StarTalk’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chuck Nice, and Charles Liu.
StarTalk’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chuck Nice, and Charles Liu.

Cosmic Queries – Science in Pop Fiction, the Sequel

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About This Episode

The sequel is always better, right? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, we’re continuing our investigation into the science of pop fiction with Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Chuck Nice, and astrophysicist and StarTalk “geek-in-chief” Charles Liu as they answer fan-submitted questions on your favorite movies, TV shows, and more.

We waste no time getting into the relationship between real science and science fiction. We debate if science fiction informs real science, or vice versa. You’ll hear about Kip Thorne’s work on wormhole travel that was used in Carl Sagan’s Contact. Charles tells us about his brief encounter with Ray Bradbury where Ray explained how his writings about Mars were heavily inspired by real Martian science. We look at Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: A Tour of the Underwater World to see if it inspired the creation of nuclear technology.

Explore the Black Panther suit and whether there is anything like it in real life. You’ll find out how photons interact with the human body, a la Captain Marvel. Charles explains why, if Neil was a superhero, he would be something similar to Batroc the Leaper, one of Captain America’s greatest enemies. We ponder if Ant-Man could kill Thanos by shrinking down and exploding him from the inside. However, the way in might be the problem.

You’ll find out what type of star system would create the variable-length seasons in Game of Thrones. We discuss ways that pop fiction can make science more comprehensive to the audience, and investigate if time travel plot devices are just lazy writing. Charles and Chuck tell us some of their favorite examples of time travel, including Star Trek: Voyager and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. You’ll also hear about tachyons: What they do, how they work, and why they’re still hypothetical. All that, plus, discover which “Hollywood” trope Charles is tired of seeing on the big screen.

Thanks to this week’s Patrons for supporting us: Wilson Teixeria, Jeff Prime, Christopher Cohen, Adam Giacobbe, Janes Isham, and Patrick Cooney.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access (Legacy) subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.