Neil deGrasse Tyson didn’t have much to say about cybersecurity at the RSA conference on Thursday — but nobody much cared.
The tech industry folks gathered at the annual cybersecurity conference soaked up Tyson’s enthusiastic talk on the most exciting developments in science today, which ranged from exoplanets to gravity waves. Tyson also stressed the importance of creating a society that values science.
“The culture of science is not everywhere,” Tyson warned. “It should not be taken for granted.”
For a brief moment, Tyson touched on the hot-button issue of encryption, or scrambled up communications. But rather than comment on whether the US government should be able to restrict encrypted communications — a topic debated in heated tones in the cybersecurity community and beyond — Tyson pointed out that aliens might have much more sophisticated encryption technology than we humans do.
They might be able to disguise their chatter so that it’s “indistinguishable from the din of space,” he said.
It’s a topic he’d touched on in a talk with Edward Snowden in September 2015. On Thursday, Tyson told the crowd, “Edward Snowden is the most patriotic person I have met,” which was met with light applause.
Here’s what’s on Tyson’s list of exciting science developments to watch:
- The exploration of Planet 9, an object scientists say orbits beyond Pluto.
- The possibility of sending a nanocraft powered by laser beams to explore Proxima B. That’s the planet circling the star closest to Earth’s sun in the so-called “habitable zone.”
- The total solar eclipse happening across the middle of the US on August 21, 2017.
- The pending discovery of new, highly stable elements to add to the periodic table.
- The use of lasers to study gravitation waves.