While you can count on the Comedy Central shows to continue covering the Ebola cases in the United States (The Daily Show is coming from Austin, Texas this week, so it might hit that state’s efforts hard), there are few additional opportunities to catch science and technology content this week.
Michael Lewis is making the rounds this week, with appearances on The Colbert Report (Tuesday) and Late Night with Seth Meyers (Wednesday). Lewis’s last book focuses on high frequency trading, though his appearances may focus on one of his earliest books, Liar’s Poker, which does not cover science or technology (unless you count the creation of markets as something like the building of technology).
Perhaps things will improve next week, with the U.S. premiere of Interstellar, the Christopher Nolan film involving the migration of the species to a new planet. I would expect some (more) publicity for the film then.
Readers might recall that I like comic strips. So does Uwingu, a private organization dedicated to promoting space exploration and research. (Note – I donated $100 to Uwingu back in 2012, and am therefore listed as a supporter at the Founder level. I received a small token of appreciation at the time, but do not now gain anything from the association.)
Uwingu likes comic strips so much they want to send a few to Mars as part of the Beam Me To Mars event. November 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the first space mission to Mars, and Uwingu is raising funds by offering to send radio messages to Mars. Stephen Pastis will send the first comic strip, from his Pearls Before Swine. The strip ran earlier this month.
Uwingu has suggested that other strips will be sent to the red planet, but I’ve seen no indication of what strips will receive the honor. If you have your own drawing, voice or music recording that you want to send, that’s certainly possible (if it’s small enough).
Before I dive into this week’s list, I want to note that last Wednesday, October 8, was thick with science and technology content late at night. On The Late Show, the musical guest was computer generated and computer performed. Well, at least the lead singer was. Hatsune Miku is called a virtual pop star, and video is perhaps the best explanation as to why.
@midnight made a rare appearance here because there was a segment prompted by some 1997 video of a how-to cybersex video. As you might expect, the segment and the video that spawned it are NSFW.
Jimmy Kimmel aired one of his street interview segments that night (Kimmel’s Pedestrian Questions are not breaking new ground, Jay Leno called his street interview segments Jaywalking, and he was at least the third Tonight Show host to do something like it), with GMOs as the theme. Kimmel had his interviewers ask people if they knew what GMOs were, and since this was a comedy piece and not a poll, the results cannot be considered representative. Stories on this segment that suggest otherwise are not to be trusted. Kimmel has done this on science-related topics before, such as this one on gluten from May.
On to this week’s interviews to watch:
Tonight Walter Isaacson is on The Colbert Report, promoting his book The Innovators, which is a history of the people who, over the course of decades, developed the pieces that contributed to the digital revolution. On Wednesday, Nicholas Hoult sits down with Conan O’Brien. His newest film, Young Ones, is set on an Earth where water is much more scarce than it is today. On Thursday, Egyptologist Kara Cooney returns to see Craig Ferguson. The week closes with Jessica Chastain’s appearance on The Late Show. While she does have a film premiering this month, she is in the upcoming science fiction film Interstellar, which revolves around an attempt to use a wormhole to find a new planet for humans to live. Dave may bring that up.
Should’ve has been around since 2007, but I didn’t discover it until I saw this notice of an upcoming reading at the National Academy of Sciences building. Written by Roald Hoffman, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Should’ve traces the impact of one scientist’s suicide on members of his family. The suicide was prompted (at least it seems), by the social implications of the man’s research, but the picture is more complicated than that.
Hoffman has written or co-written two other plays. Oxygen wrestles with the late-18th century ‘discovery’ of the element and the associated theories around what the element actually is. Something That Belongs To You is a semi-autobiographical work. This is in addition to his research output and his poetry. He also founded and helps organize the Entertaining Science cabaret series at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City. (and yes, I’m envious.)
October 14 is Ada Lovelace Day, commemorating the life and work of women in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) professions. Ada Lovelace, also known as Countess Lovelace, was a 19th century mathematician whose analysis of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine helped inform the development of the earliest computers about a century later.
In New York City, one of the commemorations of Ada Lovelace Day involves an opera on her life. Called Ada, selections will be performed on October 14. The full opera tracks the arc of Lovelace’s life, with emphasis on her work with Babbage. Here’s a selection from earlier in the opera’s development.
There’s more about the event in New York on the opera’s Facebook page. It’s not clear to me how close the opera is to a full production, but I hope it’s soon.
The Symphony of Science recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Congratulations. Known for putting scientists through an auto-tune process in the construction of songs, the Symphony of Science is the brainchild of John Boswell. You might be familiar with his work for PBS. His full spectrum of video work can be found on YouTube by searching for melodysheep.
The latest Symphony effort is new in form more than content. With two collaborators Boswell has converted at least one of his videos into a dome format. This means planetariums can run the shows on the interior of their domes. The converted video for Monsters of the Cosmos is available for viewing, but a browser window is a far cry from an immense panoramic screen dominating your field of view. If you’d like to see your local planetarium use the videos, send them a link to the page.
First, an oversight to note. Last Thursday, October 2, Johnny Galecki, who plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory, was on The Late Show. I missed that in last week’s post (perhaps he was a late addition, but it was still an oversight).
The week started early, as Dr. Richard Besser, medical author, was on The View. The medical focus continues tonight when Dr. Atul Gawande visits with Jon Stewart. Ebola will be the first topic, and probably the two after that.
It’s a short list this week, but given all of the upcoming innovation-focused television coming over the next 10 days, it’ll be okay. If you want more, check out this late-September segment of Better Know a District where Stephen Colbert tries to get California’s Second District Representative Jared Huffman. Among the wide range of topics were sharks and bees.
(8:41 p.m. October 6) ETA: Unfortunately, this week Craig Ferguson’s program is on repeats. That means, since the Nobel Prizes are announced this week, that we are unlikely to have Nobel-themed monologues. Unless he is taping shows for