The Power of Science Fiction, with William Shatner

Neil deGrasse Tyson and William Shatner. Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

Captain on the bridge: Neil deGrasse Tyson invites Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, to discuss Star Trek and the enduring power of science fiction. Joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist Charles Liu, we hit warp speed as we explore the ins and outs of the Star Trek universe. You’ll hear how William landed the iconic role as Captain Kirk and about his memorable role in The Twilight Zone. Charles breaks down why Star Trek: The Original Series was more popular in syndication than during its original on-air run. You’ll also hear William reflect on Star Trek episodes “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “The City on the Edge of Forever,” the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboots, the design of the bridge, and his fascination with the science fiction genre. William also gets a chance to ask Neil questions about the universe, igniting a wonder-infused conversation about spacetime, photons, relativity, and the speed of light. NASA Aerospace Technologist David Batchelor stops by to discuss his article “The Science of Star Trek” and weighs in on what technology from the show could soon become reality. All that, plus, fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on the disappearance of the sun, distant galaxies, neutron stars and we check in with Bill Nye as he shares his appreciation for Star Trek’s optimistic views of the future.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Power of Science Fiction, with William Shatner, as well as Neil’s extended interview with William Shatner here.

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  • gSkeptic

    What the scientists said about the Star Trek franchise far outshone whatever Bill Shatner said. Neil asked him which Star Trek movie he most liked. Shatner answered number 5. That isn’t surprising since he wrote the script!

    • Picture how you would feel if people had been asking you for the last 50 years what your favorite toothpaste was. Why in the world people ask stars this question is beyond me. Nobody really cares. It’s just an excuse to ask a question and get the star to address you. Think about, put some effort in it, and ask him a question that he will enjoy answering. Then he won’t sound so disgusted.

    • Plus the fact that Star Trek tossed him to the wolves 10 plus years ago. He’s done a million things since, including Boston Legal which was phenomenal. Can’t blame him for not caring about Star Trek so much.

  • Steve Davenport

    Popcorn universe! What if there were more than ONE Big Bang? Galaxies zipping in all directions. (They do.)

  • Robert Oxman

    wow he recalled the title of that episode.

  • KonstSaalfeld

    “American Icon” acctually canadian xD

  • Dave Bailey

    I have nothing to say that is of interest other than I really enjoyed the Star trek series and I also enjoy listening to Neil ,he is a wonder. Neil I have a Grandson Michael who is starting University in Computers and Business. He is an Honors Student. Would you consider communicating with him occasionally to share some of your wisdom and if so how. Thanks Dave Bailey

  • Frances Yozawitz

    I’m a fan of William Shanter. For ever.

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