Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of March 30

When the Comedy Central programs go on hiatus, often some big news event happening during that time where you want to hear what Jon, or Stephen (or now Larry) would have to say about it.

This time The Daily Show is the source of that story.  As is likely widely known by now, Jon Stewart will be succeeded by the newest Daily Show correspondent, Trevor Noah.  While new to the program, and still unfamiliar to most Americans, Noah is well known in his native South Africa, and has toured extensively around the world.  While it’s too early to know how many of the current program staff will remain (long-time correspondents Jason Jones and Samantha Bee have announced their departures, and Aasif Mandvi is on leave while pursuing other projects), the selection of Noah suggests to me that there will be a more international flavor to The Daily Show than there has been to date.  Mandvi will be on with David Letterman on Thursday, so we might hear a little bit about the switch then.  (As I mentioned above, The Daily Show and its fellow programs are off this week.)

Tonight (Monday) you can see Oscar Isaac on The Tonight Show.  He plays a key role in Ex Machina, one of the many robot movies that have come out recently.  The film is released on April 10 in the U.S.  As for the rest of the week, it’s a bust.

A week into the new Late Late Show, it’s hard to suss out a trend in terms of how the show might address science and technology topics.  It’s even too early to know if James Corden will have on authors and scientists like Craig Ferguson did.  It is worth noting that Corden may be airing only four nights a week.  This is consistent with Jimmy Kimmel’s program and Last Call with Carson Daly.  Corden’s timeslot competitor, Seth Meyers, occasionally airs a repeat on Fridays, but not always.

Now that The Nightly Show is two months in, I’m comfortable in saying that the show is addressing science and technology topics.  As the show continues to find its groove, this may well increase.  Host Larry Wilmore considers himself a nerd, and to me that is a green light for more appearances in these posts.

In this week’s collection of segments I didn’t catch in advance, we have something from The Daily Show.  On the March 25th program, Jon covered consequences of climate change in Florida and California.

If you still need some science and technology content, check your local PBS station.  The cancer documentary The Emperor of All Maladies premiers tonight and runs through Wednesday.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of March 23

Tonight marks the beginning of James Corden’s tenure as host of The Late Late Show.  Both he and David Letterman have just three shows this week, due to the college basketball tournament, so you may have additional opportunities to catch one of Corden’s first few programs.  Corden will appear on Conan Thursday, should you need a new dose after his first three shows.  I will monitor the show for science and technology content, but I’d be amazed if Corden matches his predecessor Craig Ferguson in terms of guests and monologues on the subject(s).

There is a repeat worth mentioning.  Senator Ted Cruz appeared recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and made some claims about climate change.  That program will re-air on Friday night.

In the new material this week, The Daily Show is the place to watch.  Tuesday night Jon Ronson stops by to discuss his latest book.  So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed concerns public shaming, and part of the rise in this activity has been technologically based.  Part of Ronson’s motivation for writing involves his interactions with people impersonating him online.  Former orca trainer John Hargrove, who was part of the documentary Blackfish, visits the show on Thursday.

On Friday, Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory (where he plays a scientist) visits The Talk.  He’ll be promoting his new animated film, and The Talk‘s technology reporter, Chi-Lan Lieu, will be on as well.  (Earlier today/Monday on The Talk was Emily Deschanel, who plays a forensic scientist on Bones.)

Rap Guide To Medicine Premieres This Friday

If you’re going to the inaugural meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, you might be able to see the premiere of Baba Brinkman’s latest Rap Guide.  He will perform The Rap Guide To Medicine on Friday night (you can also catch him performing a conference preview rap-up on Thursday.  This marks the first time the full album will be performed.  According to Brinkman, this album was written and recorded over the last six weeks, and features his frequent collaborator Mr. Simmonds.

If you like, you can obtain a digital copy of the album through Brinkman’s Bandcamp site.  He’s asking you to pay your own price for this album, which was commissioned (and peer-reviewed) by Randy Nesse.  Additional support comes from The Perlstein Lab (which helped Brinkman put together the trailer for “Gene’s Eye View”), the International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, and the Society for Applied Microbiology (which helped Brinkman put together a video for “So Infectious”).

There are 8 tracks, covering disease, aging, infections, parasites and how our bodies may not have caught up to the consequences of modern living – all through an evolutionary perspective.  As usual, Brinkman references his sources on the album’s website, and the material has been vetted by Nesse, a physician and evolutionary biologist at Arizona State who has co-written two books on evolutionary medicine with George C. Williams, a key figure in mid-20th century evolutionary theory.

Besides, I think you’ll be in for a great listen.

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

Most shows are back this week from their recent repeats.  The American college basketball championship tournament starts later this week, and that is why the CBS shows will be in repeats on Thursday and Friday (The Late Late Show is in repeats all week).

Tonight (Monday) on The Daily Show Jon will speak with Andrew Cockburn about his latest book, Kill Chain, which covers drone warfare.  Over on The Tonight Show Jim Parsons stops by.  He plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory, but he is likely out promoting his new animated move, in which he plays an alien.  Parsons will visit with Ellen on Friday.

We are one week away James Corden’s debut at The Late Late Show.  He was on The Talk today to promote himself.

There’s plenty of science and technology content to catch up on from the early part of March.  The Nightly Show continues to tweak its format, no longer insisting on focusing on just one topic for the whole show.  Last week the show addressed the ethics of Apple’s overseas manufacturing (March 9), the alleged banning of the phrase climate change in certain government offices (March 11) and – at least in part – the medical effects of boxing on fighters (March 12).  Moving 30 minutes up in the schedule, Jon Stewart waxed rhapsodic about Chappie on March 3 with Sigourney Weaver, one of the film’s stars.  As she doesn’t play a scientist in this robot movie I failed to mention it two weeks ago.  On March 9 The Daily Show spent some time complaining about how CNN covered the recent events commemorating the March on Selma.  Some of those complaints focused on the use of a drone.

Science Fairs And TV Shows, Oh My

Some announcements going into the weekend:

In advance of Pi Day (3/14), which is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, PBS has announced a new math special.  Mario Livio will host a NOVA special called The Great Math Mystery, premiering April 15.  Livio is an astrophysicist, science and math writer, and fan of science/culture mashups.  The mystery of the title is whether math(s) is invented or was discovered.

The Entertainment Industries Council is seeking votes for its first SET Award for Portrayal of a Female in Technology.  Nominations for the award were taken from the public over YouTube.  Voting on the award is via a Google form, so you will need a Google account to participate.  The nominees appear to be most of the women playing characters with technical jobs in television programs or recent films.  They are:

  • Annedroids on Amazon
  • Arrow: “Felicity Smoak” played by Emily Bett Rickards
  • Bones: “Angela Montenegro” played by Michaela Conlin
  • Criminal Minds: “Penelope Garcia” played by Kirsten Simone Vangsness
  • Halt and Catch Fire: “Cameron Howe” and “Donna Clark” played by Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bisché
  • How to Build a Better Boy: “May” and “Gabby” played by China Anne McClain and Kelli Berglund
  • The Imitation Game: “Joan Clarke” played by Keira Knightley
  • Interstellar: “Murph” played by Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn and Mackenzie Foy (at various ages)
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Skye” played by Chloe Bennet
  • NCIS: “Abby Sciuto” played by Pauley Perrette
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: “Nell Jones” portrayed by Renee Felice Smith
  • Scorpion: “Happy Quinn” played by Jadyn Wong

I’d be interested in knowing (in the comments) who you think was missed.

Finally, the White House still loves it some Science Fair.  This week it announced that the next White House Science Fair will take place later this month – March 23.  Personally, I would prefer there to be some buildup to this event rather than just an announcement shortly before the fair.  After all, doesn’t the White House want to reach young people that may not already be plugged into the science fair ecosystem?  By this point in the calendar, I would expect everyone who will demonstrate their projects has been selected.  What about that young person wondering if they can find themselves explaining their work to the President?  It’s not obvious how they would make that happen.

What a missed opportunity.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of March 9

This is a big repeat week.  If you missed them the first time around, you can see Kunal “I play a scientist on TV” Nayyar interview his Big Bang Theory castmate Simon Helberg on Tuesday’s repeat of The Late Late Show.  Nayyar’s September appearance on The Queen Latifah Show from last September will be rerun on Thursday.

Like I said, it’s a big repeat week.  Of the shows with new episodes, I cannot find any to include here.  It’s possible that an episode of The Nightly Show will tackle a science or technology topic, but it’s almost impossible to know when that will happen earlier than the day of the show.  The program did address marijuana last week, but it was about the impacts of legalization rather than any examination of the science behind the drug.

Barring any new announcements, we have two weeks until the latest shift in late night unfolds.  James Corden will assume hosting duties of The Late Late Show on CBS.  While I don’t know how he might approach science and technology topics, his bandleader, Reggie Watts, has played with those subjects in some of his work.  Then in early April we should get the first television episode of StarTalk Live with Neil deGrasse Tyson.  While the National Geographic Channel’s website doesn’t have much on its website, this search results page suggests guests will include Christopher Nolan, former President Jimmy Carter, George Takei and Richard Dawkins.  (Dawkins is the most recent guest on the StarTalk Live podcast.)

In Case You Can’t Get Into Chappie, Some Weekend Science Video Goodness

The latest robot movie, Chappie, premieres this weekend in the United States.  Regrettably, early reviews aren’t kind.  In case that drives you away from the film, or you just can’t get into a screening this weekend, there are some small screen alternatives.

The Nostalgist is available via video on demand and DVD.  It takes place in a world with very immersive virtual reality.  It’s a short film based on the short story of the same title.

Some of the musically inclined folks I promote in these pages have new material.  Tim Blais has a new A Capella Science video, The Surface of Light.  (There’s a live performance version as well)

Coma Niddy has been busy, and tackles vaccination in his latest video.

Mr. Niddy has been busy in the year (!) since I last posted any of his videos.  He has posted 18 videos on his YouTube channel in that time, and are well worth your clicks.

Baba Brinkman is also busy.  His Rap Guide To Religion continues on Broadway through March, and he has been working on The Rap Guide to Medicine.  To promote that project and tie into this year’s Rare Disease Day, the Perlstein Lab released this trailer to “Gene’s Eye View”