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Episode 139: Nerdist Podcast
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast #139: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Matt and I ventured to New York to chat up one of our favorite people, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is always the smartest person in the room. Any room. Dr. Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. He also hosts NOVA scienceNOW on PBS and the ever enthralling StarTalk, which Mira and I were lucky enough to sit in on for the episode posting November 13th. Beyond all that, HE IS FUNNY. Like, actually hilarious.

This ep covers everything from Cosmology to quarks with a side of space sex. We had damn near unhealthy amounts of fun and I hope to con Dr. Tyson to coming on again in the near future.

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  1. When you mentioned the superman reference of him moving around the Earth trying to turn back time, I think they were referring to him travelling faster than the speed of light. He would therefore be tachyonic and may experience time as a negative direction and therefore the Earth would seem to be spinning backwards if Superman was the reference point because the Earth’s spin is seemingly going back in time.

  2. mayank says:

    I’m new to this place it was the first podcast I listened to.
    Blows your mind off!

  3. Josh says:

    Just listened to every single podcast ever created through the three dimensional boundaries of this podcast.

  4. Thomas says:

    What was the term NDT used for your intellectual spare time? I believe he referred to Bertrand Russel but I can’t think of the term.


  5. K2TheM says:

    Eh, well this is a bit late, but whatever. Since Chris asked for people to not get into this I’ll keep it short:

    I feel like Intelligent Design gets a bad rap because it appears to insight ignorance. Intelligent Design is not a way to “stop” being a scientist, it’s a different answer to the question. It’s saying that instead of random chance, or a “beautiful monster”, or whatever other form of Macro Evolution etc you believe in, it prescribes that we were simply made that way. Just because you believe in Intelligent Design doesn’t mean you dismiss “science”. Stuff works, and it works for a reason, and how amazing is it that we can learn and explore and postulate about how it all intertwines and functions. Intelligent Design is not saying “I don’t understand how this works, so no one else will ever understand” it’s saying “This thing works and it works because of this and this and it was made this way, isn’t that amazing?”

    End Quasi off topic rant.

    Neil is always a pleasure to listen to when it comes to spacey science stuff. Very cool that you guys got to hang out with him.

  6. Anthony says:

    here’s a true story, whilst listening to said podcast and fighting valiantly to keep up with Tyson’s description of the 4th dimension, Chris shouts out:

    ‘We’re not even smoking weed!”

    To which i responded, “BUT I AM!”

    and that’s when my head exploded. and i found $20.

  7. Came here to echo the sentiments of many others it seems. Excellent show Nerdists! One of your bests…thank you so much for this excellent entertainment/infotainment!

  8. Katherine says:

    First time listener. What a great informative witty banter-fest this is! Thanks. 🙂

  9. Thomas54 says:

    I’m a new listener (in the UK). I found Nerdist via the StarTalk Radio “Timelords” podcast. Enjoyed this podcast and will come back for more, not to mention all the back editions. So much listening, so little time 🙂

  10. I’m listening to your podcast right now at work, and I’ve stopped what I’m doing (drafting an email on the importance of blah, blah, blah) to give you and whatever budding science geek reads this comment these book recommendations…based on the wonderfulness I’m hearing.

    “From Eternity To Here: The Quest For The Ultimate Theory Of Time”
    (Sean Carroll tackles the definition and meaning of time)
    “How To Teach Physics To Your Dog”
    (I’m on the verge of grasping the concept of wavefunctions, superposition, and the exact meaning of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle because of this book)

    Now that’s taken care of, back to finishing this email and this episode. Amazing stuff!!!

    PS: Couldn’t an ant trapped inside a two-dimensional box escape by tessering (

  11. Chris says:

    @34 min mark Tom Lehrer was mentioned. New Math is one of my favorites. Here is the New Math song:

    He can’t sue me for posting it, right?

    Great episode, fellas.

  12. Mark says:

    I usually get all the podcasts thru iTunes, and I’m a little behind. I can’t wait for this one to listen to on my daily commutes: I start the day listening, and by the time I’m done I want MORE! I look forward to this one, as Neil Tyson is a personal hero of mine- he always makes me feel like the geek that I truly am!

  13. Josh says:

    Matt wants to live inside Dr. Tyson’s body. That’s funny — brings new meaning to “podcast”.

  14. Staar84 says:

    @Jason: He meant they don’t discover new “frontiers” like continents or planets. Technologically the private sector does make more advances, but from an exploratory stand point he’s right.

  15. Carolyn Naayem says:

    Neil is the greatest! Fun, factual and makes me think.

  16. Mike says:

    I really wish you guys had let Dr. Tyson more, instead of making stupid and annoying cracks throughout the entire podcast.

  17. Rkiver says:

    Nerdist, awesome.
    Neil deGrasses Tyson, one of the worlds best teachers.

    Show level of awesome overload……..

    Need more books of Dr Tyson. NEED ALL THE BOOKS!
    Just can’t afford them all….. 🙁

  18. h says:

    I am now officially a nerd. Nerd Power! I have adored Dr Tyson for some time and when he tweeted this podcast, I hurriedly clicked link. The fact that I was grinning wildly at the mere sound of his voIce…nerd confirmation! Going back to listen. This is the start of something awesome!

  19. Fia says:

    I think I’ll wait until I can get pregnant in space!

  20. Jason says:

    I really enjoyed the first half of this one, but it was ruined for me halfway through when Tyson started talking about how the private sector doesn’t push boundaries and nobody called him on his BS.

  21. SlimCharles says:

    Wow, Big C! I said this probably about 20 episodes, but this is one of the best ever!
    Never heard of this guy before, but he’s really interesting and intelligent and funny!

    Will be subscribing to startalk, no doubt.

    PS. Pluto is planet, bitches! :p

  22. Chris says:

    Hey guys, awesome episode! The movie you made up, ‘Climbing the Cubes’, or whatever it was, made me think of a mind-meltingly awesome book: ‘Diaspora’ by Greg Egan. A big ‘ole chunk of it takes place in higher dimensions where the characters struggle to perceive four dimensional objects bounded my three dimensional lines.

  23. John in Ohio says:

    Great episode– Dr. Tyson was awesome–seems to be a genuinely likeable, funny guy. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person; BUT, I’ve never felt more like a shaved chimp in my life. LOL Keep up the great podcast guys.

  24. Ian says:

    For those interested in assisted birth in space, there is this:

    The drawings of a naked pregnant woman strapped to a centrifuge is worth it alone.

  25. elnino says:

    Awesome episode! Mr. Tyson is a fantastic guest. Was in tears listening to him describe the real life effects of Superman reversing the earth’s rotation.

  26. NicoleMarie says:


  27. Nick says:

    Fantastic episode. Fresh from Reddit, here is a guest at Neil’s true parents:

  28. Shane says:

    Just wanted to add to the chorus of thanks for turning me onto startalk. The perfect blend of nerdy and comedy to accompany nerdist. If there were a balanced breakfast of podcasts, nerdist and startalk would be two of the things required. Which parts? No idea, never knew what constituted a balanced breakfast. Let alone one made of podcasts.

  29. MauroG says:

    This was the greatest most awesomest episode of The Nerdist (and you had tons of cool ones). Now I have the entire archive of Startalk to download. Thank you very much, guys!

  30. HOC says:

    I love watching this man’s lectures. He could tell me that unicorns still exist and I’d believe him. This podcast made my week.

  31. rTTn says:

    Found it.I was foolish for a moment..listening now..Love the Nerdist…Embrace the Cube!

  32. rTTn says:

    Where can I find the startalk where you guys talk about time. I need more

  33. Kwame says:

    This is in my top 5 favorite episodes I had to keep rewinding it though; I could hear the podcast because my inner monologue was trying to grasp the mindfuck Neil deGrasse Tyson dropped about the 4th dimension.