Apple’s New Industry: HEALTH

SO, This is for the client-partners in the health care industry. 9to5 Mac is usually very good about these things.  I’m assuming that this is to work in conjunction with the expected iWatch.  If they crack blood sugar testing they will own the space in a matter of a short time.  These new leaks reveal everything there is to know about Apple’s most important new iOS 8 app


by Zach Epstein,

March 17 10:09 AM


A new report has detailed just about everything there is to know about the most important new app coming to iOS 8. Apple’s plans for iOS 8 won’t be official until sometime this summer when the new mobile operating system is unveiling at the annual WWDC conference in San Francisco, but 9to5Mac has issued a series of reports over the past week that have shed light on several key details. The leaks continued to flow on Monday morning as the site issued a report on Healthbook, the brand new app Apple will introduce in iOS 8 that will likely be the star of the show this year.

Earlier reports from 9to5Mac, which has a nearly impeccable track record when revealing Apple’s unannounced plans, covered a wide range of new features set to arrive in iOS 8. Examples include big iOS Maps improvements, changes for iTunes Radio and even a few new apps.


We also saw the first confirmed iOS 8 screenshots leak last week.

Now, 9to5Mac is back with a new report that shares tons of details on Healthbook, the iOS 8 app that Apple will use to attack the emerging health and fitness market that wearables companies have been chasing for years.

Apple’s Healthbook app will reportedly track a wide range of stats for the user, including steps, weight, calorie burn, heart rate, blood pressure and even hydration levels. The new app will be modeled after the Passbook app in iOS 7, and the site has created several mockups it says are based on actual screenshots of the Healthbook app.

As you can see, it’s shaping up to be extremely comprehensive and quite impressive.

Several additional Healthbook screenshot mockups follow below, and follow the link in our source section for plenty of additional details.




A Basic Primer on Getting the Right Social Media Help

Here’s a primer on what to look for in hiring social media talent by Sharon Florentine.



What to Look for When Hiring Social Media Tech Talent in 2014


by Sharon Florentine,

January 7th 2014

CIO — As social media evolves to become a major platform of engagement with your customers and partners in 2014, so, too, will the skillsets needed to make sure it’s being used efficiently and effectively.


Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others are still relatively novel for companies in terms of trying to use them to extend their reach and better engage and track customer and partner behavior, says Kimberly Samuelson, marketing director at electronic content management firm Laserfiche.

Because of its newness, many companies initially hired young, less-skilled talent to manage and implement social media strategies out of a misguided assumption that these employees would know intuitively how to use and best leverage social media, she says.

“From a corporate perspective, it was hard, at first, to figure out how to use social media effectively,” Samuelson says. “For many companies, their first pass was, ‘Let’s use an intern, or someone really young, because they inherently know how to do this stuff,’ but it quickly become apparent that wasn’t the right approach,” she says.

Finding the Right Skills and Experience

Focusing on talent that knows and understands these platforms only from a consumer perspective completely ignores the strategic business applications of social media and the complex psychological, marketing, technical and big data aspects that are a huge part of a successful social media implementation, Samuelson says. That’s why it’s crucial that social media talent have a specific mix of skills and experience, she says.

[Related: How to Hire a Social Media Specialist]

“Talent in these areas should have some experience with traditional platforms of engagement — the typical marketing and communications areas. You need someone who has customer service experience; who can handle customer interactions, complaints and negative engagement. But these also are technical platforms, so work should also understand how consumers use technology and have some tech expertise themselves,” Samuelson says.


“In addition, there should be emphasis on the psychology of human interaction to be able to effectively use social media to get to customers and partners,” Samuelson says. “With all of these skills, an intern or a freshly minted grad just isn’t going to cut it,” she says.

Social Is Strategic

Based on the types of social media positions available, it seems employers are starting to understand the strategic role social media can play in their business, says Shravan Goli, president at, and they’re trying to hire accordingly.


“It’s interesting that so many of the jobs on our site that require social media experience are not jobs with social media in their title. Social media skills are going mainstream,” Goli says, and these skills are becoming necessary for business pros in general, not just social media specialists.

“Companies are looking to achieve myriad goals with social platforms. These goals range from providing customers with a more seamless experience between digital channels to improving products through the public data available in social media,” he says. These kinds of initiatives cross departmental lines and interconnect otherwise separate business units, says Laserfiche’s Samuelson.


“You need community-focused people to manage engagement, but you also need the technical skills to develop in certain APIs; to perform SEO successfully,” Samuelson says.

“Social media’s role should be more strategic — businesses have all these content channels, data, customer information, but your talent must understand the sum of all this communication and how to best use it to drive business,” Samuelson says.’s Goli agrees: “Companies that consider themselves social media platforms need technology professionals who understand the convergence of technology, communications and product. So it is less about a different breed of positions and more about different breed of technology professionals,” he says.

As an example, he cites a large online retailer hiring for a position that highlights this convergence of skills. Goli says that the retailer is looking for someone that can lead engineers to improve the automation of social media advertising.

“On one the hand,” Goli says, “This tech pro needs experience with a variety of skills like cloud computing, scalable services, and mobile development. On the other hand, this professional will be an evangelist of social media at the company.”

Because of this dichotomy, social media pros must possess a wide variety of skills and experience, and that can be hard to find. In 2014, it could get even harder, as demand for job seekers with these skill sets rises.

“Many of these social media jobs require a technology professional to oscillate between being a technologist and being a passionate communicator. The social platforms will need similar technology professionals with hands in a number of different fields,” Goli says.

Sharon Florentine covers IT careers and data center topics for Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na. Email her at Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook.

Apple’s Focus on Health

I’m passing this article on to my friends at Self Health. My colleagues and I are convinced that Apple will differentiate itself in the release of the Iphone and OS8 with a focus on Health.  Darrell Etherington at Techcrunch wrote about this a couple of months ago.  Found it, thought i’d share it.


Apple Said To Be Focusing On Health With iOS 8 And iWatch, Following Exec Meeting With FDA


by Darrell Etherington,

January 31st 2014


Apple’s plans for iOS 8 focus on redefining health tracking via mobile devices, according to a new report from 9to5Mac, which has a terrific track record when it comes to rumors it has sourced itself. The report details a new marquee application coming in iOS 8 called “Healthbook” that monitors all aspects of health, fitness and workout information, including vitals monitored via the new iWatch, which is said to pack a bevy of sensors and to be “well into development” according to 9to5Mac’s sources.

The health monitoring app called “Healthbook” will come pre-installed on iOS 8, which, if true, would be a huge blow to third-party apps including those made by Fitbit, Nike, Runkeeper and Withings just to name a few. It would track and report steps, calories burned, distance walked and more, including weight fluctuations, and blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and more.

Apple’s focus on health in iOS 8 is given credence by a number of new reports from this week, including the news from the New York Times earlier today that Apple execs met with the FDA late last year to discuss mobile medical applications. Apple also reportedly hired Michael O’Reilly, M.D. away from a position as Chief Medical Officer of Masimo Corporation in July 2013. O’Reilly is an expert in pulse oximetry among other things, which is used to non-invasively take key vitals from a user via optical sensors.

9to5Mac’s report details functionality of the proposed “Healthbook” app, which, as its name suggests, takes a lot of cues from Passbook. It’ll offer swipeable cards for each vital stat it tracks, letting users page through their medical and health information. The report cautions that this functionality could be taken out prior to the final release of iOS 8: With the FDA’s involvement, one concern might be getting the necessary approvals to market the software as a potential medical aid.

As for the iWatch, the new report doesn’t add much in terms of firm details, but it does suggest we could see a release before year’s end, and offers that it could feature sensors that provide data to Healthbook. That app could also use existing third-party monitors and devices designed for iOS to source data, however. One more tidbit about the iWatch suggests that maps will be a central feature of the device, and navigation on the wrist is actually a prime potential advantage of smartwatch devices that has yet to be properly explored.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on these developments, and will update if we learn anything more.

Must Read: Facebookers Go Red to Support Marriage Equality

Starting Your Own Web Business

So, alright! I’m doing it again.  I promised this would be both and original and curated site.  But I seem to be playing regularly to the tech crowd.  But, honestly, now that everyone is turning to the web to create their next big thing, I’m being asked very basic questions about starting up.  Eddy Lee from TNW seems to be able to put together some easily understandable directives.  So read on.


4 steps to starting a Web business without knowing a thing about coding


by Eddy Lee,

So you have a great idea for a new mobile app or Web service—but you don’t know anything about coding or developing. You might have started searching for a tech-oriented co-founder to help you launch your idea, only to find that your startup can’t afford the ongoing salary for a skilled software developer.

The question is: Does a startup need permanent tech staff right away or can you get things off the ground without one? This four-step plan will help you move from idea to full-fledged business, without the need for massive startup capital.

Step 1: Test your demand

What drives sales for online services and mobile apps? It may surprise you to learn that the technology itself takes a back seat to market demand.

You can find out whether your idea will succeed ahead of time by gauging the potential demand for your product or service. There are a few different ways to do this. Some examples include:

  • Organize a local market research campaign (best for services that involve connecting businesses with customers).
  • Start a Facebook page to introduce your idea and solicit feedback and comments from people who might use your offering.
  • Build a simple website using easy, no-coding-required tools like Wix for great-looking, interactive pages, or LaunchRock for sites specifically designed to collect feedback on ideas.

When it comes to local market research, the best way is to talk to your clients and understand their needs.

A quick example would be OpenTable, a Web service and app that lists the best restaurants in your area and makes reservations for you. If you were starting this service and wanted to test market demand, you might visit the restaurants in your area and tell them you’re launching a free marketing service for them. You could then distribute flyers asking potential customers to contact you about the service, and find out how many are interested.

Step 2: Build your preliminary website

Once you’ve determined that there is sufficient market demand to make your idea viable, it’s time to move on to the next phase—envisioning your online presence.

Just because you don’t have any development or coding skills doesn’t mean you have to scratch out your ideas on the back of a napkin. You don’t even have to use a digital image program to communicate your vision for your website or app. The best option is to create what developers call a wireframe: basically, a skeleton layout of what you have in mind for your design.

There are several easy-to-use online tools for creating wireframes. One of them is Balsamiq Mockups, a drag-and-drop program that offers fast, simple wireframing tools with features like clickable buttons that help you share your ideas more efficiently.

Step 3: Outsource a developer

Developer salaries are high and often out of reach for a startup business. However, there is a middle alternative between the end points of hiring a full-time developer and going without one: outsourcing.

There are hundreds of Web and mobile development companies that work on a per-hour or per-project basis. You initiate the project by describing your requirements to them, and they will return with a quote telling you approximately how long the project will take and how much it will cost. This is one-time fee, rather than an ongoing salary.

Shopping around: Getting project quotes

If you plan to outsource to a developer, the best idea is to present your project to several development companies and shop for the best deal. Keep in mind that cost should not be the only determining factor—you’ll also want to consider completion time and quality.

In general, you’ll find that high quality comes with high prices. The most expensive developers are usually around the Silicon Valley or the East Coast. There are also overseas companies that provide mobile and web development, and while the prices are typically low, often the quality is too.

Obtain several quotes for your project from the U.S. and overseas developers. You’ll also want to look at their portfolios, get introduced to past customers, to see whether their work is the level of quality you’d like for your developing idea. With enough searching, you’re sure to find good quality services at reasonable prices.

Crowdsourcing: The latest alternative

One relatively new and effective way to find a developer for your project is through crowdsourced marketplaces like 99Designs and crowdSPRING. These services have their communities of designers and developers create designs according to your requirements, and allow you to pick the best one you’d like to work with. You set the proposed fee for the project, and pay only if and when you choose a winner.

Step 4: Planning for the long run

When you’ve outsourced a developer and your idea is up and running, it’s time to turn your focus to long-range sustainability. Eventually, you will need an in-house team of designers and developers to work with you directly.

A full-time creative team provides plenty of benefits, but the price tag can be steep. There are a few ways you can work around the traditional salary arrangement:

  • Employ a hybrid approach by hiring one trusted developer, who can then outsource some tasks to a team of freelancers
  • Build a strong online presence through platforms such as AngelList. Although primarily a fundraising avenue, it’s a flourishing channel for attracting entrepreneurial folks to work for you.
  • Enlist college students or graduates as interns to help them build developer experience, and then hire them full-time once the internship ends

Remember, you don’t need coding skills or development experience to launch a successful Web service or mobile app. What you need is a market for your product, a solid plan to bring you from idea to execution and beyond.

There are only a few slots left for our UX Design course. Get yours today.

20 Ways to be AWESOME

I don’t usually publish these things. And this isn’t targeted at my clients and colleagues, but I’m often asked by friends and family if there are some simple rules you should keep in mind when playing in the social space. I thought this was a good and decent primer.


20 ways to be awesome on the Internet


by Shy Rosenzweig,


Shy Rosenweig is the co-founder and COO of Meetey, bringing social networking to your neighborhood.


You’ll find tips and tricks everywhere online and some of them are actually very good. The problem many people have is TMI (too much information).

They get overloaded by so much information from so many different places, it becomes hard to process what’s priority. So here’s a list of 20 things you need to remember online, the most important things, all in one place so you’re sure you don’t forget anything!

1. Keep it real

You know that guy who wears sunglasses indoors? That “cool” guy everyone secretly despises? Don’t be that guy. Don’t try to be “cool,” don’t try to be something you’re not or try to talk to a crowd you know nothing about. You’ll stand out like a sore thumb.

2. Be your audience

I wanted to say “know your audience” but it’s really more than that. You have to know them at a level where you can create a perfect picture of who your audience is. You have to be them to know how to approach them, market to them, and not piss them off.

3. Know your industry

Stay updated with the latest news, follow competitors and see what they’re doing and follow anyone your audience seems to be attracted to or talking about. You have to know what’s going on in an industry you’re planning on dominating.

4. Forget ego

Whether you like it or not, not everyone is going to like you. I’m not talking about trolls or senseless bashing, but people who simply don’t like what you’re offering or don’t agree with what you have to say.

Accept their criticism, talk to them politely, and understand that they help you become better! Don’t let your ego blind you from being awesome.

5. Stop repeating yourself

It’s a great feeling when something you post gets shared hundreds, even thousands of times. Try to understand why it worked and how you can repeat the result.

Pay attention – repeat the result, not the content! Don’t tweet the same thing over and over again – it will get on people’s nerves and will ultimately make you look unprofessional and annoying.

6. Be original

Information is everywhere, everyone is sharing their ideas and stories online… it’s really hard to be original. That being said, you don’t have a choice.

You have to be original or you’ll get a “meh” reaction from people who come across your content or product. Give them something they’ve never seen before.

7. Make it memorable

Whether it’s content, a product, service or even a method of doing something – make it memorable. Either give it a name or create it in a way people will never forget.

Think of it this way, if they want to talk about your product with a friend – how will they describe you? “That guy who talks about that method for doing things online” is bad. “The YOURNAME method” or even “the guy with that cool blue and green spider logo” is better.

8. Be useful

Solve a problem. Find a problem you can solve and provide a solution. A real solution that works with proven results is obviously ideal.

Even if you’re writing a recipe – don’t just write how to make apple pie but talk about the difficulties people usually encounter when attempting to bake and how to solve them.

9. Love what you do

If you’re not in love with what you’re selling, you’ve got a problem. If you can’t convince yourself, how are you going to convince the masses?

Even more so if you’re running the show – if it’s your business make sure you are head over heels for it because that kind of passion is contagious and people will notice. Think Steve Jobs.

10. Stay updated

The online world is an ever-changing medium of craziness and you have to stay up to date with everything. Sign up to newsletters and magazines, follow top technology companies in the marketing and advertising industry and stay updated with whatever can help you market your product.

11. Write epic content

Content is king. Yes, you’ve heard it before. That doesn’t make it any less important. Don’t just be original, don’t just solve a problem, but writing amazingly epic content that will make people say “wow.” Otherwise, you’re just another username among millions online.

12. Tell people what to do

This will sound like a “duh” tip but you’d be surprised how many forget/ignore it. When you create a landing page, website or even an article, there’s a goal behind it. You do it because you want people who see it to do something.

Internet people have zero patience to guess your intentions. If you don’t tell them what to do, where to click, who to call, etc., they’ll just go away.

13. Tell stories that get a point across

People understand things more when they can relate to it and stories are easy to relate to. You can write what a product does and even show excellent proof of how amazing it is, but sometimes people just won’t get why they need it.

Try giving them a story, a case study or example of a situation in which you product helped and how.

14. Join a pack

Don’t go all lone wolf on us. It’s a big world out there and you’re a tiny little nobody among millions. You really think the best approach is to go at it alone?

Talk to people in your industry, get to know bloggers or marketers who do what you do and make friends. Not because you need something from them, but because being around people like you, people with the same goals and ideals, is going to help you be successful.

15. Don’t be a douche

Unfortunately, there is an endless number of ways for someone to be douchey online and if you’re a douche I doubt this will change anything but it’s worth a try. Don’t use black hat techniques, don’t shove things in people’s faces or try to trick them into doing something. Be polite even if someone is bashing you and just try to be honest and decent.

16. Get the lingo right

This goes with understanding your audience. Once you know who you’re talking you, you have to know how to talk to them. A lot of people will tell you to dumb your content down, but if your audience consists of scientists and people with PhDs, that might not be the best approach.

Then again, if you write content full of tech-speak for the elderly… you get the point. Know the lingo in your industry and get a feel for how to talk to your peeps.

17. Be consistent

A lot of things can change – even your logo and website design, though it’s not recommended to do that very often. What you should refrain from changing is your brand language.

Your brand voice needs to be consistent in your content and customer service. It looks more professional and helps people remember you while creating an image that feels more realistic and approachable.

18. Don’t freak out

Things happen, it’s just the way of the world. But the planet will keep spinning and you’ll get over it. What won’t help for sure is freaking out and making rash (often irrational) decisions. Don’t ever make important decisions when you’re emotionally unstable. You need a cool head for that.

19. Be visual

People find it easier to remember images than words, not to mention seeing an image takes a second as opposed to reading a 500-word article. Try to design things, even images in your articles, in a way that will convey the overall message and “vibe” you want your audience to get.

20. Be awesome

You’re you, which makes you uniquely different from everyone else. Embrace that, be comfortable in your own skin. Find your strengths and weaknesses, find your comfort zones and see what happens when you step out of them. You’re already awesome just for being unique – all you have to do is be comfortable with that so it reflects in everything you do.

Are you ready now?

Amazing courses, brilliant instructors, learn from anywhere — TNW Academy.

The Crowd

The Yakir Group is working with a few start-ups. Two of which are in the crowd-funding or crowd-sourcing space. We advise them appropriately. I thought I’d share this article by Ross Rubin over at Engadget for our clients and for those of you who are looking to play in the CROWD game.

Switched On: Understanding crowdfunding’s caveats, part 1

by Ross Rubin,
Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

Crowdfunding has been a boon to companies that are bringing some of the most exciting and innovative devices to market. But sometimes things go wrong. Last March, the first of a two-part Switched On discussed some of the foibles about crowdfunding in the wake of Kickstarter proclaiming that it was not a store. The column highlighted three products, two of which (the Syre Bluetooth iPod nano watchband and the Jorno folding keyboard) had seen long delays, but still seemed to have hope of shipping.

Nearly a year later, neither has. And there is no telling when or if either will. To the credit of Scott Starrett, the creator of the Jorno, he has kept posting updates about his product, although perhaps not as frequently as backers would like. The last one came earlier this month and contained auspicious news about several critical problems with the prototype being fixed. The Syre update page, on the other hand, has gone dark; the last update was in August 2013. A genuine Apple watch is likely to appear before the Syre.

When a company files its S-1 form to go public, it must include a section called Risk Factors…

The second part of that two-part column discussed two new sites that were trying to build in more protection for consumers. Unfortunately, though, the flow of steady projects at Christie Street failed to materialize. And so we are back to Kickstarter. It’s attempted to more accurately represent the chance that contributions might not result in expected outcomes by requiring a Risks and Challenges section on each campaign page. That section acts as a bit of a reality check to the ebullience of the rest of the campaign page.

But in this case, the inmates are running the asylum.

The level of responsibility that a reward-based crowdfunding campaign has to its backers may not be as high as that of a company seeking to raise equity. Nonetheless, it helps to look at examples from the latter world. When a company files its S-1 form to go public, it must include a section called Risk Factors that gives potential investors an idea of what might go wrong.

A look at the sections from Facebook’s and Twitter’s filings reveals warnings that are typical of the genre — multiple pages designed to sound as though they were authored by Rachel Dratch’s Debbie Downer. The company might experience harm from competition, lawsuits, users leaving, innovation failing, personnel leaving, financial losses, unproven business models, a limited history, ad market downturns, internet service disruptions, mobile ecosystem tyranny, spam, mismanagement, government regulation, brand damage and on and on — this from companies that have been operating high-growth businesses and serving millions of users for years.

Let’s contrast that to the Risks and Challenges section of the Auris Wily project.

“We have an amazing team with a lot of experience in making things and delivering them. We have de-risked this campaign by building a few functional prototypes and testing all of its key technologies.

“We have already established contracts with an experienced manufacturer and are ready to begin manufacturing the first run of auris wily: The Smarter Speaker.

What, me worry? Backers of the Wily were lucky.

“Our promise to deliver on schedule will be challenged many times as we go through manufacturing, certifications and logistics. However we will do our best to minimize the impact and keep our backers in the loop.”

What, me worry? Backers of the Wily were lucky. The company’s falling out with its manufacturer happened before the completion of the campaign where the sponsoring company would be on the hook for delivering the product. In that case, we would certainly have seen the product miss its expected availability in the coming months and crossed our fingers that it did not turn into another Syre. Fortunately for Auris and its backers, it will likely return with another campaign as many canceled campaigns do.

The next Switched On will discuss some of the risks that affect virtually all new hardware endeavors and showcase one campaign that is laying out at least a few potential problems for backers.

Ross RubinReticle ResearchBackerjackTechspressive
We’re coming to your town! Don’t miss an Engadget Live event near you, and be sure to join us for Expand NY this November 7th & 8th!

Neil deGrasse Tyson

When we partnered with the American Museum of Natural History in developing their digital strategy, one of the great priviledges was getting to work with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is an extraordinary man with a point of view worth emulating. Here are the excerpts of a recent Huffington Post interview.

Why Revive ‘Cosmos?’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson Says Just About Everything We Know Has Changed

huffingtonpost.comMar 4th 2014 7:14 AM
Things are looking up for Neil deGrasse Tyson–way up. As the director of the Hayden Planetarium and the author of several popular books on space, Tyson is already one of the nation’s best-known scientists. And now his already-high profile is set for a big boost with the March 9 launch of “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey,” a new documentary television series that he hosts.

Tyson calls the 13-part series a continuation of “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” a 1980 PBS series narrated by Carl Sagan that is acclaimed as one of the most significant science-themed programs in television history.

In anticipation of the new series’ debut, Tyson, 55, sat down with HuffPost Science for a wide-ranging and surprisingly frank interview. What follows is a condensed and edited version of the discussion, which took place in the astrophysicist’s New York City office.

David Freeman: Cosmologically speaking, what’s changed in the 34 years since the original “Cosmos?”

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Just about everything.

DF: Exoplanets hadn’t yet been observed back then. Now we’ve seen hundreds. Does that mean we’re closer to discovering extraterrestrial life?

NT: That is a big question we all have: are we alone in the universe? And exoplanets confirm the suspicion that planets are not rare. Life as we know it lives on a planet. So if we are going to look for life as we know it, you want a good inventory of planets. There is a whole cottage industry of people trying to study the properties of the planets. It’s very hard because they’re orbiting next to hugely bright stars. The analogy is given–and if you calculate it out, it turns out to be about right–it would be like trying to detect a firefly around one of those Hollywood searchlights pointing straight at you.

DF: And our conception of the cosmos may also have changed. Do you think we live in a universe–or a multiverse?

NT: We have excellent theoretical and philosophical reasons to think we live in a multiverse.

DF: Why is that?

NT: Quantum physics, which is the physics of the small, behaves in odd ways. Everything that the tenets of quantum physics predict about the universe–we go out and test it and it’s there. General relativity, which was put forth by Einstein, is the theory of the large–gravity and the large-scale structure of the universe. That also works. Yet they don’t work with one another. If you take the universe all the way back to the Big Bang, well, the entire universe was really small. So now you take the shotgun wedding–quantum physics and general relativity. In that shotgun wedding, if you follow through with all the predictions quantum physics gives you, it allows multiple bubbles to form–one of which is our universe. These are sorts of fluctuations in the quantum foam. Quantum physics fluctuates all the time. But now the fluctuations are not just particles coming into and out of existence, which happens all the time. It’s whole universes coming into and out of existence.

DF: And philosophically?

NT: Philosophically, the universe has really never made things in ones. The Earth is special and everything else is different? No, we’ve got seven other planets. The sun? No, the sun is one of those dots in the night sky. The Milky Way? No, it’s one of a hundred billion galaxies. And the universe–maybe it’s countless other universes.

DF: And our multiverse could be just one of many?

NT: Exactly. It might be that the multiverse is not alone.

DF: If particles blink into and out of existence, could the whole universe blink out of existence?

NT: It is statistically so unlikely that you should just think of it as zero. Don’t worry about it.

DF: You must get a lot of strange questions from your lecture audiences. Do you find yourself having to correct people’s misconceptions?

NT: That’s not my goal. As an educator, I try to get people to be fundamentally curious and to question ideas that they might have or that are shared by others. In that state of mind, they have earned a kind of inoculation against the fuzzy thinking of these weird ideas floating around out there. So rather than correct the weird ideas, I would rather them to know how to think in the first place. Then they can correct the weird idea themselves. I don’t just tell them no. That’s pontifical.

DF: What role do you play in what some have called a culture war between science and science deniers?

NT: People reach for me to have those fights, but I don’t engage in them. You’ve never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another. What the laws of physics say. That’s an educational process. It’s not a debate and whoever argues best wins. I don’t do that. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t. I’m not saying it isn’t a great thing that they’re doing it.

DF: What do you think our approach should be to exploring the moon and Mars and to space exploration in general?

NT: I don’t create agendas that people should follow. But if you care about the economic health of this nation, then you ought to know that innovation in science and technology in the 21st Century will be the engine of tomorrow’s economy. Nations that embrace this fact will lead the world economically.

DF: How do you convince people of the importance of science and technology?

NT: You can make programs that improve science teachers, but what do you do when you get out? Is it embraced by your culture? No, it’s not. It’s a band-aid. But when the culture wants to do it, you don’t need programs to make it happen. There were no programs in the 1960s to get people interested in science. There were programs to manage the rising science interest that became manifest when Sputnik was launched, but the interest was built into the culture. People were thinking about tomorrow in ways only science and technology could deliver. My read of human history and 20th Century tells me that there is no force as powerful, as ambition-stimulating, as exploring the great frontier. And right now that frontier is space. I’m not here to tell you to like space. I’m here to tell you the cost of not liking space.

DF: Some scientists argue that in order to ensure our long-term survival, humans must colonize other planets. What do you say?

NT: It would be great if we were on multiple planets, but I think that’s unrealistic. Hawking says we have to be on multiple planets so an asteroid could come and you’d still have some humans left. It’s a nice idea. It satisfies the multiple-eggs-in-multiple-baskets concept. However, I claim that whatever power you have amassed to terraform Mars to make it look like Earth and then ship a billion people there…whatever effort that requires is more than figuring out how to deflect the asteroid. It’s more effort than fixing runaway global warming.

DF: If someone offered you a one-way trip to Mars, would you take it?

NT: I don’t see any point of a one-way trip. In the era of the great explorers, colonies were established in places where explorers had already put the place on the map–and were able to tell you, “Yeah, there’s air to breathe and fruit on the trees and bring this winter coat and here is a shovel and some hammers and nails, go at it. Oh, by the way, if it doesn’t work out, come back.” That’s different from saying here’s a spaceship that is only designed to go one way and, by the way, when you get there there’s no air or water. So make it a round trip. You stay as long as you want.

DF: In a recent article in Parade magazine, you were quoted as saying that as a young man, despite being an aspiring astrophysicist, you were sometimes viewed as a mugger or shoplifter. That was surprising to see, given your reputation as someone who is disinclined to talk about racism.

NT: I didn’t talk to them at all. They went into my memoir written in 1999 and extracted from a single chapter in the book. People feel some major urge to say oh, he’s a black scientist so let’s have part of the conversation about being a black scientist. I never initiate such conversations. Ever. In fact, I decline invitations to speak during Black History Month. If you only think of me during Black History Month, I must be failing as an educator and as an astrophysicist. By the way, if my professional identity involved strong racial issues, then it would be unfair and unrealistic to decline such invitations. But I never talk about it. I never volunteer to talk about god or religion, but people feel compelled to talk about it.

DF: Do you want to talk about religion now?

NT: I’m here for you.

DF: Do you believe in god?

NT: I presume you’ve pre-specified which god you’re asking about?

DF: Define god as you would.

NT: You’re the one who’s asking the question. So pick a god and ask me if I believe in that god.

DF: The Judeo-Christian god.

NT: OK, if that god is described as being all-powerful and all-knowing and all-good, I don’t see evidence for it anywhere in the world. So I remain unconvinced. If that god is all-powerful and all-good, I don’t see that when a tsunami kills a quarter-million or an earthquake kills a quarter-million people. I’d like to think of good as something in the interest of your health or longevity. That’s a pretty simple definition of something that is good for you. That’s not a controversial understanding of the word “good.” So if Earth in two separate events separated by just a couple of years can kill a half-million people, then if the god as you describe exists, that god is either not all-powerful or not all-good. And so therefore I am not convinced.

DF: Can science and religion be reconciled?

NT: As religion is now practiced and science is now practiced, there is no intersection between the two. That is for certain. And it’s not for want of trying. Over the centuries, many people–theologians as well scientists–have tried to explore points of intersection. And anytime anyone has declared that harmony has risen up, it is the consequence of religion acquiescing to scientific discovery. In every single case.

DF: Is religion dying?

NT: It depends on what you mean by dying. Most of Europe is atheistic. Even in Italy, the seat of the Vatican, most people never go to church. The Netherlands is essentially 100 percent atheist. The churches are relics. So the trend line in the Western world is that the influence of religion is diminishing. That’s just a fact. I don’t care whether it rises or falls. It really doesn’t matter to me.

DF: And yet for some people, religion provides a source of wonder and awe.

NT: I would say it’s not the only way. It’s not the best way. You can have awe of the universe, and it has the advantage of being objectively verifiable. And this is an awe that will continue even after new discoveries are made. You’re not being awed at the same thing your ancestors were. You’ve moved on.

DF: What things do you find most awesome?

NT: There are two. One relates to the formation of the heavy elements in the stars landing inside the human body and all life on Earth. In terms of the most astonishing fact about which we know nothing, there is dark matter and dark energy. We don’t know what either of them is. Everything we know and love about the universe and all the laws of physics as they apply, apply to four percent of the universe. That’s stunning. That’s as humbling a fact as there is.

DF: But you have faith that someday we will know what dark matter and dark energy are.

NT: If you want to use faith in that way, sure. But when faith is used in modern society it has a strong association with religion. The history of science shows that great mysteries get solved. It may be that there’s an answer that humans are too stupid to understand. I’m intrigued by that possibility.

DF: Might we be able to create brains that are smarter than we are?

NT: That’s an interesting question. Possibly. If we know what’s making us smart, go tweak the DNA. Tweak the genome in some way.

DF: How about the idea of uploading your brain into some sort of computer as a way to achieve immortality?

NT: I don’t see that as an important day, any more than the day a machine replaced you on the assembly line, the day a machine replaced your oxen, the day a machine beat us at chess, the day a machine beat us at Jeopardy. It’s fine and intriguing, but to assert that all of life is going to be different or that it’s immortality… don’t tell me it’s you with immortality.

DF: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

NT: If I had another life, I would be a librettist for Broadway musicals. I love musicals.

DF: Do you have a favorite?

NT: My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, All That Jazz.

DF: So you go to Broadway a lot?

NT: Yeah. I go to plays with my wife and Broadway musicals with the whole family. We just saw The Glass Menagerie.

DF: What else do you do in your spare time?

NT: We both cook and enjoy good wine with good food. The great frustration is that the better we are in the kitchen, the fewer restaurants become available to us to eat in.

DF: Do you have a killer lasagna?

NT: My wife has a killer lasagna. Oh my god.

DF: What’s your best dish?

NT: I make a pistachio-mint-encrusted shank of lamb. With that one you reach for your better bottle of wine. I can’t order rack of lamb in a restaurant anymore. It’s just not as good.

DF: Sounds like you have a sense of awe and wonder at your rack of lamb.

NT (laughing): No, I have a sense of awe and wonder at the food still made by master chefs that I am sure I will never figure out.

DF: What’s one interesting thing viewers will learn from “Cosmos?”

NT: We tell the stories of scientists in different cultures and different eras whose life work was fought against by the culture or the governments that controlled their lives or by social mores that interfered with their exploration of the truth. Some gave their lives for having found truth and in that world you learn that there are science martyrs. They’re people who cared more about the truth than their own relationship to their homeland.

“Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey” will premiere on Fox and the National Geographic Channel on March 9.

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