Tag: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Nerd deGrasse Tyson

By Phil Plait | November 10, 2012 7:00 am

Speaking of Neil Tyson, if you’re a fan of his you’ll be pleased to know that his show, Star Talk Radio, is now going to be part of the Nerdist Channel network! Thats actually a pretty big deal; Chris Hardwick has created this juggernaut of Nerdist and it reaches a lot of folks.

The new show is essentially a video version of the radio show. Chris interviewed Neil about it for The Nerdist website. If you’re curious what it’ll be like, here’s a video of a live Star Talk interview he did with several comedians (Hodgman! Schaal!) and Mike Massamino, a NASA astronaut:

Cool, eh? And maybe I’ll have more news about this soon, too. Superman isn’t the only guy who walks around in his underwear Neil has talked to.


Related Posts:

- DC Comics pins Krypton to the star map
- My Nerdist episode is online!
- Nerd TV
- Great Tyson’s ghost!
- Neil Tyson and I talk time travel

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Geekery

Astronomer throwdown

By Phil Plait | April 6, 2012 6:30 am

Posted almost without comment:

From here via here. Rumor has it this was done by Gary Lyons, but I cannot seem to confirm this or find an email address for him. In my defense, though, I didn’t try very hard. I leave it to my devoted minions if the interest motivates you. My friend Fred Bremmer tells me that Gary Lyons did indeed make this. The original is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150651175025753&set=a.476615725752.248737.562230752&type=1.

Also? Neil would win. He’s like 15 cm taller and has 20 kilos on me.

[Edited to add: Hmmm. When that picture was taken I was holding, and using, a 1/2 Watt green laser that was powerful enough to ignite a pack of matches and pop balloons. That might even the odds.]


Related Posts:

- In which I disagree with cartoon Neil Tyson
- Great Tyson’s ghost! (featuring my greatest Photoshoop ever)
- Paper Plait
- Neil Tyson and I talk time travel

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Astronomy, Geekery, Humor

Colbert on Tyson

By Phil Plait | December 17, 2011 7:14 am

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the most recognizable astronomer on Earth these days, in part due to his frequent appearances on The Colbert Report. Earlier this year In 2010, Colbert sat down with Neil at the Kimberley Academy in Montclair, New Jersey and chatted with him about life, the Universe, and everything. Colbert did this out of his TV character — well, mostly — and even though it’s over an hour, it’s well worth your time. The original video is on the Hayden Planetarium site, but it’s also all over the place, including YouTube. I’ve embedded it here for your enjoyment, too.

Neil and I agree on a wide variety of topics, and he’s doing a great job inspiring people to look beyond their own immediate surroundings.


Related posts:

- Our Future in Space – panel at TAM 9
- In which I disagree with cartoon Neil Tyson
- SMBC on the brain
- Neil Tyson and I talk time travel

In which I disagree with cartoon Neil Tyson

By Phil Plait | November 14, 2011 11:59 am

Last week, I was checking my feed reader, catching up on all my favorite web comics. One of them is sci-ence, a comic you really should be reading. It’s drawn (in part) by artist and science afficianado Maki Naro, and (like xkcd and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) it’s both funny and scilicious.

I got a snicker out of the comic he had just posted, dealing with my pal Neil Tyson and the Moon. Go read it!

Back yet? OK.

Now, I know that just last night I was praising Neil, and today I have no cause to bury him. But I will nitpick a wee bit…

First, of course, who hasn’t wanted to chase Neil Tyson down the street while yelling incoherently at him? But that aside, I must point out that this explanation of the Moon Illusion, while very common, is not actually correct.

The Moon Illusion is when the rising (or setting) Moon looks huge and fat, squatting on the horizon, but appears far smaller when up high in the sky. But it’s not because you’re comparing it with foreground objects! I’ve seen this illusion when out in the open plain, with nothing between me and the horizon but Kansas farmland, which is like a geometric plane, except flatter.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, Humor, illusion, Science, Skepticism

Great Tyson's ghost!

By Phil Plait | October 31, 2011 11:10 am

If you’re looking for some spooky listening for your Halloween, then aim your ectoplasmic resonator at astronomer Neil Tyson’s Star Talk radio show, because last night he hunted ghosts… or at least, talked to some folks who know about ghosts. He chats with author Mary Roach, skeptic ghost investigator Joe Nickell, and… me!

Yeah, I’m not really an expert on ghosts — still being alive and all — but I’ve seen a few ghost movies in my time, so we chat about those, and why I don’t personally think dead people are floating around, knocking on walls and hoping some "ghost hunter" will notice us and anxiously whisper, "Did you hear that?"

As always, talking with Neil is a lot of fun, and you’ll enjoy the whole show. You can also download the MP3 directly, too. [UPDATE: you can subscribe to Star Talk using iTunes, as well!]

My interview is broken up into several segments; the first starts around 11:30, the second at 24:50, the third at 36:15, and the fourth at 41:00. But of course you should listen to the whole show; it’s pretty entertaining!

I’ll note we did this interview through Skype, and my voice is a little warbly. Or was I just communicating from the other side??!!

OK, yeah, it was just warbly. But you were scared there for a second, weren’t you?

OK, yeah, no you weren’t. Damn. Being a skeptic on Halloween is hard.


Image credit: me! If you’re curious, that’s my pal Jennifer Ouellette and me from TAM 9, chatting with the disembodied head of Neil. Having him floating around like that was distracting.


Related posts:

- Neil Tyson and I talk time travel
- Our Future in Space – panel at TAM 9
- SMBC on the brain
- Paper Plait

Two Sunday radio interviews

By Phil Plait | April 15, 2011 10:49 am

You know what you don’t get enough of? Hearing me blather on about astronomy and skepticism on a Sunday. So you’re in luck: I’ll be doing two interviews on Sunday:

1) At 6:00 p.m. Eastern (US) time (22:00 UT) I’ll be on Star Talk Radio with my old pal and all around cool dude Neil deGrasse Tyson, and my new pal, comedian and all around cool chick Leighann Lord (we’re the three on the left of that pic with producers Helen Matsos and Leslie Mullen on the right). We’ll be dissecting the science in science fiction movies and basically having a good time with it. You can listen to the show when it airs, but keep in mind we pre-recorded it when I was in NYC last week for NECSS.

What I will do, though, is listen along when it airs Sunday, and then I’ll be on Twitter making dumb jokes and snarky comments as usual. So join me there and I’ll answer your questions if I can.

2) I’ll be on the Think Atheist radio/podcast at 8:00 Eastern (US) time (midnight UT), and this one is live! So you can call in and ask questions. If you need more info, a pink unicorn will help:

So there you go. Mark your calendar! Twice!

Neil Tyson speaks truth

By Phil Plait | March 2, 2011 10:14 am

Last week, Chris Mooney interviewed astronomer and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson on the podcast Point of Inquiry. Neil is among the best of the people on Earth in showing the public just how amazing science is (Brian Cox is another who comes immediately to mind).

It’s a wide-ranging discussion, and well worth your time to listen in its entirety. But Neil said one thing in particular in the podcast that really made me smile (and was pointed out by Chris in The Intersection as well):

It’s not a predetermined path….Look at for example Phil Plait. Phil Plait is a professional astrophysicist, and then he had a blog, and the blog became a book, and a lot of interest in the book, and he saw the need for skepticism to be addressed in society, and he became a big part of that movement–you don’t pre-script that. It’s hard to prescript it.

My career path–you just don’t pre-script it. You do what you do best, and what you like the most, and you figure out along the way how that best fits into the opportunities of culture and the greater society.

First, thanks to Neil for the shout out!

But he makes a good point. I get emails all the time from people asking me how they can write a blog, how they can communicate science to the public as a career — and they ask me because I’ve been doing it for a while and have made a name for myself. The thing is, Neil’s right: you can’t plan on doing it the way I do. You’d have to be bug-nut insane to set about having a career like I have; it’s been really accidental, just me doing what seemed right at the time, and now here I am (and someday I’ll have to expound on that).

But "accidental" doesn’t mean "impossible". It’s more like "stochastic": an underlying path that’s been punctuated by random events that led to my current position*. But those random events would’ve been ineffective had I not worked pretty hard over the years to get here; you have to be able to grab them when they pop up.

You have to lay the groundwork to do that, and as Neil says one really good way to do that is through writing. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts, and to collect ideas. As you get better, you keep your eyes open and wait for the opportunities that will (hopefully) come along. I’ve actually let a few go by because I wasn’t ready for them at the time, but when they come by and you are ready, boom! It’s a pretty cool feeling.

In fact, I wrote about this over the weekend:

…the equation for luck is really just (hard work + preparation) x (time) x (statistical fluctuations).

In other words? You make your own luck. So you wanna get lucky? Go out there and get to work.


* I suppose you could say you couldn’t intelligently design such a career from the start; you have to let it evolve and naturally select the things that fit best. Say.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Science, Skepticism

Neil Tyson sounds off NASA

By Phil Plait | April 14, 2010 8:00 am

My old friend Neil has something to say about NASA and inspiration.

I wonder how often he reads my blog? More likely, he and I just strongly agree on this topic. He is a very smart guy, after all.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind
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