Space Politics | Wheel of Science with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Space Politics | Wheel of Science with Neil deGrasse Tyson

– This episode of Wheel of Science is brought to you by Wix. – On this episode of Wheel of Science we’re talking politics in space or Space Force, but you
gotta say it differently. – Yeah, in space there
are only deep voices. Space Force. – This is Wheel of Science. – Hey everybody, what’s up, and welcome to Wheel of Science. I’m your host Chuck Nice, and this is the show where
we answer your questions about the universe. Actually, I don’t answer
your questions about the universe, but that would be silly. The one, the only Doctor
Neil deGrasse Tyson answers your questions about the universe. – Hey Chuck. – What’s up Neil? – Doing good. You found
me in my office today. – I think this is the longest time that you have been home. – Yeah. Sometimes, I gotta
give the universe a rest. – I disagree with that. I think the universe can handle you, Neil. (laughs) So Neil, before we get to the questions, why don’t you just tell us, what is Space Force. – Yeah if that comes to past, it would just be a
reorganization of the military with a lot of the activities that have already been happening under the auspices of the Air Force. Many people, I don’t think knew, the Air Force has a U.S.
Space Command within it. And they’re the ones that
conceived and launched the GPS satellites. They, with NSA and others,
have spy satellites in orbit. This been going on since the 60’s. Spy satellites. So, this concept that
the military use of space is something new, no it’s something old. And all this would do would
codify it into a new branch of the Armed Forces. – So it really already exists. It’s like calling an
apple pie an apple crisp. – Taking apple pie and hitting
it with a hammer a few times and call it apple crisp? (laughing) – That’s exactly what I meant. (laughing) Neil, what time is it my friend? – It is time to spend the wheel. – My, how formal. (playful electronic music) – Mike Maas wants to know
“If, and, when we colonize another planet, who has
political rights over that body?” – Welcome to the wild
frontier of space law. It’s not clear. The Outer Space Treaty stipulates that you can own anything in space, so nations cannot declare it there own. So, if that holds up the answer is nobody has jurisdiction, but I think laws imagined many decades ago may need to be updated and modified given what we learn and know about the future of space exploration. So, we’re in need of some
enlightened attorneys to think this through going forward. – Oh God, more lawyers. – No, better lawyers. – So you mentioned space treaty. What is that? – The Outer Space Treaty
was a U.N. document drafted in the late 1960s, ratified by, today,
more than 100 countries, and it’s a guideline for the
peaceful use of outer space, and it’s very kumbaya, you know if your astronaut is in trouble I come help you and I bring
you food and water and it’s very beautiful, it’s
very future thinking, but it leaves open the
possibility that you might want to defend your assets in space, with some form of weapon or another. Suppose you see a
satellite coming toward you and you think its gonna hurt you. Can you preemptively take it out so that you don’t get hurt. This is the fuzzy area in that document, but that doesn’t subtract
from the fact that it really is imagining a
future, a very peaceful future, of cooperation in space, which I think in the end is a good idea. – Look at that, Gene
Roddenberry couldn’t have done a better job himself. – Yep! – All right, Neil. You ready for another one? – Spin the wheel. (playful electronic music) – Jenn Shifferd wants to know this. “Don’t we already use
satellites for military action? What other ways will
they militarize space?” – Yeah when people think of
the militarization of space they’re often thinking of
Star Wars, weapons, missiles and things. Problem is when you’re
in space and in orbit you’re going 18,000 miles
an hour in low earth orbit. If you start busting stuff up, now you have particles and bits and pieces of formerly operating satellites, that are themselves projectiles, moving at 18,000 miles per hour. And so, you make a mess of things. So space war would last
a few hours and then you’d never have another space war again. (laughing) So, space has been the
repository of spy satellites ever since we’ve had satellites. And in that sense, it
has been militarized. If fact, the Gulf War of
2003 was completely enabled by space assets, with GPS
satellites leading the way. Which we think of as just helping you get to grandma’s house in your
car, but it was conceived, launched and operated by the military, and was later co-opted
by business interests. So it’ll find grandma’s house, Uber, their entire business model depends on it, and if you wanna find
a mate within 1.5 miles of your location, swipe right. – Interplanetary hook ups. I like the way you think, Neil. (playful music) You’ve heard me say it a million times, Wix is the best place
to create your personal or professional website. I made on Wix. I found the perfect template, uploaded our content and hit publish. It doesn’t take an astrophysicist. That’s why Neil didn’t do it and I did. No offense, Neil. Upgrade to a premium plan and you can get your own website domain name right away. Go to and begin– – All right, you ready for another one? – Spin it. (playful electronic music) – Jade Tollis asked “What
possible injuries or diseases will combat doctors in the
Space Force find themselves regularly treating?” – That’s a great question. Well that depends on how much
we invoke soldiers in space, as opposed to remote
controlled satellites in space. You start putting people in space, and then they start fighting one another, you might ask well why would you do that, just put a drone satellite in space. But if you put people in space,
then there’s the long term effects of zero-g, the bone density loss, all the same things we
currently know about from astronauts and
their long term visits to the International Space Station. So that’s the kind of, I
wouldn’t call them injuries, but they’re workplace
hazards I would call them. Workplace conditions
that are not always in the interest of your
health or your longevity. You also have exposure to
higher levels of radiation from the sun so you wanna
be protected against that, but if a missile hits you
and you’re blown to bits, same medical needs you
might have if that happened on earth. – Hmmm, the difference is when
you scream medic in space, no one can hear you. – Yes, Chuck (laughs) that is true. Not only in space can
no one hear you scream, no one can hear you explode either. – Man bro, you went dark. – Just saying. Let’s get real here. (laughing) – All right. It’s caption time. We took a picture of Neil and we put it up and of course we took
captions from our viewers. And the winning caption is… Peter Grell “I can
count to two in my head, but starting at three I
gotta use my fingers.” (laughs) – That’s my favorite
one too, I must agree. (laughing) In fact, it goes a little deeper with me because one of my most
influential books growing up, beginning in middle school, was a book called One
Two Three…Infinity, written by the physicists George Gamow. And he reference a tribe, a primitive tribe where
they don’t have numbers for anything bigger than three. They just can count up
to three then after that it’s just very many. And so the question was how do they think about large numbers
relative to small numbers. So I like that. It’s a throwback to a
time when we really didn’t have to count more that
three things in our lives. – I just love that while you were reading One Two Three…Infinity, I was reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. And that was in high school. Time now for this weeks poll, which is “Do you think we
should have a Space Force?” Answer right here on this page. All right Neil, what do you think, huh? – You know, if we have a Space
Force, then the Air Force motto, Aim High, you lose
to Space Force on that one, cause their aiming higher,
so I don’t know how you’re gonna resolve that one, but– – So the Air Force would
have to change their motto to ‘Lower your expectations’. – And then the Space Force gets
‘The Sky is not the Limit.’ Which happened to be
the title of my memoir. – You know what I like
most about that answer is the gangsta way you
slipped in your book plug. (laughing) Look at that, we’re out of time. And of course, we have to
say thank you to our very own personal astrophysicist
Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson. (laughing) Thank you, Neil. Thank you again, Neil. – Till next time Chuck. – Total design freedom. That’s what you get when
you make a website using the Wix editor. You want motion background? Well you got it. You want an online store? Well that’s a Wix feature. Animated page transition? You guessed it. You can go on Wix. Yeah I like this, lets do it. You can either use Wix ADI to let an artificial design intelligence
build your site for you, or you can use their wide
variety of templates to get exactly the site that you had in mind. Upgrade to a custom
domain, like we have at, and let
the world know about your site. So what are you waiting for? Go to
and begin your site now. Believe me. If I can do it, you can do it. No way I’m as smart as you. That’s our show. We’ll see you next time. I’m Chuck Nice. Thanks for watching Wheel of Science. (playful music)

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100 thoughts on “Space Politics | Wheel of Science with Neil deGrasse Tyson”

  • As if we didn't have enough conflicts already. Do we really need another place where to fight one another? Why not improve NASA's budget and other space agencies instead?

  • The reason "Alien" happened is because the Nostromo heard a distress call and law says if any spaceship gets a distress call from anyone, they are required to respond. I thought that was stupid, but it's the actual law.

  • Colonizing land on another planet is not he same as claiming domain over space "objects" like asteroids, the moon, and other items. The leading theory is that law for colonization, will probably follow similar maritime laws.

  • In the movie Armageddon. Bill Patton who played the character Chick said "Oh my God you brought a gun in space". I feel the same way. We really need to reduce the use of spy satellites in space as well.

  • Neil evidently skimmed Gamow's book without understanding. Tyson screwed up Cantor's ideas pretty badly. His interview with Rogan got Tyson a thread in the bad mathematics subreddit.

  • Humans will be reduced to fighting eachother over, ever dwindling resources and die off before we colonize another planet 😆

  • If we point a laser at the sun would it deflect some of the heat that we are accumulating?

    How does a laser work in a double slit experiment?

  • I feel like Neil is a bit repetitive in his communication to the public. Once you have had exposure to his ideas for a while, it's like you can predict what he's going to answer like 80 % of the time.

  • We don't need a space force. When the government uses the word force it relates to armed forces. We just don't need people with guns in space waring with each other. Going to space is supposed to be showing are higher IQs and armed forces in space does not do that at all. Plus it sounds like a complete waste of taxpayers' money. We keep paying Russia to get into space. This makes Space Fours sound like a joke with a bad punch line. Maybe Chuck can write that joke. 🙂 Go Chuck…

  • Sure, I dont see why we shouldn't have a space force. I think it'll mark a new age in space exploration, especially considering what's been happening recently.

  • If the Universe started with the Big Bang, then I would imagine that the Universe is a sphere expanding. If it is true, then somewhere in the Universe their is places where their visible horizon is not a sphere, right?

  • Yinz really need to do something about the wheel spin noise. 😵😵😵 hooooly crap that’s loud and extremely annoying

  • Everything & I mean everything done in space from the production of the asset-machines to the execution should be all of us as a whole=all countries should be considered a part & it should all be live streamed online so we can oversee-check/balance the construction-execution so that we don't end up in a situation like the 1 we are in right now. We can go the way similar to but not the same as the Federation of Star Trek(I say it that way because as anyone will note that was actually subverted by parasites=there were/are posers pulling the strings)or we can continue down this path which won't lead to where I know most of you want to go. & no you never made it off Talos, you never made it out of the cage-quarantine-the test for sentience. & guess what as Q said you never really will so stop letting your ego lead it's headed for a fall.

  • Dear Dr. Tyson, I'm a random human being from South Africa trying to understand whatever I can about my existence, as I'm sure many people are. I'm curious as to why you as an influential science communicator and educator, has not yet had a conversation with Elon Musk for us normal folk to see. Btw, I've read every one of your books and am deeply moved by everything you teach. I had an amazing physics teacher in high school which left me with a thirst for more, till I found you. Thank you!

  • I think it would be like the international waters, if you are on a boat from the US, you are under US jurisdiction. So you are in the US owned base, it is US law, if you in the open then you are under no jurisdiction, that is why we have pirates (space pirates 😉)

  • Do we need a space force? Yes, but the real question should be what defines the difference between the air force and the space force? Is the difference 70KM from sea level? When the atmosphere becomes too thin to detect 02 or is the difference on an oak desk in DC?


    It's coming soon.

  • 1:40
    As a baking enthusiast ™ I feel sad that most people have never had an actual apple crisp, a crisp has a rolled oats strussel topping that browns and becomes crispy in the oven, delish. A pie completely encapsulates the fruit in a flour based crust

  • It would be very nice if you all talk about the TV show: Dark. If their approach to wormhole and time travel was interesting, accurate or just silly…

  • I heard the thing about nobody can own anything in space, almost 2 decades ago. Then I heard some company claimed some asteroid and I wrote a claim for the rest of the known and unknown universe and everything within it, except for that asteroid and planet earth. I will be expecting all back taxes. Thank you.

  • When we colonize a planet, will those people no longer be Earthlings and no longer part of their home nation? Like, an american wouldn't be one anymore on Mars. He or she would be a Martian. American Martian? Earthling Martian? Terrarian Martian?

  • What if you're having a gun fight in a spaceship with artificial gravity that I've never heard an explanation for in any Sci-Fi thing besides that time Sterling Archer from the show Archer went to space. The first time.

  • A lot of our modern inventions came from the military, so the idea of space force doesn't bother be, but people should watch over it like all government agencies.

  • Thank you for addressing that the airforce already has basically a space force when looking into global strike, no one outside the military usually addresses that.
    Edit. "Lower your expectations"… yup that's basically once you enlist in general soooo that's already a motto for military.

  • Whats going on with the Planck constant discrepancy?? Is our physics fundamental erroneous or are our neasurements biased?? Or is there really new physics yet to be discovered??

  • I love you guys and watch every show, BUT you have to ruin it for my family when you make comments like the "hookup" comment. I was going to share this with my kids, but now I can't. I want them to learn, but some things they can wait until they are in their teens to learn.

  • Yeah, but now Trump use this as an excuse to rip funding away from other programs that people in this country direly need and pump even more money into the military industrial complex.


    People like Neil Degrasse Tyson; should be widely listened to, he inspirited me to make this. How does he inspire you ?

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson is so exciting to watch! he make you think! my mind is blown everytime he speak! he's like a wise
    Jedi Knight! more like Yoda! Neil deGrasse Tyson is legend!! thank you……..

  • To the question of Space Force, absolutely. Think about it this way, as Space Force expands into more militarization of space; who gets most of the funding from our federal budget? Military. So in turn, we would be funding space exploration through military funding. I'd much rather see the funds going to an interstellar spaceship, rather than another F-16 or battleship.

  • I remember having phosphorescent plastic stars on my bedroom ceiling as a kid… StarTalk is starting to feel like that :-/

  • If you start Space Force you will start a war. No country should have more power in space than any other country. As soon as militarization of space gets official. Every country would want to have their own space port. Therefore there would never be another shuttle lunch or another space exploration. it would send us back to the dark ages. It is best not to forget it is because of that treaty that you do have a space exploration.
    Right now on earth countries are fighting over nukes, for who should have the super power and who shouldn't. Now you want to send the same volatile countries to space, and have them fight or start wars over another reason?

  • Please allow Dr.Steven Greer for this spaceforce stuff a war with aliens would last a whole hour probably, they have been with us for a very long time n if they wanted us gone we would be,but Im not the guy to really be talking to..

  • Mr. Tyson: Has there been any research on how long someone could be in low gravity before it affects your bone density? Will people who go up on future, long distance orbital flights have any discernible bone density loss or would this be reserved for frequent fliers?