Brian May and Martin Rees Science Museum talk 24/05/2019
PART (rough) TRANSCRIPT: E&OE
And please welcome to the stage Dr Roger Highfield, Professor Martin Rees and Dr Brian May…
ROGER HIGHFIELD: Good evening. Welcome to the Science Museum I’m Roger Highfield, the Science Director here, and welcome to the opening event of our Monster Summer of Space season, which will see all sorts of space-related events until the end of August. Ii=t’s an incredible pleasure to welcome two rock stars of Astronomy to the Science Museum tonight to help celebrate humankind’s greatest adventure the Apollo Moon landings. I don’t really need any introduction whatsoever but I will introduce them anyway. First of all we have Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees. Martin’s the author of “On the Future Prospects for Humanity”, and it explores space travel along with things like robotics, AI and climate change. And second we’ve got Astrophysicist and legendary Queen songwriter and guitarist, Dr Brian May. Brian’s written “Mission Moon 3D” with David Eicher, is published by the London Stereoscopic Company, and is live-streaming.
We’re gonna range through the past, present and future of space travel but actually first, Brian, just tell me a little bit about . . . that rousing ”New Horizons”video that came before us.
BRIAN MAY: It’s it’s quite a long story really but I’ll make it short. It was kind of commissioned because I’ve been working with the New Horizons team under Alan Stern while they did the the flyby of Pluto couple years ago and Alan just rang me up said I got “Something very important to say to you“. I thought what the hell is he going . . .[to say] and he said” I want you to write a piece of music for us for the the flyby . . . Ultimata Thule”, which is the Kuiper Belt object which they visited after Pluto. Now they didn’t even know they were going to do that until they were past Pluto, because nobody . . . it hadn’t been discovered and I said “How can I write a song?” but ultimately “What rhymes with ‘Ultima Thule’?” and then I thought “Ah. the mission is called New Horizons and what does that mean? And suddenly the whole thing kind of unfolded in my mind and I wrote it with Don Black who’s a very well-known and wonderful lyricist, old friend of mine, and the thing became a celebration of Man’s endeavour to explore, which of course is a great example one of the finest examples ever. And this is the farthest man has ever been – four billion miles away – because he’s not there. There’s no Man in in it but the probe that he’s made has, has gone that far now.
ROGER: What about “Mission Moon 3-D”? We’ve got some images coming up I think from the from the book. Just tell us a little bit, a bit about your love of stereoscopic imagery and how it came about and so on.
BRIAN: That’s another very long story. Yeah with Weetabix, when I was a kid, [using] cereals to give you little cards, which were 3-D cards. I didn’t know what it was. I was about nine years old and they said, “Send away packets [over] and one and sixpence and you can get a viewer to see these things in 3-D, which I did and suddenly this Hippopotamus…
– instead of being two little flat pictures was like a real animal and I could [feel]. I thought I could go through this, this frame and actually touch it. So I was knocked out and I have been ever since, you know. I kept thinking when I was still young, you know, if you can make 3-D pictures that are that real and that evocative, why would you bother with flat pictures, which we all do, so this book is what we did. . . for this book we went back into the NASA archives and found lots of pictures which make 3-D if they’re combined. Takes a little bit of work sometimes to iron out the problems but basically you need two points of view the same as the two points of view that your eyes give you every day of your life and these two points of view for astral astronomical bodies have to be quite far apart, but you can find that and everything in space rotates so you can choose your moments and get a baseline that way. The astronauts were actually trained to take 3-D pictures but mostly they forgot because the [code] there’s a lot on their minds you know. Nevertheless Michael Collins while the [his to make sit down on] they’re walking on the moon, he’s taking 3-D pictures. As his module goes around so we had those ,and most of the stuff hasn’t been seen, at least stereoscopically before. So you get your book and the pictures that we worked months and months on – some of it while I was on tour with Queen etc, and you get your [viewer] in the back so you can see them in 3-D.
And I think we’ve got an example of two images that show one of the problems, and if we can move on to that and the ghostly image I’m staring [at] right here we are going to . . .
ROGER: Just talk us through this. This shows one of the problems you had to deal with in producing the book.
BRIAN: This is funny because everybody – Patrick [this] rejected this as a stereo pair because you can see there’s a bit of a problem. There’s a man in this one and there [he] isn’t. He was happily . . . has been taking his panoramic duties nicely – not taking 3-D when you’re taking panoramic panoramic pictures like this. Click, click, click. You’re actually moving and [killing] your baseline. So we chose these two pictures, put them together and, of course, you get a ghost,] Jack Schmitt, who’s walking through the scene. But with a little bit of work in PhotoShop you can restore it and we managed to put him back in the other image. So in the book you’ll see him fully fleshed. So it’s a lot of fun to make these images and they are so real. Charlie Joe Pesci’s editing, it’s the closest thing to being on the Moon you can get with a real . . . as the best actor astronaut themself, so fantastical evening so I said “Enough now I think I’ll go . . .
ROGER (to Martin]: Came out last summer and it was sort of a follow-up to your 2003 book, “Our Final Hour” and you were looking at all these evil existential threats to humanity in the coming century. How are things looking now, compared with 2003? . . .
CONTINUES (check back soon]