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Career Conversations: Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and NASA JPL
LLYR HELLER: Speakers today from NASA JPL. And our first question will be your name, your title, and the path you took to get here. Oh, and we can share a mic, yeah [crosstalk 00:00:13].
TRACY DRAIN: I will try not to make this be a half an hour. So hello everybody. My name is Tracy Drain, it's lovely to see you all here. I am a systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and my path was kind of straight. I'll tell you the very short one and then if you guys ask questions later you can hear more details. So I started off as a little curious kid interested in a bunch of things. My mom loved Star Trek, Star Wars, all that science fiction stuff and so I really wanted to grow up and have a career that had something to do with space. And way back then, because I am [inaudible 00:00:43] years old, we did not have the internet and so I wanted to study astronomy, but I was a little bit scared because I didn't know what an astronomer would actually do or who would pay me to go look at stars all day, so I decided to study engineering because I also liked math, science and problem solving. And then I decided to go to college and study mechanical engineering and I interned at NASA Langley while I was in college and then I got hired at the Jet Propulsion Lab right out of school. So I've been working there doing systems engineering my whole career and I can tell you more about that later. On to Morgan.
MORGAN CABLE: Awesome. Thank you Tracy. So my name is Morgan Cable. I'm a scientist at JPL and I grew up right next to Kennedy Space Center in Florida and so I thought it was just like a regular thing the rockets went off in people's backyards. I actually remember it like when I was in elementary school, the fire drills would be scheduled right before a launch, so we'd have to evacuate outside and we get to go see a rocket, that was a thing we did. So space was always a part of my life. But I didn't really start thinking seriously about a career until I started getting into like science fairs in middle school and high school and trying to think of what I wanted to major in in college and I always loved chemistry. Chemistry to me was like the ultimate way to understand the universe because physics, when you're starting to blow up atoms things get very complicated and getting close to the speed of light and all that stuff because really...that's a bit too much for me.
MORGAN CABLE: But in chemistry, I can understand how bonds can be broken and made and how molecules form and I can design experiments in the lab to study something, I can totally wrap my brain around that. And so I started studying chemistry in college and I did an internship at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab when I was a junior that summer and it totally changed my life. You stay in the dorms at Caltech, which is just a few miles down the road and I just totally fell in love with Caltech, with JPL, I was like, I want to come here, how do I make that happen? And it turns out that Caltech has a really great graduate program in chemistry so I studied there and got my PhD, but I was able to do my research in a lab at JPL. I had two advisors, which was really cool. So and one of them was busy, usually the other one was free, so it was great. And after I got my PhD, I stayed on first there is something called a postdoc and we can talk a little bit about that later. And then I got hired as a real person with a retirement plan and dental insurance and all of that.
LLYR HELLER: [inaudible 00:03:13].
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, and so now I get to work on all sorts of missions, mostly focusing on our search for life in our solar system and beyond and I really love it. I'm having a great time.
DAVID DELGADO: That was great. Hi, my name is David Delgado and I'm a designer and an artist. And I get to do the easy job here because I get to talk about basically why it's fun and interesting to explore space. And at JPL it's a really special place because I get to work with really amazing people like these two who are just pushing the limits of what's possible like how to make a spacecraft in a really difficult situation or it has to have this really strange functionality to do something really special or just the notion of trying to find life in other places outside of earth. It's just so exciting and the details of how that happened is just really, really exciting and fascinating. And so what I try to do is think about those things and talk to Morgan and Tracy and we get to create products like posters or sometimes like art exhibits or things that just take those ideas of why it's special and turn it into something that people can appreciate in a different way and it's just a lot of fun. The way I got here was, let's see here, so I grew up in high school I didn't know what I wanted to do in college-
LLYR HELLER: Which is okay [inaudible 00:04:48].
DAVID DELGADO: Yeah, which is great because I was one of those kids where I kind of liked a whole bunch of different things and I didn't really know what I was going to do and I even went to college and I changed majors four times because-
LLYR HELLER: What [inaudible 00:04:58].
MORGAN CABLE: So I started out in biology and then, well it's actually kind of funny too because I went to UCLA for undergrad and the whole campus is set up on a hill, right? So you have Northern campus and Southern campus and Southern campus is like the hard science and farther you go up farthest north is fine arts, right? So I started out, biology was kind of in the middle and then I went to psycho biology or biological psychology of how the brain works neuro-transmitters and all that and then I'm like, well, I'm going to go to psychology. And I started to realize I was moving closer and closer towards all my friends in the dorms, which were all in the arts area and so then I finally ended up in something that I really loved, anthropology, so sort of a systems level look at how culture develops, which was a lot of fun. And long story short is I ended up loving that but I traveled a whole bunch and then ended up going back to school for design at art center, which is in Pasadena.
MORGAN CABLE: And then had no idea what JPL was, but a good friend of mine had been working there and he said, "Come on over and check it out." And I was determined to go work in an ad agency or something and I went there and I was talking to just somebody, I don't even know who she was, but within like the first 30 seconds she started talking about exploring Venus and things that I'd never heard about before and I said, "Well, I mean this is just a... I want to be around people like this." That's the way... my ambition was to be around just these big ideas and people who are trying to do things that have never been done before and it's just been a lot of fun and there're so many different things you can do there at JPL, engineering, science, arts, design and so, so many, many more things.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you. That was great. Before we open it up to questions, one follow-up question or two follow-up questions. One is at JPL, are there internships for high school level or college level?
TRACY DRAIN: So I know I'm staring at David because I think you might know more about this than I. There definitely are internships at college level. We have probably 700 summer interns every year. Recently it's been kind of amazing and it's cool because there's so many students from so many different schools studying so many different things, working on so many different projects that they form a little community while they're there and get to know each other, it's pretty, pretty fantastic. I know we used to have a fair number of high school students, I'm not actually sure we do that very much anymore.
DAVID DELGADO: I feel like I should know more about this because now I'm in communications but, oh, gosh, I don't... but there is for any of you who are interested in doing an internship there at JPL, I encourage you to very easy just Google internship JPL, there's a whole list of different ways that you can do it and so I don't want to give you the wrong info. But it's really fun and a lot of interns, every single year, 800 I think last year.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, there are some requirements. I do recall, at least for chemistry, we're not allowed to have minors in the lab, you have to be 18 years or older to work with chemicals. But do check it out. There I believe still is a tab for high school students, I'm not sure in terms of funding what's available right now that kind of changes year to year but look into it.
TRACY DRAIN: And go ahead and apply even... thank you. Even if we're sitting here saying, "I'm not really sure," just as David and Morgan were saying, go to the website, jpl.nasa.com you can... gov wow, brain, jpl.nasa.gov and you can look it up and insert your resume, if you can stick in a letter of recommendation or just a letter describing what you're interested in, just do it. The only thing they can say is no and if you don't go ahead and apply, it's as if you accepted someone else saying no already and that's kind of pointless.
LLYR HELLER: And quick plug. If you need help with resumes, we have a lot of things to help you with. So because you're all very different in different fields within the JPL, can you describe a typical day or week?
TRACY DRAIN: Okay, so I skipped telling you what system engineering is. So you might have this idea that engineers are people who design and develop stuff, right? And assistance engineer is kind of a person who's working at the big picture level. When we're trying to get a spacecraft from point A to point B and to go collect some science data, that spacecraft has a whole bunch of different parts, like how to talk back to the earth, how to keep it from getting too hot or too cold, thermal, how to make sure it's pointed in the right direction. There's all these different things that a spacecraft has to do. A systems engineer works with the people who are experts in those areas to make sure the whole thing is going to work together. One of my favorite examples is this, if we're trying to communicate with the spacecraft, with our telecom system, the louder, the stronger your signal is, the easier it is for us to pick it up on the ground.
TRACY DRAIN: And so a telecom engineer might say, "I want 500 watts of power to run my huge amplifiers and we can yell down at the ground and it's really easy to hear us," right? But then the power engineer will say, "Well, we're only going to make 500 watts of power for the whole spacecraft and you cannot have it all." And so assistance engineer's job is to work out those kinds of things and figure out how much power each system is going to have and how much mass it's allowed to have so that the whole thing will work together. And that's the job that I do, systems engineering. And the thing that's cool about it, it is not just sitting in a room all by yourself trying to do stuff on a computer, you're working with people constantly all day long and so my job is just meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting. But they're really cool brainstorming, working meetings where we have a problem and we try to figure out what all the knobs are that we can turn and figure out how to solve that problem together.
TRACY DRAIN: And one of the things that I also like about the systems engineering job, which is probably similar to the science job too, is that the job changes dramatically over the whole life cycle of a mission. Early on we're trying to figure out what exactly does the spacecraft need to look like so that we can get the science instruments where they go so that scientists like Morgan here can get their data and can answer basic questions about what they're trying to find. And so early on you're trying to figure out those things, who gets how much power? Who gets how much mass? Later on when you have a detailed design where you're like, "Oh, this part is not going to work, what are we going to do?" And then you have to figure out how to change the design. Later on when you're actually building something and you're testing it, all sorts of stuff doesn't go exactly how you plan on.
TRACY DRAIN: So then you still have to figure out what are we going to do? What are we going to change? And then once you launch it, even though we are all very smart people and we try very hard to come up with all the things that might go wrong, stuff still goes on that you didn't quite expect and then you have to get together the experts and have those conversations, what happened? Why did it happen? What can we do about it? Our spacecraft are going so far away, we can't just go whack and little wrench and make sure it's going to work again. So then we have to figure out how to change the software, how to change the commands we're sending so that it'll still work. And so for me the what does a typical day look like, it's lots and lots and lots of working meetings with people trying to figure out how to solve problems and the kinds of meetings and the kinds of topics and the kinds of problems change dramatically from day to day and month to month. That's what I like about it, there's never a dull moment.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, I definitely liked that part about the job too. And especially as a scientist my days can vary widely so for example, Mondays, usually I'm in the lab, I'm doing an experiment. So one of the places I love to study is a moon around Saturn called Titan. And Titan is a really fascinating place, it's got a thicker atmosphere than ours, it's about four times thicker or denser at the surface. So it would be like if you held your breath and went to the bottom of the deep end of your swimming pool, like that kind of pressure, this is what you'd feel on your skin. But the gravity is about one seventh that of Earth's gravity and so because the atmosphere is thicker and the gravity is less, you weigh less. If you were standing on the surface of Titan and you had wings and you flap them, you could fly which is kind of cool. But it's a lot colder, you would want to bring one heck of a parka because any exposed skin and you'd have frostbite like that. But we are interested in studying this place because in some ways it's similar to earth. It has a nitrogen rich atmosphere, that's cool.
MORGAN CABLE: But in some ways it's very different. Titan has liquid on its surface but it's not water. Water actually takes the place of rock there. The liquid is actually, you guys are going to love this liquid farts, methane and ethane, we call them hydrocarbons, we use them as natural gas here on earth, but they're also produced by people and animals and other things too. And it's so cold there that this actually forms the liquid. It forms clouds, it rains or snows sometimes it pools in lakes at the poles. And so this place is super fascinating because it's similar to earth in some ways and very different in others. And so in my lab at JPL, I will use liquid nitrogen and some other things to make little mini Titan lakes in the lab and we'll dissolve stuff in there and try to figure out what kind of chemistry can happen. Could life emerge in a lake like this? Would it be life like we know it or would it be life that's very different? So those are the kinds of experiments I get to do in the lab. And so that'll be my science day for example because some of those experiments take a long time.
MORGAN CABLE: Other days my day might be more like Tracy's where I am in meetings because I'm part of a science team of a mission. I was lucky enough to be part of the Cassini mission, which was in the Saturn system for 13 years. That's one of the reasons why I'm so fascinated by Titan because we learned a lot about Titan thanks to Cassini. And we've just started working on a new mission that's going to go back to Titan, this is called Dragon Fly. So Google this, look it up, picture one of the big Mars rovers, the big ones, right? Like size of car, take the wheels off, put skids on like skis and then give it four sets of two counter-rotating helicopter blades. It is an eight bladed rotorcraft because it's so easy to fly on Titan, the gravity is less, the atmosphere is thicker, this is actually a more efficient way of getting around. So it's going to do these flying hops across the Titan surface.
MORGAN CABLE: And we just found out back in June that this mission was picked, it was a really tough competition with a lot of other concepts to go to other places and do cool things. And now we have to actually, we get to, we get the privilege of actually building it. It's going to launch in 2026 so we've got about seven years to get this thing put together. It's going to have all sorts of science instruments and as a member of the science team, I get to help try to understand or figure out, predict what science we expect to get when we land so that when we get that data, I can be like, "Oh, okay, I know what that is now," because I've studied it in the laboratory and that's what I would predict or maybe it's totally different.
MORGAN CABLE: So I'll spend time in meetings and sometimes I'll get to go and do field work. I got to go to Iceland a few times, it's a great analog for Mars because Mars has volcanoes, they're not active now, but they were. Oh, an analog is like a place that's similar. It's not going to be exactly the same, but there are lots of things that are similar. Iceland has lots of volcanoes, it's cold, there are places there that not many people go to, so it won't have contamination from us. And so we can study some of these fresh lava fields that have just formed. There was one that's only two years old now, it's a baby, baby lava field. So we'll go there and we'll collect some samples and look at what kind of life colonizes that lava field first, how complex is the community. And so it's a lot of fun.
LLYR HELLER: Yeah. What's your question?
SPEAKER 3: [inaudible 00:16:22].
MORGAN CABLE: To live where in Iceland? In Titan. So the question was, is it possible for anyone to live on Titan? Well potentially yes. I mean you would certainly...you wouldn't need like a big bulky space suit like the astronauts need when they're in space or on the moon because the atmosphere is thick. But you would need something that covered all of your skin, right? You'd need to keep yourself warm because it's minus 183 degrees C. I'm a scientist, I don't work in Fahrenheit, but it's really cold. I think the coldest place on earth that was ever accorded the coldest temperature was I think in Antarctica and it was only -73 degrees C. So it's like more than 100 degrees, it's really cold and you have to bring your own oxygen, there's not a lot of oxygen there. So you'd need some kind of oxygen mask and you'd definitely need really warm coat or some thermal underwear or something like that. But sure, you could hop around on Titan, yeah. And you would have your fuel there, right? Because you'd just go grab some methane from the hydrocarbon lakes and bring some oxygen and burn that. So you can use that to keep yourself warm and yeah, you could go out on a little boat like out in the Titan lakes and it'd be great. So the question was, could plants grow on Titan?
SPEAKER 4: Yes.
MORGAN CABLE: Okay. So sorry, we'll get to you in just a moment. Okay, not plants like we know it because plants as we know it, they need a few things. They need sunlight, right? And they need water to be liquid because you need liquid water to give nutrients and help the plants grow. Now space is big, right? The sunlight that we get on earth is great. As you go further away from the sun, you get less of it, right? And it actually varies as for any scientist people, it's one over R squared, the distance squared. So it's like if you move 10 times away, you get a hundred less sunlight and that's about where Saturn is. So you could still envision some kind of wacky plant that would use just that little bit of sunlight that's getting through to the surface. Titan has also got clouds and haze, is sort of like LA, so it's kind of like on a really bad day. But we could envision some sort of weird alien plant. We haven't found them yet, but it's possible. Did you have a question, David?
DAVID DELGADO: Question from the audience. So what does R stand for in equation?
MORGAN CABLE: Distance, it's like the radius from, yeah, sorry. But yeah, so it's just like, yeah. What's your question?
SPEAKER 5: [inaudible 00:18:45].
MORGAN CABLE: Yes, I can answer that for you. Okay. The question was about the lakes of Titan. So there are some in the North pole and some in the South pole and we have noticed over Cassini's lifetime it was there 13 years, that's almost half a Titan year. And by that I mean because Saturn moves around the sun, it's much further away, so a year on Saturn is 29 and a half Earth years. It's a long time, right? But it does have seasons and those seasons will change through that really long year kind of like our seasons change here. And so some of these lakes at the South pole are drying up because we're moving into a different season where they don't get as much rain from that methane and ethane and we're not exactly sure where that liquid goes, but we know that they are drying. We think that they could be evaporating away and leaving some stuff behind or they could have that liquid gets sucked down into the underground into aquifers, except they wouldn't be aqua because that's water, it'd be out alkinafer because they're alkanes I think someone coined that term, yeah. It's weird cause they're alkanes like methane, ethane, those are all... it's a fancy chemistry name for that group of molecules.
LLYR HELLER: But definitely not [crosstalk 00:19:54].
MORGAN CABLE: But yeah, so it's not freezing, no. The temperatures on Titan don't vary very much at all. It's only like a few degrees. So-
TRACY DRAIN: Even in the half a year?
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. Even in the half a year. So far we've only seen it vary by about four degrees C.
DAVID DELGADO: So they went down and the liquid went underground?
MORGAN CABLE: We're not sure. We think it either evaporated back into the atmosphere and dry it up like some of our lakes dry appears as moisture goes away or it could be getting sequestered and sucked down into these reservoirs underground. And some of the work that we're doing in our lab may help understand that better. So maybe I'll be quoted in one of your science books one day because that's one of the cool things about being a scientist for NASA is some of your stuff is going to end up in a science book that someone will read one day. Like the pictures of Pluto that the new Horizons spacecraft took, when we, David and Tracy and I were all in school, there was a blob for Pluto because that was the best picture we had.
TRACY DRAIN: [crosstalk 00:20:51].
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. But now we have these amazing beautiful photos. We've got that heart shaped, terrain, Sputnik Planitia, have you guys heard about that? Pluto loves you, it's got a heart on its surface. Check it out, it's really amazing. And that's because of the stuff that the engineers and the scientists we get to do together to be able to build these mission. And then we have people like David who can actually translate our words into normal human speak so the rest of the world can understand it, yeah. But David, tell us a little bit about your everyday.
DAVID DELGADO: Okay. Thank you. Thanks. So once again, I'm sticking with the role of having the easy job here because... so my job on a daily basis really is to talk with scientists and engineers and usually people will come to our studio and have a certain need. And a lot of times we want to explain this to people in a way that makes it really understandable but also captures the interest of it. And as you can tell just by hearing just a little bit about the types of subjects that we're talking about is just, it's jam packed with interesting stuff, right? But the hard part is how do you think about that and get it down to one thing that's interesting and the reason why one thing is a good number to shoot for when you want to tell something, especially when you're trying to tell it through pictures is it's easier to explain one thing and have people remember one thing. It's not that we're trying to reduce the complexity of it or make it... all of it is important but in my particular case my job is to help people imagine something that we haven't really quite figured out yet.
DAVID DELGADO: And that's a really... it's a fun thing, but it's also difficult because you have to try to work with the scientists and engineers and make sure that the thing that you're trying to get people to imagine is, even though we don't 100% know yet, is that it's within the realm of possibility according to science and engineering. So I think for a person like me, we have to make sure that we're not going off into total fiction or total fantasy and yeah, and Star Trek and even though we love it and that's a lot of the people that are at JPL are there because of science fiction, our job is really to help people imagine what could be and in a way kind of imagine what makes it interesting for the scientists and the engineers that would... why they would even want to go and do such a thing. And so sometimes we help people imagine through posters or some... it can be anything but I guess that's the way I would sum it up is my job is to help people imagine why it would be interesting to go there, why it would be interesting just for regular people to think about in more detail. Yes. You in the front. It's my daughter Olivia.
LLYR HELLER: Oh really?
DAVID DELGADO: Yeah.
LLYR HELLER: Excellent questions.
OLIVIA: Mr. David Delgado, so have you ever, JPL in general, has JPL ever imagined about if we couldn't live on earth, what planet will we go to?
DAVID DELGADO: I'll say a very brief answer to that and then maybe I think you guys might want to talk about that too. So it's interesting to think that earth is already in space, right? So everybody thinks when you're on earth, we're going to go out into space. We're in space and we're part of something very complex and mysterious and we're trying to understand it and there may be other places like earth and in fact there are... so I'm going to pass it over to Morgan because we're a part of something very special and we only know just a very small amount of it so far. But the work that these two have been doing has given us a much better look at what's out there. And so I'll pass it over to you.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. So the more that we look out into the solar system and beyond, the more crazy things we see and some familiar things we see. We have embarked on this study of a new field involving things called exoplanets. Now when we were your age in school, I don't think any had been discovered. The most recent-
TRACY DRAIN: I think 89 [crosstalk 00:25:38]
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. Something like that.
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 00:25:40] early 90s [inaudible 00:25:42]
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, exactly. So before that we, right, we knew that there were other stars out there that are some are similar to our sun, but we didn't know if any of those stars had their own planets. Now we know there are over 5,000 so far at least and we've just started looking with a couple of spacecraft called Kepler, TESS, there are a few others that we're building now and that will be able to go and study these places in greater detail. And we're finding that these planets can vary widely. But there are some that seem to be similar to earth and-
TRACY DRAIN: In size [inaudible 00:26:16].
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. Yes. And by that I mean there are some that are in an orbit about like ours around a star similar to ours. So that tells us then that liquid water would be stable on the surface-
TRACY DRAIN: if liquid water is there but we don't know.
MORGAN CABLE: Right. We're not sure, but some of the telescopes that we're building will have something called a spectrometer. Spectro is light and meter is measure. So it can measure the light that's coming through that atmosphere. If it passes in front of its star and we can look for the signatures of water and other important molecules that could tell us a little bit more about those planets. It is but there is a special exoplanet counter that some of David's department they built at JPL and I love it because it shows you the current number of exoplanets that we've discovered so far, the number confirmed, because sometimes you've got to wait for it to come around a couple times, be sure it wasn't like a random meteor going through when you were looking with your telescope. And then it's got the number in what we call the habitable zone. That's where earth is. That's where if you're in a stable orbit, you're not too close to your star or everything burns up and boils away, you're not so far away that you're freezing cold.
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 00:27:26] planet, sorry, Jupiter.
MORGAN CABLE: There you go. So you're where it's just right in terms of temperature and so far I think we're up to like 23 or 24. Every time I go there and the number changes, I take a picture. So I've got a bunch and those are just the planets that we've looked at in a small survey that we've conducted so far. So the universe is really big, really, really big. If you can dream up a planet, it probably exists. There is one for Halloween I was learning about from my friend Tiffany Katara, she studies these all the time that it rains glass, but because the wind is so strong, the glass is actually moving sideways and so it's like the slasher planet it'd be crazy. You wouldn't want to live there, but there are other places that-
DAVID DELGADO: [inaudible 00:28:09] live there for very long actually, yeah. It'd be very hard to live there.
MORGAN CABLE: Yes it would. But there are all sorts of crazy planets out there.
TRACY DRAIN: Now, I'm so glad the topic of exoplanet came up, that's one of my favorite things to think about because again, as Morgan said, not that long ago, we did not know for certain based on data that any of them were out there. And now we know that there are literally thousands and the science can extrapolate from what we have observed to how many must be out there and there are probably literally 100 billion with a B planets out there. And if that doesn't makes your head explode because it does mine, here's how you can think about it. If you were born able to count and you could count one number once a second every second and just keep going, you would only reach 1 billion just under your 32nd birthday, you would reach 2 billion just around your 64th birthday.
TRACY DRAIN: I mean it's insane. So 100 billion is just a giant number. But the thing that's a little bit sad about it is they are very, very far away. The closest star to us is Alpha Centauri, Alpha Proxima, four light years, and right now the fastest spacecraft leaving our solar system, leaving our galaxy or help me, solar system is... thank you, outside the heliopause is Voyager and the Voyager spacecraft, both of them are outside the heliopause now officially traveling at roughly 19,000 and 20,000 miles per hour. That's wrong, 35,000 miles per hour. And if they just kept going and going and going, if they were pointed at Alpha Proxima, it would take [inaudible 00:29:40] it would take them 19,000 years to get there and that's the closest star, right? And so when you ask about which is the most likely planet for us to live on, while there's lots of really cool planets out there, we don't know how to get there.
TRACY DRAIN: And so the closest ones for us to try to go live on are like Mars or the moon, which is even closer. But similar to what Morgan was saying about trying to go live on Titan, you have to take almost everything with you that humans need to survive, all your food. On Mars, there's water, so you could go get the water and use electricity to crack it into hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe but you have to take everything else with you. So imagine if you wanted to build a colony on the world's tallest mountain, which is anybody, anybody? Mount Everest, right? It's really hard for people to live up there. The air is really thin, there's nothing up there, nothing grows. Imagine trying to put a colony on Mount Everest when you could hike all your stuff up there and humanity is pretty close. It would still be really hard, nobody has done it, it'd be even harder to have a colony on Mars. We hope to someday, but you just have to think long-term, like 50 years down the road, 100 years, 500, 10,000, now we're talking. Someday maybe we'll be able to make a sustainable colony like that.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. One of my favorite scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson, which one of his books I think is on the shelf over here, yeah, he has this saying that every time a giant meteor comes screaming close to earth, that's the universe's way of saying, "How's that space program coming along?" Because it would be hard, but we have developed a lot of the technology to become an interplanetary civilization, right? And it is something, excuse me, that you can pursue as a career is developing some of the things to help Insitu Resource Utilization, ISRU is something that we're looking at even with this new Mars Rover, the Mars 2020 Rover that's going to be landing on Mars next year. And so there are all sorts of things that you can do to move us closer and closer to that goal.
DAVID DELGADO: Thank you, all right.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Audience questions. Oh, all right. So many, all right.
SPEAKER 6: Thank you. What was the planet that you mentioned that rains glass and what was the planet that you mentioned that's comparable to Mount Everest?
MORGAN CABLE: Okay, so the glass one, whenever they name exoplanets, they name them after the star, which usually has like a six digit number with some letters thrown in there and then there's a letter at the end for the name of the planet and I think it's like A, B, C, D, E closest to the star and then you count further our. And so I don't remember the actual numbers for this, but if you look at the Halloween posters on jpl.nasa.gov websites, it's one of three they decided were cool and scary and wacky enough and we did a special episode of NASA Science Live where we talked about it. My friend Tiffany was the one who knew the number of that, but it's something called a hot Jupiter, which means it's about the size of Jupiter, but it's way closer into its star and that's why glasses is liquid and so it forms this crazy silica rain. Now in terms of things that are more similar to Mars, as Tracy was saying, that would be kind of closer or, sorry, similar to Everest would be kind of similar to Mars in terms of, I mean you'd certainly have to bring your own oxygen with you, the Mars atmosphere is mostly CO2, but it's super thin-
TRACY DRAIN: And like 100 times as less dense than the earth, so even worse than Everest.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. It would be a challenge to live there, but we do have technology to do it. It's just a matter of sort of getting that long-term vision and pushing towards this common goal and it might be smart to kind of go to the moon first because it's a little closer and if something goes wrong, it's only three days to get back, it's not nine months or, yeah.
LLYR HELLER: I know we had, I'm going to go this way, so keep remembering where you are.
SPEAKER 7: Just a quick question. Now with the private sector growing like Space X, how is your relationship between JPL, NASA, and all these private companies that are constantly sending satellites or doing probably tourism in the future? How do you guys work with that?
TRACY DRAIN: Thank you. So this might be a good time to say this is the opinion of Tracy Drain and not the opinion of NASA, but I personally think that what Space X is doing, especially in terms of launch vehicles is awesome because one of the things we like to do at NASA, opinion of Tracy Drain [inaudible 00:34:13] is to push the bounds of what is technically feasible. We like to do the hard things. How do you land a Rover on Mars? How do you put a spacecraft in orbit around Europa? How do you do the things nobody has done before? And it's nice for us to have private companies who are focusing on launch vehicles, which in a sense over decades we've kind of gotten down to us and we understand how that technology works and so we can go buy a launch vehicle from someone and stick our rocket on it and go do our thing.
TRACY DRAIN: It's amazing that Space X is even pushing the bounds of what launch vehicles are doing. I don't know how many of you guys watched the video of them landing those two boosters side by side, I [inaudible 00:34:48] that was amazing. And so it's really good partnership for us in doing that. There are also a lot of private aerospace companies who build spacecraft that partner with NASA in order to do that. My missions that I worked on were Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and then Kepler and then Juno and now Psyche and for all of those we have partnered with aerospace companies to work with us to get the spacecraft built and sent onto where they are. It's an efficient way for us to go visit a lot of places and also help have government private industry relationships.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, Tracy is exactly right. And companies like Space X still receive a significant percentage of funding from NASA. We're investing in these companies because we believe that the work they're doing is important. Like Tracy was saying, NASA, we like to do the things, the first things, the really hard things. But once we've done that, now these private companies can come in, these corporations can come and make it a reproducible, can do it faster, cheaper, better, while we're on to the next really scary thing that no one has ever tried before.
DAVID DELGADO: I'll add to that, just one little thing is that once again, this is I guess following on that is my opinion, David Delgado and I'm not speaking NASA, but one thing that I have noticed, which is really kind of cool about JPL, everybody of course loves people who are pushing the limits, so Space X, everybody is like, great, go for it. But at the same time I see a lot of young people coming right out of college and they get opportunities to do really big, interesting hard projects right from the get go. And I think that might be one of the reasons why people like to start there, it's kind of a different approach, Space X is doing something really important, everybody is working really hard, but JPL really focuses on the science and the engineering of it. And they also focus on giving young people a chance, which I think is a really, really great thing if you want to learn a lot right out of college and kind of work hands on on some real interesting science and engineering projects.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. And also you don't have to do it right out of college, you can also work on a degree while you're working at JPL, we have some academic part-time positions. If your major is related to the work that you're doing at JPL, you can get a lot of that tuition reimbursed later on and so I have a couple of friends who got either a master's degree or a PhD while they were an employee at JPL. So it's definitely something to consider also.
LLYR HELLER: That is amazing. Thank you. All right. And did you have a question? Okay.
SPEAKER 8: When something is in orbit, like let's say around the earth, I've heard that it's falling in a way it's falling, but I'm not sure how it works, it's not going up and how's it falling? I just don't know.
TRACY DRAIN: The second most awesome question every. So yes. So a lot of times when we think about things that are in orbit around the earth, we say that they're in zero gravity. Not true at all. Gravity is totally still there, that's while they're in orbit around the earth and not zinging off someplace else. So you can think about it like this. If you're at the top of Mount Everest, we'll use Everest again and you throw a baseball. It'll go out and then it'll fall. Sorry for people listening to the podcast, you cannot see my finger, but imagine half of a parabola, right? If you throw it harder, it'll go farther and then fall. If you shoot it out of a cannon, it'll go even farther and then fall.
TRACY DRAIN: If you could get it going fast enough, strap it to a rocket, very nice, if you can keep it going fast enough, now imagine, you're scanning out with a camera, if you get it going fast enough, as it's falling, the earth surface is curved and it's missing the earth and it's missing and it keeps missing. When you get it going fast enough that the curve of its fall is bigger than when it's going to hit the earth, now it's just going around. And so the gravity is what keeps it in orbit and the reason why you feel like there's no gravity is the same thing. Have you ever been on an elevator and the elevator is going down and then you jump, that feels a little scary. Or if you're on a roller coaster and the roller coaster goes down and you can feel your stomach floating.
TRACY DRAIN: Or if you're in one of those scary elevator drop rise, which I really, really hate, and you're up there and then they just drop it out from under you and you'd completely fall. It's because you're not on a surface pushing back on you is why you feel like there's no gravity but that gravity is there and when you're in orbit, it's pulling you around the earth. So lovely question.
MORGAN CABLE: At 17,500 miles an hour.
DAVID DELGADO: Is that how fast you have to go to miss the earth?
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, that's how fast the International Space Station-
TRACY DRAIN: At 400 kilometers altitude roughly, is that right?
MORGAN CABLE: I think that's correct.
TRACY DRAIN: Google that, fact check is good for everybody.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you. All right, making my way over.
SPEAKER 9: So eventually, are we going to start a mining the solar system?
OLIVIA: Great question.
MORGAN CABLE: That is entirely possible. And some companies are looking at whether or not we could redirect some near earth objects like an asteroid that kind of swings by close to earth and park it in an orbit nearby. There are a couple of places that we call Lagrange points is just fancy places where the... fancy name for a place where the gravity kind of cancels out. And so it's sort of like a place-
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 00:40:07] gravity between the earth and the moon.
MORGAN CABLE: Right. And the sun gravity things just kind of... the equation sort of workout. So you got a couple of these places where you could, it's kind of like the parking lot at LAX where you're supposed to wait, that kind of thing for your Uber, like that thing but I'm not endorsing Uber [inaudible 00:40:25] but yeah, something like that. So we could grab one and slow it down and sort of park it outside so we could collect everything from water to minerals to even helium if you guys know that that resource is starting to run out. So all those helium balloons, the things that make your voice go really high, we use that to do important science experiments. It's one of the few things that can help... that gets way colder than liquid nitrogen that we can use to study really cold places in space and so that would be a very valuable resource. And then as you step further out in that outer planet to the solar system, a place like Titan has plenty of hydrocarbons, methane, ethane, things that we use every day for combustion, for fuel, for heating, stuff like that. So all of those things could be resources that we could envision, funding some of the work or supporting ourselves as we expand human civilization further out.
TRACY DRAIN: Now this is where I have to put in a plug for the spacecraft that I work on right now. It's a mission called Psyche, it was selected in 2017, it's going to launch in August of 2022, it's going to take three and a half years to get to where it's going. And where it's going is this amazing asteroid that the scientist right now think is probably, but we're not sure until we get there mostly made of metal, like 90% iron, 10% nickel. And it's huge like if you've ever driven from Los Angeles to San Diego, that's how big this asteroid is. Giant thing made of mostly metal, probably.
MORGAN CABLE: And where is it Tracy?
TRACY DRAIN: Oh, thank you very much for asking me that question Morgan, so it is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at about 3.3 times the distance from the sun than the earth is. And so that's an interesting idea that there's this giant metal asteroid out there. It's a long way to go for some iron and nickel and a long way to go all the way back, so I don't know how the economics work out if you actually going to go mine stuff. What Morgan described about being able to divert something to one of the Lagrange points, it'd be much easier to get back and forth to.
MORGAN CABLE: But it's still possible. We actually, we're not sure how psyche formed, but we think that it could be the strips, like a planetoid, a [inaudible 00:42:29] that somehow got us outer bits like the stuff that we're standing on on earth, like all that got stripped away somehow and just the core remains and it's really an exciting mission.
DAVID DELGADO: I just want to add one thing to that really smart and interesting question that you asked because I just think it's interesting as we move forward into this world where humans could potentially live in other places, we could get resources from potentially other places. It makes me think about how we're using the resources here. And the sort of global look at all of these different types of planets and asteroids and things like that gets me to start to think about like, well, we're on this place that has limited resources too. I didn't know about helium, that we could be running out of helium until just right now. But it's a really interesting thing because when you look at the process of design from the use of the periodic table, does anybody know the periodic table? Do you know what that is? So, yeah, it's really interesting to think about that and look at it from the perspective of how we use those things, each one of those elements and it's not endless and it's really, really cool to think about where else we can get them. But I also think it's kind of cool to think about how special it is that we have this place here and how we can start taking care of it and at the same time start going and looking for resources in other places too.
MORGAN CABLE: I always love it when people bring up the periodic table because as a chemist, that's a very exciting thing and I just wanted to add one little thing to that. So our bodies are made out of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, a whole bunch of different elements of that periodic table, right. Except for the two lightest ones, hydrogen and helium, you don't have a lot of helium in your bodies, you do have some hydrogen. Everything else that's in your bodies was made either in the fusion nuclei of a star or in what we think now is a binary neutron stars that collided with each other and then exploded, yes. Everything above iron has to come from something heavier than that, yeah. And so you have a couple of heavier things.
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 00:44:43] bigger than iron [crosstalk 00:44:43] that came out [crosstalk 00:44:44].
MORGAN CABLE: Yes. It's not at the same levels that we need them. So you know how Carl Sagan said that your all-star stuff, it's true. The only reason we are here is because a bunch of stars exploded and distributed carbon and nitrogen and phosphorus and all those things out into the rest of the universe. And then slowly that formed into our sun and or well our sun is more hydrogen and helium, but that's formed in what's called an accretion disk that ended up forming earth and then now we're all here. So you are all-star stuff on this planet that's hurdling through space at a ridiculous speed and it's just nuts.
TRACY DRAIN: 5,000 miles an hour.
MORGAN CABLE: Yes, so it's something very fast but it's all relative. But that's kind of cool to think about. So each of you had many stars explode to make you. You're very special, so do something really cool with the life that you have.
LLYR HELLER: Well, thank you so much. So we have about eight minutes, so let's get all the questions.
SPEAKER 10: [inaudible 00:05:52] NASA, I've heard that they're trying to get to Mars and that they're going to maybe put people on there by 2030. Do you have any comments on that?
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. So we have been trying very hard to develop the technology and train the personnel to hopefully land a person on Mars in the near future and we're moving towards that goal. I think anytime that you try to do something incredibly challenging, I mean we're basically squishy bags of water, right? And so when we land a robotic spacecraft on these places, they can handle G forces that are much more extreme, they can handle temperatures that people can't handle. We also don't need to feed them as much. So the problem gets more complex and the risks are much higher when you're landing people, right? We of course don't want any of our robotic explorers to end up not arriving at the place we want safely. But when it comes to people, we really don't want to mess that up. And so we're-
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 00:46:58] to bring them back. They like to come back too, so...
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, so we would also... our rovers are permanent residents now on Mars, which is really exciting and we're hoping that we can send people there in the near future to be able to continue to explore. As much as we can build these robotic explorers, they're never going to be quite as good as a person is when it comes to doing some of the science or some of the geology or things that we really want to do. A person can just walk over and be like, what's under that rock right there? Oh, hey look, we found life, that would be great. With a Mars rover that would take a significantly longer time and a bunch of steps and lots of engineers and reviews to get to the point where you could pick up a rock. But we're doing that, it's just, it's a little bit longer.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you.
SPEAKER 11: So you know how you said we're made of all-star stuff, what about our souls?
MORGAN CABLE: That is a really good question. Now as a chemist, I can't measure a soul. It's not made out of atoms and elements but I certainly think that we're all so unique, we all have such an incredible potential within each of us. And I think it's okay that there's some things that science can't measure.
TRACY DRAIN: That was a great answer. I'm not going to touch that.
SPEAKER 12: So I have kind of two questions, about how far is the nearest exoplanet and how soon do you think you'll be able to make a spacecraft that can travel light speed with passengers?
DAVID DELGADO: Okay, so I picked this up along the way, but so we talked about it earlier Proxima Centauri is the closest system, star system and around that there a planet that's called Proxima B and we think it's an Earth-like planet so think about Earth-like meaning it has a hard enough surface that you can stand on. And it's about 4.2 light years away. So traveling at the speed of light, it would still take you about four years. Now the whole notion of traveling at the speed of light is something that I haven't really thought about too much in a very serious way, so I'm going to pass this over.
TRACY DRAIN: I think Morgan [inaudible 00:49:24].
MORGAN CABLE: So yeah when you approach the speed of light, things get wonky, physics weird stuff starts to happen, right? Energy and mass can sometimes swap places and that gets really complicated. But we are getting better at working on technology to get to some percentage of the speed of light like 20% the speed of light, we call it 0.2C because C is our scientific symbol to express the speed of light. There are some ways you can do that. It may take some spacecraft awhile there some engines something called like ion propulsion that will... it won't be like a chemical rocket where you have this huge massive plume and you can get shot back in your seat, right? But it'll slowly speed up over time. And if you keep just putting a little bit out of one end of your spacecraft, over time you will get going faster and faster and faster, there's nothing to slow you down, right? And so some of those types of ion propulsion engines can get close to a percentage of the speed of light.
MORGAN CABLE: There are also some cool concepts we're working on where you can fire a laser at a tiny spacecraft and accelerate it that way because even light can move things in space. And I think there're some concepts that can get you up to about 0.2C doing that maybe even faster. That will be harder to accelerate a person, we're talking about little spacecraft like the size of a cube set, for those of you on the podcast, it's sort of like the size of your head kind of maybe about something like that. And that's cool to speed it up but how do you slow down? So because you don't have the laser on the... we're firing the laser from earth, right? Or maybe from the moon because then you don't have the atmosphere. There are all sorts of cool things you could do like that. There're even solar cells those can slowly speed you up. But yeah, it's really cool technology, we need lots of very smart engineers to help us work on those kinds of things in the future, so think about it. Maybe you could get a cool space engine named after you if you invent something new, not that we're in it for that glory.
DAVID DELGADO: Can I ask one question here because I know we're getting close but I just want to know, so I have two special people with me Olivia and Mateo here, Olivia is 11 Mateo is 14 and for everybody in the podcast world out there and everybody here, this is for the two of you, what are the things that are exciting that you can imagine in their future? From science and engineering, what are the really crazy things that you wish you could work on for the next 60 years or what's exciting there right now that you can imagine people just trying to figure out?
TRACY DRAIN: Well, it's interesting, for me that question always takes me back to science fiction, right? I think right now, one of my favorite science fiction shows, and it's a little bit adult, so you guys in here, most of you don't watch this [inaudible 00:52:13], but you can go watch it when you're older later. It's called The Expanse and it is so good. And I love that it's a science fiction show, but it's trying to be not too far forward in the future and it's where humanity is expanding out into the solar system. So there's colonies on Mars and they have colonies on asteroids and on the cold moons of Jupiter. And it's really cool because they're trying to use technology that's not too far pushed forward from today to do all those things.
TRACY DRAIN: And there are so many challenges I know we have right now about how we go about doing that that need to be solved before the world can actually look like the world of The Expanse, so those are the kinds of things that people can work on, how to get our spacecrafts so that they can take more and heavier things faster. How to be able to slow down once you get there because it doesn't really do a whole lot once you can't slow down, and how you can have, you mentioned earlier sustainability, how you can really recycle all the things that you take along with you so that you can have a long-term presence somewhere without always having to truck things back and forth from the earth. So all the things associated with that.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah, totally. You stole part of my answer, but that's okay. Yeah, the human element is something that's really important and I think as I was saying before, we have the technology to be able to do these things, some of the technology may be too expensive. I think for a lot of it, it's not going to be say one country that lands someone on Mars for the first time, I think it'll be an international kind of cooperative effort that will have to come forward to be able to support a sustainable colony on a place like the moon or Mars long-term. And so I think that's something like you can be an important part of what NASA does and be involved in politics or be involved in government, media, art, those kinds of things, education, this is all really important.
MORGAN CABLE: And so I would love to see a medicine, right? Being able to handle radiation doses, how we deal with long-term space travel where you don't have Earth's atmosphere to protect you, what is it like for people's bone density to what... if a baby is born in space or the first Martian, the first baby that's born on Mars, what kind of health issues might they encounter that would be different from a baby that is growing up here on earth? Those kinds of things. But then also from the pure science. Now this is something that I do believe we will find hopefully in my lifetime is life somewhere else hopefully in our own cosmic backyard, but we may find signatures of it somewhere else, whether it's intelligent life that SETI has been doing surveys for and you can actually participate with your own computers through... they have an outreach program where you can help to scan images and look for or scan signals and look for techno signatures, that's what we call intelligent life, trying to talk to us like radio signals and stuff. Or we may find an organism in a place like Titan or Europa which is a moon of Jupiter that has two to three times all of Earth's oceans combined of liquid water.
MORGAN CABLE: There places here in our own solar system where it looks like all of the ingredients for life are there and we're starting to send spacecraft that have specific instruments that are sensitive enough to look for that life. And so I could envision one of you guys working as a biologist or maybe an Europa marine oceanographer who is now studying that life that we found. Once we found it, okay, now what do we do? Let's figure out how it got there. Did it grow there by itself? Was it deposited from earth? Because the plant have been swapping spit with each other for the last 4 billion years, so that could be a possibility too, right? And is it similar to us? Is it different? How can we study this precious new example of life without contaminating its environment without accidentally putting earth microbes there? But we still want to understand everything about it. And so that could be something that I think, especially in your lifetimes as scientists or engineers, could be a challenge that you could work on.
TRACY DRAIN: That's a really good one. Can I ask how many people in the audience are in high school right now? Raise your hand. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 0, I count nine, which is awesome because you heard Morgan say the year, you said a launch year for Dragon Fly is in 2026, right? It's 2019 right now you folks who are in high school have plenty of time to get through college by the time Dragon Fly launches. It takes a long time to do stuff. So you could actually end up working on some of the specific missions that we've talked about today, which is kind of cool to me.
MORGAN CABLE: And the Dragon Fly mission is going to have a special, what we call a participating scientist program, specifically for early career people. So right when you are finishing up your degree and looking to get involved in a mission like this, it might end up being the perfect time and other missions will be coming too.
TRACY DRAIN: Europa clipper launching in 2023 I think is the current timeline right now. So you can all still get out of school and come work on that mission. All sorts of cool stuff going on.
LLYR HELLER: I think we have questions in the front row [crosstalk 00:57:13].
SPEAKER 13: Thank you. So actually I have two questions. My first one is, one of you guys mentioned that water was in the form of a rock, how does that happen? And my second one was if you were able to talk to your younger selves, what would you say to them?
MORGAN CABLE: Oh man. Okay so you can actually make water into a rock, you stick it in your freezer, right? And it may not be a very hard rock you could probably crunch it between your teeth, but if you cool that down to say the surface of Titan or the surface of Europa, now it gets a lot harder. And in some ways some properties can be similar to things like granite. So it can be really harder or brittle or other things that are similar to other rocks as we know it. So Europa's surface, Titan's surface, actually a lot of these ocean worlds is what we call them have surfaces that are made out of water instead of rock as we know it.
MORGAN CABLE: And the water is frozen and it may behave in some ways like rocks do here. We see evidence of like fractures, things like subduction stuff that our plates do here on earth that may be happening with ice instead and it's really cool because some things are similar but some things are very different about these environments. And can I say the one thing I'd want to say to myself? I remember when I was studying chemistry in school and I wanted to work for NASA one day and I was so worried that if I got one bad test or didn't get that one internship that my life would be over and I would... I who knows what I would be doing but it wouldn't be the path that I wanted anymore. It's, okay. I would tell myself to don't freak out, don't stress out, you will get to the place you want to be. Most of us I don't think had a direct absolute path to get where we wanted. Our paths might have been a little bit circuitous and it's okay to change your mind.
MORGAN CABLE: If you are studying something and then you've been studying it for a little while and now you're like I'm not as excited about this as I was before. Don't feel trapped like you have to do that for the rest of your life. Change your mind, go study something else. The people who are most successful at JPL and at other places that I've been, were the ones who were passionate. They loved what they did. And that passion might've changed throughout their lives and throughout their careers, but they kept pursuing the thing that they love to do that. If you do that, you'll never work a day in your life and you'll be happy. So don't freak out and it's okay to change your mind.
TRACY DRAIN: I have two things also, she stole one of mine because the thing is because I really love the work that I'm doing now, I wouldn't want to go back and change too many things because maybe [inaudible 00:59:56] is that whole, what was that movie with the short guy, Michael J. Fox did? That one is a good one too, but Michael J. Fox [inaudible 01:00:03]... thank you, Back To The Future. [inaudible 01:00:08] way back, Butterfly Effect is also really good. So I wouldn't want to tell myself anything that would drastically change anything in case I didn't end up where I am now. But I definitely would tell myself to not stress out as much. I was another one of those kids that... it's not like I was freaked out that I wouldn't get an A all the time because it cracks me up every time I do a talk with Morgan and she talks about how much she loves chemistry.
TRACY DRAIN: Oh my God, I hated chemistry so much. I got a D in my freshman year. I know, look at that face, that was my mom's face, but I was really fortunate, I got an A in everything else so I could keep my scholarship, that was really scary. But it was okay because it taught me that when you fall down really hard like that, it's not as important the fact that you fell down but that you get back up and you figure out what to do in order to keep going. So the next semester when I took chemistry again, I sat in the front of the class and I had a study group and I bugged the professor all the time, right? To help me and you would think that someone would only have to learn that lesson once.
TRACY DRAIN: I might've gotten a D in thermodynamics in my junior year, but it's just, I think I would have wanted myself to know that it was going to be okay, that you don't have to completely freak out and give yourself ulcers because you think that every single thing matters and it doesn't. It's really the big picture and how you learn how to learn and how you just figure out how to be persistent and keep going after the things that you're interested in. That's what I would do. I said I had two things, I forgot what the second one was [inaudible 01:01:37].
DAVID DELGADO: I'll answer the second question and what would I tell to my younger self? And maybe this might apply to some of you too but I think I would say just be careful to take the time to listen to your inner self. And I say that because sometimes there's so much, so many people telling you what you should be doing, but you need to listen about to the thing inside you that tells you what you want to be doing. And this goes to what Morgan was saying too, is that that that gets you into a place where you feel like you're in the right spot. Everything kind of lines up and you're like, "Yeah, this feels good.
DAVID DELGADO: I think I'm doing the right thing." It's because there's something that's natural that's the inside each one of you that has its own genius and it could be, once you find that, you can take it to a level that just feels easy, but you'll notice that other people are going, how do you do that? What's going on? Because it's something that's inside you that's a natural thing, right? And when you find, it just, I would say, listen to yourself because it's okay to do this and follow your curiosity especially right now, this is the time because it takes time to explore. Some people know right away, they get it really quickly. But somebody like me, it took me a really long time to find that and I was really frustrated when I was younger too. And so that's my advice to my younger self is it's okay, just don't stop being curious because you will find it and it's inside you.
TRACY DRAIN: Yes. And if any of you out there going, well that's great, but what if that never happens to me and I never find the thing that is my thing, right? There's this great book that I read recently, it's called So Good They Can't Ignore You by a guy named Cal Newport, Newton go Google the name of the book. But the thing that I like about it is he talks about that thing where if you're trying to find your passion but you can't figure out what you're passionate about and then you think something's wrong with you because you can't find your passion. Just find anything and start doing because when you're learning about something, even if it's something that you're like, I don't know if I want to do this for the rest of my life, that's fine. Just do it and learn about that thing and that might lead you to the next thing and just keep an open mind. And that's the way that you do what David was saying and just work your way around until something does settle in and it's the thing that you want to continue spending your time with.
MORGAN CABLE: Yeah. So I told you guys how I did that summer internship. That was my third summer internship. The first two were in parts of chemistry where I realized, boy, I really don't want to do that. One of them was in organic chemistry and I was working in, it's a beautiful lab up at Wellesley, it was fun but it made me realize I didn't want to be doing a 20 step synthesis to make a tiny little bit of some new compound no one had ever made before and huffing solvents all day. That just wasn't my-
TRACY DRAIN: You should not [inaudible 01:04:27].
MORGAN CABLE: Well, no you should not. And as a NASA person, I'm not endorsing that at all. But the point was it would still helped me a lot because I realized, okay, that's not the part of chemistry I'm passionate about. And I would not have known that had I not done that internship. So as soon as you got, well you can do this now in high school, like join clubs, the robotics clubs, see if you like that stuff. You may be passionate about that and not know it. Learn how to code once you're in college, take electives in random things that are very different and removed from your major because you may find something that maybe supplements the work you're doing because no one is an expert in both of those things or you may end up changing your mind and finding that that other major is something that you would enjoy better. Yeah, but don't become a lawyer because your parents want you to become a lawyer, become a lawyer because you're passionate about the law and you want to help people. Don't become a doctor because your parents want you to become a doctor, be a doctor because you want to help people. We're all here because we love what we're doing, not to make someone else proud and your parents will be proud of you if you're doing something that you love.
LLYR HELLER: Thank you so much. That was amazing. We're going to have one last question. I also want to do a quick plug, thank you for bringing it up. Teen Scape is starting a coding club starting Wednesdays in January. So please see us after to sign up.
MORGAN CABLE: That would be another thing I tell my younger self is take a coding class early.
SPEAKER 14: Okay. So I have two questions. My first question is if you're in space and you're wearing your space suit and you get a cut in your space suit and then all the space stuff is going into your space suit, would duct tape work? If you cover duct tape on the... and my second question is, you said this was on a podcast, where can we find this?
MORGAN CABLE: Okay, so I'll answer the first one because I think we'll get you the answer to the second one. So yeah, in space, things can be hazardous, right? Space is a vacuum, that means that in any of the air you breathe and the things like that can, if there is a small puncture in your spacecraft or your space suit, that can potentially lead to a very bad day for you.
TRACY DRAIN: [inaudible 01:06:32].
MORGAN CABLE: Yes, the air goes out. But you could say vacuum goes in, right? It's just an absence of air, right? You could say that, but anyway, so yeah, duct might work but anytime that you're putting something on the external part of your suit, there'll still be pressure trying to force it out. So it would be better if you could get your hand on the inside of your space suit and put duct tape on the inside then it sort of gets sucked up against the... that might be a little better. But you wouldn't die right away. In fact, there was someone who was here on earth who was put into what we call a hyperbaric chamber, sometimes divers will use these to sort of help them equilibrate the nitrogen and other gasses in their blood so that they don't get something called the bends when they've been down under water for a while.
MORGAN CABLE: And there was an accident that happened and this man, I can't remember his name, but he basically experienced the vacuum of space in this chamber, they accidentally pumped all the air out. So he went in space without a spacesuit for a little while and he said, he lived through the experience and he said right before he passed out, he could feel the saliva on his tongue boiling away because the pressure was so low that gasses, things that were liquid started to boil and evaporate away. It would take you a little while to get to that point. So don't try to hold your breath if you go out into the vacuum of space, just let it kind of go so your lungs don't explode. But you will have, I think it's something like 40 seconds, maybe a minute or something to get yourself to safety before you don't get enough oxygen going to your brain and you'll pass out and that's bad. So you can look this up, there's all sorts of information because people have asked this question a lot like what happens if you were in space? So one, don't hold your breath and two, get yourself to safety as soon as you can.
SPEAKER 1: I have just a little question, so [inaudible 01:08:27].
TRACY DRAIN: Yeah. So the question is, we were just talking earlier about how things in orbit around the earth are falling around the earth and that it's still gravity that's making them fall. The question was, is the earth also falling through space? Yes, it is. It is falling around the sun and it's traveling, I think go look this up online, but I think it's about 65,000 miles an hour around the sun and the sun with the solar system and everything is also orbiting around the center of our galaxy at some just intently insane speed. I don't remember what it is so the words I'm about to say are lies so go look it up. Something like 400,000 miles, something just ridiculous speed and our galaxy is moving through space in the direction of the Andromeda galaxy at some obscenely high speed too.
MORGAN CABLE: And space itself is actually expanding. So the distances between things are getting bigger because space itself is getting bigger. It's not really expanding into anything, it's just becoming large, it's kind of weird physics.
SPEAKER 1:[inaudible] the sun and it's planets are also revolving around-
SPEAKER 1:Yes. The sun is planet.
TRACY DRAIN: The center of the galaxy, which is like 26,000 light years away from us, yeah.
SPEAKER 1: [inaudible 01:09:37].
TRACY DRAIN: It's all more of an ellipse I think. So the earth and all the planets go around the sun. They're in an ellipse but it's almost a circle, yeah. And then I think, so the sun going around the galaxy, that must be a circle, right? I don't actually know the answer to that.
MORGAN CABLE: So when it comes to things like orbital mechanics, we're really good at solving problems with one or two bodies and their gravitational interactions and after that we can't actually mathematically solve it, we have to do approximations. And we're getting very good at that, like Saturn has what, 70 something moons and we were able to navigate Cassini in and around and through, not through the moons, but through the rings, we went even in between Saturn and its rings. So we can get pretty good at these problems but on the scale of trying to model the universe, it gets pretty complicated.
LLYR HELLER: Well, thank-[inaudible 01:10:25]. I'm just going to pause right now because we're about half an hour over, but I'm sure they'll be here milling around for some questions. I do want to note, thank you for that second question, so the podcasts we make are podcasts of the program, which happens about once a month. Our next scheduled one is in January, we're going to have careers from LA Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl. So if you love music, they'll be here to talk about that. But they are located on our website, www.lapl.org/teens/careers-podcast. So we've been doing this for about two and a half years, so it's about one a month, we skipped a couple months here and there, but can everyone help thank our awesome guests today. Thank you so much.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding.
CAREER CONVERSATIONS PODCAST, November 2019, Transcript by Rev.com