Kris Denton's photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jeff Goldblum.
Kris Denton's photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jeff Goldblum.

Making Science Cool, with Jeff Goldblum

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jeff Goldblum. Photo Credit: Kris Denton.

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About This Episode

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with actor Jeff Goldblum to explore his iconic roles in Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and his passionate scientific curiosity. Joining Neil in-studio is comic co-host Chuck Nice, paleomammalogist Ross MacPhee, economist Raphaële Chappe, and Kelly Fast, Ph.D., who is the Near-Earth Object Observations Program Manager, in the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, in the Planetary Science Division at NASA.

We start with the pre-historic. Get details on how Jeff brought his classic character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, to fruition in Jurassic Park. You’ll learn about Jeff’s love for the original script and the research he did for the role. We discuss how Jeff’s character broke the usual stereotypes of scientists being portrayed in film and television. You’ll hear about where the term “geek” came from and Jeff tells us why smart people should not be undervalued. 

Ross sheds light on some of the big discoveries going on in the real world of fossil hunting and dinosaur research. You’ll find out if there are any controversial practices occurring in the field including gene editing and cloning. Bill Nye the Science Guy stops by to give his thoughts on de-extinction: should we bring back the extinct? Hasn’t nature already dealt its hand? Raphaële enlightens us on why Chaos theory and why chaos is not always a bad thing. You’ll also hear more about the “butterfly effect.”

Then, we switch from the pre-historic to the interstellar. Neil and Jeff dive into his role as David Levinson in Independence Day. Jeff explains why, contrary to the film, instead of fighting aliens, we must solve things with non-violence. You’ll also learn about NASA’s plan to defend the Earth from asteroids as Kelly tells us about the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. All that, plus, Neil offers up a cosmic perspective on how humans can do better than the hand nature deals us.

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