Stephen Colbert Talks Science with Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

With a fast-mov­ing mix­ture of com­e­dy and seri­ous­ness, an inter­view on The Col­bert Report is some­thing of an impro­vi­sa­tion­al fly­ing trapeze act. “Stephen Col­bert is an amaz­ing­ly good inter­view­er,” writes physi­cist Sean Car­roll, “man­ag­ing to mix top­i­cal jokes and his usu­al schtick with some real­ly good ques­tions, and more than a bit of real back­ground knowl­edge.”

Beneath the humor there is a sense that Col­bert under­stands and respects sci­ence. The sad thing, writes Car­roll, “is that more peo­ple are exposed to real sci­en­tists doing cut­ting-edge research by watch­ing Com­e­dy Cen­tral than by watch­ing, shall we say, cer­tain chan­nels you might have thought more appro­pri­ate venues for such con­ver­sa­tions.” But the expo­sure is all too brief. An inter­view on The Col­bert Report typ­i­cal­ly lasts only a few min­utes.

So it was inter­est­ing when Col­bert stepped away from his comedic char­ac­ter for a more in-depth con­ver­sa­tion with one of his fre­quent guests, astro­physi­cist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The inter­view took place last year at Mont­clair Kim­ber­ley Acad­e­my in Mont­clair, New Jer­sey. Ear­li­er this week Tyson uploaded the video to the web­site of the Hay­den Plan­e­tar­i­um, where he is direc­tor, but the serv­er was over­whelmed by the result­ing surge in traf­fic. So some­one placed the ver­sion above on YouTube. It’s an inter­est­ing, and wit­ty, one-hour-and-19-minute con­ver­sa­tion. For more of Tyson with Col­bert, you can watch his appear­ances on The Col­bert Report at the Hay­den Plan­e­tar­i­um site.

via Kot­tke

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