Cox on Colbert

By Phil Plait | October 29, 2009 12:20 pm

As promised, Brian Cox was on The Colbert Report last night, and hit it out of the park. The whole show was better than average (which is saying a lot) but Brian truly rocked!

If you missed it (and live in the States) the whole episode is online (Brian’s segment is about 13:50 into the episode). Comedy Central won’t allow embedding the whole show (sigh), and Brian’s segment isn’t separated out on the CC site, but right before he was on Colbert ragged on physics and the LHC:

<td style='padding:2px 1px 0px 5px;' colspan='2'Big Bang Theory
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

In the full segment, they talk about Brian’s book Why E=mc2, which was excellent. I’ll try to write a review of it as soon as I can. In the meantime, I do have to praise Colbert for his insight; as Brian points out he was correct in his ideas! I was cheering along with the segment. It still cracks me up that the smartest and most insightful commentary on TV is not from any of the "real" news stations, but from satirical shows like Colbert and The Daily Show. They have better science coverage than CNN, MSNBC and anyone else combined.


Comments (36)

  1. AGN_fan

    In CNN’s site remodel recently, they took their science section off the main page. I think they put all their [sparse] science content in the technology section now. It does not bode well for science in America when you have to pitch science as technology to non-scientists.

  2. Nivi

    I loved it – Colbert asked some really intelligent questions. I’ve never seen Cox before, but I’m definitely thinking of reading his book. hehe loved the part where he dissed string theory & said “maybe I shouldn’ve said that”!

  3. As a Canadian, and therefore a pariah, I cannot see embedded Comedy Central video :(

  4. serenity

    There’s a solution for watching it outside the US, but it’s a pain. Requires Firefox, installing an extension you likely don’t have, and setting it up. Here’s how:

    Worked fine for me (in Sweden, but it shouldn’t make a difference).

  5. Chris A.

    I must agree with Phil’s sentiment that coverage of science in the MSM is woeful at best.

    How many reporters did I hear telling me that the Ares I-X’s flight was two minutes long? (It boosted for two minutes; the total flight was six minutes, JUST LIKE IT SAYS IN THE FRAKKING PRESS KIT, which they obviously didn’t bother to read.)

    And who decided that Jay Barbree should be considered an authority on space flight? His many years of coverage of space missions notwithstanding, nearly every time I see him report on space he says something blatantly false! (His latest, again during the Ares I-X coverage: Pronouncing Apophis “AP-a-fiss,” and declaring if it hits the Earth it would wipe out an area the size of New York State, a gross exaggeration.) His coverage of Hubble, back in the early days of the mission, was similarly peppered with sloppy research and patently wrong, off-the-cuff comments. I shudder to think what sort of inaccuracies his BOOK on Hubble might contain.

    The bottom line is, well, the bottom line. News organizations clearly don’t believe there’s any return on an investment in hiring people to report on space who bother to do their research.

  6. Sigh.

    Someone PLEASE upload this to YouTube so we second class citizens of the non-murrkin world can see it.


  7. If you are in Canada you can watch it on Comedy Central’s website.

    Still someone needs to upload on YouTube since Comedy Central does not allow embedding videos and I have been waiting since it aired last night to put it up on my website.

    I find it adorable how enthusiastic Colbert was that he was unable to stay in character

  8. Joseph J. Finn

    Is it wrong that I at first thought you meant the fine character actor Brian Cox?

  9. IBY

    Wow, now, that is ironic, actual reporters who do a worse job than satirical reporters.

  10. MHS

    From the Netherlands I can see all Comedy Central content, embedded or not. Strange.

  11. jest

    AGN_fan: That was probably the first thing I noticed when CNN changed their website.

    People ask me why I bother going there.. Mostly for a good laugh, really. I mean, they call themselves a trusted news source, and yet they were SO EASILY sucked in with the whole Balloon Boy hoax (did anyone else here NOT believe that balloon could fly with a 6 y/o child inside?! I for one couldn’t see it happening).

    When I realized they had removed their Science section, if anything I was quietly relieved. It meant POSSIBLY having less false reports on Science, exposed on their site (but probably still carrying on in their live broadcasts, since they hire meat heads to read and write the news).

    I don’t watch Colbert (I WAY prefer Jon Stewart’s stuff) but glad to see his character’s arrogance didn’t overwhelm the interview with Brian.

  12. DrFlimmer

    That’s absolutely hillarious! ūüėÄ

  13. tacitus

    In some countries, other networks have bought the rights to the show, so Comedy Central is contractually obligated to block the show from being watched on their web site. Also, Comedy Central doesn’t like people uploading their clips on YouTube — it’s a violation of their copyright, which they tend to enforce.

    It was a good show, indeed.

  14. Thanx for the heads up on this yesterday, Phil. We usually don’t stay up that late but it was well worth it.

  15. jest

    For those in Canuck land (Canada), does stream Colbert’s show, though I think sometimes they are a week behind (possibly a contractual thing).

  16. Steve in Dublin

    @serenity #6

    Thank you kindly for the tip. That Firefox extension does the job for us ‘ferners’ ūüėČ

  17. Thanks serenity, that worked perfectly!

  18. Gary Ansorge

    I loved the reference to “The future ate my homework.” His comment that physics was “too short on experiments gone horribly,,,” Wrong(I can’t spell the other). Like, the LHC hasn’t, won’t, will never blow up the universe(or CERN, for that matter). But, if it did, just think of the fireworks.

    He is one of the two smartest pundits on the tube.

    Gary 7

  19. dusty59

    I love how Brian catches Colbert off guard… “You’re asking sensible questions– somethings gone horribly wrong!” …or to that effect.

    Colbert’s pompous character satire can be a bit much at times, but he won me over at the ’06 White House Correspondent Dinner performance!

  20. ND

    That was a good solid Colbert episode. Yeah those unscripted interviews show how much this guys think on his feet. I supposed the interviews are somewhat predictable given the guest and the topic of the interview.

  21. Yakov

    How is relativity behind transistors?

  22. Cory

    No problem watching the embedded content over here in Japan. Lucky me.

  23. jetdriver

    Love Colbert. Great job as usual ( also has the latest Colbert episodes. Might also be blocked in Canada too though if the problem stems from Comedy Central’s distribution rights….

  24. I’ll have to weed through Canada’s Comedy Channel to get the highlights. *Sadly*, I was enjoying U2 in Vancouver last night. If only I had known Brian was going to be on beforehand… :)

  25. Navneeth

    7 Trillion ELECTRON VOLTS, M. Colbert. NOT plain VOLTS. Totally different things.

  26. Nomen Publicus

    Anyone else noticed how, as the news media drifts further and further into pure entertainment, the comics are becoming more and more the only intelligent commentators on TV? While Dara √ď Briain may be an extreme example (being a mathematical physicist) there are many more one could list and they all get large audiences.

  27. Aerimus

    I finally watched that episode on the ol’ TiVo last night and it was awesome. That one segment along was loaded with brilliant gems. I loved the future returning Bobby, the stage manager.

  28. The Yorkshire Sceptic

    So how about a transcript for those outside the pale? Pretty please. :)

  29. Miranda

    One of the best Colbert episodes, and it included an awesome “tonight’s word” to boot! And I’m going to buy Cox’s book as a result.

  30. gss_000

    Again, let’s not judge all main stream media by poor examples. I’ve seen just as many non-traditional sites do absolutely horrible reporting. Or not cover launches at all.

    And before mocking MSNBC too much, check out the Rachel Maddow Show’s “Moment of Geek” segment. It has had Bill Nye, Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts, and Caroline Moore, the youngest person ever to discover a supernova, a topic which I don’t think was covered here.

    Plus, you’re doing a disservice to Alan Boyle, a space reporter on and the author of the Cosmic Log blog there. He covers many of the same events as here, sometimes days before, as well as many other space related topics that you don’t find here (like the Lunar Lander Challenge). Sometimes I find that when we complain there isn’t good coverage, it’s because we are basing that on preconceived notions and not on evidence.

  31. Sili

    He did a damn good pronunciation of “Holger Bech Nielsen” (a bit too tense on the “ie”).

    That certainly put a bit goofy grin on my face.


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