Neil deGrasse Tyson talks Area 51 and aliens

Author of “Letters from an Astrophysicist" discusses his new book and life outside planet Earth.
5:49 | 10/08/19

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Transcript for Neil deGrasse Tyson talks Area 51 and aliens
So let's get down to business. Yes. Ooh. You think you're Thanos or something snapping your fingers. It's whoopi Goldberg. I don't have a lot of magic but what I got I use. Billionaire Elon Musk just unveiled the prototype for his latest spacex rocket which he says will fly to the moon and Mars and beyond. He says this could make trace travel as common as flying by 2024. Wow. That's in like five years. Your thoughts? Oh, so I don't -- you need people like that among us with that level of ambition. Yes. Technological ambition and vision. Yes. So I don't have a problem with that. What I'm waiting for is for him to send his mother on that mission then I'm good for it. There's been explosion, right? That's what I'm saying. All the people, all the engineers send their mommy on the thing and come back fine. Then you'll get on. Then I'll get on. All right. Can't get mad at that. That's all I'm saying. You first. Why doesn't he spend some of that money on this planet instead of going to all those other ones? Do you really want to go there. Let's go back 10,000 years -- The rain forest is burning? We are ail in the cave and I look out and I see there's a mountain, a valley, a hill, a river. I want to go explore that and you say, no, Neil, we have problems in the cave. Let's fix the cave problems first before you out the cave. There are what problems in the cave. Why not fix those before you start moving around? Because solutions. Exist. Far beyond the cave. But he has enough money to do both so let's stay in the cave and out of the cave. All right. Also had a lot of explosions and things that have not gone well with it so I'm with you. Evidence that he's actually on the frontier. If you lead a life where you've never made mistakes, you are not on any frontier at all. That's fair enough. Great point. That and the tie. Great point. I hope you bear with me. I have to ask about aliens. I'm from Arizona and I grew up in -- Oh. Please bear with me. Thanks for that disclaimer. In 1997 there was an incident called the Phoenix lights which is explained as maybe the most evidence we have of alien life. It happened when I was growing up in Phoenix. There are a lot of conspiracy theories over the summer people were going to storm area 51 which is something I actually asked my husband if he'd be comfortable with me doing. He said no so I do want to know, I mean the Navy recently confirmed that three widely circulated videos captured unidentified aerial phenomena. How do you explain the Phoenix lights and what the Navy said? Actually I thought the Phoenix lights had been explained but let's even assume they're not. Well, the governor came out afterwards saying that he lied. Governor Simonton at the time. I'm up on this. Apparently. I'll make a simple statement. If you see lights in the sky and you don't know what they're they're identified and they're flying and they're objects. Once you say they're unidentified. Your next sentence can't be they must therefore be anything. Right? You can't say I don't know what it is therefore they're aliens visiting us from another planet. You just said you don't know what you're looking at. That's the end of the sentence. Area 51 had any evidence of -- Area 51, this would be a government installation stockpiling aliens and have you ever worked for the government? Do you understand how -- Yes. How impossible for them to keep secrets. Receptionists and janitors and the whole set of people would all have to just agree not to Instagram an image of an alien getting fed in a cage. Okay, I understand that I may seem silly but I genuinely want to know if you believe there's life -- the truth is out there. Okay. Right? None -- if you study the problem how old the universe is there is no doubt there will be life somewhere else in the universe. It's just a different question about whether they have visited us. I joke about this. Maybe they have visited us but they landed during comic-con and nobody noticed. I'm just -- I'm just wondering. So thank you for -- That's all. So drag an alien carcass into town square next time and then you don't have to debate anybody about anything. Like Will Smith in "Independence day." He said, welcome to Earth. Yeah. Uh-huh. Okay. Sorry, whoopi. No, that's all right. So the new book, "Letters from an astrophysicist" includes a sampling of what people have written to you over the years. One of my favorite letters has to do with I.Q. Please tell us about that letter. There's a whole chapter on parenting and a hate mail section. The one about I.Q. Someone just wants to know what he should do about I.Q. And I said first I've never been tested. I was worried if it was high I would think high of myself and low I'd think low of myself. Let me think whatever I want without some other system prescribe it for me. B, high I.Q., people who shake and move this world are not from the population of people who have high I.Q.S. They're people who have talents unmeasured and untapped and unrecognized by any standardized exam ever written so I would just simply say focus on I.Q. If that's what you care about but life is far more complex and diverse than that.

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

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