Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and most shows are in repeats tonight, if not all week. StarTalk is a noted exception, with former President Jimmy Carter tonight’s interview guest. He will talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson about the Carter Centers work in combating disease. Parasitologist Mark Siddall and comedian Chuck Nice join Tyson in the Museum of Natural History (where they film the non-interview portions before an audience). I’ll note that only the first three episodes of this run (President Carter’s episode is the sixth) are available in podcast form. That may change once the full first season has aired.
In the repeats this week there are a few science and technology guests of note. Earlier today (Monday) you could have seen the most recent appearance from The Talk’s technology correspondent Chi-Lan Lieu. On tonight’s (Monday’s) edition of The Tonight Show, you can see Thomas Middleditch’s last appearance, where he was promoting the show Silicon Valley. His co-star Kunail Nanjiani’s April appearance with James Corden will repeat on Thursday. “Science Bob” Pflugfelder’s last appearance with Jimmy Kimmel will be re-aired on Wednesday night.
I neglected to note two segments in Comedy Central programs that touched on science and technology content (listings for this week are not yet available). On the May 12th edition of The Nightly Show, Morgan Freeman discussed his program Through the Wormhole with the 1970s version of host Larry Wilmore (yes, it was weird). On the same night’s edition of @midnight, a photo from Bill Nye’s recent Reddit Ask Me Anything was the source for one of the programs games.
Finally, I note with some pleasure that in David Letterman’s final Late Show he ran a segment of highlights with kids. Many of the clips in that segment featured kid scientists, a signature bit of Letterman’s programs on both NBC and CBS. The final episode is still online through the CBS website, but likely won’t be for very long.
Tonight’s episode of StarTalk focuses on science and religion. The interview guest is Richard Dawkins, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is joined at the Rose Center with comedian Eugene Mirman and Father James Martin. Martin is a Jesuit priest and author who you might remember from his multitude of appearances on The Colbert Report. (While I know Stephen Colbert will be hosting The Late Show as himself, I’d be surprised if Father Martin didn’t make an appearance.)
Speaking of The Late Show, David Letterman ends his hosting tenure on Wednesday. What will happen on that last show has been kept under wraps, so it’s possible you might see clips of past science or technology themed guests (such as the kid scientists Letterman often hosted). Stephen Colbert will take the desk at The Late Show in September.
With the Memorial Day holiday coming this weekend, some shows are in repeats this week (and others will be in repeats next week). Regrettably, there are no chances this week to catch up on any science and technology content you may have missed the first time.
Conan provides the biggest guest of the week, Clio Cresswell. She is a mathematician and is on tonight due to her 2004 book, Mathematics and Sex. A very distant second is a Friday appearance on The Talk by the show’s technology reporter/correspondent Chi-Lan Lieu.
I’ve discussed the recently released robot films already, but there are a few movies coming soon with science or technology themes worth your attention.
The Slingshot documentary, focusing on the water purification device developed by Dean Kamen, should see a limited release sometime in July. More details (and dates for other screenings) are available on the film’s website.
Another documentary coming soon focuses on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (H/T ScienceInsider). Seeds of Time will be released in New York and Los Angeles later this month. It tracks the efforts of Cary Fowler as he works with the Global Crop Diversity Trust to solidify and secure seed stocks for the global seed vault.
The fictional entry in this list is Good Kill, which opened in the U.S. this weekend. The film follows drone operators in the United States as they deal with the fighting they are conducting overseas. It stars Ethan Hawke and is directed by Andrew Niccol, who also directed the film Gattaca about a future society where genetics determines social standing (among other things).
It’s an week for science and technology guests, with Chi-Lan Lieu, technology reporter for The Talk, on both Thursday and Friday. With the network upfront presentations this week, some shows are showing repeats for part of the week, though none are worth noting here.
Even StarTalk this week isn’t strong on the science and technology. Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington is the interview guest, and Chuck Nice and journalist Jeff Jarvis is joining Neil deGrasse Tyson in studio.
This week there are more appearances by cast members from HBO’s Silicon Valley. Zach Woods stays up late with Carson Daly on Tuesday, and Thomas Middleditch is on with Seth Meyers Wednesday. Tatiana Masley, who plays several clones on Orphan Black, visits Kelly and Michael Wednesday morning, and Seth that night.
The big guest of the week is “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, who returns to Jimmy Kimmel’s program on a rare Friday night episode (Kimmel’s program is typically repeats on Fridays).
I’ve posted about half of this year’s videos from the Science Rap Academy guided by rapper and educator Tom McFadden. There are two I haven’t posted about that are worth at least as much love and sharing as the others.
Prey (Shake ’em Off) uses one of Taylor Swift’s more persistent earworms as the basis for explaining predator-prey relationships.
My personal favorite of this year’s crop is Proteins, probably because it builds off an even bigger earworm from Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. That the ladies in the video have pipes certainly helps (though that’s true for Prey as well).
I’m not sure when the next edition of Science Rap Academy will run, but I doubt it will be soon enough.
On tonight’s episode of StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson jumps into biology. His interview guest is relationship expert Dan Savage, and his in studio guests are comedian Chuck Nice and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. (If you can’t get StarTalk on your television, a podcast version of each episode should be available the following weekend.)
While stars from the latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, continue to promote the film, you can catch one of the leads in Ex Machina this week. Alicia Vikander sits down with Conan O’Brien Tuesday night and with Carson Daly late Thursday night.
The biggest deal this week is Ernest Moniz, the Secretary of Energy. He will visit with Jon Stewart on Wednesday, and I expect the Secretary’s involvement in the Iranian nuclear negotiations will be a theme in the interview (along with his hair, but Stewart hosts a comedy news program).
On to the other guests. T.J. Miller, a comedian who also plays one of the tech entrepreneurs on the Silicon Valley television show, is on Conan tonight. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, will be running for the Republican presidential nomination. That likely explains her appearance with Seth Meyers on Tuesday night. (That Meyers, and not Tonight Show host Fallon, has been speaking with presidential candidates is worth noting). And since it seems rare to have a week without someone who plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons takes his turn visiting Live With Kelly and Michael on Friday.
There is plenty of science and technology content in past programs worth noting. @midnight had segments on the Progress space vessel spinning out of control (April 29) and the discovery of a new dinosaur (April 30). The week before, The Daily Show had segments on GMOs and the National Security Agency’s recycling program.
Robert Marc Freidman is an historian of science and a playwright. His theatrical works include “Remembering Miss Meitner,” covering the flight of physicist Lise Meitner’s departure from pre-war Germany and later career in Sweden, and “Transcendence,” a work currently going through public readings. The premiere performance is expected in Berlin this November, as part of the commemoration of the centenary of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Commissioned by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, “Transcendence: Relativity and Its Discontents” covers the years leading up to Albert Einstein being awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physics. Worth remembering is that Einstein was not recognized for his work in relativity, but for his work on the photoelectric effect. A member of the committee responsible for awarding the Physics prize, Allvar Gullstrand, did his best to block Einstein from being recognized with a Nobel. Carl Wilhelm Oseen, a member of the committee that sought to recognize Einstein’s work. Also part of the play are Max Planck, who encouraged Einstein to move to Berlin from Zurich, and Franz Kafka, who corresponded with Einstein during this period.
While this is a new commissioned work by Friedman, his 2001 book The Politics of Excellence certainly informed “Transcendence.” The book covers the politics behind the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics, including Einstein’s. If you can’t wait for the November premiere (or won’t be able to be in Berlin), I’d seek out the book to tide you over.