a feast for geeks


It’s been three times now that I’ve seen Neil deGrasse Tyson speak, and I really can’t get enough. Last night he did his Star Talk Live show as part of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. It was very entertaining. The general topic was “geekery.” In addition to Tyson and Mr. Mirman were two comedians, Paul F. Tompkins and Kristen Schaal. I recognized Schaal from Flight of the Conchords. I understand she’s had considerably more TV exposure, which I’ve missed. Anyway, the special guest star was Wil Wheaton, truly a geek among geeks.

As it turned out, it was pretty much a Tyson and Wheaton show from start to finish. The others struggled to get a line in now and then. Wheaton is very quick and funny, and not unexpectedly loaded with detailed  science fiction, Trek, and gaming lore.

Tyson dominated the stage with his confident presence and humor. He worked in some science tidbits here and there. In particular, he described the various frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum and how the information coming in from the cosmos is very different depending on which part of the spectrum you are receiving. I was struck by the pride and joy in his tone as he described how we (humans) have built telescopes to receive everything from the infrared to the ultraviolet. Tyson makes you proud of your species.

The show went at least 30 minutes beyond its scheduled time. The Q&A at the end had to be cut a little short and no one asked him about his forthcoming participation in a new version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos¬†series, which I’m pretty curious about. As a consolation, we did hear his conversation with a 12-year-old audience member about the Mayan 2012 prophecy (the last question of the night), and that was terrific.

If I understood this correctly, a video of last night’s entire event will eventually be available online at The Nerdist. Check the Nerdist Video Channel from time to time.