Image of astronomical clock from StarTalk Radio episode “Time Lords: The Science of Keeping Time” with Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Chris Hardwick
Image of astronomical clock from StarTalk Radio episode “Time Lords: The Science of Keeping Time” with Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Chris Hardwick

Time Lords: The Science of Keeping Time

Astronomical clock at the Zytglogge tower in Berne, Switzerland. Albert Einstein lived near the Zytglogge when working at the patent office in Berne. While travelling on a tram away from the tower, he thought if the tram were going at the speed of light, the clock tower would remain on the same time, while his own watch would continue to tick - proving time was relative.

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About This Episode

The Nerdist Chris Hardwick and his trusty sidekick Matt Mira provide Dr. Who references and some timely humor for our show about clocks, calendars, and leaps in time. Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University, reveals whether the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012, and provides insight into how early clocks and calendars were based not only on the Moon and Sun, but on Earth’s biology. Frank Reed, instructor of celestial navigation at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and Robert Seaman, computer programmer for the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, talk about why leap seconds are added to our fast-paced modern lives, and contemplate the future of time synchronization. From keeping Universal Time, to neutrinos that may travel faster than light, to geo-engineering the Earth into a global clock, take some time to consider how science sets the tempo of our past, present and future.

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  • Randy

    I am super interested to learn more about the study with humans natural biological day. Does anyone know that name of that study?

  • Jordan

    I’m unable to find anything on the 307 day year that is described at 29:30; does anyone know where I could find out more about it?

  • Les Ohlhauser

    Been listening to the episodes from newest to oldest, and this has definitely been my favorite. Perfect mix of humor and great questions leading to fascinating answers. Let’s get some more like this, super pretty deluxe please.

    • Jeff

      Interesting you should say that, Les. This Sunday’s episode is Cosmic Queries: Time-Keeping. We won’t always be able to fulfill your requests this promptly, mind you…

  • Felix

    I’ve been listening through the archive since I found it and I love the show and this episode was great. I just have to ask though, what’s with all the insanely horrible music? There are the occasional good track (like stones on this episode) but overall it’s pretty bad. Up until now I couldn’t really be bothered to write this but come on… how could you leave out Time by Pink Floyd for this episode?

    • Jeff

      Felix, thanks for your comment. All I can say is music “quality” is in the ear of the listener, and we have many more fans who rave about the music choices than dislike them. The producer who picks our music tries to create an eclectic, inclusive and appropriate mix, and, at least from the feedback we get, is more successful than not.

  • Felix

    Thanks for the reply Jeff. Yeah you’re actually exactly right and I know that, I just couldn’t help commenting since it seems to me that the music that the hosts on the show react positively to is for the most part music that i consider good as well. But i suppose the producer isn’t interested in what they like but more in what he/she thinks the listeners like, and rightly so, I just refuse to believe that the majority of startalk fans actually want to hear Kesha, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Pink and the like. Although I suspect it’s rather likely that I’m wrong.
    …But you’ve got to admit though, Time by Pink Floyd really should’ve been on this episode.

    I’m sorry for wasting your time with this rant, I just felt I had to make my point.
    Keep up the great work!

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