Worrying the minimum amount about your speech. The difficulty of quoting noisy radio transmissions.
Because it is haaaahd
Recognizing the small temporal distance from the first powered flight to the first moon landing. The cutting edge of the early space program. Test piloting. Gemini.
The edge of space
Defining the edge of space. The “Karman Line”: transition from atmospheric lift to orbital velocity. Complications and redefinition of where “space” begins. Geopolitics, ruining everything since forever.
The “right stuff”
Badass engineer pilots. Moving fast and breaking things. Selection testing. Giving prospective astronauts ice-water wet willies. The importance of simulation in the early space program and the difficulty of simulating things we haven’t actually ever done or seen up close.How hard it really is to stay conscious under high-g stress.
Monocular depth cues. Light and shadow, unfamiliar objects, and depth perception. Equatorial noon on the equinox when stuff looks creepy: Lahaina Noon.
Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment
Retroreflectors and really really powerful lasers. Tiny photonic returns: 1 out of every 10¹⁷ photons shot at the moon mirror make it back for our detection. Multi-mile laser beams. Confirming relativity ftw.
… from the moon! And some regolith to boot. Vacuum transport for moon samples and how we work with them on Earth’s surface without contaminating. The difficulty of maintaining a a very strong vacuum vs nonreactive gasses. Detecting the provenance of proposed moon rocks. NASA’s moon-rock cataloguing system.
Viewership numbers. NASA’s custom video encoding and the incredibly analog conversion methods employed to bring it to television.
A special chance for us to use your name for something dumb in the upcoming scifi adventure show Decipher RPG :-). Anybody supporting this show by Fri Dec 21 2018 will get their name used for a character! 😀
“Levels” of alien contact. Converting anal probes and sex bases to contact “levels.”
First kind: visual contact
Second kind: evidence of contact
Third kind: in-person contact
The Devil’s Tower
How to pronounce butte. Convention vs personal preference. The awesome nature of structures like The Devil’s Tower, jutting up all inaccessible as they are. Translation errors for fun and profit. Thinking back to Schiaparelli’s canals. Geological origins: igneous intrusions and volcanic butte plugs.
Ultraviolet effects on body tissues. What is a sunburn? Arc welding and ultraviolet exposure: “arc eye.”
Shying away from debunking. Appreciating folks who cross boundaries and make deeply interesting informative generally-useful critical thinking-training material, like Captain Disillusion. Credulity and our personal predispositions.
Appreciating a scientific, rigorous approach to finding intelligent life in the cosmos.
Communicating with aliens
Randomness in space signals. Encoded information, decipherable to latitude and longitude. Past sightings of alien information encoding on Decipher SciFi: Arrival (part 1, part 2), Contact. Math! alien tonal communication.
Music! The Tones!
Music as math. Considering the tiny slice of reality in which we operate. Considering the universality in physics of the mathematical relationships between vibrations. Caelum Rale‘s mathematical musical perspective. Making sense of the noise of the universe and demonstrating intelligence across vast distances.