StarTalk Live! Big Brains at BAM (Part 1)

Post Date: 20 July 2014

Listen now:

Season 5, Episode 27

Big Brains at Bam

From Left: Eugene Mirman, Michael Ian Black, Paul Rudd, Heather Berlin, Mayim Bialik, Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Not Shown: Bill Nye.) Credit: Elliot Severn.

What is consciousness? What is self-awareness? You’ll find out when host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Eugene Mirman welcome actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory, neuroscientist and StarTalk Live! veteran Dr. Heather Berlin, comedian Michael Ian Black and actor Paul Rudd to the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The freewheeling discussion covers veganism and the colonization of Mars, home schooling, behavior modification and genetic predisposition, Autism Spectrum disorders and waterboarding. Mayim also talks about the socially unconventional characters on The Big Bang Theory, how she landed the role of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the show, and what it’s like to not only be a neuroscientist, but also to play one on TV. And that’s just what happened before surprise guest Bill Nye the Science Guy jumped on stage. (You’ll get more of Bill in Parts 2 and 3 over the next two weeks.)

Mayim Bialik, Actress, Neuroscientist, Author
Dr. Heather Berlin, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience & Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai Hospital
Michael Ian Black, Comedian
Paul Rudd, Actor
Bill Nye the Science Guy 

Eugene Mirman, Comedian

Recipe” – Aura Dione
Marching to Mars” – Sammy Hagar
Big Bang Theory” Theme Song – Bare Naked Ladies
Your Body Is A Battleground” – Delain
Behave” – Charlotte Hatherly
Behave!” – Frightened Rabbit
Positive” – Fortunate Youth
Conscious” – Anything Box

  • amandeezy

    Looks interesting, although I was hoping today’s episode would be about Apollo 11!

  • Jack Anderson

    this is a good idea it will make mutiple points of view availiable on any topic you guy discuss :)

  • M.K

    Woop!! Are you guys posting the video later?

    • startalkradio

      We will be posting the video eventually, M.K., but not in the near future.

      • Mark

        May I ask WHY?

        • startalkradio

          Mark, we are primarily a radio show/podcast. We post “Behind the Scenes” video segments of some of our shows on our YouTube channel. We post videos of our live shows far less frequently, due to the higher production and manpower requirements.

          • Spock

            Big mistake. No reason to limit the way people wish to consume StarTalk. Most illogical.

          • startalkradio

            Spock, (I can’t believe I’m replying to Spock!), logic dictates that we do what we can and what we must rather than waste emotion wishing we could do that which we do not have the resources to do.

          • Spock

            My apologies. Insufficient facts always invite danger. Sensors indicate that a KickStarter is in order to pay for professional filming and editing of StarTalk. I will gladly donate 50 Ferengi slips of Gold-Pressed Latinum.

  • Evan Bach

    Love this! Scientific point of view with a comedic atmosphere. Brilliant platform! Keep up the good work.

  • grayrain

    Had no idea Dr. Bialik used to be Blossom! Sweet!

  • Melody Star

    This was lots of fun and funny, yet interesting. Looking forward to the next two parts. I really would love to see the videos.

  • Amethyst Sol

    I am new to this sight, where is part 2?

    • startalkradio

      Part 2 will be posted next Sunday night at 7pm EDT, and Part 3 the following Sunday.

  • laura Mclean

    A unified idea for the explanation of the universe the way I see it is our universe has come through a giant black hole , galaxies colided as they were sucked through this vacuum , therefore Big Bang . Everything is spinning and expanding as this universe is going through other giant big black holes, so big we could never possibly see them. this goes on and on as the universe splits up and enters other holes , just as our own universe does as a smaller unit when we look at our own little black holes.If you could picture a giant big brain with worm holes and galexies acting as if they were electrons . when we look to micro physics everything acts the same . bottom line sort of speak no pun intended universes are like water being flushed down a toilet and going down a drain out into a septic with different compartments. This is the only possibility…

  • Tracie Henne-Bierwagen

    i think the stereotypes of female scientists are slowly becoming obsolete. I have my PhD in plant physiology/biochemistry but as an older graduate and and older student, I really didn’t care what the perception was as to how I was to be. Back in the day, any woman competing in a male discipline had to forego any perceived attractiveness to be taken seriously, as a frivolous example. I’ve known women scientists who kept marriages and even motherhood secret, to be taken as serious scientists and worthy of tenure. Thankfully, that is changing. That being said, there is a lot of truth in the stereotypes. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TBBT!

  • Gamgese

    I love that Bill Nye is so charismatic he just stood up when he thought he was being called on.

  • Chet

    So….the cast list says Bill Nye….That’s not Bill Nye…..that an inside joke I’m missing out on?

    • startalkradio

      No, really, if you listen, Chet, you will hear the real Bill Nye stand up, get out of the audience, climb on stage, and stay for the rest of the evening.

  • Meg

    Very entertaining but…wow! So much editing unlike previous live shows. Just sayin’.

  • Dark Descent

    Interesting discussion. Looking forward to the next part!

  • Pingback: StarTalk Live! Big Brains at BAM (Part 1) | The Realm of the Chaos Fairy

  • Jonathan Beckett

    I WANT this show to be on my next vacation list of “to do’s”, but don’t know where, when, and how far in advance they are scheduled. Would anyone be kind enough to educate me?

    • startalkradio

      Hi Jonathan. We announce our StarTalk Live! performances as soon as we can, often with exclusive fan presale days before the tickets go on sale to the general public. The best way to hear about them is to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus, because we announce their first. We also put announcements on our blog and in our newsletter.

  • Simon Savitt

    I went to this show, it was really great. The best part was at the end (probably will be in Part 3) during the Q&A where a little girl gets the mic and asks something like “What if a baby was born in space?” and the entire crowd goes “oooooh awwwwwwwww so cute”. They answered the question and talked to her like they were addressing an adult. That’s awesome of them to do. Kids don’t need science to be watered down for them to understand it!

    • Addam Miller

      Explain things to them like they’re an adult and they are trained to begin thinking in that same fashion. (Btw, completely agreeing with you.)

  • Stephanie Millard

    I would love to hear a discussion of the cross application potential of MECP2 gene related research in conditions beyond Rett Syndrome. Will IGF1 help Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s? That kind of thing.

  • Xochilt O’Leary

    Dr. Bialik overshone Dr. Berlin in every aspect. She was far more articulate and eloquent and socially graceful. I was impressed and inspired by Dr. Bialik’s presentation of self.

  • rayhana

    Amazing, amazing talk show. It is very empowering, especially to hear from Dr Heather, and Mayim :) Would really appreciate a panel talk like this on climate change, especially drawing speakers from multiple disciplines, so I want scientists, politicians, and economists exchange ideas with lasting impact.

    Okay I have a very basic query related to the most basic thing I know about Quantum Physics. Here it goes (Sorry if the question is dumb, but I am too curious): I heard that at sub-atomic level photons appear in more than one places at once. Also, one of the ‘dimensions’ along which we human consciously operate, and perform experiment is time which is relative, which means its standard measure is bench-marked by oscillatory frequency of an CS-133 atom. Observing sub-atomic particles, this measurement should no longer hold perhaps because sub-atomic particles should operate on a completely different timescale whose measurement is no longer bound by CS-133’s atomic movement. Also, I heard time taken for light to travel is 8 minutes also based on the same atomic measurement of CS-133, so there is something to the measurement of speed of light that is unadjusted for which the appearance of photons simultaneously in multiple places may not be explained yet (I don’t know if it has been done in recent journal releases). I think the idea of quantum tunneling comes into play here. However, remember from Cosmos episode 1, the entire 13.8 billions year of Cosmic lifetime so far was captured in one single calendar of 12 months. And in the last 30 seconds of Dec 31 only the entire race of human beings evolved? Now, if we single out one single human being, say Buddha, and observe his whole lifetime motion within the fraction of fraction seconds in terms of the 13.8 billion cosmic calendar timeline, it is likely that he will appear in more than one places simultaneously. To Buddha, a year may appear as long as 12 month, but to some observing Buddha based on that 13.8 billion year Cosmic calendar (of Cosmos episode), it would appear his life as transitory as an electric spark lasting only a millionth of a fraction of a second of Cosmic Calendar, but within that millionth of fraction of second, it will be observed that he traveled so fast that he appeared in more than one places – because light did not travel quick enough to capture the observation where Buddha traversed from one place to another. The analogy I’m trying to draw is, the photos may operate on a completely different dimension of time (and perhaps space) that instead of light bounded by its finite speed helping us to see that they indeed travel from one place to another at a very ultrahigh speed, we see them in more than one place simultaneously. May be E=mc2 is soon to be succeeded by a new equation that will knot dark energy and dark matter in one single string. And if this is ever possible, may be a new constant like ‘c’ will be discovered that will explain these exotic behavior of sub-atomic particles in the realm of quantum physics.

    I’d be so happy to get an answer on this. May be many times I get basic scientific ideas incorrect. I’m an economics graduate, but I can’t stop reading science and relating the two disciples. Oh my god!

    • startalkradio

      Rayhana, you might want to post your question on our “Questions” tab on the website, so our producers can consider it to be answered on a future show.
      As for shows on climate change, we actually did a StarTalk Live! on that: StarTalk Live: Storms of Our Century. Part 2 had more about climate change than Part 1, but here are links to both:

      • rayhana

        Dear moderator, many thanks for taking the time and reply to my comment. I’ve followed your suggestion and posted my question separately using the online question form. Also, thank you for giving me the links to the podcast on climate change. Take are, and stay awesome :) Ray

  • Pingback: “You can’t joke about Anencephaly” – Preview Big Brains at BAM Part 2 | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • Meg

    Yes! I thought I heard all the live shows so far ( I like to download from iTunes and listen in my car), but can’t find the Brian Greene, Mike Massimino one. What’s up? btw…the very first live show with Alan Alda cannot be topped. I think it still the best!

    • startalkradio

      Meg, you can’t find that StarTalk Live! because we haven’t produced the podcast for that show yet.

  • VideoVinnie

    Love the audio podcasts. Video podcasts would be great! Especially the StarTalk Live stuff. Great programming.

  • alison

    Why do they disrespect Dr. Bialik by leaving off her title. She earned a PhD she deserves the title.

    • startalkradio

      Alison, if you visit Mayim’s own website,, you will see that she is not referred to as Dr. Bialik anywhere on the site, even in her biography. We take great care to describe our guests accurately and with the utmost respect, and we assure you that we intend no disrespect towards Mayim.

  • mkawia

    Maybe starTalk is training our attention span

  • mkawia

    Bill Nye sounds so cool

  • Shane McMurray

    Who will you put on the show next, Jenny McCarthy?

  • Sterlingismybaby

    And it would have been nice if that episode of BBT on modifying behavior if they did not have an error. Other than having my psych students find the error as a lesson! Mild Electric shock is a Positive Punishment not Negative Reinforcement.

  • Cj Evans

    These should be videos…

    • startalkradio

      And eventually, they will be, CJ. We’ll tell everyone on social media when we put them up on YouTube.

  • Lawrence Gillespie

    So funny. I lol’d.

  • Pingback: This Sunday – the Conclusion of StarTalk Live! Big Brains at BAM | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • Alistair

    Hey when are you going to post videos??? And on an.entirely different subject…how bout some moving pictures to go with the talkin

    • startalkradio

      Please see our answer to Mark in this thread, Alistair. And, on an entirely different subject, please see our answer to Mark in this thread.

  • VJ

    i know this has been said far too many times already
    but i hope you understand that its because what you guys produce is so damn awesome!!!
    would much rather watch you guys talking about actual information instead of being forced to watch the stupidity on TV!!!

  • MizzouCogNeuro

    Yeah! Three parter on CogNeuro. Best just-returned-from-holiday-present ever!

  • MCMc

    Love this. Sounds like you guys are having such a good time. Would love to see video of these, too!

  • jejudo80

    We definitely need the video of this. Please upload as soon as possible.

  • Pingback: This Sunday: Accomplished Women, Strange Science, Urban Legends, Aliens, Powerful Beings and God. | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • sam

    Is it just me or were the pauses taken out between speakers and laughter shortened? I felt tense listening to this

    • startalkradio

      Sam, it’s not just you. Sometimes our producers and editors edit for length, or continuity, or other reasons. It’s sometimes harder to smooth over those edits to a live show.