A couple of nights ago my friend Scott and I took in a live event at the Landmark Theater where the one and only presenter was the fabulous Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. His first question from the stage was “Do you people know what you’ve come to hear about?” It turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering about that, since I only remembered that he was coming and that we bought our tickets last fall.

deGrasse Tyson as cartoon

It turns out the tentative title of the event was The Best And Worst Science in Movies and Commercials. I’m glad he went in this direction because I’ve watched a lot of his lectures on YouTube over the years and even though I was ready and happy to hear him talk about all that same stuff again it was great knowing he’d put together something new. I also noticed that we weren’t the first people getting this lecture as one of his slides showed he’d presented it in Kentucky.

He covered a lot of movies and commercials, although he beat up on one of my favorites, Armageddon, only giving it credit for one true science fact. What I found really interesting is that I only knew half the movies he talked about and not a single commercial… which were mainly beer commercials. None of that mattered though, since he made all of his observations pretty funny and relevant.

He made a very interesting statement early on, something that I, as someone who likes to write and has two video channels, can use in a different vein. He said that it’s always better to know the science of something you want to show before you either try to keep things accurate or want to go in a totally different direction.

As an example he used a clip from one of the Expendables movies (none of which I’ve seen) where the character of Dolph Lundgren says something that he reports as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity when in actuality it was his Second Law of Thermodynamics. The thing is, Lundgren the person would have known the line was incorrect because he had a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in chemical engineering. Truthfully, not knowing the film, I’m sure there was meaning somewhere, but I understood his point. lol

Of course there was one story I was expecting and it’s the one he closed with, that being his interactions with James Cameron about the stars and sky being wrong in the movie Titanic. I’m not going to tell the story here; instead I’m going to let him tell it:


All in all, it was a great night of science, laughter and fun. I was sorry I missed the last time he came to this area in 2014 because I was out of town, but after seeing him this time I know I’m going to work hard to see him if he comes back this way again.

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