February 23, 2017 8:29 pm

Friday, Neil Tyson and Eugene Mirman Discuss Science and Art with Madame Saturn, Sean Ono Lennon and more

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugene Mirman are back with “Madame Saturn” Carolyn Porco, “Bad-ass science groupie” Sean Ono Lennon, and comedians Vanessa Bayer and Michael Ian Black for the conclusion to our StarTalk Live! recorded last September at the historic Beacon Theater in New York City. In part two of our show, the discussion turns to the intersection of art and science and the impact it has on our culture.

I am always jealous of a StarTalk Live! episode because after I listen to it, I wish I were in the building when it was recorded. As Neil says in this episode, there are times when professionals take their craft to the extreme limit of perfection and we use phraseology like “got it down to science” and “raise it to an art form.” This discussion from our panel live on stage at the Beacon Theatre is one of those moments: the perfect blend of science, pop culture, comedy, and atmosphere.

Elliot Severn's photo of Sean Ono Lennon making a point to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carolyn Porco at StarTalk Live!

Sean Ono Lennon making a point to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carolyn Porco onstage at StarTalk Live! Credit: Elliot Severn.

In tomorrow night’s episode, you’ll get details about the famous photo, The Day The Earth Smiled, as Carolyn takes us behind the scenes of how she came up with the idea, Carl Sagan’s influence on the project, and why it was the biggest piece of cosmic performance art ever.

I love when the tables turn as Sean lets loose his “Bad-ass science groupie” superpowers to ponder the historical significance of science and art in society and Neil is the one who needs Sean to pause when he keeps says things that are too deep to pass over.

I also enjoyed discovering the connection between the “Schrodinger’s Cat” thought experiment and the best insult you can throw at a scientist. It was part of a larger conversation about the possibilities of artificial intelligence that can solve our problems, and Roko’s basilisk, a thought experiment that is both thought-provoking and frightening at the same time.

Tune in tomorrow and you’lll also find out our panel’s pessimistic and optimistic views of the future and the challenges humanity faces today. Sean explains how the horse manure crisis in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century and the Ford “Model T” helped him develop a hope that technological innovation will solve problems – although Michael reminds everyone that Sean is also pinning some of his hopes on being enslaved by intelligent aliens. For her part, Vanessa’s hopes rest in moving to another planet, although Carolyn thinks that’s not a good solution for the billions of people whom we wouldn’t be able to relocate.

StarTalk Live! is never complete without a final moment of reflection from Neil. In this case, what better ending than a reading of Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” live onstage at the historic Beacon Theatre? A reading that gave me goose bumps and one that you won’t want to miss.

If you want to experience the next best thing to being in the audience of a StarTalk Live!, then join us tomorrow night for StarTalk Live! at The Beacon: Searching for Life in the Universe (Part 2) at 7pm EST right here on our website, as well as on our StarTalk Radio channel on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. And if you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Ian Mullen