Geeking Out with Whoopi Goldberg

Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

This week on StarTalk, Neil Tyson and his friend and returning guest Whoopi Goldberg geek out about Star Trek, superheroes, space exploration and medical marijuana. Whoopi, one of few performers to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, was a high school dropout who grew up in the projects on the west side of Manhattan. She’s also a “card-carrying geek” who, as a young girl, was inspired by Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. You’ll hear how Whoopi asked her friend LeVar Burton to get her a meeting with Gene Roddenberry, where she asked to be on Star Trek to uphold the tradition set up by Lt. Uhura, which led to her role as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In studio, Neil, Chuck Nice and StarTalk All-Star Charles Liu discuss science fiction’s role in shifting stereotypes and social perspectives. Neil and Whoopi talk about non-inclusive superhero stereotypes, and Charles explains how the comic landscape is beginning to change. Next, Neil and Whoopi review the state of space exploration and the role of geopolitics in going to the Moon and Mars, with a little help in studio from data journalist Mona Chalabi. And then, in a rare StarTalk event, Neil swaps out science guests and brings in Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Staci Gruber, known as the “Pot Doc,” to discuss the science of medical marijuana. You’ll discover how vaping has changed Whoopi’s life, while Staci, the director of the MIND program (Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery), dives into brain development, the use of cannabis in treating chronic pain, PTSD and other conditions, and the ongoing epidemic of opiate misuse and addiction. Explore why marijuana was named a Schedule 1 drug in the first place and hear the story of Charlotte Figi, the little girl plagued by over 300 epileptic seizures a week, whose family has used medicinal marijuana to reclaim her life. Plus, Chuck Nice offers a plan to get Congress to change pot laws, and Bill Nye talks about getting high on THC… and high on life.

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