StarTalk Live! at the Beacon: Searching for Life in the Universe (Part 2)

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About This Episode

It’s time for Part Two of our StarTalk Live! recorded last September at the historic Beacon Theatre in NYC. Rejoin host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Eugene Mirman and their guests, planetary scientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Carolyn Porco, musician and “bad-ass science groupie” Sean Ono Lennon, and comedians Vanessa Bayer and Michael Ian Black as they discuss how the exploration of the universe intersects with art and society. Get the scoop on Carl Sagan’s struggle to include cameras on planetary travelers like Voyager 1, and why bringing a sense of romance to studying the universe ignites popular culture’s interest. Carolyn, aka Madame Saturn, breaks down the process of photographing beautiful images with the Cassini spacecraft. She also sheds light on being a part of the Pale Blue Dot photo: the original idea, why it was so hard to pull off, and how it has a direct connection to her updated version, The Day The Earth Smiled, perhaps the biggest piece of performance art ever attempted. You’ll hear Sean talk about how science influences his songs, describing the “audio geometry” of music and how music is an “audio-mathematical” language. Neil and Sean ponder the history of science and art: how they were more integrated during Leonardo da Vinci’s era, and why the two paths separated over time. Explore some of the scientific poetry in Sean’s lyrics, how current artists now seek scientific accuracy, and whether sci-fi blockbusters are the only way to keep a society scientifically literate in the future. Speaking of popular culture, Carolyn talks about her famous Lego Ted Talk and explains her involvement in the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, while Neil rises to the defense of the Trekkie’s ongoing debates over the science behind Star Trek. All this, plus you’ll get to hear Neil read the Pale Blue Dot passage from “The Book of Carl” to cap off an incredible night at the Beacon. As a special treat for our podcast listeners, all but one of our music clips in this episode are Sean’s.

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