Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jack Black.
Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jack Black.

Jack Black’s Cosmic Curiosity

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jack Black. Photo Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with comedian, musician, and actor Jack Black to explore his cosmic curiosity. In-studio, Neil is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice, astrophysicist and StarTalk geek-in-chief Charles Liu, PhD, and climate scientist Kate Marvel, PhD. 

You’ll learn about Jack’s scientific upbringing and his almost career in aerospace engineering. Jack tells us about his parents’ connections to the Apollo missions and the Hubble telescope. Discover more about the origin story of Tenacious D and how it was responsible in helping launch Jack’s career. 

Then, Jack turns the interview around and starts bringing the Cosmic Queries to Neil. We discuss black holes at the center of galaxies. Charles explains why that’s pretty much settled science and why we’re now searching for more than one black hole in each center. We dive into “quantum weirdness” and the weebly-wobbly world of quantum mechanics. You’ll learn about the “Observer Effect.” Investigate why Jack thinks Ant Man’s shrinking powers would be the best superhero powers to have. 

Chuck leads us in a game to see how many mind-blowing facts Neil can list off the top of his head. We ponder if our universe is a simulation and if we have any semblance of free will. And we ask, even if we are in a simulation and we don’t have free will, does it matter? We explore humanity’s future and its possible path to destruction. Kate helps us understand the science of our own extinction and the global impact of climate change, and we answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about climate change. 

Neil and Jack share their experiences working on the Ice Age films. Jack reminisces about the 1968 short documentary Powers of Ten and its impact on him in school. Bill Nye drops by to help us understand the nuances of size and scale. Lastly, you’ll hear how Jack meditates by pondering the universe. All that, plus, Neil tells us why you don’t need to be an astrophysicist to have a cosmic perspective.

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