Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 13

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.


Nobel Laureate Has A Play On Science Ethics

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.)

Ada Lovelace Day Now Comes With Opera

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 May Come To A Planetarium Near You

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.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 6

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

Innovation Television Is *Not* Limited To PBS

How We Got To Now starts on PBS next week (October 15), and I’ve already written about it at length.  But there are other new programs to see related to innovation.

Innovation Nation is a new program in the CBS Network’s Dream Team. Hosted by Mo Rocca, and Alie Ward, the program airs weekends on CBS stations, and is available online.  It premiered the weekend of September 27.  The Henry Ford (the parent organization of The Henry Ford Museum) is the named sponsor.  Here’s a trailer:

Host of Dirty Jobs and champion of the skilled trades Mike Rowe has a new program premiering October 8.  Somebody’s Gotta Do It will seem very familiar to fans of Dirty Jobs, though the focus is not exclusively on ‘dirty’ jobs and the people who work them.  Regrettably, CNN’s video from the program, at least prior to the series premiere is awkward to access (at least for me).  Watch Rowe promote the program here:

The program may air on CNN outside of the United States, but I cannot confirm that at the time.

Last, but not least, there’s a webseries from a medical historian.

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Apparently Peter Sagal Has Stuff On Energy Secretaries

On this weekend’s edition of the NPR quiz show, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” (hosted by Peter Sagal) Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz appeared to play the game “Not My Job.”  He’s not the first Obama Administration official to visit the program, and not the first Energy Secretary to do so.  In previous editions of the program we’ve heard from the head of the Centers for Disease Control and the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

The conceit of the game is that experienced people are asked about things that are far removed from their areas of expertise.  That said, sometimes the topics are connected to the guests, though not in ways that would (necessarily) make it easier.  The URL linked to above gives away the topic for Secretary Moniz’s effort, so I’ll just let you figure out the connection.

And whether or not he won.