April 25, 2015 10:01 pm

Sunday, Explore the Legacy of Star Trek with George Takei and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Selfie of George Takei and Neil deGrasse Tyson, taken by Neil in his office at the Hayden Planetarium.

Credit: Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tomorrow night StarTalk Radio presents the podcast version of our premiere episode of StarTalk TV, “George Takei and the Legacy of Star Trek.”

If you’ve already seen it on the National Geographic Channel, then you know what a great episode this is.

But my guess is that most of you reading this have waited until the podcast, because, after all, we’ve been a podcast for 6 seasons and a TV show for oh, about a week now.

And here’s what you have in store for you this week.

First of all, there’s Neil’s interview with George Takei, who played Lt. Sulu on the original Star Trek series, as well as subsequent movies.

In studio, Neil is joined by two familiar faces who just happen to be two of the biggest Star Trek fans around: comic co-host Leighann Lord, and returning guest astrophysicist Charles Liu.

You’ll hear all about how Star Trek influenced the future, from technology like communicators to the search for extraterrestrial life forms. The gang discusses warp drive, the practical applications for transporters, what it would cost to build a working USS Enterprise using today’s technology, and how modern smartphones far exceed the capabilities of communicators. Bill Nye even pops in to talk about how Star Trek presented a vision of the future where problems like poverty, hunger and war have been solved by science.

But it starts with something else: George Takei talking about how he landed the role as Sulu, and about Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. George explains how the Starship Enterprise is a metaphor for the Starship Earth, and how its strength lay in the diversity of its crew. Produced during the turbulent 1960s, when America was embroiled in the struggle for civil rights, the show took on issues like racism in episodes like “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” which depicts a planet at war with itself, where people who were half black and half white were fighting against people who were their exact racial opposites: half white and half black.

George shares his own experiences growing up in an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas, where he and his family were sent when he was 5 years old with the rest of the Japanese Americans who had their homes and businesses taken from them during WWII along with other US citizens in one of the most egregious violations of civil rights the US government has ever committed on its own people.

Back in the studio, Neil and Leighann and Charles discuss the treatment of Japanese Americans during the war, and how Asian Americans continue to face some levels of discrimination today.

It’s a reminder that while some of the future predicted in Star Trek has already been surpassed by reality, humanity still has a long way to boldly go.

Join us Sunday, April 26 at 7:00 PM EDT on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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