Starmus Day 2 highlights

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson ponders the state of science before moderating a discussion by astronauts, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 20, 2017.

Monday, June 19, 2017, commenced day two of the Starmus Festival with a bang. TV star and physics professor Brian Cox, along with his partner in crime Robin Ince, kicked off the festivities with a live taping on the main stage of the “Infinite Monkey Cage” BBC4 radio podcast show, which was delightful. Brian and Robin hosted four astronauts: Charlie Duke, Sandy Magnus, Claude Nicollier, and Terry Virts, and talked about a huge range of space exploration topics that left the audience amazed. It was an energized way to start the day. 

Bob Williams, former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, hosts day 2 of Starmus, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

Following lunch, the whole body of 2,500 attendees filed back into the main auditorium to hear the opening ceremony and then talks chaired on this day by Bob Williams, Starmus Board Member and former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, the institution that operates the Hubble Space Telescope.

First up was an incredible panel discussion featuring 11 Nobel Prize laureates on the stage together at one time: May-Britt Moser, Robert Wilson, Edvard Moser, George Smoot, Adam Riess, Finn Kydland, Susumu Tonegawa, Chris Pissarides, Torsten Wiesel, Tim Hunt, and Stefan Hell. Their ideas and observations about science and where it’s going were certainly eye-opening and indicate a healthy vision of the future of spreading real knowledge in the world. The panel was moderated by Adam Smith. 

Eleven Nobel Prize winners on stage together at once, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

The first speaker was Jack Schmitt, the only scientist to travel to the Moon and the last human to talk on the Moon during Apollo 17. His talk on the adventures, trials, and tribulations of the final Apollo mission was simply stunning, leaving the audience with a profound vision of what it was like to be on the lunar surface. 

Jack Schmitt discusses his role in the Apollo 17 mission as an image of him during the adventure appears behind him, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

Following Jack came the Nobel Prize winning cosmologist George Smoot, who co-confirmed the cosmic microwave background radiation with the COBE satellite, speaking on a complete history of the cosmos and our understanding of its origin and fate. 

George Smoot describes the cosmological history of the universe, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

And in a nicely related followup, Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess, recognized as a codiscoverer of dark energy, spoke on cosmic expansion and the mystery of dark energy, and what it means for the future history of the cosmos. 

Adam Riess details the perplexing mystery of dark energy, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

And then Brian Greene of Columbia University took over and discussed the wild possibilities of string theory. 

Brian Greene takes the audience through the possibilities of string theory, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 19, 2017.

Following dinner, the group traveled to Trondheim’s largest cinema to watch a film premiere, “The Spacewalker,” which was made about Alexei Leonov, the Starmus Board Member who was the first human to walk in space. It was a breathtaking production.

As with every day at Starmus, the day was long — almost unending — and everyone was simply exhausted but incredibly happy at the end of it all. We had a midnight drink on the hotel roof, and the Trondheim sky was nearly as bright as midday. 

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