StarTalk Sports Edition team with two members of the Harlem Globetrotters posing with basketballs.
StarTalk Sports Edition team with two members of the Harlem Globetrotters posing with basketballs.

Globetrotter’s Guide to the Galaxy

Alex De Simone
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About This Episode

How does a gravity assist work? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly run us through physics phenomena with the help of our friends from the Harlem Globetrotters, Hot Shot Swanson and Cheese Chisholm.

You’ll learn about the law of reflections and how spin helps stabilize a moving body. We answer the ever-present question: How do you get a ball to spin on your finger? Neil talks about what it’s like to become a mini two-planet solar system. Is Earth just one big treadmill? We break down momentum, mass, and velocity as we break down the Globetrotters’ signature shots. What makes a trick shot work? 

We invent some StarTalk signature shots, a shot Neil likes to call “The Far Side Of The Moon” and “The Gravity Assist.” How do we demonstrate the physics of our solar system on the basketball court? Did they pull it off? How does a gravitational slingshot work in space? Is there really a dark side of the moon? Plus, we learn a few Globetrotter tips for making a trick shot. 

How do you make a half-court shot? We look at the different techniques used by Cheese and Hotshot. What was the one dimension that gave them a problem? Is a half-court shot a trick shot? Does Gary have the right definition of “dribble”? Neil demonstrates to us why players should never miss a jump shot. Just how big is the basket? Would practicing with a smaller rim make you a better shooter? All that, plus, find out what cool tricks the StarTalk team was able to pull off against the Globetrotters. 

Thanks to our Patrons Helen Gilchrist, Elliot Frost, Lupita Valenz, Danny Andersen, Alex Thorne, Philip A. McKinney, and David Williams 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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