Neil deGrasse Tyson is debuting a new late-night talk show. “StarTalk,” an evolution of his popular podcast of the same name, launches Monday, April 20 at 11 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.
For 10 episodes, the astrophysicist will put a smart spin on late night offerings. Tyson, whose day job is as director of the Hayden Planetarium, welcomes Star Trek’s George Takei as his first guest Monday night. The two will discuss the sci-fi show’s legacy along with astrophysicist Charles Liu and comedian Leighann Lord.
Future episodes, which are filmed with a live studio audience in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, will feature old friend and fellow scientist Bill Nye, former president Jimmy Carter and director Christopher Nolan.
But first, Tyson joined TheWrap for a fan-driven Facebook Q&A on Friday where he revealed his favorite sci-fi flicks, pinpointed the darkest part of night, shared his ideal space sidekick and clarified his stance on Scientology.
1. Tyson will never use the millennial expression “because science” to explain something he doesn’t understand. “Any honest scientist would instead say, ‘We don’t know.’ Personally, I’ve never used the term and never will.”
2. “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Trek IV” make Tyson’s list of favorite cosmos-based movies. “Gravity” was “pretty good too” admits the scientist, even if most of the action took place in Earth’s orbit.
3. Tyson has no problem thinking of Scientology as a religion. “Religions have belief systems. Scientology is a belief system. Is that ‘defending’ it?” he questioned on TheWrap’s Facebook page, referring to some of his recent statements that came under fire. “Whether anybody thinks religions should pay taxes is a cultural/legal question about which I have no opinion.”
4. The phrase “It’s darkest before dawn” is a common misnomer. “The darkest part of any night is the midpoint between sunset and sunrise,” explained Tyson.
5. The former “Cosmos” host enjoys a good sci-fi series as much as the next person. He’s a Torchwood fan and has nothing but praise for Doctor Who. “They bend the laws of physics in creative and intelligent ways.”
6. Tyson’s number one pick for a stratospheric sidekick is Dwayne Johnson. “You should always bring someone who can kick alien butt, just in case that’s necessary,” says the astrophysicist. “Presuming aliens do in fact have buttocks.”
7. Got a question for the “Death By Black Hole” author? He’s probably heard it before. The most common science queries he gets are: Are there aliens? Do scientists believe in God? What are black holes? “I address all three questions in my book,” confides Tyson.
8. Where is mankind headed next? Go long says Tyson. “I occasionally worry that we’re not going anywhere. But when I’m in a sufficiently delusional state I imaging that astronauts will be walking on Mars within fifty years.”
“Star Talk” premieres Monday, April 20 at 11 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel