Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles cosmic questions

ABC News’ Whit Johnson speaks with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about his new book, “Cosmic Queries,” which explores the universe.
7:31 | 03/04/21

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Transcript for Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles cosmic questions
While the pandemic may have caused some to ponder the meaning of life and our fragile existence on earth our next guest she has been tackling those questions for many years and not a much larger scale Sheehan his new book cosmic queries start talks guy -- cool we are how we got here and we were going world renowned astrophysicist. And director of the Hayden Planetarium. Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a look at the biggest mysteries of the universe should mr. degrasse Tyson is joining me now thank you so much for being with us and and speaking with us I want to get your book in just a moment but source I'd like to ask you about one of the big scientific stories out there that many had been following out of course is the Mars perseverance -- Berkshire has it explores the red planet for signs of ancient life what do you hope we're going to learn from this mission. The so to consider that this is in a long sequence. So rover. Car invasions and marks from earth that have been going on for decades now and what we learn in each mission. We then sort of improve upon we sharpen our questions we retool the experiments. And so we have evidence that there is once liquid running werder running on the martian surface no longer is that a question but wherever there's mortar at least on earth there is life. Perhaps microbial but there is like if you follow the Warner on the hope of following a broad. Tracing back. The existence of life's then you can create the next generation of experiments that can then. Form those chemical experiments and perform those digging experiment in order to then. Address that very question so I let me also add that this program has a helicopter. And that's that's that's a bad ass thing they have so because I'm consider that are yet to these images are great. And with a helicopter you can go in and out of craters. Over alleges that the rover could not have done before so. I'm yeah every bring us that much closer I think if there's a betting man that's all right if there's life on Mars in ITT below the surface. Possibly aquifers where the Warner has settled down that remains to be determined. Now now speaking of the existence of life you were slain in her book that there is something we often get wrong when we think about the idea of alien life so what is that. While Hollywood gets a lot. Truck tunnel we wanna blame for all of this Hollywood I think they want to pay an actor to be in an alien costume which means we alien has arms and legs and walks in his head and most life on Earth's. Doesn't have that. And this is light with which we have DNA and common trees. But man as you know remain so I'm disappointed risk. These expectations that people are placing on aliens console based on our human bias if you'll look for lights you gotta look at it in a very open way look for general bio chemistry that could be going on she want cameras in case of. Crawls out there are general. Especially and helicopters. Touch. Let's not. Lets us deeper in your book here because he you've written many of these before we reproduce steeple floor below what was your motivation for writing this one and what do you hope to accomplish by addressing these huge questions. The other big questions and my podcast stark talk has a very popular format from among what we do it's called cosmic queries and and it turns the tables just like it's not me telling you what I think you should know that you asking me. What is driving your interest and curiosity in the universe and this hugely popular but some of those questions don't lend themselves to a podcast format like what is mark why might hear how brutal gay and Powell at all and and so that elevated. To this and I just wanted to emphasize that this book is based not on. Questions we have answers to. It's based on just questions that are the deep just once we've ever asked to civilization so some of them have peptide answers others the answers are kinda ready but were candid about that and others we don't even know if it's the right question to ask yet so it's a celebration of the curiosity and wonder. Bitterly that the twin engines. Exploration. Speaking of those questions in chapter seven new explore the question are we alone in the universe and you quota tweet that you wrote last year saying this quote you be inexcusable the egocentric to suggest that a birth was the only place in the observable universe with life among the hundred billion galaxies each containing a hundred billion stars orbited by a hundred billion planets yet how terrifying only lonely it would be if true. So if it's not easy for anyone to believe that were alone in the universe what does that mean for human understanding of our place in the cosmonauts. Hurts it's really only whites in the universe that would just be QB lonely put my first thought would be that's weird. Because we're made of every common ingredients. Hydrogen and oxygen and carbon and nitrogen that stuff is everywhere. In the U numbers and on earth like got started almost as quickly as it possibly could have within about a hundred million years the short compared to the tunes to the history of the earth so. Why would earth be the lucky ones from this to happen let's not dishonor realistic soft so are our place in the universe would be wouldn't be interesting to note that there's other life forms. The has our same chemistry. That would give us a sense of belonging and actually I think what we've got a brawl but he keeps thinking that we're special. If you're different. But maybe you can be special because you're the same. Maybe maybe were special because we're made of the same ingredients as the stars. As other life forms across the universe just let me feel bigger rather than small. I do want to bring you back to earth a little base here because I think a lot of you were going through so much right now so what do you say to someone who asks why we should spend time trying to understand what may happen in the universe millions billions and years from now option especially while we're dealing with so much more in terms of immediate crises impacting every day of life and survival here on her from. The pandemic to climate change. If you wanna say why are we spending there when we could be down here. Just go back 30000 years and were in the K east and you poke out the cage door to change endorsed poke out the door. And just say you know it he said there's a mountain valley in its skills and and and streams and flowers and launched and you go back to the cadence RI wanna explore that. And one of the cave people saying you know. We have caved problems that we have to solve source can't leave became until you saw became problems and only then do they let you out. That's when it looks like to the explorer. When you're saying. I have problems like don't have the luxury to explore the unknown is the unknown is the source of all of our modern enlightenment and likely the source. Solutions to problems that either we confront with nature or problems that we create for a cell. So sometimes he ought to look to the stars to better understand what's happening right here aren't threatens our rusty just summarize and thank you should assert that it. Contender status and exact brook and you can quote me are already given permission for the Neil deGrasse Tyson thank you so much we truly appreciate and the book is called cosmic worries starts talks guide to cool we are how we got here and where we're going it's on sale now thank you once again.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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