Neil DeGrasse-Tyson

interstellar.black_.hole_

As one might expect following the release of any highly anticipated film from a well-respected director, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was met with some rave reviews but also some harsh criticisms. All character issues aside, many people have been taking aim at the science in the film. It seems odd that such scrutiny is given to a movie when the director’s previous film involved a billionaire who dressed up as a bat to fight crime, who also managed to heal a broken back with a rope and some push-ups in an undisclosed hell-prison with only a dedicated CNN feed and an insane inmate to keep him company, but there you go. In fact, all the science dissection of Interstellar prompted celebrity astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to offer his support for the film’s underlying scientific themes. He certainly enjoyed the film and was willing to forgive a number of science fiction issues, but we have to remember that the CBS interviewers are asking the difference between a black hole and a wormhole, so there’s a certain degree of dumbing down his answers needed. Tyson also claims Contact to be his favorite and the most realistic science fiction movie he’s ever seen, so we have to wonder if he’s just pushing for the McConaissance above all else. Instead of focusing on a sweeping examination of the science as a whole in Interstellar, I have to wonder about one part, and let’s give a big, fat SPOILER ALERT before getting to it. If you haven’t seen Interstellar, you’ll […]

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Neil deGrasse Tyson in Cosmos

Who knew that all it would take to get America back into science was a little push from the guy behind Family Guy? Yes, the voice of Stewie, Seth MacFarlane. In the Q&A following the premiere of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey at the SXSW Film Festival this week, both writer Ann Dryan, the widow and longtime collaborator of Carl Sagan, and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the new face of Cosmos, were both effusive in their praise of MacFarlane and his ability to sell a long-dead show about time and space and the scientific method to the overlords at Fox. Yes, we’re still talking about that Seth MacFarlane and we are talking about that Fox. It’s an impressive feat that this thing even exists. More impressive is the bold and massive scale of what Carl Sagan’s vision has become. CLICK HERE to read more at Nonfics

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Neil deGrasse Tyson in Cosmos

More than 30 years ago, PBS had a hit with Carl Sagan‘s often trippy Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a show that brought the mysteries of the universe to life for millions. In fact, until 1990 when PBS debuted The Civil War, it was the most watched program in the history of public broadcasting. Space might never have been cooler, save for that time we first walked on the moon (which coincidentally happened 44-years ago this weekend). In the spring of 2014, now-famous man of science Neil deGrasse Tyson will produce and host a show that will carry on Sagan’s legacy, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The Fox and National Geographic-produced show will have a 13-episode first season run and will a modern version of Sagan’s spacecraft, modern effects and further exploration of our universe — from the molecular level to the deepest reaches of space. At Comic-Con this weekend, Fox debuted the show’s first trailer, which you can watch just after the jump.

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Culture Warrior

From the second half of the twentieth century onward, our view of NASA and its associated lore in movies have been inseparable. The astronaut, a uniquely American frontier hero whose myth and iconography made them the cowboy of the second half of the 20th century, has a position in our cultural memory that is inseparable from cinematic imagination. From pre-moon landing science fiction that dreamed of potential encounters with distant worlds through an organized space program (Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey) to reenactments of history celebrating the space program and the individuals involved (The Right Stuff, Apollo 13) to NASA/moon landing documentaries (For All Mankind, In the Shadow of the Moon) to later, more divergent science-fiction films that have emerged since the prominence of NASA has lessened (Armageddon and so on), NASA, space exploration, the moon landing, and its imagined associations have retained a prominent place in cinematic mythmaking prompted by continued fascination with the frontier of space and humanity’s place in it. Hell, we’ve wondered about the moon since the beginning of cinema. That our collective experience of space in both fiction (i.e., narrative cinema) and non-fiction has been via the moving image (i.e., watching the moon landing on TV) is perhaps what most thoroughly cements this porous association between NASA and its cinematic myth.

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published: 12.18.2014
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