Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, discussed how the US can once again become a space-faring, innovative society, as well as various space-related topics such as asteroids. Though the Space Race, in which the US competed with the Soviet Union, was fueled by militaristic concerns, he argued that the prospect of economic return could be a strong motivator for new space exploration. NASA could serve as an inspiration for innovation, so that people will "invent a tomorrow that we don't have today," he said, adding that NASA could assure America's economic strength in the 21st century. Other countries have begun to surpass the US in their space exploration, investing in the technological infrastructure, and reaping the benefits that the inspiration is bringing to their populace, while America has become complacent, he commented.
Regarding the current move toward private space enterprise, Tyson pointed out that NASA has engaged private companies since the 1960s, such as Grumman who made the lunar excursion module that landed on the moon. Exploiting the efficiencies of free enterprise can help NASA advance the frontiers, he noted. Yet it must be NASA rather than private companies that leads and paves the way for space exploration, he suggested, explaining that initial explorations have unquantified risks that can't return an investment for businesses.
Tyson talked about different types of asteroid and meteorite impacts such as the one that recently hit Russia. Interestingly, the area of destruction can actually be larger when the object detonates in the air (such as Tunguska), as it covers a larger swath than when it hits the ground, he said. Looking out over the next 10 years, he hopes we'll find traces of life, past or present, on Mars, though he believes it won't be found on the surface which is too exposed to energy from the sun that is destructive to complex molecules. Tyson hosts his own show, StarTalk Radio, which explores the intersection between pop culture and science.
Robert Davi In Studio
In the first hour, actor/singer Robert Davi joined George in the studio for a conversation about his varied career, as well as his paranormal experiences. He recounted how as a college student he became afflicted with a devastating auto immune disorder, and was hospitalized. But after receiving a pair of rosary beads blessed by Padre Pio, he was cured and out of the hospital within a week. Davi talked about a number of the roles he's played such as the villain Franz Sanchez in the James Bond movie License to Kill (he'll next be seen in The Iceman), as well as his musical career in which he's interpreted songs from the Great American Songbook, which he praised for its lyricism and storytelling.