IRrelevant Astronomy: Dr. Wheaton edition

By Phil Plait | December 6, 2010 9:34 am

One of the things NASA takes seriously is the goal of educating people about astronomy. Happily, while everyone takes the goal seriously, they’re not necessarily serious about how to achieve that goal…

Enter IRrelevant Astronomy: a series of educational videos about astronomy, leaning on the infrared aspects of it (because it’s created by folks with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which sees in the IR). These aren’t the bland, dull videos of yesteryear! The videos in this series are really, really funny — I mean laugh-out-loud funny — and frequently feature celebrities like Felicia Day and Sean Astin.

They just released a new one, "Destroyer of Worlds", and I bet you just might recognize the voice of The Physician…

There were many times I was laughing at this video. And not just at Wil Wheaton’s voice acting (though he’s really good at this). It’s got that perfect Warner Brothers cartoon zeitgeist: kids will like the zaniness, and the adults will get the jokes. I’m not sure if my favorite part is the insect-like spaceship near and dear to my heart seen several times, or The Physician’s ship itself. Either way, this is one of the best of the Spitzer videos. And the science, including binary stars disrupting their planets’ orbits, is pretty interesting and handled quite well.

Tip o’ the sonic screwdriver to Wil for blogging about this (and the link lurv).

Related posts:

Felicia Day collides galaxies
Robot Wil Wheaton takes over the Universe!
Warm dusty rings glow around a weird binary star
When worlds really do collide


Comments (20)

  1. Matt B.

    I noticed a Whitestar from Babylon 5 in the debris, which makes sense since Ed Wasser was on Babylon 5.

  2. Gus Snarp

    What’s with the big fireball when the ship explodes? And the sound of the explosion….

  3. Grizzly

    Great. Fart jokes. Poop jokes. Yup. Just what we need to make science more interesting.

  4. 10 minutes?! I don’t have that kind of attention span anymore!

  5. This is a very interesting series! I’m gonna watch the rest of it!

  6. David

    No, no no. Your Time Lord name wouldn’t be “The Physician”.
    Perhaps “The Looker”.

    Any other ideas?

    EDIT: I’m a blinkin’ fool, I am. I had heard Wil’s voice and mistaken it for Phil’s.
    The question still stands, though.
    What would be the Time Lord names of Messrs. Plait and Whedon?

  7. Gus Snarp

    @Grizzly – What’s wrong with fart jokes? I for one literally LOLed when the robot said “braking wind”. I’m pretty sure any graduate student office is chock full of fart, poop, and other biological jokes. Mine was.

  8. carbonUnit

    And Space 1999 Eagle, NX class starship, Imperial Star Destroyer… Do I see a 2001 Monolith in there??

    What one letter change from Tardis would be a good name for that little blue ship??

    Well done, Spitzer folk!

  9. Tobin Dax

    Work was not the best place to watch this. I’m still trying to stifle the laughter.

    According to the YouTube comments, there are another 6 recognizable ships in the debris. I’ll have to hunt for them after I get home tonight.

  10. Wonderful video!

    To add to the list of ships, the last scene features Serenity and another ship on the right which I cannot identify.

  11. mike burkhart

    Will is just the latest Star Trek actor to do a fact based program about Astronomy two others include Willam Shatner hosted a Nasa vedio called Universe (this has sold in stores cobined with a documentery hosted by Orsen Wells called Whos out there?) and Nichell Nicoles (Lt Uhra) has been involved with Nasa for years. Off topic I just saw the Will Smith version of the Wild wild west , and there is some bad science in it (of course the show pushed the limits for tec in the 1870s) First a scientist is killed in the begining to witch one of the bad guys make the cheep shot:”and they say you scientists are so smart” but then West and Gordon use a menthed to find out by who killed him by useing a device to look into his eyes for the last image he saw. Well this was a medical theroy that the eyes would record the last image a dead person would see and in fact there was an attemp to id Jack the Ripper this way with out sucess this theroy has since been proven worng , every image you see goes thro your optic nerve to your brain witch sorts it out .

  12. Chris A.

    Maybe I’m being dense, but I didn’t get the “braking things with magnets–ask George Takei” joke…

  13. Ratings-bot

    @Chris A. – Magnets & George Takei nod to a previous Robot Astronomy Talk Show episode, “Gravity & the Great Attractor”:

  14. GlennS

    @8: TURDIS? ^_^

  15. Childermass

    Ed Wasser is of course an expert in wiping out planets. His turbo Ginsu Shadow Cruiser slices, dices, roasts Narns to a crisp golden perfection!

  16. Thameron

    They said only close binaries do the planet destroying. Exactly how close is close?

  17. Messier Tidy Upper

    LOL! Classic. :-)

    “Blue ice” though? I don’t get that one.

    Also like (#12.) Chris A., I didn’t get the “braking things with magnets–ask George Takei” joke either.

    My fave of this series is still the “Bots of Both Worlds” [click the “Robot Wil Wheaton takes over the Universe!” link just above the comments here.] one set in Saturn’s outermost largest “invisible” ring with the wonderful Amy Okuda.

    @3. Grizzly Says:

    Great. Fart jokes. Poop jokes. Yup. Just what we need to make science more interesting.

    Well it is clearly aimed at kids … Yeah, there’s a lot of toilet humour, yeah, I must confess I laughed.

    I think there was also some Morden-t wit there too. 😉

    @8. carbonUnit & # 14. GlennS : TURDIS

    LOL. 😉

    I gotta say that’s one very unfortunate “chamelon circuit failure.”

    @15. Childermass Says:

    Ed Wasser is of course an expert in wiping out planets. His turbo Ginsu Shadow Cruiser slices, dices, roasts Narns to a crisp golden perfection!

    True for a while but then he got carried away and lost his head on Centauri Prime. [Looks up & gives Vir wave.] 😉

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ & #13 Ratings-bot : Thanks for the explanations, much appreciated. :-)

  19. Gary Ansorge


    ,,,and quite informative,,,

    Will has a superb voice technique. I wonder if he’s done stand up poetry readings?

    Gary 7


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