June 18, 2020 9:00 pm

Friday, We Begin Our ‘Making a Phenom’ Mini-Series with Part One: Genetics

On this week’s episode of StarTalk Sports Edition, we begin our Making a Phenom mini-series. Over the next few episodes, we’ll be exploring what goes into the rise, and possible fall, of a phenom athlete. Is it nature? Is it nurture? What factors play into the success of a star athlete? We’ll be talking with experts from across the sporting world to get their insights.

Michael Jordan dribbling on the court for the Chicago Bulls. Image Credit: Unknown author – Public domain.

Michael Jordan on the court. Image Credit: Unknown author – Public domain.

In our first installment, we’re exploring the body. Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice are ready to explore the exciting and still mysterious world of sports genetics. To start, we welcome David Epstein, investigative reporter and author of The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance.

You’ll hear how David went from being a scientist to an investigative reporter and how he’s been using his scientific skills to bring important and engaging stories to the world. We discuss David’s work covering sports genetics. Is there a sports gene? David tells us why most of the genes that influence athleticism still remain a mystery. You’ll learn why it’s so hard to find answers in genetics.

Discover more about body type. We explore why, early in the 20th century, people thought there was a perfect body type for all of sports. Then, we’re joined by Stuart Kim, PhD, founder and CEO of AxGen. Stuart was previously our guest on Cosmic Queries – Sports Genetics and is back to shed light on what’s happening in the field today.

Once you have a player’s genetic information, what can you do with it? Find out how genetics can help prevent risk of injury. We investigate the difference between a genetic predisposition and an occupational hazard. We also investigate how genetics could help us understand the underlying mechanisms that cause concussions.

For our final segment, David rejoins us to debate the importance of ambition. Is there a gene for ambition? Does inspiration matter more than genetics? All that, plus, David tells us why, in sports, we tend to forget that certain things aren’t important just because we can measure them.

Please join us tomorrow for Making a Phenom: Genetics at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re a StarTalk+ Patron or 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


About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. Please visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver for more information about this artist and her work.

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