from Einstein. Is it the nuclear forces? Those we understand from the standard model particle physics. What force could you possibly
exert on your particles that goes against or goes
beyond those that emerge from the equations of physics? That’s the issue.
– Could our free will thrive in the probabilistic
description of quantum physics? – No.
(laughing) Not as we currently understand it. And that’s a natural–
– Don’t make me fight you here on stage.
– We’ve done this before. – Yeah, we did actually. I grabbed his lapel on stage.
– But we both were wrestlers in high school, different
weight categories. (laughing)
– Yes, very different weight categories. – I should’ve said it’s
possible but I consider it highly unlikely. So there is a puzzle right
now in quantum physics that has been on the
table for 50, 75 years and we don’t know the
answer to this puzzle, and that’s why I have to couch my remarks with a little bit of uncertainty. And that puzzle is this. Quantum Theory says they can only predict the probability of one outcome or another. 50% chance electron
here, 50% chance there. Yet, when we measure the electron, we always find it either here or there. One or the other. So how do you go from the
fuzzy probabilistic haze of many possibilities to
the single definite reality that we all experience in every day life? We still don’t know
how to bridge that gap. Within that, if consciousness,
somehow plays a role, in picking out one outcome
from the probabilistic haze, then sure, then free will might
come for the ride as well. – There you go.
– But, but, but– – You just said, probabilistically, the particle can be here or there. – Yes.
– But if you measure it, it is only in one place.
– Yes. – So my act of thought is I wanna cheeseburger, that’s
the particle in this state. I want a cheeseburger, bam. The particle’s there.
– That’s the part I don’t buy. Right there. Because it’s random. There’s nothing that you
did to pick one outcome because you wanted it,
because you willed it, because it was your desire. And yet, your intuition is
you had the cheeseburger because you chose it. If it comes from a random process it’s like throwin’ the dice. And throwin’ the dice to get an outcome is not what we mean by free will. – Okay wait, you physicists.
(laughing) – Sorry.
(applause) – I’m gonna give you a
neuroscientific perspective. From a neuroscientific
perspective, first of all, what’s happening at the quantum level, doesn’t really scale up to
whether a neuron fires or not, I mean that indeterminacy. From experiments that we’ve done, starting in the ’80s,
Benjamin Libet did studies where he said to somebody,
whenever you feel like it, just press this button and
he measured brain activation. and he said even before they
actually press the button, ’cause that takes time
to make the movement, just let me know where this
little dot is on the clock when you feel the first
inkling of the intention of wanting to move. And then what he found
is about 350 milliseconds before a person even had
that conscious intention, there was a gearing up
of brain activation. So then, leap forward to current times, we do in our imaging experiments, where we can say to a person– – Just so that people know, you measure people’s brains for a living. – That’s my job, that’s what I do, yes. – I would be no help to you.
(laughing) – It’s my unconscious here again. He’s always buttin’ in. We need you, we need you. But you can measure it using FMRI, which looks at blood flow to different parts of the brain. – Functional Magnetic
– Functional Magnetic Residence Imaging. Basically looking at blood flow
as a proxy to neurons fired. The blood is gonna go where
the neurons are firing ’cause they need energy. We can say to you okay,
just choose left or right, or that hamburger or not.
– Cheeseburger. – Cheeseburger, sorry, cheeseburger. – [Chuck] He chose to put
cheese on that burger. (laughing) – We can say, we can
predict, up to 10 seconds before you even have a
conscious inclination of your intention, which
you’re going to go. Left or right, or cheese or no cheese. So at that level, I
like to say yeah, sure, we have free will, but we’re
just not conscious of it. The brain is making these
decisions all the time and we have this allusion of free will. But the question really is is
why do we have this allusion? Why did we evolve this allusion? Is it important, if we didn’t have it, would it change our behavior?
– Yeah, it strikes me that it gives us that sense of control that presumably, out in the Savannah, 50,000 years ago, 100,000 years ago, made the difference
between surviving and not. If you’re invested in how things turn out and feel that your decisions
can affect how things turn out, you’re more attentive,
you’re more engaged. It’s something that matters to you more and presumably, something like that or some parallel story like that, suggests why we have this allusion. – ‘Cause you’re less likely to be eaten. – Yes, that’s the point, that’s the point. – So you both agree with one
another, with each other, that from physics point of
view, it’s deterministic. You didn’t use that word, but
I’m puttin’ it in your mouth. – It’s okay on the radio and live show– (laughing)
– And so Heather, your results are consistent
with his, basically. – Yeah, I think from both
a physics perspective and a neuroscience perspective, we come to the similar
conclusion that it’s an allusion, that free will is an allusion, even though we really feel like it’s not. And actually studies have been done, which when you tell people
that free will is an allusion and you start giving
them subsequent tests, they’re more likely to
cheat on a math test, they’re more likely to act unethically. The fact that we had this belief, those who have had it actually
are better able to survive in the system along the line.
– More likely to behave. – More likely to behave.
– If you said we’re in control.
– However, we also have evolved for there to be
cheaters, and they can win. If we were all cheaters, no one would win. But if we all–
– Just ask Tom Brady. (laughing) – And Chuck, he looked so
deflated at the end of that game. (laughing) He was sad. Heather, let me ask you a blunter question. Does it even matter that you know this if we all feel like we have free will? I wanna believe that I go to school, and get a good job and behave,
I wanna believe all that. You told me I shouldn’t believe it. That if one day I end up in prison, that was pre-determined from the Big Bang? You’re saying yes to that?
– Absolutely, man. If I knew you were gonna do it, there’s nothing I can do.
(laughing) – If I kick your ass right now, – That’s it.
– that was pre-determined – Then it was meant to be.
– from the Big Bang. – It was meant to be, my friend. (laughing) – I don’t know how this got to sexy. – Plus Brian, kicking
one’s ass is not a literal stick your ass and someone’s to kick. In the hood it means just winning a fight. – Oh.
(laughing) – Brian was born and
raised in New York City. Went to Stuyvesant High School, so he’s home grown.
– Oh, nice. – Home grown.
(applause) – But wait, that pre-determinism that you were just talking about. Okay, let’s say for instance
that you do accept that. And then that leads to fatalism. Was that also pre-determined?
(Heather laughs) So the fact that you were
given this information that well, I’m not really in
charge of my own decisions. My brain is makin’ these decisions based upon these neurosynaptic transitions that happen within my mind
and so I just let that happen and then I say oh okay, because of that, I don’t give a damn about anything and I just let it all go. Was that pre-determined?
– Yep. (laughing) – But also, to put it in perspective– – [Chuck] Okay, god I’m
gonna shoot myself tonight. – I gotta just let the record show. Chuck put out a really
awesome question right there. And it just got a one word answer. (laughing)
You coulda at least stretched out your answer,
give the guy a break. – No, happy to. Often people when they
encounter these ideas, and you must’ve heard this too, people say okay then I’m
not gonna do anything but sit on my couch and
what does it matter? – Fatalism.
– But you see, that’s a mixing of two distinct views on one question. If you think that you’re
makin’ a free choice to sit on your couch, then you feel like well now, I am going to give in to this and I’m just gonna sit there. But if you do that, it was determined. So exactly what you’re asking. If you choose to sit on your couch, it’s not that you made
a volitional choice, it was set in place. And if that’s what was gonna happen, that’s what’s gonna happen.
– But then by that particular measure, all
information that we receive then pre-determines everything that we do. That’s really what you’re saying. – Yes, absolutely. And moreover, to just give
this a little bit more color, I think your view, Heathers’
view and Baba’s view– – Don’t mansplain her view.
– Okay, I won’t then. (laughing) But what I heard Baba say.
(applause) – Let me tell you somethin’ Brian. Let me tell you somethin’. I pre-determined to say that.
(laughing) – We spoke about this before we came out. Baba’s description I think,
really at least helps me, when I think in those terms. Which is, it’s not that free
will is the intuitive one that we’re talkin’ about here. Free will really is the fact
that we’re able to carry out this amazing spectrum of behaviors. We can walk, we can talk, we can sing, we can come up with ideas. The fact that they had an earlier cause maybe even back at the Big Bang, to me, it doesn’t take
anything away from creativity. It doesn’t take anything
away from originality. It doesn’t take anything away from having a sense of
authorship over your own actions because you’re the most
immediate cause of those actions. They emerge through you,
through your particles. Your particles and your
brain are configured in such a way that when
certain stimuli hit your body you said and do certain things. The fact that it’s determined, who cares? – So there’s different views of free will. There’s not just determinism
and non determinism. There’s compatibilism.
– Which is what that is. – And compatibilism is
saying that the world, it is deterministic, but
we also have free will within in that because
of these probabilities. And the other question, getting kind of to what you were saying is that so then people throw
their hands in the air, okay, if there’s no
such thing as free will, then I can do whatever I want. I can go murder someone,
it doesn’t matter, it was pre-determined.
(laughing) However, we have also–
– However, Chuck. – There is a however,
that’s really important. We have evolved the capacity to have self control as other animals. But in particular, we have
the largest percentage of prefrontal cortex
than any other species, which is the part of the
brain that has that ability to control our innate impulses. So we hold people
accountable for their actions to the degree to which
they have the capacity to have self control. Therefore, children are less
responsible for their crimes than adults or people who
have prefrontal lesions or sever psychiatric illness.
– ‘Cause children don’t have a fully developed
– Prefrontal cortex. – prefrontal cortex yet.
– Until about the age of 25. – And for guys, it’s 35.
– Yeah, it’s a little bit– (laughing)
Pushed out a little bit more. – Or perhaps, 70.
(laughing) – So our next segment is
gonna be StarTalk All Stars, where I take a backseat
and we bring on the host. One of our many talented
StarTalk All Stars, Neuroscientist Heather Berlin. Heather, come on out.
(applause) Hey. So Brian, you’re gonna come here. – [Heather] I think I’m sitting here. – [Neil] Why don’t you go there. And you go there. Let me ask botha you somethin’. ‘Cause you both have to think about this. Since we’re talkin’ about the brain predetermining something you do, you talkin’ ’bout the
Big Bang predetermining all future events. Then is the fact that we experience time, is that itself an allusion? – I’m gonna say yes, time is an allusion, the way we experience it. I’m not talking from
the physics perspective, but the way humans experience
time is an allusion because it’s very easily manipulated. So for example, in experiments, we can take something called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is basically–
– Transcranial. – Transcranial magnetic stimulation. You put a magnet and you can kinda zap different parts of the brain and temporarily knock them out. – People let you do this to them? – We do all sorts of things, Neil. Why do you think I
became a neuroscientist? – I gotta be honest, I’m kinda up for it. (laughing)
– It’s a lotta fun. It’s a lot of fun.
– Heather, you describe it with such glee. Stick a magnet on their
head, okay, and what happens? – One day I’ll bring you into the lab. – Na uh.
(laughing) I don’t wanna put magnets in my head. – We can manipulate, for example,
we have you do an action. You can press the button
whenever you want. Kinda like that let me know when you had the intention to do it and
then we see when you do it. And then we zap you just after you do it. – Zap you.
– Little magnet stimulation. (Neil laughs)
And what that does. It’s harmless.
– Innocent. – It’s harmless.
– Harmless. Magnetic stimulation of the brain. – It’s absolutely
harmless and what it does is we can move back in time, your perception of when
you had the intention, we can move forward in
time your perception of when you did the action. So that’s one way we can manipulate time. You can manipulate time when you’re in various different states of consciousness. When you have particular
types of brain damage, especially to the prefrontal cortex, your perception of time will speed up. We’re starting to understand
which parts of the brain are related to time perception and when they’re damaged,
your time perception changes. Or when you have certain
psychiatric illnesses. Even during the creative state, when you’re in that kind of flow state, like when Baba gets into
his flow and he’s rapping, I’ve looked at his brain in the scanner and other rappers.
– He let you do this. – Why do you think I married him? Oh, he’s my husband by the way. (laughing)
(applause) – Did he know before he married you? – No, she made him marry her.
(laughing) They were out at dinner,
she was like, come here. I’ma put a magnet on you. – The real question is.
– Don’t tryta dodge this back. We know.
– The real question is, did he write a rap about neuroscience because he married a neuroscientist? Or did he marry a neuroscientist because he wanted to write
a rap about neuroscience? We’ll never know, I digress. – I’ma tell you what I know,
and no disrespect to Baba or my wife of 20 years, but he married you ’cause you’re hot.
(laughing) Now that’s one thing that
every man is predetermined. (laughing)
– He tells me he was more attracted to my brain,
but I’ll leave it at that. – And I’ma tell you he’s lyin’. (laughing) – As I was saying, I
put it in the scanner. – You put him in the
scanner while he’s rapping? – While he’s rapping and we actually found a distinct pattern of brain activation. During improvised state versus when he’s doing a memorized rap, he gets decreased activation
of the part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which has to do with our sense
of self and time and place. So when you’re in these flow states– – There’s actually a
part of the brain called the dorso lateral prefrontal. Can you make up your mind where
this thing is in the head? (laughing) – I’m kinda with you ’cause this like dorsal, lateral, pre.
– Dorsal, lateral, pre. Frontal.
– Frontal. – Exactly where is it? It’s all around here.
(laughing) It’s all up in here. – In this exact spot.
– It’s right there. – There are a lot of parts to the brain that we need to describe
in explicit detail. I won’t even ask you
about your physics terms that you all use. It’s turned down. So that’s why when people
are in this flow state it feels as if it’s coming
through them from some place else ’cause they lose their sense of agency, but they also lose their sense of time and we also know in
people if you knock out with the transcranial
magnetic stimulation, that part of the brain, it’ll affect their perception of time. Time is a creation of the brain. It’s an allusion, just like anything else. And the other interesting fact is that people without any brain
damages, healthy people, actually have a slower
subjective sense of time than the actual clock time. So we’re not very accurate
at telling clock time. So we have our own kind of internal pace. – When I was a kid I did
a really geeky thing, just ’cause I could. I trained myself to
count seconds precisely. (laughing) – What are you talkin’ about Neil? That’s not geeky at all. – My personal best was I counted 89 seconds when 90 seconds had passed. And I used to do it with stop watches. I almost got an applause
for that, thank you. (laughing) So Brian, I just tried to match real time but she’s sayin’ the brain can be manipulated to think about–
– Is there such thing as real time? I just think it’s an
allusion that we experience but there is actual real time?
– From the standpoint of physics, there is a conception of time because that’s what
allows change to occur. So when people say from
a physics standpoint that time is an allusion, I don’t really know what they mean, but it is the case that
our experience of time, which you say that you can manipulate, which is quite interesting,
– With magnets. – Or electrodes.
– Our experience of time does not give us isnight into
the way time actually works. ‘Cause once you learn that time for me is not the same as time for you, if we’re in motion or if we’re experiencing
different gravitational fields, these are measurable differences between how your watch and my
watch will tick off time based upon what we’re
doing and where we are. That’s counterintuitive. We never experience that. It took a genius of Einstein
to come along and reveal it, so I would say that our experience of time gives us a misrepresentation
of how time actually behaves. But time is real.
– But for every one of us, we are prisoners of the present. Eternally transitioning
from our past to our future. – Jesus, man.
– That’s deep, man. We should just end this show right now. (laughing) – You said that, I was
like, guess we outta time. – Looking into the future,
there might be ways. We can do things now, like
implant electrodes in the brain and stimulate certain parts directly. – The more you talk about this. (laughing)
We can plant electrodes in the brain because the
magnet wasn’t good enough. – And we can control
it with remote control. This is real stuff, I promise.
(laughing. – How do we know, you
weren’t just off stage controlling Baba like this, with a remote control?
(laughing) How do we know?
– Why do you think he was so good?
(laughing) (applause) But if we could, and
theoretically we could do this in the not too distant future, go in and implant electrode and affect your perception of time, such that every moment
appears to last an eternity. – Tend to which the moments are. (laughing) – You could fast forward
the ones you don’t like. You can keep the really good ones. – Wait, that was in Black Mirror. I saw that in Black Mirror.
– Was that? – I was gonna say, have you
been talkin’ to my wife? (laughing)
– But the question would be, would you want that implant? Would you want that because
I happen to think that having to experience both
the good and the bad, the fact that it’s temporal
and that there’s limit and that it’s our most valuable resource, gives life meaning.
– But suppose you could find the moments in time or
the places in the brain where you’re most creative and then make that be your
most sustained experience. Does creativity map
into this conversation? – Yes, when you’re creating,
the parts of your brain that are normally active
when they’re click off time, are down regulated when you’re
in that creative flow state. Time doesn’t seem to exist,
self doesn’t seem to exist. It’s a very pleasurable state. People strive to get there.
– I think Brian and I could agree on this,
when you’re crankin’ out some equation, you
forego personal hygiene, you don’t know that you’re hungry. And you don’t know how
much time has elapsed. Brian, do you agree?
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Yeah, I call that Sunday.
(laughing) – But you also feel, it feels as if you’re tapping into something greater. As if you are outside something
greater than yourself. Because your sense of self is turned down. So in those moments, I would argue that we feel eternal in a sense
because time is not existing. And it is very pleasurable, but do you wanna be in
that state all the time? – If I had control over it. Do we have control over it?
– Essentially, yeah. – If we had control of it.
– Yeah, she wasn’t very sure about that part.
(Heather laughs) You have control, well ya ya ya yeah. (laughing)
All I know is this. I am never comin’ to your lab, ’cause you like a real
life version of Get Out. (laughing) Lay me down on the table. Now sink into the floor.
(laughing) – Well, I welcome any of you into my lab at any time.
– Chuck and I are walkin’ right by.
– It’s open door policy. Come on in. I would argue that our sense of time is what gives us meaning. And there are some
patients who get lesions where they are just literally
living in the moment. They cannot see the future and they cannot think of the past. There’s someone who has this
certain type of brain damage– – So they’re prisoners of
the present without vision. – Because you say we’re
prisoners of the present. I say we’re not prisoners of the present because we can see into
the future and the past. There’s a man, he had a
certain type of brain damage, where every minute, he keeps
a diary and just keeps writing I am now just conscious
for the very first time. Right now I’m just conscious
for the first time. Now I’m just awake, the first time and it’s just each minute
because he has no vision. He can’t look in the future
and he can’t see the past. It’s only the now. He’s a prisoner.
– Which magnet made that happen?
(laughing) – It’s a type of brain damage.
– And can I borrow some money from him?
(laughing) – Chuck.
– One interesting thing of that story though,
just to give it meaning. He had damage to his hippocampus, which is involved in memory, but the one thing he did remember. – There was an episode of
Family Guy called Big Man on the Hippocampus, by the way. – [Heather] Really, I’ve never seen it. The thing that stayed constant. – I know it ’cause I was in
that episode, that’s why. (laughing) – You were the big man?
– I was referenced in it or somethin’.
– You were the big man on the hippocampus?
– No, no, no, no. – Oh no, it wasn’t you? The thing that remains
stable though is every time his wife would come to visit him and this was over the course of years, he would recognize her and see
her like it’s the first time he’s seeing her in a million years and say oh, it’s so good to see you. I’m so happy to see you. And that lasted for years and years and that was the only thing
that remained constant. And the other thing was that
he was a professional pianist and whenever he’d get
in front of the piano, and get into this mode, he could actually just play a whole piece. – Was he aware his wife was
puttin’ magnets on his head? (laughing) – The one thing is this. We control the electrodes right now. The question is can you
control them yourself? That’s why I hesitate. We haven’t got to that point yet because you don’t wanna
people goin’ home and just – Well, call me when you get there. – zingin’ themsevles. When we get to that point,
then I’ll give you a call. – So Heather, we’re about to lose Brian – Oh no.
– out of this segment – Forever?
– before we go to our sports segment.
– Forever she says. – Brian, you have any sort of concluding reflective thoughts? – No.
– And he freely said that. – Brian, was it Einstein
or John Wheeler who said of time, time is invented
to make motion look simple. – Wheeler said time was
invented so that everything doesn’t happen at the same moment. – That you can spread it out
– Spread it out. – in a coordinate system.
– And Einstein said that the distinction between
past, present and future is only an allusion, however persistent. And on that I’ll leave,
thank you very much. (laughing)
(applause) – Brian.
– Thank you. – Brian Greene, everybody.
(applause) – Great job, man. For those of you who are uninitiated, Playin’ with Science is
a sports science mashup. Where Neil likes to say where
jocks and geeks collide. And I like to say without
any concussions by the geeks because when jocks and geeks collide, only one person suffers in that collision. – One person walks away.
– One person walks away, the other one does not
and normally do this– – By the way.
– Go ‘head. – In high school, I was a geek jock. – A geek jock?
– Yeah. – Yes.
– Yeah. – [Chuck] You were a wrestler. – But intellectually, I
associated with the geekaverse. But any time I saw a geek
get beaten up or bullied, that was my superhero. The geeks need me and I would go (laughing) (feet stomp) I felt this urge to protect the
geekasphere as high school– – What’s the superhero name for that? – I don’t know, I don’t know.
– Chuck? – But it needs one.
– Yeah, yeah. – I believe it’s the Tysonator. (laughing) That’s very cool. – So who do you have?
– But before we get into our guest, who is
(chuckles) just so so so awesome, actually I’m gonna use a different word, who is such a superb guest.
– He said that because any time I hear him say awesome, he said it would be awesome
if you could pass the salt and I would say, when I
grew up, the word awesome would apply to curing
polio, walking on the moon and there’s a next generation
that has no concept of how to use that word.
(laughing) – And I blame the Lego Movie.
(laughing) You didn’t see it.
– No, I didn’t see the Lego Movie. ♪ Everything is awesome ♪ (laughing) – Let me just say, first of all, I can’t tell you how long I been waitin’ to do that on stage.
(laughing) But normally this show is
co-hosted with Gary O’Reilly, who is a former professional soccer player and the co-host of Playing with Science and he is currently a broadcaster. He resides in the UK. Unfortunately his flight was canceled and so he could not be here. – It was snowing in the UK.
– It was snowing in the UK. No, it was snowing here. Unfortunately he could not be here. But he is listening right now. Not right now, but he will be
listening to this broadcast, so if we could all give
a round of applause to Gary O’Reilly.
(applause) What we do here is we
explore the science of sport. To help us do that today,
we have an incredible guest who is a former Olympic Silver Medalist. She is also, how many times,
how many times was it? I gotta look at these notes
’cause I wanna get it right. Five time World Champion Medalist. Please welcome the incredible Sasha Cohen. (applause)
(audience cheers) – Hi.
– Hey, good to see you. – I’m so excited to join the fun. – It’s so great. – Hop over here.
– Excellent. – Have a seat Sasha.
– Chuck, what did she get her medals in? (laughing) – Thank you Neil.
– It’s okay. – The truth is that I took it for granted that everybody would know
because you’re Sasha Cohen but she is a–
– Luge. – Luge.
(laughing) – Luge.
– You said luge. Sasha of course, is a figure skater. (applause) A damn good one. And not just a figure skater. You’re also an incredible ballerina and gymnast, all of those things rolled in and then strap skates on and do it all. – Exactly, I started in gymnastics. I wanted to take hip
hop, my mom directed me towards ballet, figure skating. – She wanted you to have a job. – Exactly.
– Hey, what are you talkin’ about, what’s wrong with hip hop? (laughing) – Don’t worry, your husband
is still my favorite White rapper.
(laughing) – White science rapper. – But go ‘head.
– So that was how I got started, I started in gymnastics because I was basically a bundle of energy and I destroyed the house. They were like how can we calm you down? So I got put into gymnastics for about three hours a day, every day. When I was five years old, I was doing hundreds of
jumping jacks, push ups, v ups and when I got home, I was
a very well behaved child. – A v up, is that this here?
– Are you gonna show me? – Oh, this?
– Am I gonna show you? You’re basically like this
and you’re goin’ up and up. – [Neil] Okay cool, very cool. – [Sasha] That’s a v up. – That’s very impressive,
I gotta tell you right– (laughing)
Nah, I’m not. You know what, I’m good.
– You good, you good. – You got it, you got it. It exists in the space time continuum. Just leave it there. – We of course have Heather Berlin here, Dr. Heather Berlin, who is going to break
down the neuroscience because there’s a lotta
neuroscience that goes into pretty much every athlete, correct? – Yeah.
– When you talk about the brain and the discipline. They call it muscle memory, but it really isn’t muscle memory. – It’s actually called procedural memory. Basically when you’re first learning, and you probably have had this experience, the moves or whatever it may be, you have to really focus and you’re using parts of
your prefrontal cortex. You need conscious focus, even learning to tie a
shoelace for the first time. And then over time, over repetition, and discipline to do it
all those many times, it starts to become
implicit or unconscious and it moves into the basil ganglia, which is the subcortical part of the brain and it becomes this procedural memory. – What we call muscle memory.
– Yeah. And it’s like riding a bike. And then once you get it
into that implicit state, if you become too self
aware of what you’re doing, oh exactly how should
I hit that tennis ball, it will mess up your flow. I imagine that you practice it so much that when you go into a routine, you’re almost going on autopilot. You wanna get to that point at which your body knows what it’s doing and you don’t have to think about it. ‘Cause the thinking messes it up. – ‘Cause Yogi Berra said it, baseball, 90% of the game is half mental. (laughing)
– That’s a good quote. – No, it’s true and I think that’s where a lot of elite athletes get in trouble. It’s happened to me on several occasions, is where you train your
body to do something over and over and over, but
then you have this one moment and you’re like I can’t
leave it to chance. So you get your mind involved
because you also have days that you’re only practicing an hour a day once your at competition, and then you’re just thinking about it over and over and this one moment arrives and it’s very hard to
put away the monkey mind ’cause it really wants
to be there to help you, but it’s like too many
cooks in the kitchen. – Exactly, and when you
turn down that part of, it’s the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, that’s making you self aware.
– There it is. – There it is again.
(laughing) – And that’s the inner critic and oh my god, what should I do. And if you can manage to turn that down, and just enter into the flow
state and lose yourself, that’s when you really
perform at your best. – Exactly.
– You better watch out, she’ll tell you to sink into the ice. (laughing) Neil, you, yesterday, actually, I heard you talkin’ to somebody at another thing we were doin’, where you were sayin’ that
you skate or you did somethin’ at the ice rink where
you wore figure skates? What didn’t you do? What haven’t you done?
– I spent the time in high school as a rink guard. (laughing)
– But not with hockey skates. – Not with hockey, I wore figure skates. – [Sasha] Which is very unusual. Very unusual.
– The rink guard is more aggressive with hockey skates, but
I had figure skates on. (laughing)
I had on figure skates. – I’m just tryin’ to figure this out and maybe you can tell me.
– That toe pick can hurt you. – That’s why you had it. ‘Cause you’re fierce.
– You ever see figure skates? There’s teeth in the
front of figure skates. There were some thugs who came on. – You were the real deal
– Hockey thugs. – Who knew figure skatin’ was so tough? (laughing) – They were beefy, thuggy guys, and rather than fight them, I just challenged them to a race, from one end of the ice to the other and everyone parted ways and they have on hockey skates, so they gotta press
their feet left and right to go forward.
– Yeah. – I had on figure skates,
I just went up on my toes and just ran.
(laughing) And I got to the end,
waitin’ for them to come. They shut up after that. So I deeply appreciate your craft. – Thank you.
– As a figure skater myself. (laughing) – As a physicist.
– We’ll have to do the next episode on the rink. We’ll race, we’ll race.
– Ooh, yeah. – [Heather] Ooh, those
are some fightin’ words. – [Sasha] Take this to the rink. – Meet me outside on the rink. With figure skates on in a tutu, then we’ll fight.
– Exactly. – Are you aware of the physics because they call figure
skating physics on ice. There’s so much to it. Are you aware of the
physics when you’re skating? Or are you aware of it at all?
– I think you are aware of it, but you don’t think of
it in terms of physics. The way that you define, it’s like this hyper body awareness and you can feel when
you take off for a jump, if you don’t have enough speed, if you slightly throw
your shoulder too much and you can feel in the
air that you’re off kilter and that you’re gonna go down hard. And you also know that if you’re doin’ a single, a double, a triple or a quad, exactly how much torque you have to put in when you leave the ice,
’cause that is what determines how fast you will rotate and
if you’ll be able to complete a certain number of
rotations up in the air. – Torque is a force that
sets something into rotation. And otherwise it’s just a force giving acceleration to an object. You have force that
goes in a straight line and then you have torque, which is a force turning something. So there you are, it’s
a force you are putting between your body, your skate and the ice, so that you can rotate.
– To launch it, to begin it and the same with spinning. And that’s something you’ll
kinda go into a spin slow and then you’ll glide in
and you’ll ride the edge, and then you’ll take the
right side of your body and you’ll snap it to begin the spin and then you’ll use your arms and legs to increase your speed or slow it down. – Oh my god.
(laughing) I’m learnin’ how to physics skate. – Physics skate.
– Physics skate, I’m learnin’ how to physics skate. – [Neil] Did you just invest that word? – I did, physics skate.
– Physics skate. – So here’s what I would love to do. For those of you who are listening and do not have the benefit of visual, because everybody is here,
if you could stand up and just show us the actual, but you have to talk it through, because people are listening at home, – Sure.
– if you could show us the physicality of what happens when you’re doing that motion and then Neil, if you can break down exactly what’s happening
from a physics standpoint, I think that would be really cool. I’m makin’ this up as I go along. (laughing)
(applause) – So we can pretend like
we’re the Olympic announcers. We’ve got Sasha Cohen. – And this is what she’s doing. – This is what she’s doing. Sasha Cohen, she’s wearing high heels at this moment.
– I am wearing heels. I’ve not done it this way before. – So what happens?
– There’s two instances. There’s a jump and a spin. I feel like if anyone’s
watched any figure skating, somewhat aware of the difference. One you leave the ice and one you don’t. The jump, you leave the ice.
(laughing) – Chuck, you got that?
– I’m keepin’ up. – We’ll start with a jump.
– Stay with us, Chuck. – For instance, I will start with a salchow, and so it’s something where you’re gonna take off backwards and you’re gonna be gliding on the inside edge of your left foot and you’re gonna determine how much speed you wanna get going in. So I’ll be doing crossovers and running and running, going fast.
– Building your speed. – Right, and then people
have different entrances. Many, many, many years
ago, I did a quad salchow and I wanted to get extra torque. So I would do a turn ahead and
then I would set myself here, and then I would use the
edge, gliding backwards, the right side of my body and I would dig in with
my left foot into the ice and whip this up and that’s
what would initiate the momentum and I would leave the ice,
push off this toe pick and then immediately snap the
weight over my right side. And based on how much I followed through with my
right arm, and right leg, and push down with my left, would determine how fast I would spin and if it would be a
single jump, a double jump, a triple jump, or a quad.
– Can I ask you a question? The way you’ve just broke it down was a very logical, conscious, whatever. When you’re actually doing that, you’re not thinking all
those things are you. Are you feeling them?
– You feel it. – You feel it.
– So I think I’m explaining exactly what I feel, but it’s
like you’re very fine tuned. You know exactly how much speed you need and you know how much speed is too much that you’ll lose control. That it could turn out great,
but you have to get lucky because basically speed
magnifies anything. It helps you get more
height and more torque, but if you are one millimeter
off in any direction and you have extra speed,
you’re gonna go down really hard or your alignment won’t be quite right. So people are a little
tentative with speed. You can go up in flames. It’s like putting leverage on your house. It can work out really well,
or it just can go bust. (laughing) – Now, finally, somethin’ I can relate to. – No leverage.
– So Sasha, you gave a brilliant
description of how you give yourself rotational inertia. – [Sasha] For a jump, we
haven’t even gotten to the spin. – To me, in physics, you
generally break things apart into components and you
put ’em all together for the one thing. I break this apart, you
told me how you gain spin, but if gonna do a quad, you
have to be airborne long enough to complete the quad
before you hit the ground. – Yes, that’s part of it. Because you’ll notice, if you’ve watched figure
skating this past Olympics, you will see some people
barely get off the ice and they can do three turns and some people get this high up and they don’t complete it.
– Two, three feet off the ice. – It really is the rotational spin. – It’s how fast you launch yourself up. And then obviously it goes
into what’s you’re body type, do you have wide hips,
how fast are you spinning? And that’s why men rotate faster and generally do a lot
more quads than women do. They spin faster, they’ve
got narrower hips. But women are more flexible, so we’ve got better spiral sequences. – How many women have done quads? – A couple have done it in practice and I feel like maybe
one or two have done it in competition.
– And you’ve done a quad? – I have, a long time ago.
(applause) Long time ago. Thankfully, YouTube exists,
and it will always live there. (laughing)
I’ll be like wow, I used to do that. Now I just sit.
(laughing) – People must’ve freaked out. Did the announcer lose his shit? (laughing)
– It was an exciting moment because people can see
when you get really close, or you’re double footed or you step out, but when you actually do it and you come down from four turns and you have to have tremendous amount of strength and balance to catch yourself when you come down, get out
and so it’s this moment. Uh, is she gonna do it? Is she gonna do it? And you have it and it’s very exciting. – It was exciting watching
you just do it in heels. (laughing)
– It’s an extra layer. – So there’s the launch and the landing, that both matter. – Yes, so when I train, you’d work on explosive
muscles for bounce. And then also I would jump
down off of boxes this high in order to learn how to
absorb all that pressure and momentum coming down.
– You do that with the skates on?
– Off ice training, I do it without skates. And then on the ice, with skates. (laughing) – Thanks Sasha.
– No problem, no problem. Did wanna keep it clear. No misunderstandings. But then let me get to a spin. ’cause a spin’s very different, ’cause you’re not launching yourself out and it’s something that
goes for much longer. It’s not fractions of a second. A spin can be 30 seconds,
it can be a minute. You’ll see most people wind backwards. It’s all about torque in the body and this is why I realize
I’m a terrible skier because it’s the opposite.
– They’re winding the spring. – You’re winding.
– To send it out. – So my hips are going to the left and my shoulders are going to the right, lotta abs, lotta abs.
– Core work. – So then you step in and
you ride this outside edge and then again, you do the
same with momentum for a jump, except you don’t take
off and then you spin. Generally, if I wasn’t in heels, (applause)
I could do more spins. Once you’re there,
you’ll keep this momentum and then as I would bring
in my arms and my legs, I can just insanely increase
the speed of my spin and likewise, if all the sudden,
I wanted to slow it down, I would just open up. And you would see the rotations
just kind of almost stop. In that way, I was aware of physics, but for figure skaters, we
would think about it more in terms of body awareness
of where your hips are, what torque you need. – Plus you have to look good doin’ it. – Yes.
– ‘Cause you’re bein’ judged– – And what color you look good in. (laughing)
– Right, right. There are other dimensions of
the analysis of the scores. – [Sasha] Exactly. – Can you tell us what is
happening when she does that? – Oh, the physics, yeah. Gonna take my shoes off.
– I wanna see your spin. – For those of you listening, Neil is taking off his shoes.
– She kept her heels on. – And putting on Sasha’ heels. – [Sasha] Cinderella,
does it fit, does it fit? – All I could tell you is this, Prince Charmin’ is never comin’ back. (laughing) – [Sasha] Thank you. – In physics, here’s the deal. If you set yourself rotating,
so I’ll do that right now. Here I am rotating, (applause)
at a speed. Wait, don’t applaud yet. You don’t know what’s about to come. (laughing) – So you just spun around.
– You can calculate how much angular. You might remember from
your physics class, everything that happens in a straight line you can think of in a rotation. There’s a force, the rotational
counterpart is torque. There is mass, the rotational counterpart is moment of inertia. You also have momentum and
the rotational counterpart is just angular momentum. So here’s the thing. Once you start rotating, your
angular momentum is constant. It’s constant, so if I start spinning, you calculate the angular
momentum by, here it is. It is the mass of whatever your body is. (laughing)
– Which in this case would be the biggest figure skater ever. (laughing) – Here’s the point. Your hands have a certain mass and they’re rotating out at this distance. So you have part of your body mass away from your axis of rotation. You can calculate how much
angular momentum that is. Now watch, if I bring any part of my body closer to my axis of rotation, then one of the terms in
your angular momentum drops. What happens is the distance
to your axis of rotation drops. But your angular momentum stays the same, so somethin’ has to increase. – Ohh.
(applause) – Because when you multiply
– Bing. – these two numbers, you have to get the same answer every time. If I start changing the
distance of the mass of my body to my axis and I make it
smaller, I have to spin up. – Nice.
– Nice. – Allow me?
– Yes. – I will spin, and then.
(applause) Just like she said. You’re spinning, you speed
up, but then you can stop it. By just putting your mass back out. – Slow it down.
– Here’s my proposal to you. (laughing) Put your arms out. You’re my skating physics
demo in this moment. You have a certain amount
of mass coming out here. – For those listening, right now, Sasha has her arms–
– T shape. – Spread apart,
– Spread, apart, yes. – in a t formation and go ‘head. – Exactly, so there’s a
certain amount of mass along your arm and in your hands. And you also showed earlier
when you started spinning, you might start with your leg out. And then when you bring your leg closer in towards your axis of rotation, you start spinning faster. So we got this. Oh, this an infinity on your wrist. – It is.
– Very cool. (laughing) It’s an infinity tattoo.
– Yes, that is an infinity tattoo.
(laughing) – Sorry. Here’s my suggestion, I
don’t know if it’s legal. Next time you do this, I
think you can do a quint. Is there such a word?
– There is such a word. – A quint, five turns. Now how would you do that? I’m gonna say, you get some
lead weight to put in your hand. (laughing) – It’s Tom Brady all over again. Tom Brady of ice skating. – When you start spinning with
lead weights in your hand, even if you’re spinning at the same speed that you once were, you have more mass farther away from your rotation axis. So that as you then
bring the more mass in, you will spin faster. People will notice if
you’re grabbing somethin’ to hold on to somethin’.
– Whoa, what’s goin on? – As you skate around the rink with two kettle bells in your hand. (laughing)
– It’s a little obvious. – Just get really heavy rings. Really heavy rings.
– Bracelet, and lead infuse the wrist bracelet and it’s just your jewelry.
– Meanwhile, I build up huge– (laughing) – So what I’m sayin’ is, if you did that, the same gestures, you will spin faster and you’ll have to land, you
have to figure out the landing. (laughing) – I’m gonna throw this back to you. – What’s that?
– For spinning, this would absolutely work, and it would give me more
torque and momentum when I spin. But I think the extra weight, would not allow me to get
up as high in the air, and so even if I got extra
torque when I pulled in, I would still not be able
to rotate as many times. – Need to think about this.
– We need to work on this. You need to work on this.
– It’s a trade off. (applause)
Have to think about that. – Good thing to think about.
– Gotta think about that. This is one of the
interesting physics problems where there are two variables
competing with one another and you don’t know if one is
more powerful than the other or where they meet, to get
the best combination of both. That’s where you get more the interesting, complex problems in physics and in life. – I have a neuroscience problem here. That I can address.
– What’s that? – [Heather] Why don’t you get dizzy when doing all of this–
– Oh yeah. What’s up with that?
– I have an explanation for that.
– You know Chuck, if we did that, we’d be like bleh. (laughing) – Are you kiddin’ me?
– ‘Cause they’re going around – and around and around
– I’m dizzy right now. – There’s actually a
neuroscientific explanation for that question.
– It’s interesting. For jumping, it happens
in a fraction of a second and you don’t get dizzy,
it’s just very quick. But spinning is something where ballet and skating really diverge. If you’re a ballerina, you’re spotting to the edge of the room and
that’s how you’re keeping your awareness.
– And by spotting, you mean, you pick a spot,
– You pick a spot. – and you turn your head
– and you turn and you turn. – very quickly back to that spot. – That prevents you from getting dizzy? – For ballet.
– For ballet. – This is what ballerinas do. They always spot, but for figure skaters, you’re spinning so fast and
you’re not doing one, one, one. You’re literally doing,
I don’t know, 50 turns and the trick is you have
to stay in the same center. So about one to two blade length. I think it’s something to
do with your inner ear, that if you’re not traveling, and you’re staying in the same spot, even though you’re spinning, you don’t get dizzy, but
from personal experience, when you do a spin and you do a bad spin, which you would get a deduction for, and you’re traveling, so
you kind of start here and I end up off stage,
– That would be bad. – you get out of the spin
and it’s like a cartoon, where you see the stars
and you’re just like what, where am I, and so
that’s why they teach you have your center and don’t travel. So explain that inner ear
to me in neuroscience terms. – Your inner ear consists of
these three fluid filled tubes. And each one is at a
different orientation, so it’s meant to be sensitive
to a different orientation. Let’s say if your head
goes up, yes, like this, or no, or side to side
and within those fluid– – These are the three dimensions of space. – Yeah, the three dimensions, and they’re represented
within your inner ear in these little tubes. Within each of these fluid filled tubes are these little hairs that are sensing. It’s almost like seaweed
at the bottom of the ocean. So when you move, it senses and
sends signals to your brain. If you think about if you’re in a chair, let’s say, spinning, and you’re
holding a bottle of water, and you’re spinning in this swivel chair and then you stop, the
water is gonna keep going, ’cause it builds up momentum and the same thing is
happening in your inner ear. It’s tellin’ your brain
you’re still moving. That’s why people get dizzy. – That’s why when you stop spinning, you fall over ’cause you
can’t keep your balance, ’cause your brain didn’t figure out that you stopped spinning.
– It thinks you’re still moving, but then,
there’s also information. – There’s information coming to your brain
– The brain’s so stupid. (laughing) – But your muscles are
telling you stuff as well. There’s proprioceptive input. And there’s also visual
input giving you information. – [Neil] What kind of
input was the muscle input? – Proprioceptive.
– Proprio– – Proprioceptive.
– Proprioceptive. – Like proprioception.
– Oh, that cleared it up. (laughing) – [Sasha] I’ve heard of that word before. – Yeah, it’s proprioceptive, you know, like proprioception. We good now, alright, we good.
– We gotta move on. You’re holding us up. – It signals that tell your bodies its awareness in space. Your brain is getting that information from you muscles and your joints, the inner ear is telling
you you’re still moving and your eyes are giving you information. So that’s why they often say, and tell me if they say this to you, when you come outta the spin, different than ballerinas who focus each time they make a turn, but you then are told to
focus at a specific point, ’cause you wanna have your
eyes telling your brain counteracting what your
inner ear is telling it that it’s still moving, that
you’re not moving any longer. And also what you do, I’m
sure, is you practice off ice just spinning so that
your brain can habituate. It’s not so much that you’re spinning in one place versus moving, although the movement is gonna cause it to be more confusing ’cause there’s moving
in different directions, so it’ll be less of a movement
if you’re in one space, but that’s not what I think is happening. I think you habituate ’cause you practice. – [Chuck] So your brain just
becomes acclimated to spinning. – Only so much though, ’cause it’s still a physiological affect. – And what you’ll see figure skaters do is they’ll spin very fast,
and then they’ll slow down and they slow down, they’re
kinda getting their bearings. – And they’re readjusting.
– So you’re easing yourself out of it.
– Exactly and then there’s a trick move that you do. You spin really, really, really fast and you stop. You do it to the music, like ba bam. – And it gives you a moment.
– You give yourself a second and then you’re like look at my arm now. (laughing)
You have the choreography built in, we have these
breathers after a spin. – Sasha is it true that your
fastest spin in any performance is this spin you end on? So you don’t have to be graceful
and balance-y after that. – It’s true, people generally do their more strenuous wham,
bam, hit every position. It’s very dramatic at the very end, also because it takes up a lotta energy and you wanna get your
jumping passes in earlier. Although you’re seeing
that change now a lot with the new judging system, where you’re getting rewarded
and getting more points if you jump after the halfway mark. But generally, you wanna end on a big note and so people will do combination spins where you hit six different positions. You’re in a camel, you’re in a sit spin, you’re in a lay back, and
then you’re on the other foot and your leg’s up, so there’s a lot goin on.
– It’s like the fireworks. Like a fireworks finale.
– It is, exactly, it’s a finale, it’s a fireworks finale. – Put ’em all up there. Put ’em all.
– This one, that one, ooh that one too.
– Smiley face, oh. – Everything you got, throw it at the end. – So Heather, let me ask you this, ’cause we’re almost outta time. Why is it that from a
neurological standpoint that that is our first kind
of foray into getting high? You see children spin around, spin around, (Heather chuckles)
and then they just like oh, I am messed up, man.
(laughing) What is happening there?
– A lot of what drugs do is they kind of play with your senses. So normally we have input
coming in from our senses and our brain is organizing
it in a certain way. But when you kind of mess with your senses in the way the brain is interpreting them, that’s also what drugs tend to do. It’s interesting, ’cause
it’s a different brain state. And it’s not just your
inner ear, by the way. That information goes
through that little brain in the back of your brain, the cerebellum, it’s right in the back of your neck, and what’s interesting is that that has two times as many
neurons as your entire brain. Two times as many neurons.
– Twice. (laughing)
(hands slap) – It’s two, two,
– Twice. – Two times as many neurons.
– It’s unconscious. And people who have complete
damage to the cerebellum they are still fully conscious and aware. They might have less coordination, they can’t do triple axles and things but they’re fully conscious and aware, so we only need basically
1/3 of our neurons to have conscious awareness, but it’s interesting how much goes into that ability to have balance. I think the reason why it feels good is that we like different sensations. We like to be outside of our normal, even dream states or creative
states or day dreaming. When we’re not in that normal state, where the prefrontal cortex is on and everything’s working properly, it’s fun, it’s interesting. That’s why we like to go on rollercoasters or rides that make us feel weird. – Sasha, when you’re performing, you’re in an altered mental state, according to this.
– Maybe that’s why I became a figure skater.
(laughing) The world is gonna be too much. I need to skate for 20 years.
– That’s why you drink before competitions.
– Shhh. (laughing)
That was our secret. – That is it for Playing with Science. Please give it up for Dr. Heather Berlin. (applause) Olympic Medalist Sasha Cohen. The inhibitable Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ve been your host for
Playin’ with Science. Also please give it up for Gary O’Reilly, who is not here and our
catchphrase is this. If you play with fire, you get burned. You play with science, you get learned. (laughing) – Suck on that how. BAM, get home safely. Have a good night. (ethereal music)