Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to the National Geographic Channel with a brand-new season of "StarTalk" tonight (Oct. 1).
Season 4 of the talk show will feature interviews with big science celebrities like Stephen Hawking and Jane Goodall as well as pop culture stars like Katy Perry and Stephen Colbert. As always, comedians like Chuck Nice will be there to chime in with side-splitting commentary.
In tonight's season premiere, world-champion cyclist Lance Armstrong and bioethicist Arthur Caplan will discuss the ethics of performance-enhancing drugs and the science of riding a bicycle. [Op-Ed: Neil Tyson's 'StarTalk' Turns TV Talk Shows Topsy-Turvy]
Other discussions this season will cover the science of basketball (with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), the intersection of science fiction and national defense, and the art of navigating by the stars.
Although Tyson is a professional astrophysicist, his talk show covers a broad range of general science topics in a way that is so amusing, you just might forget that you're actually learning something.
"While you may come for the celebrity, you stay for the science," Tyson told Space.com. "In the end, you learn that science touches all of our lives all the time. But we use celebrities as an excuse to communicate that fact."
Celebrities don't need any kind of scientific background or expertise to come on the show, "but you also learn that many celebrities have sort of a geek underbelly," Tyson said.
For example, in his interview with Abdul-Jabbar, Tyson learned that the basketball star actually wanted to be an actor. Tyson said to him, "Dude, you're 10 feet tall. How are you going to be an actor?" Abdul-Jabbar then revealed that he always thought he'd make an excellent Chewbacca in the "Star Wars" movies.
Tyson said that if you're looking to learn about astrophysics, "StarTalk" probably won't be much help. However, you may be interested in his latest book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," which has been on the New York Times' best-seller list for over four months.
New episodes of "StarTalk" will air Sundays at 11 p.m. ET (10 p.m. CT) on the National Geographic Channel.