StarTalk Podcast: Cosmic Queries – Get Some Space, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

It’s grab bag time! Because we get so many questions submitted for our numerous Cosmic Queries episodes, we can never get to them all. Enter the Grab Bag Edition. On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice are answering an eclectic set of fan-submitted questions covering topics from all across the spectrum of science.

We start with a fan-favorite topic: black holes. Can anything survive a black hole? Neil explains why it’s all fun and games until the tidal forces kick in. You’ll learn more about the general theory of relativity, string theory, Hawking radiation, and whether particles can reach the speed of light while falling into a black hole. You’ll also learn how we now know that a black hole isn’t a portal.

Next, which would be a more groundbreaking discovery: understanding dark matter or discovering extraterrestrial life? Neil tells us why that depends on what we discover about dark matter. We explore DNA-based life and the possibilities of whether it could exist elsewhere in the universe. Find out about colonizing other planets and why Antarctica can shed light on humans traveling to Mars.

We discuss the variations in budget for science vs. military funding. Neil explains why humanity has lost a few centuries of growth due to people standing in denial of natural forces relative to the supernatural. We investigate the horizon problem. Discover how astronomers concluded that the edge of the observable universe is 43 billion light years away.

Lastly, we reflect on the work of Sir Isaac Newton. How was he able to stay focused on his work while a plague was happening? All that, plus, Neil shares his thoughts on the simulation theory and we ponder ways to make science more popular with the public.

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About the prints that flank Neil in this video:
"Black Swan” & "White Swan" limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver,

About StarTalk:
Science meets pop culture on StarTalk! Astrophysicist & Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, his comic co-hosts, guest celebrities & scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe. Keep Looking Up!

Originally aired June 29, 2020.

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