Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey Drumstick Leg On Paper Plate
Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey Drumstick Leg On Paper Plate

Food in Space! With Alton Brown and Guests

Pink Sherbet Photography from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

How good is food in space? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Jordan Klepper feast on food science and the challenges we face sending food to space with chef Alton Brown, food chemist Dr. Arielle Johnson and NASA food scientist Dr. Grace Douglas. 

Can you become a better cook through science? Find out about the creative field of flavor science and what molecular gastronomy is. How can we still make good food with constraints? Discover how one of the top restaurants in the world, Noma, uses ants to replace lemons. What is retro-nasal olfaction? What happens when we taste something? Can you invent a new smell or flavor that’s never been experienced before? Can we take our palates to the limit? 

We explore the Advanced Food Technology project at NASA: How do you create food for space? You’ll learn how they find the perfect balance between safety, nutrition, and flavor for the astronauts. Can they just grow space potatoes like in The Martian? Do astronauts lose their sense of taste? Is there a food space race? How important is variety in their food? What is the feedback like from the astronauts? How many options do they get for dinner? If we had to choose one food to live on, what would we choose? We discuss the ritualism around food preparation, closed loop systems, and how food helps us feel at home. How close are we to growing our own food in space? Is the future of space exploration vegetarian? 

Where is food science heading in the face of climate change? Can fixes to Mars’ problems have applications for us on Earth? Do we need to diversify our palates? We break down the impact of climate change on growing patterns, food availability, and bees. Could we have bees in the ISS? Are there chemical solutions to these problems? We try to answer the question: How do we do the same thing with fewer resources? All of that, plus, find out about NASA initiatives to solve these problems and what the future of space food looks like.

Thanks to our Patrons Jeni Morrow, Hyrule Ok, blufor, Timothy Dalby, John Turnham, SkellyIRL, and Chuck H for supporting us this week.

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


In This Episode

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