Filament of solar material from Sun erupting into space as a coronal mass ejection, traveling at over 900 miles per second.
Filament of solar material from Sun erupting into space as a coronal mass ejection, traveling at over 900 miles per second.

Alternative Aliens with Andy Weir and David Grinspoon

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What do aliens look like? In this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice talk aliens with astrobiologist David Grinspoon, “Dr. Funkyspoon,” featuring Neil’s interview with The Martian author, Andy Weir, on his new book Project Hail Mary.

To start, we discuss what astrobiologists think aliens look like and the fractal architecture present on Earth. Getting into Andy’s book: could microbes live on our sun? What would happen if the sun dimmed? Find out about the oxygen catastrophe that created snowball Earth early in our planet’s history. Are carbon, liquid water, and metabolism always necessary to life? We break down Andy’s invention of “astrophage” and the concept of panspermia. 

What would happen if something cooled the Earth? Discover scenarios where we would have to accelerate our greenhouse effect and other real-life theories on geoengineering. Would plans to shade the sun really help fight global warming? Also find out what species will exploit our changing earth as it gets warmer. Is there life on venus? Acquaint yourself with the cloud people of venus as we explore alternative ways life may exist in our own solar system. What would happen if we needed to invent things very quickly, could we do it? 

We also discuss SpaceX and driving down the price of getting to low-Earth orbit. Once we start sending people into space, will we have space diseases? The Andromeda Strain? You’ll learn the difference between microbes adapted to space and those adapted to a planet. We beg the question, how dare we enter into another world at all? You’ll also discover why we purposefully crashed Casini into Saturn and the Planetary Protection Protocol. All that, plus we talk space exploration, generational spaceships, and space lasers accelerating mini spacecrafts!

Thanks to our Patrons Jason Mahoney, Connor Snitker, Stephen Fosmark, Christopher Orzechowski, Tony Baker, Mike l Ness, Daniel L Thompson, Ashley Finamore, Luigi Santiago-Villa for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

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

In This Episode

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