The Best of Both Worlds

Post Date: 25 November 2012

Listen now:

Season 3, Episode 21

Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson with Star Trek The Next Generation actors Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton

StarTalk meets Star Trek: Neil deGrasse Tyson, flanked by Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton, taken at San Diego Comic-Con 2012.
Photo credit: Froggy’s photos

Get the best of both worlds when Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Star Trek: The Next Generation stars LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) and Brent Spiner (Lt. Commander Data) at San Diego Comic-Con 2012. It’s a geek feast filled with favorite episodes and burning questions like “Who would win at chess, Spock or Data?” and “Why did Geordi need a visor in the 24th century?” They explain how their characters’ unique relationship sprang from an obscure audition scene. And Neil takes us where no fan has gone before, journeying into the philosophical (Gene Roddenberry’s idea of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”), the intersection of science fiction and science (the X-Prize to create a functional tricorder), the best uses for a magnifying glass (bugs, beware!), and life before and after Star Trek.

LeVar Burton, actor and host of Reading Rainbow
Brent Spiner, actor and star of Fresh Hell

Leighann Lord

Star Trek TNG: Theme Boston Pops Orchestra
Star Trek TNG: First Contact Theme
Star Trek TNG: Data music video mashup (We Are The Robots Remix)
Star Trek: The Inner Light (Compilation)
Star Trek TNG: A Matter of Perspective Theme
Dennis McCarthy: Suite from Star Trek Generations
Star Trek Rap: 99 Problems But A BREACH Ain’t One!

  • Alec

    Geordi seemed to be written to be as profoundly uncool as possible, but everything time I hear an interview with Levar Burton, he’s involved in something awesome.

  • Larry Olson

    Data has to be the funniest character on Star Trek, he is like a walking encyclopedia.

  • Cindy

    I nearly jumped out of my skin when LeVar said that “it’s all learning.” Having come from a secular home education background, the concept of eclectic education – *everything* is learning – is very near and dear to my heart. Thanks for sharing this great interview!

  • Jim Kirkland

    Excellent show! Anytime, you are in Utah, again, stop in and visit one of our dino digs. A lot cheaper than joining Norrell in Asia. And of course, with SF and the space program, dino-paleontology is the third gateway drug to science literacy. Also, for serious Star Trek nerds; check out Star Trek #75 org. Series. I wrote the section; Spock meets T. rex!

  • Donny V

    This was a great podcast. LeVar and Brent should do a tv show together like Big Bang but with older dudes. 😉

  • Vitor

    Mr Tyson, loved the show, and those 2 were one of the best science fiction actors I ever seen.

    Thanks for this interview.

    I loved in the show when Data and Geordi kicked some Romulan butt.

    By the way, would you be amazed or even imagined that I am from Brazil?

    Thanks for everything.

    • Jeff

      Vitor, this is Jeff, not Neil, but why would we be amazed? Love of Star Trek is not limited by national boundaries.

  • Drew Mcdowell

    Reading Rainbow meets Startalk?!?!? YES PLEASE!

  • Cookiecupcakes

    These guys are so funny. ESPECIALLY Brent Spiner. No one can make me laugh like he can.

  • JIm

    Great interview…..’The Best of Both Worlds’ was one of my favorite Next Gen episodes.

    • Jeff

      One of mine, too, Jim.


    When will you do the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast?

  • Josh


  • asdf

    That’s the way it’s done!

    Thanks guys, you’ve made my day.

  • Steve

    This was great to listen to! Thanks!

  • Robert Carver

    Absolutely loved this entertaining & moving conversation between 3 of the greatest heroes in the Geek Universe! Spiner & Burton were awesome guests and their personal stories about their Star Trek experiences were fantastic. I was surprised that NdT wasn’t familiar with Star Treks famous IDIC Philosophy. That message that Roddenberry infused into the DNA of Star Trek is one of the key ingredients that have kept it relevant throughout the decades with fans around the world. Spiner mentioned the TNG episode “Measure of a Man” which was a set bound episode with no action scenes or battles but remains one of the best explorations on sentient rights found in TV history. Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan & Patrick Stewart’s Picard have an intense scene in Ten Forward where Guinan leads Picard to the realization that the real issue here was slavery. Powerful stuff. NdT scored an important point about how science & technology are likely the only hope humanity has at a future as a successful species. Star Trek & the space program inspires people to make that future a reality. Just a great show that I have Tweeted, posted to Facebook and e-mailed to friends. I look forward to seeing Spiner & Burton here in New Orleans for Comic-Con this weekend. Wish NgT was going to be here as well.

    • Jeff

      Great points, Robert. “Measure of a Man” is one of the best episodes in any of the Trek series. Thanks for spreading the word.

  • Sandra

    Great podcast! It reminded me though that the Sci Fi show I grew up with was Space 1999 – the show betwixt the original Star Trek (which aired before I was born) and Star Trek TNG. It starred the great Martin Landau, and was fantastic for so many reasons.

    How many Gen-Xers agree that Star Talk needs to a podcast on Space 1999?!

    • Jeff

      Sandra, thank you for bringing up Space 1999! I was a big fan of most of Gerry Anderson’s work, but Space 1999 was the best. Let’s get some more votes for an episode! Any Moonbase Alpha fans out there? Tell us in the comments.

  • Jay C

    This is a fantastic podcast!!! Science AND Sci-Fi meet at Comic-Con. Epic!

  • A Girl Named Michael

    Brent looks…disgruntled in that photo! Great podcast- I love the variety of subjects you guys discussed.

  • Derrick

    i may be the only person that listens to this show that can’t stand Star Trek.

    • Jeff

      Probably not the only one, Derrick. I’m sure there are a couple of you out there. As long as you don’t hate Star Trek while loving Stargate Atlantis, we can all still be friends.

  • Brie Powell

    I love this SO much! It’s just nerdgasmic. Thank you for this, so much.

  • Fourier Analyst

    This show hits high spots in so many areas, it has to be one of my all-time favorites! Great science fiction! Great links to science. Great examples of actors using their celebrity to do other fantastic things. and as always, NdG sure makes being a geek look cool!

  • Pingback: From Warp Drives to Cloaking Devices: Star Trek Cosmic Queries Sunday | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson