How the Asteroid Saved Mankind – my first just-so story

I created this for the SpaceUp Seattle unconference April 13-14. It is for an ignite format presentation called T-5

Ignite presentations are 5 minutes long with 20 slides, each lasting exactly 15 minutes. I found out about the T-5 Friday afternoon. I started working on this for the Saturday event and getting the majority of it then. I held a session on Saturday about creating just-so stories and continued editing this during the day.

It was well received so I decided to take the slide deck and re-create the presentation in one take to put on YouTube. I did some minimal editing and you can see the result. Next I have to figure out hod to get the HD version up.

I loved reading Kipling’s Just-So Stories when I was young. How the Leopard Got His Spots. How the Camel Got HIs Hump. Lots of fun.

Just-so stories have sometimes carried a pejorative tag, being used to deride a possible explanation of a observation. But some researchers, such as David Barash, have pointed out that just-so stories are usual simply hypotheses that require further empirical examination in order to determine how correct or incorrect they might be.

Kipling’s hypothesis for how the elephant got his trunk – an alligator grabbed it and pulled it longer – can easily be shown to be incorrect. But other just-so stories are more intriguing.

A good just-so story does not have to be completely explanatory. It does not need to be completely correct. It simply needs to be engaging enough to get someone to investigate further. Maybe they will find the truth underneath.

Just-so stories often simplify something quite complex, making it accessible to a wider group of people, and getting them interested in the answers. Frankly, many people use just-so stories in order to deal with the complexities of the world. 

So I am thinking of doing a series of these sorts of just-so videos. Any other ideas? How the microRNA cured cancer? The Gossip that made the village rich? The DNA sequence that astounded everyone? How the healthy stayed healthy?