Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 24

A brief note on the dramatic decrease in posts this month.  There have been a combination of outside factors that have limited my posting (including a flood) and it seems likely I will be posting just once or twice a week for a little longer.  Apologies.

This is the biggest list of science and technology guests in recent memory.  It’s certainly my longest post on the subject in a while.  And doesn’t count any of the continued joking about the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

This week’s most tenuous listing may be Mary-Louise Parker’s appearance on The Late Show Thursday.  She stars in a new Broadway play, Heisenberg.  It’s a screwball comedy, which may or may not have some connection to the scientific work of the physicist whose name graces the play.  Given his work on uncertainty, please excuse the meta-ness of it all.

The CBS high-tech hospital drama Pure Genius premieres this week.  Dermot Mulroney plays the lead doctor in the show, which follows a high-tech, high-innovation hospital funded by a tech billionaire.  Mulroney will be on The Late Show on Tuesday, and he will be joined by his co-star Augustus Prew (who plays the tech billionaire) on Thursday’s edition of The Talk.

Adam Conover visits The Late Show tonight (Monday).  He hosts Adam Ruins Everything, a show that digs into ‘hidden secrets’ behind various things.  Some episode focus on science and technology topics, like nutrition and voting.  He will double dip tonight with an appearance on Last Call.  Also on Monday, Evan Rachel Wood visits The Tonight Show.  She plays a cyborg character on Westworld, the HBO series examining life on an adult theme park.  Wood is also on Thursday’s episode of Late Night.

While Nick Offerman may be best known for his acting, he is also an accomplished woodworker, and has a new book out focusing on his woodworking shop and woodwork in general.  He was on The Late Show discussing it on October 18, and will be on Monday’s edition of The Late Late Show promoting it.

Monday is just full of guests, including Bryce Dallas Howard, who visits Conan.  She’s in one of the episodes of the latest series of Black Mirror.  Her episode explores issues around online rating systems.  I really can’t say much more without disclosing plot points.  Howard will also be on Tuesday’s edition of The Talk.

The Daily Show is airing a clip show tonight, probably to give host Trevor Noah additional time to recover from a serious respiratory and ear infection.  But on Wednesday John Dell Volpe, a polling researcher at Harvard’s Institute of Politics is the guest.

Chelsea, available on Netflix, continues to bring on science and technology guests.  In the episode dropping Thursday, host Chelsea Handler talks with genomics pioneer Craig Venter about her genome test.  And if that’s not enough, “Science Bob” Pflugfelder returns to Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday.


Pacifist’s Guide… Sets Cancer Stories To Music

A new U.K. musical is focused on cancer.  Perhaps not the first subject considered for a ‘song-and-dance’ play, A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer examines five stories of cancer and is currently playing at London’s National Theatre through November 29 (H/T New Scientist).

Both the title and the notion of a cancer musical suggest a work that will also explore the meaning of the ‘war on cancer’ metaphor.  And while policy around cancer can be focused on a top-down, 30,000-foot perspective on the disease, individual stories can help provide a different perspective on what it means to fight cancer, and circumstances in which framing the matter as a fight or a war may not be helpful for patients, or for understanding the disease and how it affects those who have it.

But better to let people involved with making the play speak to its subject.

Or maybe you just want to hear some music?

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 16

This week is NBC’s week off in late night.  I suppose their shows and the CBS shows all needed a week off before the final campaign madness (CBS programs were in repeats last week).  Conan is in repeats again this week, but they are likely working on their upcoming trip to New York.  Right before Election Day the show will spend a week broadcasting from New York City.  The repeat of note is Friday’s edition of The Late Late Show (which typically runs repeats on Fridays), when you can see Michael Sheen’s recent appearance.  Sheen plays Dr. William Masters on the program Masters of Sex.

The offerings this week are skimpy.  It’s an extra reason to note tonight’s episode of StarTalk on the National Geographic Channel, where his main guest is string theorist Brian Greene.  The theme of the night is not clear at first glance, though a preview clip suggests that part of the episode will discuss links between music and physics.

The one listing of note this week involves Hugh Laurie, most known in the U.S. for playing a doctor on House.  On Wednesday he will visit The Late Show to discuss his new program, Chance.  The show premieres that night on the Hulu streaming service, and Laurie plays a doctor on that program as well.  This time he’s a forensic neuropsychiatrist who gets entangled with some nasty business instead of a master diagnostician with a bum leg.

Finally, speaking of doctors, the program Pure Genius will premiere on CBS next Thursday, October 27.  The show is a medical drama about a hospital developed by a technological genius seeking to radically alter health care (and address his own medical problem).

Commission On Evidence-Based Policymaking Will Hold First Hearing This Week

On Friday, October 21, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking will hold its first public hearing in Washington, D.C.  It is the first of three planned hearings across the country to hear from stakeholders about the Commission’s work.  The goal of the Commission is to develop a strategy for increasing the availability and use of data to develop evidence about government programs.

The commission is accepting requests for oral statements through today, and welcomes written statements from stakeholders as well.  There is also an open Request for Comment from the Commission that closes on November 14.  As of the end of Saturday, October 15 a whopping 8 comments have been submitted to that request (none have been posted as yet).

Friday’s hearing is the third public meeting of the Commission, which intends to hold two more meetings by the end of this year.  The two additional stakeholder hearings are planned for early in 2017.  One will take place in the western U.S. and the other in the center of the country.  The Commission has an expiration date of September 2017, so it is interested in working quickly.  If you have information that should come before the Commission, you should work quickly as well.

What’s Your Favorite NASA Mission Soundtrack?

NASA recently commissioned a song for one of its missions (H/T STEMDaily).  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been orbiting our moon since 2009, taking readings of the lunar surface.  Maybe so so we don’t forget about it, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center wanted a song to capture the inspiration that comes from studying the moon.  Ideally the song would also encourage interest in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The resulting song, “The Moon and More” was developed by musicians Matt Cusson and Javier Colon (who won the first season of the NBC competition show The Voice).  Cusson produced the song, and the two recorded a video with a *space shuttle* for a backdrop (at least for part of the video).

While it’s not a mission requirement, NASA has used music to promote its missions before, and will likely do so again.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 10

On this holiday in North America (Columbus Day for us in the United States, Thanksgiving for our neighbors to the north), several shows are off for the week.  Given the political hay made over the weekend, this seems like a multitude of lost opportunities (or an acknowledgement of weariness at the last 15 months of crazy).  Regardless, you can catch George Takei celebrating Star Trek‘s 50th with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday’s Late Show rerun.  Friday’s Late Late Show repeat features Silicon Valley actor Zach Woods from his September appearance.

Harry is a new daytime program hosted by musician Harry Connick, Jr.  This past Friday (October 7) he had on Chase Wiley, a teenager who prepares science videos, to do some experiments.  Wiley was on again today for more experiments with Harry.  Some video is available online through the show’s website and YouTube channel.  If you don’t have the show in your area, the E! network is repeating the show at 3 a.m. the morning after it airs.

I missed mentioning StarTalk last week.  That episode featured an interview with Philippe Petit, a wire walker who came to fame in the 1970s after crossing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Tonight’s new episode focuses on time travel, and the main interviews are with Christopher Lloyd and Michelle Gomez, who portray time travelers in the Back to the Future films and Doctor Who (respectively).  StarTalk host Neil deGrasseTyson continues to promote the new season with an appearance this Thursday on The View.

Tonight (Monday) Taraji P. Henson is on The Tonight Show.  Her television show Empire recently started its third season, but it’s possible that she will talk some about her upcoming film Hidden Figures.  She plays one of the human computers featured in the film who worked for NASA in the early years of the space race.  On Wednesday Bryan Christy, a conservation journalist for National Geographic, will be a guest on The Daily Show.

I Don’t Think The #HeLa Movie Has A Soundtrack Album Yet

Earlier this week Tom McFadden released the latest effort in his Science with Tom project.  This song features students from the KIPP Bridge school in Oakland, California, and chronicles the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family.

As noted at the end, Rebecca Skloot, the author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks features in the video.  No word yet on who else from the forthcoming film project has heard the song.  Could a version of this song end up on the movie soundtrack, a #HeLa mixtape?  It’s a nice thought experiment to conduct before the movie comes out next year.