October 7, 2015 9:22 pm

Preview Friday’s Podcast, “StarTalk Live! at the Apollo (Part 1)” with Senator Cory Booker

Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phoebe Robinson, Maeve Higgins, Eugene Mirman, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, Senator Cory Booker, taken backstage at the Apollo before the show by Elliot Severn.

Backstage at the Apollo before the show. Left to right: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phoebe Robinson, Maeve Higgins, Eugene Mirman, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, Senator Cory Booker. Credit_Elliot Severn.

Usually, our StarTalk Live! shows focus on a single topic, like the discovery of the Higgs Boson, or Curiosity landing on Mars, or sociology, or water, or the search for extraterrestrial life.

But earlier this year, Neil deGrasse Tyson took StarTalk Live! to the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC for a show that was anything but typical.

First of all, there was a musical act opening up for us: Tyson, the rapper, who also happens to be Neil’s nephew. (You’ll get to hear his original StarTalk rap in Part 2 next week!)

But more importantly, rather than focus on a single subject and invite guests who are experts on that subject, we focused on subjects that had to do with one of our guests: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. And then we invited a scientific expert who just happens to be an expert on all three: Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D.

So what were the three subjects? Social Media, Football and STEM education.

Senator Booker is a superstar at using social media to communicate with his constituents, “turning e-government into we-government.” He’s got more followers than any senator except John McCain. When it comes to football, he went to Stanford on a football scholarship and was named to the same All-USA H.S. Football Team as Emmitt Smith. Plus, he serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees both sports and science. And the Senator has made STEM education one of his priorities, going all the way back to his tenure as Mayor of Newark.

Dr. Ramirez is more than just a science evangelist who co-hosts the Science Underground podcast and rocks social media. She taught mechanical engineering at Yale, was an award-winning research scientist at Bell Labs, and among many other accomplishments, recently co-authored Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, about the physics of football.

Between schooling Neil on Deflategate, figuring out how to fix the NCAA’s treatment of college athletes, discussing the “prison industrial complex” and the failed war on drugs, and dropping bombs like the fact that in the 1890s, there were more women taking STEM courses than men, Senator Booker and Dr. Ramirez gave our comedians Eugene Mirman, Maeve Higgins and Phoebe Robinson plenty of opportunities for one of the funniest StarTalk Live! shows ever. I’d tell you more, but it would ruin the jokes, and some of them are priceless. There’s one about John McCain that… well, as I said, “Spoilers, sweetie.”

I can tell you that you’ll find out why food is so important to astrophysicists, and what happened when Senator Booker pushed the panic button in his office just to see what it would do.

You can listen to StarTalk Live! at the Apollo (Part 1) on Friday, October 9th at 7:00 pm EDT, right here on the website, or via iTunesPodcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

And if you absolutely can’t wait until Friday night, here’s a video we recorded backstage at the Apollo before the show began, with Neil and Senator Booker talking about how they got started on Twitter, and the importance of authenticity and being honest. Watch now:

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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