SMBC on TV science

By Phil Plait | March 3, 2010 11:17 am

Yeah, Zach’s pretty close on this one


… but who knows? Maybe things’ll change for science on TV. Maybe sometime soon.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, Science, TV/Movies

Comments (48)

  1. Yossarian

    Oh man. You DO like teasing us about your sooper sekrit project, don’t you?

  2. UmTutSut

    I watched Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Pluto Files” last nite on PBS. I thought that show did an excellent job of conveying the science while being thoroughly entertaining. And in my youth, I was a HUGE fan of the Bell Science Series:

  3. Wayne on the plains

    Should I be ashamed to admit I enjoyed “Deadliest Warrior”? I thought it was pretty good as TV science goes.

    Edit: In particular, I thought it was interesting how the side with better technology nearly always won out. Yeah technology.

  4. Ed

    Maybe if History Channel goes back to showing…you know…history? Remember the good old days when it was nothing but WWII? Ahhh…good times. Now it’s all UFOs and Bigfoot.

  5. Oli

    Enough force to melt the sun into a star? I wonder if the Vikings were able to freeze the milky way to a black hole =/

  6. Katharine

    Spike TV makes me barf.

  7. Wow, Lex Luthor’s really fallen on hard times. I guess the feds didn’t think LexCorp was too big to fail.

  8. Matt G.

    Phil, how much heat would it take to melt the sun into a star, anyways?

  9. Craig

    Phil, no offense, but you’re no looker. You need beauty to go with your beastliness. :)

    Check out Dr. Jennifer Gardy, currently leading the BC Centre for Disease Control’s genome lab. She’s hosted a few CBC science shows, Project-X: ( and stepped in for David Suzuki for an episode of The Nature of Things (

    She’s really fun, incredibly smart, and cute too boot! Watch the first minute of her TED talk to get an idea of her personality:

  10. I feel compelled to re-post this recent article from the Onion, complete with fake quotes from actual Discovery execs:

    “Science Channel Refuses to Dumb Down Content Any Further”

  11. Michael Swanson

    Ah, the good old days of the Viking science of violence. Eviscera = Mace times Cranium squared. Odin approves!

  12. Matt T

    Nazi sharks with lasers!

  13. Steve Huntwork

    “As you can see by this NASA graphic from the linked page, Antarctica loses over 100 billion tons of ice per year, the equivalent of about a hundred cubic kilometers (more than 20 cubic miles) of ice. That number is hard to grasp, but it’s the equivalent to the volume of a mountain about 14,000 feet high — or, if you prefer, it’s like saying that one Colorado Rocky Mountain’s worth of ice disappears every year. Just in Antarctica alone.”

  14. pontoppi

    Isn’t there already one Dr. Phil on TV?

    You’ll do great – looking very much forward to your secret project!

  15. DreamDevil


  16. Grizzly

    Okay, stop with the teasing. Are you going to be saying “Billions and billions” any time soon?

  17. How much heat does it take to melt the Sun into the Dragon of the North Sea? That is the question.

  18. You must have said something really science-y when you were on LA Ink

  19. My favorite shows are the ones about physics of any sort (relativity/quantum) and shows about pretty much anything space related (planets, stars, galaxies, etc). The more math and the more lingo they have in them, the better! Boring to some but it fascinates me.

    I have to say the shows I like the least are the dramatizations of possible future catastrophes/events. Always over the top since the canvas is wide open.

    I don’t mind the dramatizations of historical catastrophes as it is history and we know, to a reasonable degree, what happened (The Krakatoa documentary for instance). So they’re somewhat force to follow the actual chain of events.

    Well, I’m looking forward to whatever might be changing Soon™.

  20. amphiox

    @2 – I enjoyed “Deadliest Warrior” too.

    But it wasn’t good science, not even a good facsimile of it. The “tests” they did to compare the various weapons’ effectiveness were all different, for example.

  21. amphiox

    how much heat would it take to melt the sun into a star, anyways?

    Given that the sun is mostly gas and plasma, you’d have to cool it down first. The number, whatever it is, would be negative.

  22. “Maybe things’ll change for science on TV. Maybe sometime soon.”
    Looks like a hint! Does it have anything to do with a certain tattoo?

  23. Come on now, don’t be too harsh on TV science.. What about all the cool specials that run on like every other sunday morning?

    Err, okay. So the frequency of good science programming could be much better, but there is some good stuff on once in a while.

  24. Mike

    NOVA is pretty good sometimes. Except when they get too much into the personal dramas of confrontations between bitter scientific rivals who each call the other one stupid in thinly veiled terms for the entire show. *cough*four-winged-dinosaur*cough*

    Of course, Mythbusters is always great. 😀 (Thanks for the reminder “Jamey”)

  25. Jamey

    Not sure how different this is from the pretty Hubble pictures, that are all false-colored. How much of the time do the scientists spend time making measurements on those images, vs. pulling data from the single-wavelength images, or from spectrographic & photometric measurements are often just big batches of numbers, with no real “image” to match?

    And I’m sure Mythbusters couldn’t possibly get lumped in with this kind of show, now could it? Even though they get called fairly often on how badly they *don’t* test the myth in question?

  26. Steve in Dublin

    Steve Huntwork @11

    Is it the fact that most mountains aren’t perfect cubes (so granted, kinda tough to visualise) you have issue with, or are you disputing the 100 billion ton/year ice loss estimate?

  27. Randall

    I hope this hint might pertain to a program that, hypothetically, might have good synergy with the existing hit Mythbusters…you know, a program focusing less on urban legends and “I went onto YouTube…and found this” questions and more on those which have scientific and medical (one might even say “skeptical”) relevance…

    Hey, if you investigate the effects of homeopathic metallic sodium, you could even play into the “explosions sell” mentality!

  28. Katharine

    The People Who Should Focus On Their Own #%$^ing Family want to stone Tillikum.

    Are we sure these people aren’t just some sort of front group for some sort of organization that has a bizarre, somewhat sadistic sense of humor? Because it boggles my mind that anybody would be so stupid as to want to stone an orca.

  29. Katharine

    Oh, wait, I’m confusing them with another organization.

    Either way, both organizations are nuts.


    @pontoppi – I think there should be a maximum of one Dr. Phil on TV, and it’s time to pass the torch.

  31. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    The problem is not to melt the sun into a star, but to heat it so it glows as one. I mean, the amount of coal it burns must be awesome – more than can fill all of Valhalla at least.

  32. Adrian Lopez

    What exactly does it mean to “melt the sun into a star”? The sun *is* a star.

  33. alfaniner
  34. Wayne on the plains

    @18 At least “Deadliest Warrior” DID experiments. Although not uniform (they’re trying to be entertaining, after all) many of them did have at least some relevance. I have to admit, though, I didn’t watch it for the science anyway. :-)

    @29 Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  35. CW

    “There will be panels, talks (I’ll most likely give my Death from the Skies! talk)”

    Death panels? Sarah Palin warned me about those!

  36. sam

    on deadliest warrior it wasnt science, they didnt even follow the rules of the scientific method like theyd have more than one variable for example

  37. It had better get better soon, because this is freaking ridiculous.

  38. Adrian Lopez


    I didn’t notice the bit about “gallons” of power, so only the line about the sun stood out to me as particularly troublesome (the others simply came across as comical exaggeration). I suppose I “get it” now.

  39. Phil,

    FWIW, I just had to write something on “why Compressed Sensing is NOT a CSI “Enhance” technology … yet !” ( as a result of the comments on many different blogs about the latest Wired article on Compressed Sensing (



  40. the bug guy

    I gave up on “Deadliest Warrior” when their Viking warrior didn’t use that big round shield as protection against missiles, or for anything defensive at all. That, and the fantasy-cover art of throwing two thrusting spears at the same time.

  41. Compared to what’s on network programming, science TV is brilliant. Besides, how else would the world ever find out about Hitler’s secret viking ninja shark death squads? We have a right to know, dammit.

  42. TMB

    Mythbusters is fun and all… but could they just once have a control????


  43. Talawallah

    “Maybe things’ll change for science on TV. Maybe sometime soon.”

    is that a hint? it sounds like a hint.

    Is there a Bad Astronomy TV show in the works? If so, i have the perfect theme song for you.

  44. Don

    Yeah Phil, stop being mean to the military!

    I think Zach noticed your mention of this TV Science comic… :-)

  45. Floyd

    OK, Dr. Plait–have you seen today’s SMBC?

  46. hhEb09'1

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