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).

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.

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.

Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of October 3

A brief mention of a guest I missed in last week’s post.  Kunal Nayyar, who plays scientist Raj on The Big Bang Theory, visited Conan on September 28.  As my usual sources had a different guest listed instead of him for that night, and The Big Bang Theory shoots several hundred feet from the Conan stage, I am assuming a last minute cancellation required the Conan staff to book Nayyar.

Chelsea Handler continues to demonstrate that her E! Network talk show is notably different from her current show on Netflix.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned her more in these posts for her Netflix show in its first few months than I did for the seven years of her E! program).  Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz is her guest for the show released on Wednesday.  I’m sure they’ll talk about more than his hair.  She might not even mention it.

Yesterday the HBO series Westworld premiered, and one of the actors is making the rounds.  James Marsden plays one of the robots in the show, and he sits down with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show tonight (Monday).  Kumail Nanjiani is not on Westworld, but the Silicon Valley actor (who plays one of the software developers) is on Conan tonight.

We’ll close out the listings this weeks with two appearances by Mr. Robot star Christian Slater.  He’ll be on with Ellen Degeneres Thursday afternoon and with Conan O’Brien that night.

Last week’s announcement by Elon Musk about his long-term Mars colonization plans landed on many of the late night programs, including @midnight and The Late Show on September 28.  Other shows may take advantage of the material this week as well, but it’s hard to predict the late night shelf-life of news stories.

You’re Never Too Young For A Math Book

Actress Danica McKellar, perhaps still best known for playing Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, is also a mathematician.  She has written four math books for young people (primarily young girls) over the last several years and recently announced her fifth will come out next year.

While her books to date have focused on math subjects for middle and high school kids, the newest book goes younger.  Way younger.  Goodnight Numbers, illustrated by Alicia Padrón, will be published by Penguin Random House in March and is for young readers from 2-5 (hey, I could read during part of that range).  As with most good literature, the story allows some learning to sneak in about numbers.

Goodnight Numbers will be available through the usual outlets, though personally I doubt it will be quite as nice to look at in electronic versions.  Of course, you’re mileage may vary.