One of my favorite segments on StarTalk Radio is when our personal astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a whole episode to answer questions from fans. It can be anything from evolution to superhero science, but the master of the soundbite always has something interesting to say.
Nerdist was fortunate enough to talk with Dr. Tyson ahead of the premiere of a new season of StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson on National Geographic channel. You can read our Q&A about the new season, which aired last Sunday night, here. But while we had him, we couldn’t help but try our own lightning round, just like how he ends his “cosmic queries” segments.
Would you be one of the first people to go to Mars?
Definitely not. I want evidence that we know how to bring people back. I like Earth. Lightning round, next!
Star Trek, of course. There is a premise that is based in real physics. There’s even a chief science officer and a chief engineer—the two posts nowhere to be found in any of my memory in any of the six Star Wars movies. So, Star Trek wins.
What’s a good scientific field to get into now if you’re a young person looking at college?
Neuroscience, certainly…neuroscience is a frontier. The universe of the mind, I think, is the next greatest frontier that is just now being breached. Also astrobiology, closer to my own heart. That’s a field wide open—no data yet, but the day we find life, that is the most important discovery in the history of science and the history of human exploration itself.
Where’s the best place to look for life outside of Earth right now?
Mars. Below the subsurface layers of Mars, where we’re pretty sure the water went, is kept liquid—which we have now confirmed. Given that fact, perhaps it could sustain life as we know it, since liquid water on Earth sustains life as we know it. So Mars is the first bet, next is Jupiter’s moon Europa—icy surface but an ocean of liquid water, been liquid for billions of years.
On last question. Who would win in a wrestling match: you, or Jordan Peele playing you?
[Laughs] So, there’s a photo of the two of us at the Emmys, and I’m about nine inches taller than he is…and I used to actually wrestle…and I also studied, on the side, martial arts. I think I’d win that one, physically. If it was who would get the most laughs, it’d be him. If laughing was the winning formula it’d be him. I think he’s the funniest caricature of me that I’ve seen.
I think we all agreed! It was a lot of fun to watch.
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson airs Sunday nights at 11/10c on National Geographic Channel.
IMAGE: NG Studios/Katy Andres