tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN December 30, 2016 3:37pm-5:38pm EST
cancer institute. a professor of surgery and pathology and an active member of duke's medical research team, dr. ali-osman is a world leader in the field of experimental oncology, cancer therapeutics, and pharmacology and cancer drug resistance with a particular focus on tumors of the central nervous system. his research seeks to understand the cellular and molecular processes that underline malignancy and to determine the response of cancer patients to their treatment. this work is used to develop novel, highly targeted, smart anticancer drugs and to design more effective individualized treatment strategies. dr. ali-osman has held faculty positions at the university of washington in seattle, at the university of texas, m.d. anderson cancer center, and currently, as you know, serving at duke university in durham, north carolina.
in the summer of 2016, he was appointed by president barack obama to the national cancer advisory board. dr. ali-osman earned an undergraduate degree from the university of science and technology in ghana and a doctorate with distinction from the free university of berlin. i give you our distinguished guest, dr. francis ali-osman. [ applause ] >> it is a special privilege and honor for me to be here today. i would like first off to thank kurt jefferson and ester ellis for being with me so many times
with the e-mails trying to put this together and for putting what's just been an incredible symposium. this morning i'm sure reflects just a flavor. i come from duke university, which is a small university, as some of you well know. i hope when you graduate, some of you will come over and they will have some great courses that were there. duke has a very strong liberal arts tradition. actually, current it is hard to leave. we don't plan to steal your president here to replace him. but he came from yale university and he was a professor of classes. so he brought that flavor and the whole insight on leadership. and also, as a cancer person, somebody by the name of mike bishop, michael bishop -- some
of you may know him from the university of california san francisco. and he is probably about one of the biggest pillars in the field of cancer in that he and his protege discovered the uncle gene. no, those just revolutionize our thinking in everything we do today. and he was a liberal arts major, majored in english before he went to med school and got a ph.d and then went to the cancer research. and i had the privilege and honor of reviewing one of his grants. i do a lot of grants reviews for the nih. and just impeccable language that he uses to write the stuff, it's just incredible. so, liberal arts have a major place in medicine, in science. you had the talk earlier on today. so institutions like this have their place, and i hope they will forever be there.
they open up the mind in ways that some of the things we do don't do, so keep up the wonderful job. to talk on cancer, something that has since my early days in college has captured me, has captivated me, which actually made me to skew my education and background less to a hard-core, clinical work, not that that's not important -- people get sick and they need to be taken care of. but what fascinated me, from some of the courses that i took earli earlier, was just the challenge of the disease of cancer. it's extremely complex and needs all kinds of people from different disciplines to come to it. and it's always, you peel open one -- it's like there's another exciting question that's there. and long after we're gone, i'm sure you young ones coming will still be tackling with this and making great contributions. now, the other challenge with
talking about cancer is that complexity. in 45 minutes, i couldn't even begin to do justice to a snippet of brain cancers, which is what i work on most of the time. so to try to give an overview of the whole field of cancer in 45 minutes of course is a big challenge, but i'll try. my talk will be somewhat eclect eclectic, and i apologize for some if i may not go deep enough in some aspects of it, but my goal is to give you a flavor of what we're doing and what's going on. i'll spend a reasonable amount of time on the burden of cancer, because i think if that is understood, is well understood by young people, it's understood by policymakers, understood by the general public, that the fight against cancer would be even more vigorous, because this is an awful disease, but a
beatable disease, you know. if you challenge the human mind, it can come up with solutions to make this not a problem that it is today. so, with that, well, i'm sure you young ones and even us older ones still have to thank our families, particularly our parents, for bearing with us and giving us opportunities to be who we are today. and i owe them every day there. the teachers who taught us and the students that we later on had who questioned us, challenged us, and fellow students. in a place like westminster, you just have a unique place here. the smallness of the college, which i was told is by design. you will never make it too big. it brings such closeness and friendships and, you know, support that will carry you
throughout the rest of your life, so cherish them. things you don't get in the 50,000 student body-type institutions. so, and then trainees. some brilliant fellows, doctor and medical residents go through my program to get trained. and incredible research staff. they are the foot soldiers who are making it happen. i have been blessed with a wonderful number of them. and collaborators, you know, colleagues that you've worked with. and then the agencies, both the government agencies like the nih and nci, private foundations industry and individuals. you know, sometimes a $10 gift, sometimes $10,000, sometimes $1 million. without them, we wouldn't be where we are with the fight against cancer. and ultimately, the patients who get this disease, suffer with it. sometimes, you know, lose their
lives to it. without them, we wouldn't have the material we need and the encouragement that we need to do this work. so i just want to make sure that. now, cancer. cancer is not new at all, unlike hiv, which didn't exist. cancer has been there in actual fossils and mumies, egyptian mummies. they've had evidence that they had cancer. they have lumps in some of the bones and that clearly today is cancer. so, it's been there for a long, long time. and yet, the word cancer is still shrouded with mystery and fear and emotion. i mean, the worst thing you can be told is that you have been diagnosed with cancer. your head just is spinning and all kinds of stuff going on. actually, some societies, they don't even discuss it. in japan until not too long ago, they wouldn't even tell the
patient, unless under very special circumstances, that they have cancer. so, there's still a a lot of mystery and stigma tied to it. now, what exactly is cancer? i'll try to kind of shed some light on that. and then i'll discuss, like i said earlier, the burden of cancer on society, on us as individuals, tell you little bit about different types of cancer, touch here and there about treatment that we have for them today. and i don't think by that time i'll have too much time to touch on a very, very important thing, and that is prevention. a lot of cancers can be prevented. and i will say a few words about some of the things that we can do. and then as i go along here and there, i'll discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that we have. now, in the u.s., cancer's a
real problem. that's why, 1961, president nixon signed the national cancer act. it was such a big problem, when he saw the number, he said now we've got to do something about this. and you know the nih, it has all these institutes. and the nci, national cancer institute's one of them. but the nci is the only institute that has its own separate budget line and also can report directly to the president. it's why the president has the national cancer advisory board, which i was privileged to be appointed to a few months ago. it's a huge problem. and i have some of the numbers here. 40%, that's close to one in two americans will have a diagnosis of some form of cancer. that's huge. in 2016, there will be well over
1.5 mew canew cases, not those have it already, brand-new cases that will be diagnosed. and close to 500,000 people are going to -- excuse me, that breaks down to about 500,000. the mortality, meaning those who are going to die from cancer, is staggering. about almost 600,000 deaths will occur this year from cancer. and that comes to about 171 per 100,000. it is the second most common cause of death, all deaths. so this is a big problem. i'll show you some numbers later on the impact side. children also get cancer, and there will be close to 16,000 new cases. this was 2014. it's a lot more than that today. and fortunately, just by the fact that so many people will
get cancer, we have seen about 14 million americans living with cancer thanks to the advances we have, the treatments and so on. and it's estimated that in another almost ten years, we will have close to 20 million americans living with the disease, and they're living a quality life. they go to work every day. they hug their loved ones. so, that is good news. now, the economic burden of cancer is huge, about $125 billion. that is spent on care. not to speak of the other impact -- loss of dollar, the dollar figure on loss of people working and so on. just the care. and this is projected to increase. hopefully, with that increase, it's a good investment to keep increasing the number of people who are living with cancer. our hope in the cancer field is
that cancer becomes, first of all, curable. that's our goal. and a number of them are curable today. testicular cancer, lance armstrong got cured, on to win number of tour de france. many women were diagnosed years ago with breast cancer and are living a wonderful, healthy life. but we're still very cautious of leaving the "c" word, cure, in cancer. we talk about survival, you live so long, but such a disease can sneak its way over a long period of time, and you have to deal with it again. so just some numbers. let's see. oh, okay.
so some hard numbers. again, like i mentioned, i want the burden of cancer to really come out. because from there i think the vigor with which we attack it is going to be -- prostate cancer in men causes about 26% of all cancers. with women, breast cancer is the number one cancer. lung cancer, you'll see another figure later on, is increasing in women. and it's been likely due to the fact that smoking is -- for some reason hasn't been controlled in women. smoking tobacco is the single most important and one would say easiest thing to deal with in cancer. it causes cancer in addition to all kinds of other conditions.
but, you know, these are addiction to it and lots of other problems. anyway, this is the estimated new cases that are going to be diagnosed. now, the probability of developing cancer, like i said, is about one to two, one to three, it breaks down in the different kinds of cancers. if you add all of them to it, it's one to two, in men. in women, a little bit less, one to three. the big difference is prostate cancer, that obviously doesn't apply to women. it's interesting, when you look at the rates of incidence, the incidence rates of cancer, it's peaked in about 1993 and started going down. and this coincides with around the time that psa came out as a
diagnostic for prostate cancer. you notice with women, it's just a straight line. it's coming down a little bit slowly, because you can diagnose prostate cancer early, and if you do, like most cancers, and in fact most diseases, you have a better chance of dealing with it. if man, for example, is diagnosed early, and the disease is within the prostate, hasn't moved out, there are so many options for treating it, that can almost not affect your lifespan, your survival. so men, see your doctor, make sure your prostate, you know what's going on in there. once it breaks out of the prostate, it's a very, very big problem. it goes into the bones, trespre out, it's challenging to deal with it. again, with the women, it's lung cancer, that's what's keeping it going slightly up.
but you can see black men, and it's not -- part of it is access to care and not seeing a doctor early enough. there is a genetic component, why blacks, african-americans in general have a higher rate of cancer. in the cancers i work on, brain cancers, it's the reverse. african-americans get less risk of brain cancer, particularly glioblastoma, the worst kind of brain cancer. that arguably has a genetic component. we're very interested in trying to understand, is there a suppressed gene in africans? if so maybe that's a way to prevent it in whites. or is there something else?
this is the incidence by ethnicity, the data i showed but broken down into all the different races, for men and women. you can see, again, blacks have higher rates almost across the board, both for women and for men. now, despite the difference in incidence, there are also differences in survival, as shown here. some cancers it's dramatic, oral cavity, and that has to do with smoking, up to 20% difference. in women, it's about 20%. so this is a national challenge. and it's being addressed by the nci, these disparities in cancer
incidence and survival rates. i'll just give a little more data on that. this puts the picture more -- in a more vivid fashion. you see the curve. this is in women. the lung cancer is shooting up. it's beginning to tip a little bit down. again, this is because of the rate of smoking amongst women, when most other cancers are coming down, even breast cancer is coming down. the tobacco problem is still a national problem that should be dealt with. we've been talking about heart disease, emphysema, other problems associated with smoking, the death rates, the incidence and all the others that i showed you. now, children. children also get cancer. and this is the incidence rate
in children for the different age groups. you notice leukemias and brain tumors are the number one cancers when you combine them together. brain tumors are next to leukemias in children. and it's shown again in this figure. but the good news is, despite that, you notice before 1977, how many kids survived with leukemia today, close to 90% of children will survive leukemia because of the treatments the advancements will make. they'll go on to have children and grandchildren. i personally know some kids who were treated successfully, went on to college, graduated, married, and are living their lives. there is hope. if we do the research and put the effort, that we can make a difference. the brain tumors are still a
challenge. but even there we're making small inroads. now, another way to look at the burden of cancer is in the person-years that are lost to the disease. and this shows you that this is tremendous. okay. this was the u.s. what about the world? it's even worse. when you look at the whole world. there will be 14 million new cases. and about over 8 million deaths. in 2016, i was looking at the figures, i wasn't able to update this, i was expecting it to go up and up. more than 50% of the new cases and two-thirds of these deaths will be in the developing world. and good reasons for that, infrastructure for health, for treating cancer, diagnosing cancer, cancer science, cancer medicine, is undeveloped in these countries. you know, when you have it, it's
almost a death sentence. and there's a lot of effort in these countries, africa, south america, on malaria, aids, hiv, tuberculosis. and billions of dollars are being put into those. but guess what? if you combine all of those diseases, more people die from cancer than all of them combined. it's a huge, huge problem. and the burden this is going to put on these societies and these countries in terms of their resources for health care, and ultimately if that is an economic problem, then it goes into security, the government stability, things that eventually can come back and affect the rest of the world. so it is a problem. and just another figure, in these places, in these countries, you're likely to die
from cancer, your chances of dying from cancer are six times higher than from a traffic accident or from a war, 40 times from war. so it is a problem. so i hope i've impressed upon you that cancer is a major societal problem. and society needs to come to grips. we as individuals, chances are very high, one in two, one in three, that we're going to deal with this disease, if we're not already dealing with it. so we, the government, communities, should all get on board. so what is cancer? that's another mystery. t let me start with the word "tumor." people use it, you have a tumor, you have a cancer. a tumor is simply a mass, a mass of cells.
you can feel it as a lump. it can be anywhere. to cancer is a tumor. now, the difference is that a tumor can either be benign. all of them are characterized by abnormal growth of cells. that's how you get that lump. because in the normal cells, there is the genetics of the normal cell are like clockwork. this is, if you believe in god, there's got to be a god to make it work so well in the normal cell. it knows when to divide, how long to divide, when to die, when to be replaced, it happens correctly. but when something goes wrong with that process, it keeps growing, doesn't know when to stop until it forms the lump. fortunately a good number of these lumps, these tumors, are benign. the surgeon can go in there and cut it out. if he does it well, it's gone. if it comes back, it can do the
same thing. in terms of cancer, that growth is very, very, very abnormal. you just keep going. the critical thing about cancer is they can invade, they don't just stay where they are, they move out from the local site to different places. you can have a breast cancer or melanoma on the skin, moves to the brain, to the liver, to the lungs. when they do that, they subvert the normal physiology of the cell and also produce, overproduce or underproduce factors that are necessary for normal growth, and ultimately this is what then, you know, takes over and there is loss of life. so really the big difference between a malignant tumor and a benign tumor is that uncontrolled growth and invasiveness of the tumor, of course there are many other differences, but grossly this is
how we look at it. now, i'm sure you're familiar with so many terminologies that are used to describe cancer. the carc car scinomas, gliomas. unfortunately cancer is not a single disease. just like the different tissues in the body and the organs are not the same. they have different functions, do different things. when they become cancerous, it translates into that. so it's really -- some of the features are the same. but when you look at the disease, it's very, very ú3á÷ different. it's estimated a hundred, sometimes you'll even hear somebody saying 200 different diseases. so it adds to the complexity. the other level of complexity is that even in a single -- if you have three women with the same type of breast cancer, it
behaves differently in them because they bring their own innate genetics to bear on the disease. you have your basic carcinoma of the breast, ten women treated with the same treatment, three, four would respond, the others wouldn't respond. because we all bring to bear, you know, whatever god has given us to bear on the disease. so it's quite a challenge. this gives you an idea how they look like, different cancers. prostate cancer, lung cancer, what we call kidney cancer, clear cell kidney cancer and so on. so not only do they look different, a good pathologist takes one glance at it and often can tell you what kind of cancer it is. so how does a cancer develop? all cancers come from normal cells. if there is no cell, there is not going to be a cancer. there is a process we call
initiation. i'll say a little bit about that. had a happens in the normal cell. now, today we know it's an at a genetic level. that normal cell gets transformed into what we call a transformed cell. it's still not a cancer. at least with the technologies we have today, you can't detect the evolution of a normal cell to a transformed cell. although in some cases like a pap smear, we can take a look at the cells, see it as it changes. even in prostate cancer, there's beginning to be some changes. what we hope is to be able to get molecular markers, that secr secrete into the bloodstream that you can imagine. there's fantastic work at mit were they work on a small lynn nail o little nanochip that you can inject and get readouts on
what's going on in there. remotely, with computer science, you can track it, the patient comes to see you, gives signals on what's going on there and you can pick up some of these differences. for now, except in a few cases, we can detect this very early stage. but from the transformed cell, a process called promotion has to occur before the transformed cell becomes an actual tumor cell and starts the actual aggressive process. and there are actually chemicals that fuel this promotion. so if you have the transformation but you don't have the promotion, you're not exposed to it, it can move the transformed cell into the tumor cell. and then from the tumor cell to a big cancer that is clinically diagnosable, can take anywhere from a few months to several years to happen.
there are some very slow growing tumors, cancers. unfortunately there are others that are very fast. brain tumors, pancreatic tumors. and the -- and then of course once they become -- they progress into that aggressive cancer, they start to invade and spread and so on. and the earlier you can get it, the better the chance that you have to deal with it. but what causes this change? that from normal cell to the transformed cell to the tumor cell? it's funny, i thought i would put this slide on, but just to give you what over time how people thought about of course the knowledge of biology and everything at the time was -- in some cases didn't even exist so they had to go by a hunch. that was the so-called humeral
theory, the lymph theory, the irritation theory, trauma theory. when you look deep, they weren't actually wrong. it was just too simplistic. today, with everything you know, you could actually explain any of these theories. you can put substance to it. so there have been thinkers all along, not just today, who have been changing the world. but no one would talk about these today as the cause of cancer. rather -- oh, okay, i thought i would step back. like i said, cancer, we know today is a problem of the genes. a disease that occurs at the genetic level. i think i'll spare you, i was just going through to explain. but the key thing is the term oncogene to suppress a gene.
every cell has an oncogene, a precursor of the oncogene. we have tumor mosuppressor gene. these genes work in balance, keep things steady. when a mutation occurs in the oncogene or the tumor suppressor gene, the normal balance is tipped. the proto oncogene keeps things going. if there is what we call an activated mutation and the proto oncogene becomes an oncogene, it will become a tumor suppressor, or if there is a mutation in the tumor suppressor gene that prevents it from suppressing the growth of the cancer, you can get cancer. there are other genes that add to the whole process. these are the two that -- and we
know that initial stage of what we call carcinogenesis, the process of developing cancer, physical, radiation, uv light, and the chemicals, you heard this morning an eloquent talk about about some carcinogens, which can contribute to the development of cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer and so on. but there are many other chemical carcinogens, cigarette smoking, hydrocarbons that come out of it, that are very carcinogenic. and, you know, high temperature grilled meat, i'm sure we all know that, and so on. and then they have viruses that are associated with cancer. apv, human pap i wpappilovirus,d
so on. interestingly, within the body, there are processes that go on, the metabolism, that actually contribute to carcinogenesis. oxygen is a great thing, of course, we need it to get energy and so on. but oxygen can also be very toxic because it produces what we call reactive oxygen species. and these things, small molecules that can damage the dna, and if this is not repaired, it can become carcinogenic lesion and lead to cancer. in addition to these, there are individual factors, factors related to the individual that can contribute. like i mentioned, genetics, you inherit your genetics from your parents and you live with it.
in 5% of cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancers, a number of other cancers, have a familial component to them. but that doesn't mean you have to get the cancer. there are things we can do to minimize the risk of getting cancer. there's something called polymorphism which some of you are familiar with. you can have the same gene about different forms of it. and two individuals can be dna repair genes, they can be metabolizing genes. genes that metabolize a carcinogen once it gets into your body. those differences can also contribute. then there are mutations that you inherit, some of the tumor suppressor genes, for example. and of course there is lifestyle and environment in which you live in. diet properly, exercise, and so on. of course smoking. and habits that expose you to
hpv or hiv and so on, that can contribute to having cancer, all of that can contribute to it. now, i'm going to touch a little bit on the treatment of cancer. of course surgery is one of the tools that have been available. but surgery is very, very effective in benign tumors or tumors that are developed early and are localized, haven't spread. surgery often is the only treatment you need. you take it out and go back home, let the wound heel, and go about your life. but unfortunately sometimes it's not the case, people come when the disease has already started to expand. it's not always their fault, because some of the symptoms are not very obvious. pancreatic cancer, for example, a dreadful cancer.
generally you have bloatedness in the stomach and things like that. it's not a lump you can feel. you go to the doctor, i had a bad meal, whatever i ate didn't -- or it's something else. thenradiation. radiation has been the hallmark of cancer treatment for a long time. chemotherapy, you know. these are the mainstays of cancer therapy. some treatments represent advances that are going to make a difference in the future, i'll talk about a couple of those. now, chemotherapy, most patients who are diagnosed with cancer are going to get some form of chemotherapy today. it's still the number one treatment. it's used either alone or
combined with surgery. and chemotherapy is simply the use of chemicals to destroy the cancer cells. the history of chemotherapy is interesting. it started during the second world war, when mustard gas, which is a chemical used in chemical warfare, they started noticing this people exposed to it were having changes in their blood cells. they started doing some research, developed other forms of mustard, until they came out with nitrogen mustard. and nitrogen mustard actually was the first keep owe chemotherapeutic agent. so those were the two chemotherapeutic agents that came out. today we have a whole slew of them and better ones are coming
up all the time. this is just a list of some of the things. the problem with chemotherapy, however, is that at the time most of them were discovered, he knew about cell biology that the main as to ttools to discover t whether or not it killed cells. when i was still in college, the two cell lines, which are tumor models that are used to test these drugs, were from the mouse, a mouse leukemia. no wonder that a lot of the drugs that were discovered were good for leukemia, not that good for so many other things. today we discover them in slightly different ways. like i mentioned, chemotherapies use it two different ways. we continue to improve upon how we do that. adjuvant, given post-surgery, or
neo--adjuvant, you get it before your surgery. today we don't use them individually. we combine them, hopefully use cleverer and cleverer strategies, what we know about how they work, how they will have overlapping effects, but rather more than additive effects. then the other big thing is how you combine chemotherapy with some of the other therapies that you have. and i'll talk a little bit about that. and then there's a new -- there's another type of therapy that works with leukemias, where you hit it very big. often you'll push the patient almost to the brink. but if you do it well, you can salva salvage. and it seems to be working well. but interestingly, i don't have it on this slide, there's new type of therapy that's coming, chemotherapy, called metronomic
therapy, where you actually give small doses of the therapy with little toxicity, but if you do it right, you fractionate it right, you actually end up having better results than if you went with the higher dose. so we're learning a lot about how to use chemotherapy alone and in combination. and i think interestingly, almost all the new therapies that have been discovered, i'll talk about amino therapy, which is the latest buzz out there, even those work best when you combine them cleverly with chemotherapy. so it's ongoing work. but like i said, part of the problem, one of the major problems of chemotherapy is low therapeutic index, its inability to differentiate between a normal cell and a cancer cell. so i'm sure you've all seen kids with bald heads, people getting chemotherapy and they lose all
their hair because the chemotherapy gets at the hair follicles and kills all the cellphones there. the bone marrow is suppressed and lots of other things, you have skin problems. the hope is that it's a price you pay for hopefully you get at the cancer cell. interestingly, some of these drugs actually get at the cancer cell with a bigger bang than they get to the normal cells, so that's the differential. our goal in research on these therapies is to continue to get -- continue to get -- improve upon this din shall. -- differential. the other big problem is resistance, tumors have the ability to develop mechanisms that block the effect of the drugs. so you have the patient respond very well for months or even years, and then they fail to
respond to the therapy, and you have to kind of find ways to overcome that. so these are some of the things that the future work that's ongoing to improve chemotherapy, to understand the mechanisms and develop new agents, new approaches of combining them alone, together or with other modalities. okay. i think i'm getting close to the end. the immunotherapy, i'm sure you've all heard about immunotherapy, is the latest and biggest out there. it's funny because way back when i was early in my training in the field, immunotherapy was kind of pooh-pooh'd upon. it was more of a mystical, witch's brew type of thing. that was in part because we didn't know enough about the biology and about the imunion e
immuneologic properties. now all kinds of people are responding. president carter had a melanoma, it moved on to his brain. normally that's the end of the story. so he was put on a type of immunotherapy. we know the rest of the story. the tumor has disappeared. you can't find it in the brain anymore. we keep our fingers crossed that he's going to continue. exactly how it's working, we're not 100% sure. what he is getting, what he got was what we call an immune checkpoint inhibitor. these are proteins that block the immune system, like
checkpoints. so when that happens, then the tumor is able to grow. so if you're able to intercept that process, then you are allowing the immune system to attack the tumor and take care of of it. we're all healthy, i hope, that we don't get inne nexfections a on and don't get infections in our bodies because the immune system kicks in, we have this robust immune system. cancer, unfortunately, because it comes from a normal cell, is not quite a foreign body inside you. but there are sufficient changes that make the cells foreign cells. so the goal of research is to find out the differences between the normal cell and the tumor cell and be able to allow the immune system to recognize the
tumor as a foreign body and attack it. and the other thing is that the tumor cells are quite clever. they actually have things they do that suppresses the immune system. so once you figure that out, that you can remove that shield that they have, so the immune system can get to it. this is what immunotherapy is, letting your body's immune system attack the cancer. the earlier immunotherapies were antibodies that were directed at the tumor. so you get injected with the antibody, it goes up to the tumor, the tumor antigen on the tumor, attacks it and kills it. then came adoptive cell therapy, which some of you are aware of, you take the cells from the patient, you isolate what we call the t cells, which are the immune competent cells, and sometimes you can reengineer those cells or you can activate
them, grow them in large quantities and give them back to the patient and these cells go to attack the tumor. i may have a slide on it, but i'll say it now so we can slip on that, what we call cryo therapy, t cell therapy, we have a modulator that can activate the t cell. but you also engineer is so that you have the molecule that can recognize the cell. so when you do that, and then you grow those cells in large numbers, and we do that a lot at duke in our program, for brain tumors, so you grow that in large numbers and give it back into the patient, so we have two things. the immune system cells are activated, and they are able to recognize the tumors even more. all of this i cited are still experimental, taking place in
major research centers where you have all the major scientific teams to be able to do it. that's a great future. and then there is the cytokines therapy. cytokines are molecules that stimulate the immune cells. you can give the patient that, he gets it, it makes the cells active and they're able to attack the cell. so that's the real exciting thing. now, immunotherapy is not a therapy, but it's the use of the immune system that is also very active. vaccines, cancer vaccines where you can immunize a patient against the tumor, for example, that's used both to prevent the tumor as well as to treat the tumor. and then the bacteria bcg, that also, if you attenuate it, so it doesn't cause tb, of course, but it can activate the immune
system once you give it to the patient. it's used a lot on bladder cancer. it's slowly now been extended into other cancers. i did mention the new checkpoint inhibitors. just a few words on surgery. i think i'll say some of it. surgery as a procedure, again, has limitations. localized tumor, benign tumors, that's the treatment. but surgery is used for many, many other aspects of cancer care, for diagnosis. sometimes you really get to -- most of the time, actually, to know what kind of cancer it is and know what molecules to place in the cancer. you need a specimen, a cancer of that tumor, it's a surgical procedure. and to know the extent of the tumor, where it's reached, how
far is it, you need to have some surgery. of course there is a curative surgery. palliative surgery sometimes is important. when the tumor is so disseminated but it's causing a lot of pain and it's compromising, you know, quality of life, sometimes surgery can help, so that at least quality of life is improved. and then for breast cancer and other official cancers and so on, once the cancer is removed, there is deformity that surgery, reconstructive surgery can be used to improve things and make life better. so surgery has lots of other -- not just to try to cure the tumor. very quickly, other cancer treatment modalities that are out there, being researched heavily, hypothermia. just raise the temperature of the tumor to around 106 degrees
and above. that cell cannot survive. if you can do it focally, and today we have high frequency waves, you can put an antenna and so on right there and heat that local area of the tumor, it can kill the tumor that way. or if the blood vessels are good, you can profuse a warm solution through and warm the tumor, sparing the other parts of the body. what we now know is that when you combine hyperthermia with other treatment modalities, you actually can have a very positive effect. heating is one thing. you can also use cooling to kill the tumor. in a very, very low temperature. you can direct it, in this case they use liquid nitrogen on the tumor, you can freeze it in that way, eradicate it. as a reader frequency
application, you use electrical energy to kill the tumor, and the photo dynamic therapy, where the photo dynamic therapy, where you molecule, administer it to the tumor, and then you bring light. and that light would activate it. if you're able to bring the light in a very precise fashion, then even if the normal cells around the tumor have that agent, that photo synthesizing agent, they're not killed, because the light doesn't get to them. there is a radio biologist at duke who is doing fascinating work in that regard. he generates new photo synthesizing molecules that can enrich the tumor. also the way he delivers the light, now he's even using radiation to operate them. these are all very promising things in the future. other exciting things that are
going on, chemo embolization. in this case you give the chemotherapy and then you block the trafficking therapy in the tumor. that way you don't have the systemic effects of the chemotherapy, it's localized in the tumor, and you can deal with the tumor that way. you probably have heard of the gamma knife and so on. it's actually radiation that is used very focally, computer controlled and so on, to bring radiation right to the site of the tumor. and there are technical advances that are coming in with that kind of therapy. that's actually, through computer programming, you can direct the radiation to the tumor.
and the interoperative radiation therapy, another technical advance, where during the operation, you can radiate the tumor. the last few minutes i will spend talking about targeted therapy. that's a big part of the work i do. the targeted therapy is simply first of all identifying an abnormality in the cancer cell. and then developing a drug that attacks that abnormality, hoping that the abnormality is not in the normal cells, it's only in the cancer cell, that therapy is going to be very selective for the cancer cell. that's the basic concept. this is just a list of so many different things, abnormalities that are now known to differentiate normal from tumor cells that are being attacked in that fashion. for me in particular, there is a
gene called the gstp1. this is actually a metabolism gene which the students may have heard about. it transfers a molecule onto toxic compounds, binds to them, and then these compound sites treat it. it turns out that tumors, and there are several reasons for it that i can't go into right now, that they abrogate this protein tremendously. an example of some brain tumors, the brown color you see is the gstp1, it's present in all the tumor cells. and when tumor has high amounts of this gene, especially when it's in the nucleus of the cell, that particular patient has about four-fold higher risk of death than the patient who didn't have it.
so we spent several years cloning the genes for this protein and showing that there are different types of it. but exciting thing, with respect to targeted therapy, is that fortunately for us, this protein has been crystallized by a group in the uk -- excuse me, australia, and at the nih. so we know the crystal structure. and as you know, the crystal structure, the three-dimensional structure of the molecule, once you have that, then what you can do is through computer-aided drug design, you can direct different chemicals, structures or fragments into the active site of that protein, using the crystal structure. and then you do some maturations and so on. you can come out with compounds that bind with the highest affinity to the site. and so you use it as a lead compound. and then you develop other compounds from that that
eventually you can use to treat, it just shows the mode of action. again, you identify the pathway that's defective, you validate the small molecules, and then you get down to preclinical and ultimately clinical things. i think i will stop here. i just want to repeat, you know, i try to find -- if anybody knows, i appreciate it. i've been able to find who made it. we cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails and turn the direction of our ship. it's never too late to start cancer prevention. i know it's hard, for those who smoke, if you can stop it, there's lots of help to stop smoking. if we cut out smoking, we can reduce 30 to 50% of the cancers. again, not to speak of heart disease and all the other things
that are attributed to smoking. smoking is the one thing that, you know, i think is low hanging fruit. it's a tough one to take on. if you can do it, do it. slowly build a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables. the figphyto chemicals will prot you against cancer. exercise. it's not fully understood but exercise tends to have a very powerful impact. again, heart disease, we all know that, but also on cancer. several studies that have been done to show that. sun exposure, especially very fair skin. minimize it, wear protective clothing, sunscreens and things like that to minimize. because there's uv light in the sun's rays. when it gets to you, it's going to damage your dna.
some of them are going to get mutated and carried on and start abnormal lesions. enjoy the sun, it's wonderful, but there are things we can do to minimize it. again, early detection is the key. go to your doctor. if you have suspicious signs, discoloration, lump, whatever it is, have it checked out. if you're a man, get your psa done. if you can do, you know, all or most of these, you go significantly reduce. it doesn't matter what gene you've inherited. if you have the drc1, braccy 1, braccy 2 gene from your patients, you can still reduce your chances of getting cancer. with the women, with braccy 1 and braccy 2, some choose to have mastectomy, especially if a lot of women in the family have breast cancer, you know, ovarian
cancer, they tend to go the safe route to remove the breast. there are other things you can do to minimize the chance. it's never too late to start. with that i'll stop and take any questions you might have. [ applause ] tonight we continue our look at american history tv programs normally seen weekends here on c-span3. it begins with a discussion on the origins of the cold war. then u.s. democracy and international relations. and then the legacy of world war ii. american history tv prime time, tonight at 8:00 eastern. sunday, "in depth" will feature a live discussion on the presidency of barack obama. we're taking your phone calls, tweets, e-mails, and facebook questions during the program.
our panel includes april ryan, white house correspondent for american urban radio networks and author of "the presidency in black and white: my up close view of three presidents and race in america." princeton university professor eddie glaude, author of "how race enslaves the soul." and david maraniss. watch in depth on sunday on book tv on c-span2. ♪ the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, january 20th. c-span will have live coverage of all the day's events and ceremonies. watch live on c-span and c-span.org and listen live on
the free c-span radio app. astrophysicist hakeem oluseyi is a physics and space science professor at the florida institute of technology and he's a regular on the science channel, the discovery channel, and on national geographic. he addressed a student audience at westminster college in fulton, missouri about science and innovation. this is about an hour. i'll begin. i'll introduce myself. i'm chris halsey, an analytical chemical industry professor. it is in fact my great pleasure to introduce our next speaker, dr. hakeem oluseyi. growing up in the tougher parts of new orleans, houston, l.a., and mississippi, he and his mother moved around often in the southern united states. from reading specifically the world book encyclopedias, and if
you're not familiar with that, i know we've a younger audited au that's wikipedia without the internet. he earned his bachelor's in science, physics, and mathematics, and he tells me a minor in chemistry. a master's degree in physics would follow from stanford. summing it up like that makes it sound easy. in interviews he points out the hardships and rewards for his perseverance, fueled by the drive to silence his doubters. through that perseverance, his resume now includes eight u.s. patents, a professorship in the physics and space sciences at florida institute of technology, being named the chief science officer for discovery communications, you might have seen him from a show called "outrageous acts of science," a research position at mit, and most recently a position at nasa in washington, dc. his research focuses on the
development of instrumentation for space-based astronomical observation. he is most distinguished in the area of expanding and improving science education here and abroad. he is an astrophysicist, a tv host, a voice actor, an industry mercenary who is problem solving across many disciplines, and simply an inspiration. please welcome to the podium dr. hakeem oluseyi. [ applause ] >> thank you for that wonderful introduction. it doesn't happen very often that someone properly pronounces my last name. that's quite an achievement. i would like to thank you all for having me here at westminster college. it's a great honor. i recognize whose footsteps i'm following in. so i would like to thank your president for having me and his wonderful family for hosting me. i would also like to thank professor rosen and halsey for
hosting me. if you look at your program, you might find that what i'm going to talk about is a bit different from what's in the program. it depends on which program you have. so there is this nice pretty one here, audacious ingenuity, that describes my abstract and what i'm going to discuss. and i wanted to talk about innovation, because that's the theme this week. so i've been able to innovate in the sciences and in education. and so whenever i'm talking to students, right, i want to make it about you, not so much about me, right? and the lessons i've learned and how can apply them in your own lives. now, when we think about innovation, there is no shortness of innovation in our country. we're a country that maintains a lead in science as well as in economics because of the richness in innovation that occurs here in america. but there's a particular type of innovation i want to talk about that happens in science. that's when you have these big paradigm shifts, right, when
things just change. and this hit me personally, because apparently people like me becoming a well-known scientist is a paradigm shift for some people. there were these articles that were written about me several years ago, and the first article was titled, "rise of a gangster nerd." the second article was titled, "the gangsta physicist." i saw these titles and the first thing i think is, it's not like i'm walking around the lab and intimidating people and robbing them. anymore. so why are they focused on the past? we don't look at our presidential candidates and call donald trump the wet your diaper presidential candidate, right? we focus on who he is today. and i really didn't understand how this would impact my career either, right? having the title the gangsta physicist. but one thing happened, i talked to students at lunch and someone
mentioned to me that they had saw this ted talk on infinity. did you know that talk took place in a prison? yeah. so it turns out that i was invited to go to this prison, and i kept -- i was informed over and over again by the host of the event that, hakeem, you're the only person that the prisoners specifically requested, which was kind of scary. and i didn't understand, why did they want me? and i found out after i gave my talk. i was walking through the prison and onsi sight, prisoners would recognize me, and the would say, hey, the gangsta physicist. for a day, i was the man in prison, i could order people around. they were using the article to inspire these prisoners, they would say, look at this guy,
look at his past, look at his life, you can do this too. the statistics of recidivism in california state prison is really bad, right? for those people who are released from prison, a very high percentage return to prison afterwards, somewhere around 90%. but for those prisoners who receive a minimum of an associates degree, the recidivism rate fell to 6%, from 90 to 6. so they were using this article and the anti-recidivism closi coalition to help these prisoners with their lives. that's another paradigm shift. when i think about paradigm shifts in physician, there is something going on in the world of physics that's so amazing, i just have to share it with you. you students are the next generation of thinkers. we look at the way we solve problems in physics, sometimes it takes many generations. there is a saying that goes, the grandparents lay the cornerstone and the grandchildren erect the
steeple, right? so here is the foundation that has just been laid. there were a couple of papers push published a hundred years ago and they both involve albert einstein. researchers came up with this equation that goes, er equals epr. er is the paper by einstein and rosen that predicted the existence of a wormhole. do you guys know what a wormhole is? a wormhole is when you have a black hole and under certain conditions the black hole can be a portal to another location in time and a space. so you could instantly travel from a location, one location in space to another location that's hundreds or thousands or millions of light-years away. and it sounds like science fiction, and it's incorporated in science fiction. but the laws of physics say this could actually happen. the problem though is these worm holes are very, very unstable. the likelihood of it was really, really small, we thought.
now, if you're a scientist, one way that we innovate is through hate. did you indicate that? through hate. here to is wh here is what i mean. there is an example from history, in the 19th century there was a question of how does the process of defraction work. so we knew how reflection works. we knew how refraction works. how does defraction work? when you see oil on the surface of water, you see this rainbow pattern. what is the light doing to make that happen? the french academy of sciences held a contest to solve that problem. a gentleman submitted an essay which relied on the fact that light travels as a wave. now, physicists thought as isaac newton thought, that light is a series of particles. so he submits his essay, and on this panel as a judge is a
mathematician who says, yeah, this looks elegant but i know it's wrong. what am i going to do? i'm going to take these equations and i'm going to see if they predict anything that i know cannot be true. and he found something. he found that if you were going to take a round object, a circular object, and take it into a darkroom and cast a light on it, that in the center of the shadow of that object there would be a spot of light. now, that is obviously ridiculous. a shadow is darkest at its center. but also on the panel was an experimentalist. and he said, well, you know, i never thought to do that experiment. let me take a round object into a darkroom, cast a shadow, and see if the spot of light is there. and what do you think he saw? the spot of light was there. so that phenomenon became known as poussaint's spot, because he discovered it in the equations,
although he was attempting to hate on the theory, right? so albert einstein did the same thing. in the early 20th century, quantum mechanics came about, which was very different from his general relativity. he thought, let me look at quantum mechanical system of equations and see if it predicts anything i know cannot be true. he found what he called spooky action at a distance that we today call quantum entanglement. a paper was written by einstein, we have this equation, er equals epr. let me explain this quantum entanglement to you. suppose i have a twin. when we're born, we share an existence. we are entangled. and so due to our state of entanglement, whenever one of us is sitting, the other must be standing. and we sit and stand really fast. it happens in like a trilli
trillionionth of a of a second. and throughout our lives i have three people observing me and three people observing him and they keep records to the millionth of a second when each of us is sitting and standing. and i decide i'm going to mar and my observers come with me and they keep the records and i decide, i hear there is a new planet around proximate b and i decide i would like to go 2 million light years away to the galaxy and they continue to keep the records. after maybe 50 years the observers get together and they compare their records. and what they see is down to the million of a second that this is held true. whenever one of us was sitting, the other was standing. how could that be?
because in order for me to know when my twin is sitting or standing, or my twin to know when i'm sitting or standing, a signal must traverse between us. so how could it happen instantaneously when we are separated by great distances. because that is what space is. space is what separates here from there. the reason you're seeing me right now and i'm seeing you is because light is traveling between us. i'm not seeing you as you are now, but as you were some tiny fraction of a second ago. so how could they be communicating? so in the '90s, quantum entanglement was measured for the first time and it is a real phenomenon in our universe. and physicists have been trying to get their mind around how could this communication be taking place. but then not long ago, it was recognized that quantum entanglement and worm holes are perhaps the same phenomenon.
that is mind-boggling, because in order to create a worm hole, it takes an incredible amount of energy and mass to do that. these entangled particles are single elementary particles. could they possibly be connected by worm holes. that appears to be the case. that appears to be true. so what does that tell us about the space in which we live? what does that tell us about space at all? so this isn't something that was unforesee, the science fiction writers had a problem to solve if you are in the star ship enterprise on the other side of the galaxy, a thousand light years away or 40,000 light years away, how do you communicate back with earth instantly? and the communication not take 40,000 years, right? well they invented this concept of sub space. are you familiar with that? where are my nerds in here? could the nerd section raise your hand? all right. there is my nerds over there. so they created sub space
communication. so what does this have to do with innovation? well, the theme of the innovation that i'm looking at and considering is looking at the old, but looking at it anew. so these papers existed for 100 years, we know about these two phenomenon and only recently have they been connected. and now this is about to transform how human kind looks at space. how are we going to take advantage of this in the future, what is the new technology that will take advantage of perhaps this sub space communication. another example that is really similar, when albert einstein came up with his special theory of relativity, we learned that time is not something that is absolute. how time travels -- how time passes to you in comparison to me depends on our relative motion and difference in gravity between us. for example, when you are in
space, versus being on the surface of the earth, time moves more quickly. now when einstein looked at it that way, einstein looked at it and said, well when things move fast, distances get shorter. when things move fast, time passes more slowly. but in the modern times, we have a new interpretation of it. and the new interpretation of it is this -- at all times, everything in the universe moves at the speed of light. so right now, you're moving at the speed of light and i'm moving at the speed of light. do you feel it? no, you don't feel it? here is why you don't feel it. because we are at rest relative to each other in space, we are together moving through space, moving through time at the speed of light. but if one of us was to take off going really fast through space, then because you must move at the speed of light at all times, you must move more slowly through time compared to the rest of us. so the exact equation is, is
that the speed of light squared is equal to your speed through space squared plus your speed through time squared. now here is some consequences of that. how could i take advantage of that? let's do an experiment. have you heard of the twin paradox? so in a twin paradox, it is exact lip as i said. i have a twin and one of us leaves earth moving at very high speed, time passes more slowly for the traveling twin, they travel for some time, come back to earth, for them maybe ten years have passed, but on earth maybe a thousand years have passed. and this is a real phenomenon that we measure all of the time in a laboratory. so how could we take advantage of that today? there is one measurement that we wish to make. you've heard that the university is expanding, correct? and so there is many evidences that point to this. but the thing that we have not been able to observe is the universe expanding in realtime. can we see the expansion change?
can i observe the red shift of a galaxy change? what we call z-dot, for example. so imagine the twin experiment done in a different way. so suppose there is is this light that filled all of the universe. and because the universe is expanding, as the universe expands, that light gets stretched out by the exact same amount that the universe expands. well it turns out that exists. we call that light, the cosmic microwave background radiation. so my twin and i measure the wave length, some characteristic wave length of this microwave background radiation. and then the twin goes and travels at a very high speed relative to me. and comes back. and we both measure the wave length again. and so we get what scientists would call delta lamb dah, the change in the wave length. but we could also both measure
the change in time between those two measurements. so for the twin who stayed home on earth, the time is big. and so for the twin who was traveling in space, the time is small. right? so obviously we measured very different results for how fast that light was changing its wave length. are you with me? yeah. so what does this tell me? this tells me that if i want to do this observation, that physicists are trying to do right now, every day, of observing the changing of this light that fills the universe, or the measurement of a galaxy moving away, then all i have to do is move at a very, very high speed and then i can observe that perhaps in the human lifetime. whereas our current ideas would take much, much longer. so these are deep, very abstract ideas of how we can use
innovation. but in my work, as a professor, i judge these student competitions. and i -- with my role with discovery, i help to judge the discovery 3m young scientist challenge and what i see happening now is students just like yourselves are looking at the technology that has been around you, and saying, how can i repurpose this technology to solve a problem that exists today? but it really depends critically on defining the correct problem. right. so let me give you an example. one problem that people have is safety. so suppose you work late and you have to go out to your parking lot, go out to the parking lot to get in your car at night. right. so if you talk to a police officer, they will tell you that parking lots are very dangerous places. so how do you know that you're going to be safe going to your car? well now cars are equipped with cameras. right, to help you back up. so this student said to me, what if i build an app that will
allow you to use your phone to turn on the cameras around your car to determine if you are safe going to your car at night. right. that is a wonderful innovation. let's take what already exists and let's repurpose it for something to solve a current problem of today. now, another way that we can innovate, when i look at my old life of innovation, as a scientist, as a student, you become an expert in a particular field. you're studying some phenomenon and you become intimate with it. when you become a ph.d student, your first job is to become current in your field. that means that you take everything on your topic that has ever existed and you read every paper you can. especially from all of the top scientists. and now that you know what everyone else has said about it, now it is time for you to -- to add, to contribute to this knowledge, right. it is time for to you give something new. and that is when you receive your ph.d, when you make that
new contribution. and so we have a saying that goes like this. becoming an expert means knowing more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. right. and it is kind of close to true. but here is something i found. when i was a graduate student, i was studying solar physics. i was studying processes that occur on the surface of the sun. you've seen the pictures of the sun with the plasma loops and the hot x-ray gas and i was on team that took that technology and applied it to observing the sun for the first time. and here i am studying the sun and what is happening there, but when i go to get a job, i don't go to academia, i go to silicon valley. and i go in silicon valley and i'm working on solving this problem of efficiency in making computer chips. so here is what happens. when you make a computer chip, there is many steps.
some steps deposit and remove on a silicon wafer and every step you need to know how well it works. because if i had a big giant silicon disk of expensive computer chips, i better make sure i got these processes right or i just lost a ton of money. so what they do is they put in these wafers that are called test wafers and you do the process on that test wafer and then you take it out and you measure to see if the process happened as it was supposed to. all right. and if it didn't, you throw away the waivers. now, at the end of all of the processing, you test certain chips. and every time you test the chip, you destroy that chip. it could not be sold. so there is a lot of waste going on and there is no way to make sure in realtime that you make the process happen properly. you could only tell after the
fact whether or not it did. so i step into silicon valley and i work on a team that wants to address this problem. how can we get rid of the silicon wafers and make sure that every process works as it is supposed to in real-time. and i look at the problem and i say, oh, you know what, in astro physics, we have a way of measuring light that comes from objects, and being able to tell all of these physical characteristics of what is going on inside of that star. think about it. a star, if you ever look at a tar through a telescope, it looks exactly like it looks to the naked eye. it is a dot of light. but if you ask an astrophysicist about that star, they will say it has this compel composition and it is this temperature and moving in this way and this star is this age. how do you know all of that from a spot of light. right? so let me give you the answer and get back to the innovation story. if you were to ask you what is matter made of, what would everyone say?
atoms, exactly. everyone knows that. and if i were to ask you, where does light come from, what would you say? speak up or everyone gets an f. the sun. i hear that all of the time. there is no sun in this room but i see a lot of light. where does it come from? what does light come from? well let me give you the simplest answer. it comes from one place. matter makes it. right. matter makes it. every example you could think, matter is making the light. but here is the amazing thing. when matter makes light, the signature of the identity of that matter is encoded in the light and what that matter is doing when it made that light is encoded in the light and if that light travels through space the dynamics of space, whether space is expanding or contracting, is encoded in that light.
so, when i had this problem of trying to figure out what was going on inside of these chambers, i thought, well, look, many of these processes that deposit and remove material, they use plasmas. and plasmas emit light. so all we have to do is monitor this light and we could figure out everything that is going on in real-time and we could make corrections in realtime and problem solved. and you know what happened? guess what my bosses said? oh, that wouldn't work. right. so what i did is i went on ahead and developed the technology any way. and i ended up having a -- we had a performance review at the end of the year. and my manager gave me a less than favorable review. all right. and because i didn't do as i was told and instead i went and developed this new technology. and that new technology resulted in a completely new division of
the company. right. it was very profitable for the company. i got several patents out of that particular technology and i had an argument with my manager in the parking lot about this. and i said to him, i was like, look, you are comparing results with activities and results matter more than activities and he changed my grade and raised it to a very high rating. but the second point in innovation is this, you are going to come across naysayers. you are going to come across haters. hate could be a kruseibbel for creating and innovating or stifle it in its tracks. and we're all humans, a part of the human tapestry and we play different roles. sometimes you are the person in the lab doing the work and intimate with the work and because of that intimacy, you could make the connection between astro physics and semiconductor manufacturing. i had a graduate student. >> whe was working on the problm
of how the sun creates the solar wind. how does the sun create particles away from itself given the sun's strong gravity, up to 800 kilometers per second and sometimes 3000 kilometers per second and that would give us an in space propulsion that is 100 times faster than anything we've perceived of today. i told him, i said, listen, always pay attention to what is going on in areas of science related to what you are doing, but not what you are doing. sew paid attention to plasma experiments in the lab. which are different from an astrophysicist plasma laboratory which happens on the surface of the sun in stars and he realized, look, there is one configuration that the sun uses to create high speed plasmas and now the plasma physicists who do this stuff in the lab have created a technology that would allow us to build what the sun does in a little tiny chamber.
we could make it really small. we could make it really big. and so now that has become a new patented technique for in space propulsion and that is from seeing these relationships and having this intimacy. but here is the thing. one day he came to me, and he said, hey, dr. o., i have this idea. i noticed that the plasma physicists have done this. do you think that maybe we could combine these two ideas and create an in space propulsion technology. at that point, i was in the position of my manager in silicon valley. i could have said, go for it. or you are out of your mind. now being the open-minded guy i am, i said, go for it. what if i had not said that? what if i had told him not to go. you don't know if the person you're talking to is going to be someone who is going to say, well i'll show you, as i did, or if they are going to be someone
who is going to say, yeah, i guess i really am dumb like i thought i was. right. you guys just don't ever laugh a my jokes. i'm never coming back -- well i'm going to come back but make sure to get everybody's name and -- you know, bring the fun students into the talk. listen, guys, i'm making jokes. you have to identify that and laugh at them. that is an important part of the process. so the point here is that in innovation, there is many past innovation, many roles in innovation. when you are the leader, how do you bring innovation out of the people that are working for you and along with you when you are in the lower role, and you know that you're on to something, but the people above you don't support it. what do you do then? right. my answer is you believe in yourself and you do it any way. and my other answer is that you have to also believe in others and see it in them. one of my -- and that brings me
back to another point. now, this is a warning, a joke is coming up. okay. but it is not really a joke, it is a true story. a couple of weeks ago i was talking to my mother, right. and i was talking to my mother and she was telling me, she's like, you know what, there is something weird that is happening. whenever i talk to some of my old friends that knew you when you were young and i tell them what you are doing now, not the tv stuff but the scientist stuff, they go, him? really? and i say why do you think that. and they said because you were always joking. you were never serious. people who thinks that a person who jokes around a lot could actually be serious, right. and what that reminds me of and what that makes me think of is how we judge each other as human beings. right. and how -- as i go around this country, as i go around this world, there is one thing that stands out to me. and that is how we are definitely not taking advantage
of what we have as human beings. our human capital. there is so many people that could be contributing to this enterprise that just are not. and i've narrowed it down to a couple of things that i think are key. and the first one is identity. so as an example, when i was a young man, at that time, i was a young black man, that was a joke, and i thought the world told me, oh, here is who you are and what you are. so for me, i had to be intimidating. right. hi to be great at basketball. hi to be a lady's man. and was always of those things. [ laughter ] you caught that one without a warning. that was good. all right. but i didn't see myself in -- as the master of mathematics for example. and i wasn't. and now, as i see people, even
as a professor, i've been guilty of this, i had this student who came to me, i'll tell you his name, his name was patrick champion. he was a big guy with a scar across his face and just had this sort of like intimidating demeanor and he is like professor oluseyi, i want to work with you. and i would say, well i don't have any openings, but in my mind, i'm thinking, man, you look scary. and i had him in many a class and he was about a c. student. and he pursued me and pursued me and i allowed him to join my research group. that undergraduate turned out to be one of the greatest leaders i ever had in my research group. and he taught me a lesson about judging people and what they are capable of. now he's at marshall space flight center in huntsville alabama and building rockets and he is working as a leader as if he already has a ph.d.
so i've gone all across the continent of africa and i've gone into the slums and i've gone into cape flats, and i see everywhere that there are people who are like me, who thought to themselves, oh, i'm a female, oh, i'm from the slums, i'm a color, like in south africa or in -- and because of that, they don't see themselves in the role of the scientist or a person who can even do that science. and that is one of the most amazing things about going on television, that has happened to my life. is because now i go around the country and every day i get recognized by people and there are so many people that are from backgrounds like my own who come up to me and say, man, seeing you on television, when i hear you talk, i get it. and i see that as cool. and i realize that i could do it too. and so many people have told me, because of you, i'm going back to school now. and so that is a type, in my
mind, of social innovation. because you see all of these people who at one time they were living in a paradigm of who is supposed to do this and who can't do this. what i'm supposed to do and what i can't do. and at florida tech these students would joke, and these are the students -- florida tech is good when it comes to space, sea, and sky, right. and so when it comes to the ocean stuff, we wondered, why do so many of the young women go into studying dolphins. what is it about that? right? what is it that makes us think that here is my place and here is this other person's place. you hear -- i was talking to my mother, again i was in silicon valley and when i was in silicon vall valley, you work in the groups. there was a time i was the only noncory an member or nonchinese member of the group and the only
nonindian member of my group. so i was telling my mother this and she said something about, oh, yeah, you working with those smart people. and it was the stereo type of asians being scientifically smarter than -- and mathematically smarter. have you heard of that stereo type? do you think it's true? no. trust me, if i was asian, would you be, yes, it is. and we are better at everything else, too. but the truth of the matter, is that i had worked with so many people, i forgot that stereo type even existed. because it is definitely not true. everybody has the same capabilities. and so identity is one element, but the other element is hierarchy of humanity. that is something that our generation needs to get rid of. we all know the hierarchy. let me ask you a question. you think i'm a nice guy? yeah, i'm the nicest guy in the world. you think i'm dangerous?
on the basketball court, but other wise, i'm really good. now i can't tell you how many times i'm in an elevator, the elevator door opens and there is a single lady with her kids an the kids start to get on the elevator and the lady stops them. we'll get the next one. these sort of things happen to me all of the time. why is that? because i'm under suspicion. because there is this hierarchy of humanity and we know who is who and who isn't who, but you know what, it is completely bogus, it is completely incorrect. and because of that, people like me, the chances of me not standing here today were so high it's ridiculous. do you know why i'm standing here today? because i couldn't be a bellhop. does that surprise you? i wanted to be a bellhop. let me tell you how this happened. >> i was at college and i thought i wasn't smart enough for college and i dropped out of college. and i was working as a janitor
at the ramada renaissance hotel and making $4 an hour and barely making $100 a week. and the bellhop got fired. now a bellhop could make $100 in a day in tips. so i applied for the bellhop position. and the managers looked at me and they said, hakeem the janitor, you are not bellhop material. and i thought to myself, i can't move up from janitor to bellhop? i better go back to college. and i did. and i didn't really understand the power of that story until a few years ago one of my graduate student friends reminded me of that story and he said, when you told me that story, the part i didn't see is that he's like, whoever that manager was, they didn't realize that standing in front of them was really a stanford ph.d physicist, but the way they looked at you and the way that they judge you, you weren't even good enough to be a bellhop in their eyes.
and yet, look at who you are and what you are today. right? and so i say this because we are all a part of this human tapestry and specially us professors. there are people that come into our offices and students and you might think that this person doesn't have it, that person doesn't have it, but that is not our job. we're all in this thing together. when you look at -- when you become an astronomer and astrophysicist, you look at the earth and our species as one whole. and you begin to realize how perilous of a universe we live in and how we need to get ourselves off of this planet, we need to develop technologies and the only way we're going to be successful is if we bring everybody on board. and right now, there are a whole continents of people that are being left behind and that is completely unacceptable, right. we have to do better. so i've gone around, working with students and one thing that i've just done is i'm looking at
different ways of educating people. so outrageous acts of science has been wonderful because in my classrooms i've always used humor and because the students are typically closer to me, they do get my jokes. unlike people in this room. and hubert has been wonderful. it is really wonderful. but also i've learned about experience -- experience-al learning. taking the old and looking at it anew. so for centuries upon centuries, humans learned by doing. and now we're come to point where you sit in a room and you get lectured to. or we give you a piece of technology and we say, go off with this technology and do that. but through games i'm learning that you could really educate students stealthily. and just like outrageous acts of science.
i could stealth illy teach you and i have a young son and i'm teaching him stuff. he is excellent in math and certain sciences but one thing i thought was difficult to teach and that is chemical reactions. chemical reactions are kind of weird, right. and if you are taking general chemistry or organic chemistry, even worse, you know what i'm talking about, right. but i work with this company called dig in games to create a game where we create a fun scenario where you are going to a exo planet in order to save humanity. we have to get humanity off of earth. and we are going to the planet but along the way the kids have to solve games. the game is called exo trex. $5.99. all right. but the game allowed the students to learn through experience. now, i want to say this one last thing that has to do with the hierarchy thing.
there is a controversial book called the lucifer principle by howard bloom. has anyone heard of that. and it has to do with human evolution and he starts with the question of why do humans do this really crazy awful thing called war? why do we do that. that is a horrible thing. and he said, well, it goes down to a couple of characteristics that humans share with many other species an one is what can he call kinship selection and the other is pecking order, hierarchy. everybody wants to be the top of whatever it is, in classes, in groups, in larger groups, between groups, there is a hierarchy fight and so to be the top, we will kill each other. and so then also in the social sciences, when we look at the prevalence of hierarchy in society, they talk about what is called last place aversion. so you come into a society and
there is a hierarchy that preexists and you are new into the society. what do you do? well, you hate on the bottom of the people -- the people at the bottom of the hierarchy so you yourself are not at the bottom of the hierarchy. and that is a dangerous thing and the hierarchy are different everywhe everywhere. when i first left mississippi after being there for middle school, high school and college, and i was at northern arizona university. and it was the sugar ray leonard and tommy hearnes fight. you know those people. and i was sitting in this room, i was in the west, northern arizona university, and i was looking around the room and i was going, wow! look at this! and the reason i felt that way is because it was the united nations in this room. it was people of all races in this room just hanging out as if it was no thing. something that never happened in mississippi. right. i didn't even know that was
possible. and yet, here it was right before me. and so i remember approaching -- there was an interracial couple and that just blew my mind. a black guy and a white -- so i asked this girl, i said, you guys would date a black guy? and she's like, yeah. but then she goes, but i wouldn't date an if indian, taking about the local navajo indian tribe. and as i i've gone around the world, i see that in different societi societies, there are different hierarchy and sometimes it is based on race or religion or ethnicity and these one social innovation that we need to figure out, i don't have an answer, is how to get rid of these human hierarchies. and it is not until we are able to do that that all of these problems that we're seeing happening in our country right now and this problem that we have that people aren't a part of the enterprise, that people's identifies don't fit into the
enterprise, we don't solve those problems until we solve that problem. and so as i said before, there is no shortage of innovation. right. but the real problem is identifying the right problem. and once you identify the right problem, and when humans set their mind to solving problems, we typically find an innocence. so that is it. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. this is the time for questions. plenty of time for questions so please step to the mike. all at once. >> and remember, you can ask me anything about the universe. >> hi. my name is letitia. i'm from east more and i'm
majoring in [ inaudible ] science. last week we discussed nicholas and we also read about the articles about the physicist con stau and i saw your name and i'm pretty curious about the project at -- the one telescope project in africa and the first time when i read that, i questioned -- the question that came to my mind is why you want to, like, distribute those telescopes in every country in africa? >> well, it addresses many things. there is a scientific need. so if science -- the science of astronomy has recently undergone a revolution. what we used to do, you take a telescope and point it at an object that you are interested on taking data on and you take some snapshots of that object. and now we've opened the time domain. so instead of looking at individual objects, you have a telescope that looks at a region of the sky and then it takes an
image there and takes an image of another region and every night it does that over every region, over and over and over again and over years you get a movie of that region of the sky. and in that movie, you could identify objects that change brightness, you could identify objects that move, and in each case, you get a different type of in credibly valuable data. but because this is a new science, the top leading edge projects that did this, like hack net, which is a planet discovering way of telescopes, they are tiny. they are this big. so anybody now could do this science. you don't have to have a giant telescope. now that is the technical feasibility. so i decided to ask myself, so i've been working for over a decade and i partnered with various institutions, the united states state department, the government of the netherlands, the government of kenya and south africa, the south africa
astronomical observation and universities and ngos, to help develop science education and science research in developing nations. and so when you have people engaging in science that did not previously engage in science, it changes their identity. it now becomes something that they own. for example, when you go into a classroom and your professor teaches you newton's laws, you think that professor is newton himself. because that person owns the knowledge. they didn't invent the knowledge but they now own the knowledge. and when anybody owns the knowledge, they become that knowledge. and there is so much that that does within a society. so why is it that if you are in kenya, you are buying a cell phone from some one in norway.
why does it go the other way around. now when we talk about the scientific opportunity, most of our resources are in the northern hemisphere. the northern hemisphere sky compared to the southern hemisphere sky is like comparing a lightning bug to lightning. in the northern hemisphere, the center of the galaxy is never very high above the horizon. in the southern hemisphere, the center of the galaxy is directly overhead. not only that, our two large satellite galaxies, the clouds of maggelan are high in the sky and they are a treasure trove of scientific data. so as a species, as a planet, as a planetary family, we need many, many more telescopes in that southern hemisphere region where there are darker exciskied greater opportunities and at the
same time we can transform societies. in fact, my colleague at florida institute of technology dan batcha dor, he just wrote a book and titled it, he is a british scientist and he titled it "astronomy saves the world" and it addresses how astronomy transforms people and society when they participate. >> thank you for your answer. >> thank you for your wonderful question. yes, sir. >> i'm christian mulla. i'm majoring in computer science. and what do you think about the -- what is it called? sorry. i'm sorry, i -- >> i always make people shy. >> sorry, the delayed choice counter racer experiment, do you think we'll ever be able to come up with a device that is coming up with something as ridiculous as sending messages back in time? >> oh, that is a good one.
can we ever -- so sending questions -- sending messages forward in time is easy. sending messages backwards in it time -- so here is the thing about this worm hole phenomenon. so the idea that quantum entanglement involves sub space communication opens possibilities because when we talk about a worm hole, you could go in and come out anywhere, but you can also go in and come out any when. right. so there is the possibility that these things that were completely ridiculous, the possibility is now open that maybe it is not so ridiculous. but the thing about science, one of the greatest lessons i learned in my education was the difference between when you know something and when you don't know it. all right. and i could say that to you, and i've never talked to a person who whom i said that and they didn't put themself into the instance, i know the difference of course. but clearly people, it is a very
difficult thing to really grasp. and so even though we write these things down, and there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevent it and there is even this principle called the principle of totalitarianism that any process is not strictly forbidden in nature to occur, must occur. there is evidence that said, well perhaps this could occur. we don't know if it will occur. so what i've seen is that people who say that something is impossible and it hasn't been proven to be impossible, end up looking like idiots in the future. so i'm not going to say it is impossible right now. i'm skeptical of sending messages into the past. but i don't know. right. and i know that i don't know. which makes me know. [ laughter ] that i don't know. if you know what i'm saying. yes, sir. thank you. >> hi, my name is hallid, i'm a
psychology major and i was wondering, the twin paradox, in which you mentioned the twin would stay here and the other traveling in high speeds out in space, the second one would be spending ten years while the first one is spending another thousand years. i was wondering is this process reversible and when the second one comes back, it has been a thousand years, can he go back in time to where his first twin was. >> you can. what you can do is if they change positions, then when the second one gets back, they will be in the same frame. now, they could be the same age. >> right. >> i've never heard anyone come up with that. that is really good. >> interesting. >> catching up with the twin. catching up with the traveling win. you know where i thought you were going, because there is a part of that story that is left out. what makes the one traveling the one in a doesn't age very much versus the one that stays here. right? which determines which is which. and the answer is acceleration.
right. yeah. >> thanks. >> great question. thank you. see, psychology, he twisted my mind. >> hello, my name is isaac newberry, my major is environmental studies and i'm have st. louis. >> hi, isaac newton, i mean newberry. >> i got that a lot when i was -- >> i'm sure. >> any way, i was wondering what exactly are your thoughts on the validity of the nem sis theory. >> an interesting thing. i know well the guy who came up with the nemesis is theory, rich muller. and nemesis is is kind of dead now. but there is something that replaced it. so if you don't know what the nemesis is theory is, so rich muller was the -- his mentor was louie alvarez who are is a noble prize winner and his son was a person who discovered the kt
boundary layer, this layer. and that was a strong piece of evidence that the dinosaurs were wiped out by asteroids. so louie alvarez's son had showed that, look, if you look at the extinction on earth it appears to be a periodic cycle of extinctions that occur every 26 million years. right. the last one was 13 million years ago and then 26 million before that and 26 million before that was the dinosaurs. but that period with more data seems to have disappeared, right. but the nemesis is idea was that, well how could something wipe out life on earth periodically that way. so rich muller said, well what if the sun is a part of a binary star system and the other star is a very small, very dim star like a brown dwarf, and then every so often, perhaps it would pass through the ort cloud, this cloud of comets that surrounds our solar system and it would disturb the orbits of the comets
and some would get expelled from the solar system and some would get sent to the inner solar system and some of those sent to the inner solar system would strike earth and wipe out all life. so nemesis is is now dead because it disappeared but people have been studying this ort cloud and the keeper belt before the ort cloud and objects are now being discovered that are kind of large. so there was an object discovered called said gnaw which we thought was larger than pluto until we went to pluto and measures the radius up close and it terms out it is bigger than set gnaw. but in the orbit is an object called biden. not named after our vice president. and why are these two objects in the same orbit or these very similar orbits an other objects were discovered with similar orbital characteristics.
what could cause this. the idea is there is a large object more massive than the earth that with you now call planet nine. planet nine has not been confirmed, but there is evidence that suggests that it may be there. but just as we thought we had recently discovered a new particle at the sern -- at the l.a. sea at sern with more data, the signal may disappear. and we don't know. but the idea of having large objects in the outer solar system that are undiscovered is a valid idea. >> thank you. >> great questions. >> this is the final question for dr. oluseyi. >> seriously? [ laughter ] >> hello, i'm cole sailer and i plan on studying both physics and philosophy. i have a question about quantum entanglement. >> yeah. >> and i was wondering, for a while now, since the theory of
relativity states that you got -- data cannot move faster than the speed of light, and since you answered -- okay, i'm misunderstanding there. something along those lines. >> something subtle, but go ahead. >> well your answer was a worm hole. >> right. >> how does a particle go about that? >> right. so the idea -- the speed of light limitation is -- so here is what we have in our universe. if you possess mass, you can never move ought the speed of light. if you have no mass, then you must move at the speed of light. nothing can move through space that has mass at the speed of light. there are theoretical particles called tackyons which jump over the speed of light and move faster than the speed of light. now there are some tricks to get around the speed of light. take warp drive.
right. so with warp drive, you don't actually move through space, what you do is you change the shape of space to make it appear that you are moving through space at faster than the speed of light. so warp drive is now a serious concept. so a scientist named al cubia came up with the metric where you could have a spaceship and contract space in front of you, expand space behind you and actually move at 10 times the speed of light through space. and then it was modified by someone named white so it doesn't take as much energy and now it becomes the cubbia-white concept and there is a lab where they are testing this concept. and so when we talk about the quantum entanglements and worm holes, you are not moving through space. so when uses could mol gists think of space not as a 3-d