By Ron Sparkman | @UpportunityU
Neil Degrasse Tyson‘s StarTalk Radio is my favorite podcast on the net and I was thrilled to hear that it was getting a T.V. show earlier this year. For those that don’t know, beyond the T.V. show, there are also StarTalk Live events all across the country. This particular one was in Austin, TX during Fun Fun Fun Fest. And it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.
For me, this trip almost didn’t happen. Just a few days prior I’d been hit by food poisoning. Getting on a plane was the last thing on my mind, but there wasn’t any way possible that I was going to miss my chance to see Bill Nye in person for the first time. As echoes of “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” rang in my head, I forced myself into through airport security and headed to Austin to check out the show with fellow space enthusiast, Billy Michelson. The line at Austin City Limits was by far the longest I’ve ever seen it and this wasn’t my first time at the venue. This also wasn’t the first time this year I’d been in the audience of a sold out science show, as I’d seen Neil Degrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku at events earlier this year in front of completely packed houses. There was a buzz in the air that I can’t really explain. How many of the people in this room had been influenced like I had by Bill, Neil, or StarTalk?! As Bill Nye strode out on stage to thunderous applause, I knew this one going to be one to remember.
The timing for this show was perfect, as it had the overarching tones of the importance of comedy and science just as the episode of StarTalk TV with Larry Wilmore the Sunday prior. The main focus for this show was creativity and the usual crew of Bill Nye, Eugene Mirman, and Maeve Higgins, were joined by Dr. Roberta Ness and Dr. Arthur Markman. The creativity principles discussed stirred my curiosity on if we had finally found the way to mass science literacy: the mixing of science with entertainment. Sold out crowds to science shows are becoming more and more common and it seems as if the balance of comedy with science is the reason. You can’t go wrong with laughing while you learn. I’m looking forward to checking out Roberta Ness’s books in the near future. She was brilliant and put a million ideas into my head. Probably a good thing coming from a creativity expert.
After the show wrapped up with an entertaining Q n’ A, I was fortunate enough to go backstage to meet Bill Nye thanks to StarTalk’s Patreon (more on that in a moment). Over the last few years, I have fallen in love with, space, science, and the desire to see others with that same passion. Neil Degrasse Tyson and Cosmos inspired me to be more than I was capable of. Bill was a huge part of all of that. He has, with his incredible books like Undeniable –how was it NOT UndeNYEable– he taught me all about evolution and the world around me…and most importantly how we can save it. So to say I was a little nervous to meet one of the most exciting men in science was a bit of an understatement. Nothing to be worried about. He was warm and funny. He was happy to give a selfie worthy of a few hundred “Likes” on Facebook, after which he promptly doled out the business card you see at the top of this piece promoting The Planetary Society! And while he had a thousand people or so outside waiting to get his new book, Unstoppable, autographed, we never felt rushed to go. He gladly shook our hands and talked to us for a while, even telling us a great story about the half-ton palette of the book that showed up at his house for him to sign for all the Kickstarter’s patrons. Speaking of, he has a new movie coming out soon all about how we can…dare we say it…change the world! He was exactly the person I hoped he’d be and he only further inspired me to continue chasing my dream. Thanks, Bill!
So how can YOU get backstage? Through Patreon. If you’ve not heard of it yet, Patreon is opening up the world to the artists that are creating the content that we love, StarTalk’s Patreon in particular has put out a helluva perks package. At one of the levels, you get the chance to go backstage and meet the hosts of the show Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and possibly some of their co-hosts. It’s worth it. Trust me. The smile on my face says it all. A very special thanks to the crew behind StarTalk. They are the best at what they do and make this experience wonderful. Since there’s another upcoming show in San Francisco next month with Bill, I thought this a perfect time to share my experience. If you haven’t yet bought your tickets yet, click here. Don’t forget to check out StarTalk on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and on Nat Geo!