"Without hyperbole, it is true that i don't think there has ever been on one stage an assembly of science storytellers and communicators like this," said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of the panelists assembled for the debate featured here. We're inclined to agree with him.

After all, it's not every day you get astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicists Brian Greene, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, Science Friday's Ira Flatow, acclaimed science fiction author Neal Stephenson, and Bill "The Bowtie" Nye under one roof chinwagging about "the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science" – but when you do, you do it in a massive auditorium, and you sure as hell record it for posterity.


This is "The Great Debate: The Storytelling of Science," and it features, as Krauss indicates, probably one of the most engaging scientific dream teams to ever congregate in one place. At over two hours long (Part One, above, is just shy of 90 minutes; Part Two, below, runs for just over 45), it's pretty long, but it's definitely something you'll want to set aside time for – if not for today then some time this weekend. Part One features presentations from each of the panelists on their experiences with science and storytelling. Part Two is devoted to a rousing question and answer session, featuring thought-provoking, discussion, debate and dissenting opinion.

Highlights include:

  • Ira Flatow greeting Neil deGrasse Tyson with a fist bump.
  • Richard Dawkins being Richard Dawkins
  • Bill Nye being Bill Nye
  • Starry Night
  • The importance of educating women in science
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson flipping out at Lawrence Krauss and Brian Greene about the motivations behind big-budget science
  • Tyson and Krauss bickering about pretty much anything (there's a lot the two don't see eye to eye on)
  • When you should and shouldn't respect other people's opinion
  • The role of science-/speculative fiction in communicating and understanding science (Dawkins, for one, claims he came to understand information theory through SF. Bill Nye thinks contemporary scifi cifi could stand to return to its days of intense optimism, as characterized by Star Trek.)
  • And much, much more

And if you're into this sort of thing, be sure to check out this video of a 2011 panel about humanity's future in space, featuring Krauss, Nye, Tyson and astronomers Phil Plait and Pamela Gay. Similar format, many of the same speakers, really great stuff.

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