COSMOS is here, and will be repeating each new episode all week, on either the FOX or National Geographic Channels. The first one is available online (though there may be viewing restrictions outside the U.S.) and others will follow the day after their U.S. premiere. Of course, there’s also an app (consult your operating system app store for details).
The promotional blitz for COSMOS continues. Neil deGrasse Tyson will appear with Stephen Colbert tonight (Monday), with Seth Meyers on Friday.
In other science programming news, Craig Ferguson will be one of the executive producers of the forthcoming show I F-ing Love Science. Inspired by the Facebook page of the same name (the person behind the page is a producer), the program will start on Science Channel in the last months of this year. This adds to Ferguson’s slate of shows on the Discovery family of networks, which includes last year’s Shark After Dark and the forthcoming Naked After Dark. These are both so-called aftershows connected to Shark Week and Naked and Afraid. Two participants in Naked and Afraid will be on with Arsenio Hall Thursday night,
Back to the talk shows. Neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, who also plays one on The Big Bang Theory, will be on The Talk Tuesday. Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette (a microbiologist) on The Big Bang Theory, has two appearances on Thursday. In the morning she’ll be on The View, and in the evening she will sit down with David Letterman. Dominic Monaghan, who has another season of his wildlife show premiering soon on BBC America, will be on @midnight Tuesday. Even later on Tuesday, Ronald D. Moore, one of the executive producers of the science-fiction program Helix, which focuses on a viral outbreak.
(While both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are making the rounds of talk shows, they are promoting their post-Breaking Bad projects. Discussion of cooking meth will likely be very brief, if it happens at all.)
COSMOS starts its run tonight, on 10 different networks in the United States. Outside the U.S. I would seek it out on channels affiliated with the FOX or National Geographic networks. If you manage to miss it tonight, each episode will be repeated a couple of times during the week. Presumably there will be the downloads, and the DVDs, and other alternative viewing methods. There are 13 episodes, so you can schedule your next few months accordingly.
It’s been an impressive public relations campaign, perhaps topped off by having President Obama introduce the series tonight. Ratings will be just one indicator of how well the program comes across. The right people are involved Besides the near-ubiquitous host Neil deGrasse Tyson, writers from the first COSMOS are involved, as well as television producers Seth MacFarlane (whose programs usually air during the COSMOS timeslot) and Brannon Braga (who cut his teeth on the Star Trek spinoffs).
In other science non-fiction programming, Particle Fever is in festival release as of this weekend. As of this Friday, it will be available in a few more theaters, and appears to be rolling out slowly over the spring. The film documents the work at the Large Hadron Collider to find the Higgs Boson. The reviews have been strong, but check out this trailer to see if it appeals to you.
March 3 – Edited to Add - With all the material this week, I shouldn’t be surprised I missed something. Tonight (Monday) on The Late Show, Dave talks to a double arm transplant recipient (U.S. Army Sergeant Brendan Marrocco) and his doctor.
The new edition of Cosmos starts next Sunday night on the FOX network in the U.S. The same company also owns the National Geographic Channel, so you will have many opportunities to catch each episode. Broadcast schedules and channels will likely be different in other countries (for instance, it starts on March 16 in the U.K.) Viewers in the U.S. who miss the FOX broadcast Sunday nights can catch the same episode on the National Geographic Channel on Monday nights. Do check those local listings.
Before we get to this week’s listings, there’s a long list of items from last week (and earlier) to note. The Comedy Central shows brought extra content. On February 18th, having theoretical physicist Brian Greene on wasn’t enough for The Colbert Report. Transgender activist Janet Mock was on earlier in the program to discuss the notion of gender with Stephen. On February 25th, Stephen mocked the campaign to maintain paper documents, though there is a need to make sure those without access to computers or the Internet can still obtain their government benefits and services.
The 25th was big on two other late night shows. T.J. Miller was a guest on The Pete Holmes Show, and he discussed the neurological troubles he had recently and the brain surgery they required. On @midnight, Neil deGrasse Tyson continued his COSMOS promotional push by reading a Craig’s List post with interstellar implications. @midnight also brought the science early in its February 27 show by asking what app was using an interview with nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer in its advertisements.
As I noted, there is a COSMOS promotional push. Executive Producer Seth MacFarlane visits Jon Stewart tonight (Monday). Neil deGrasse Tyson goes really late with Carson Daly on Thursday night. In other guest appearances, virtual reality innovator Jaron Lanier will sit with Stephen on Tuesday to discuss his latest book, which covers the impact of networked technologies on society. And last, but not least, Pauley Perrette, who plays a forensic scientist on NCIS, stops by The Talk on Tuesday.
As part of the finale for the current batch of new MythBusters episodes, Discovery released a video put together by melodysheep, the force behind the Symphony of Science. It’s not (at least at the moment) available outside of the MythBusters website, so no embedding. Maybe later.
Coma Niddy continues to produce science videos, a combination of demonstrations and rap explanations. His latest include a two-part series on black holes. The second part mentions the recent remarks by Stephen Hawking where he revises his earlier thinking on the subject.
Earlier today, in partnership with the American Film Institute, the White House hosted a film festival. Announced last November, the festival theme was technology in schools. Over 2500 entries were submitted from students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. 16 Official Selections were screened at the White House, and over 100 other films received Honorable Mention. The President took the opportunity to promote his ConnectED initiative, which is intended to expand the number of schools with access to next-generation, high-speed Internet access.
As this photo suggests, there were some special guests in attendance. Actor (and occasional White House aide) Kal Penn joined Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Conan O’Brien had a video message for the filmmakers. You can watch all of the Official Selection and Honorable Mention films online.
It’s worth noting that one of the Official Selections was made by Kayla Briet, who was the Runner-Up in the recent Stand Up for Science contest organized by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. She also composed the music involved in her video submissions, so she’s probably more talented than you imagined.
Last Tuesday (February 18) Brian Greene stopped by The Colbert Report. The theoretical physicist and best known string theorist was promoting the forthcoming launch of World Science U. This is an online education venture where students can take science classes – for free. The doors are almost open, and the promotional video suggests that Greene’s enthusiasm will be part of the experience – certainly when he’s teaching.
Greene will teach two courses, both on special relativity. One course is geared toward those who aren’t mathematically inclined, while the other will presume some familiarity with math. While the promotional video suggests the courses are strictly online lectures, this Columbia Spectator article indicates the courses will include exercises and assessments that are part of the massive open online course model called a MOOC.
The first courses will start on March 6, and Greene hopes to attract students from a variety of backgrounds. Like many other online educational offerings, Greene expects students could be looking to augment their other courses, to learn about the subject, or to fill in a course need for which they may not have the needed resources where they are.
World Science U is an outgrowth, at least in part, of the World Science Festival, which Greene co-founded. Hopefully the Festival and the U can build each other up. A possible first step would be to funnel more Festival participants into the U. Regardless of what first step is eventually taken, the sooner the U stops resembling Brian Greene’s personal lecture channel, the better chance it has of thriving in its own right.
The second phase of the Great Talk Show Migration of 2014 happens tonight. Seth Meyers starts his tenure as host of Late Night on Monday after Jimmy Fallon begins his second week as host of The Tonight Show. In related news, The Pete Holmes Show returns with new episodes after a seven-week run last fall. It follows Conan on TBS.
Two items worth noting that were missed in advance. On Wednesday (February 19th) Craig Ferguson spent time during his monologue commemorating the birthday of Copernicus. It’s not the first time for Ferguson, who has honored Copernicus at least one time before (I believe in 2010, but I do not have video confirmation).
The repeats are few, and the programs with new content of note are even fewer. Two of the cast from The Big Bang Theory are on this week. Mayim Bialik, who is a neuroscientist (she not just plays one on TV), will be on The Wendy Williams Show Tuesday. Simon Helberg, who plays an engineer on the show, visits with David Letterman on Thursday. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku will stop by The Daily Show on Tuesday. (Neil DeGrasse Tyson was busy?)
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) announced the winners of its second Stand Up For Science contest. A video competition, seven entries were recognized. Each of them communicated in a short (less than 4 minutes) video the work of one of five major research agencies and why they need funding for research support.
They are all worth a watch, especially if you are crafting an appeal for funds yourself. While each video gets the facts across, they vary in the methods used as well as the visuals they opted to include. Those videos that appeared to have more invested in their production values placed higher in the contest. A couple of my – admittedly biased – thoughts on the videos:
While appeal to the general audience was just one criteria in the list, it seemed to be the one that entries had the most trouble with. It’s tough to choose what details about agencies and federal funding are of most value and interest to a general audience, especially when you aren’t part of that audience. As a result, the videos occasionally included details that – at least to me – did not seem as meaningful to the lay person as they would to the early-career scientist. (For instance, the mechanics of grant applications are of interest to a precious few.) It would not surprise me to find out that few of the entrants had a non-scientist view the final product with a critical eye.
Congratulations to the winners, and to all who entered. Putting together a 1-4 minute video is no small feat, particularly if it isn’t your day job. Perhaps FASEB could put the material to use in its other work.
Baba Brinkman is back with another science rap. The new one is titled Evolutionary Pharmacology.
As you might have gathered, this was done in connection with the lab of Ethan Perlstein. In fact, the video is taken from on this earlier production that Perlstein put together to promote his independent lab (crowdfunded via Angelist). Perlstein and his colleagues are working on orphan drug discovery and research related to those diseases. The evolutionary pharmacology comes in because they are studying drug effects on yeast cells in order to better understand how well the drugs do (and/or do not) affect humans.
Either way, like the man says, don’t give Zoloft to infants.
While it’s not a big night for science and technology guests, we have the first phase of the latest late night shift. Jimmy Fallon moves an hour earlier effective tonight. While he may well be delayed this week due to the vagaries of U.S. Olympic coverage, it is his first week as host of The Tonight Show. He’s not been a big factor in this series of posts, but he appeared a bit more frequently that his predecessor, Jay Leno. We’ll see how that works out moving forward.
Some shows are off tonight for the federal holiday. In one instance – The Daily Show – that means a repeat of a recent guest featured here. Joel Kinnaman, the new Robocop, will be on again this evening (Monday).
In new appearances, Gary Oldman, also in Robocop, is on with Craig Ferguson tonight. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene sits with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night.
As is usual, there is some content I missed. Two of the actors in Robocop were on with Craig last week. Aimee Garcia appeared on the February 12 episode, and Abbie Cornish was on February 13th. And both The Daily Show (February 4) and The Colbert Report (February 3) dedicated segments to the Chinese lunar rover, which may or may not still be functioning on the surface (there were problems connected to the cold lunar night). Kudos to Sir Patrick Stewart for his performance as Jade Rabbit.