Famed astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night to chat about closet geekiness and searching for life elsewhere in the Solar System.
When Colbert asked Tyson who his ideal guest on his National Geographic TV show StarTalk would be, Tyson said:
“My perfect guest is someone who you would have had no idea had a tender geek underbelly.”
Tyson illustrated his point with a stroking gesture that Colbert immediately lampooned him for. “That’s too tender!” he said.
For example, this season Tyson had David Crosby, founder of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, on the show, and found out the singer and guitarist was an avid science fiction fan when he was younger.
Turns out, Colbert was too. “I read a lot of [Carl] Sagan when I was young,” he said.
Colbert and Tyson also talked about the recent finding of liquid water on Mars.
“Follow the water is the mantra of NASA,” Tyson said and continued that wherever there’s water on Earth, we find life.
Tyson cautioned that just because there’s water on Mars, it shouldn’t bias us toward thinking there’s life. But why not look for it? he said.
Europa, a moon of Jupiter with an icy, subsurface ocean, is another place Tyson said we might find life. According to Tyson, the gravity on Jupiter is stressing the shape of the moon, which may generate enough heat to melt ice. And Europa’s had millions of years for life to develop.
“I want to go ice fishing on Europa – see what swims up and licks the camera,” Tyson said.
If we found life on Europa, we’d have to call them Europeans, Tyson added.
A new episode of StarTalk airs Sunday, Nov. 1 at 11 pm ET (10 pm CT).
Watch the full segment here: