Deep Impact Comet Bash, part 3

[coverage of Planetary Society’s Deep Impact Comet Bash: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 ]

T minus two hours to impact.

Bill Nye the science guy’s up next. Nye drinks a whole bottle of water, and asks, where did this come from? It came from outer space… He predicts the hole will be about the size of Dodger Stadium…

Why are you bothering to do this? To whack an icy rock in deepspace with a spacecraft? …

Don’t you wonder where that water came from? You’d wonder about water if you wonder where everything came from. We came from the same stuff that Comet Tempel Tuttle came from.

1366 was a year when Tempel Tuttle was first observed. (along with the black plague). Black plague isn’t transmitted by comets, but by rat’s fleas. Here’s what I remember in 1986, in Seattle, went onto a hilltop to see Comet Halley… I guess we were looking at it. tiny tiny thing. Comet Kahoutek was gonna be great… Hale and Bopp,who both observed same comet on the same night (it woulda been good if the other guy hadn’t seen it that night) 1995… Temple Tuttle observed in 1865-66. Realized that it’s the same comet from 1366, 1699, 1933, 1965, 1997, and is *now* back.

Why are we so kooky for this thing? The thing that’s most important…scientific method (hypothesis, do experiment, compare experiment’s results with original hypothesis… which came from medicine… a review of discoveries about germs, ) then says, what will future generations think of us.. if we make it through 2036. What science starts with is our ability to see things. We observe things, this mission tonight (this morning in universal time) is a classic example of not really knowing what you’re going to find.

Geologists.. (he imitates the bent over crouched posture of someone w/ eyes on ground) …. they say, “Look! fossil bacteria. The earth was hit by a meteorite 65,000 years ago.” Nye shows two rocks. I hope you can see that they’re quite different (uh, from where I sit, no). Describes metamorphic/layered rock, and metamorphic rock, heavily pitted. Each rock, to a geologist, will tell a story, “I was born in So Cal, and I was smashed 10 million years ago, and that’s how I got these layers”…. Geologists carry these things around (he has a hammer). Wants to whack rock. Puts on safety glasses. Hits rock with hammer. When you get inside, past the surface “skin” of the rock, things change colors. Inside, you can see what rocks are made of.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen 3 comets, but I’ve never seen what’s inside them. The idea is to take this impactor and whack the comet hard enough to see what it’s made of. This idea is so fundamental, so old in geology. And it’ll do the same thing. Hammer: impactor craft. The Flyby spacecraft will turn around (safety goggles).

Tonight you can say for a few million bucks we’re gonna find out what’s inside the comet. Thanks for coming out (4th of july weekend). It’s more exciting when we’re all here together.
Let us go forth and change a comet—I mean change the world.

Now there’s Q & A, but I’m not heeding too closely. Looking for power source to recharge powerbook battery.