About This Episode
According to Eugene Mirman, science is a way to answer all the questions 18-year-olds ask when they’re high… at least that’s what he says in this brain-bursting conclusion to our Bell House show about all things neurological. In our third StarTalk Live! Show, recorded in Brooklyn, New York on February 17, 2012, we contemplate the chemistry of love in the brain, along with the mental health of astronauts, and the particular kind of crazy it may take to want to go into space in the first place. Neuroscientist Heather Berlin, science communicator Cara Santa Maria, comedian Wyatt Cenac, and co-host Eugene Mirman join host Neil deGrasse Tyson to tackle addiction and love, the reality of commitment issues, lust vs. love, “zero g” sex, fertile astronauts, and what a life without human interaction can do to you. You’ll hear Neil question why astronauts (and even robots) in sci-fi movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey always end up going berzerk, as well as Heather’s explanation of how normal it is for someone to act not so normal in isolation. Eugene suggests making a reality show called “The Real Housewives of Outer Space”…and it’s definitely not about what you’d expect. Discover whether the thrill of going on a death-defying space expedition together can be mistaken for love? Can you validate the presence of love by hooking up a couple to a brain-mapping machine and see whether the same parts of the brain lights up? What, in fact, is love? These are just some of the questions we’ll explore, as we also get into the three stages of love, and how a potential partner’s similarity to your parents can be a psychological reason you fall for them. Cara doesn’t think humans have a big enough vocabulary to understand what love really is, but points out that love can exist towards non-human things. For instance, Neil wants to know if he can be in love with the universe. Find out how break-ups mimic withdrawal in the brain, why divorce-rates are higher at certain points in the marriage, and why opposite “immune systems” attract. Intrigued? Feel the mental stimulation? Good, because Heather warns us about what happens when our brains aren’t stimulated for too long. Examine whether your dreams function differently when you’re in space or on Earth, and the chaos in the brain that space exploration may cause. You’ll also hear about the frequency of depression after astronauts return to Earth — like Buzz Aldrin —and some debate on how mentally stable thrill-seekers really are. That’s enough about what you’re about to hear in the show. Now, we encourage you to adventure into your own mind and join us in analyzing just what it’s all about.
In This Episode
HostNeil deGrasse Tyson
Professor of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Hospital
GuestCara Santa Maria
Science Blogger for the Huffington Post
Comedian, Daily Show Correspondent