Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Underneath the Actuality Shield:   

Underneath the Actuality Shield:


Pearl River Flow:  “We’re interviewing world-famous astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson today, it’s certainly the biggest interview we’ve been able to do so far, and we’re honored to have him on the show.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “Well, you know, you say ‘we’ but, actually, there’s only one of you.”

PRF: “Okay, good point, Neil, I was using the editorial ‘we,’ so let’s…”

NDT: “Also, while you are in fact, interviewing me today, by the time people read this interview, the day that they read it won’t be today. They’ll become time travellers, simply by…”

PRF: “Okay, right, but it’ll be ‘today’ to them, or they can look at the date stamp and…”

NDT: “And while you say it’s the ‘biggest’ interview you’ve ever done, the mass of all the interviews is negligible, so you could perhaps say it’s going to be your most popular interview, or I am your largest guest, if that’s true.”

PRF: “That’s true. Our other interviews were mostly small woodland creatures and Phil Bryant. I think you're larger than him.”

NDT: “That must have smelled awful. Did you know our sense of smell is actually a sense of chemical touch? The molecules in the air directly touch our olfactory nerves, creating impulses that the brain references with memories, allowing us to identify what we mistakenly call ‘smells.’ Also, did you know that hate, being a chemical interaction inside the neurons of the brain, has a weight, or more technically, a mass?"

PRF: “Is that a mistake? That doesn’t feel like a mistake. Also, the woodland creatures smelled fine.”

NDT: "Woodland creatures smell wonderful. I know that. They smell of starstuff. We're all made of starstuff. Even Phil Bryant."

PRF: "Are you telling me that the 'hatestar' is real?"

NDT: *Chuckling merrily* "No comment. But, hate does have a smell."

PRF: "Alright, can we get to the first question?"

NDT: *Chuckling a little more merrily* "You mean the second question?"

PRF: "Goddamnit, Neil, don't do this to me."

NDT: "When you say you're honored to have me 'on the show,' are you suggesting that I am, somehow, standing on top of it? Given four dimensions of space, the only one that I can be said to reside 'above' your readers is in the 'time' dimension, where if we arbitrarily - because all directions are arbitrary - designate 'before' as 'above,' then I am in fact 'above' or 'on' your 'show,' even though it's not what is traditionally understood as a 'show,' it's a written interview."

PRF: "I must confess to a certain amount of inexactitude in my English, Neil. I like a little poetry, leaving things open to interpretation."

NDT: "So I am forced to translate from 'muddled idiot' into 'science english.' After having seen Prometheus, I am up to the task."

PRF: "Did you really see Prometheus, or was it just photons..."

NDT: "Hey, no. I do that. Not you. Cut that out."

PRF: "Alright the..."

NDT: *Waiting expectantly*

PRF: *Sighs, counts on fingers* "Uh, mistake, Hatestar, first question.. Okay, alright, the forth question. 

NDT: "Excellent!"

PRF: "Do you think that aliens would purposefully contact human, or post-human civilizations?"

NDT: "What do you know about the squirrel plan?!"

PRF: "I'm with the beavers, Tyson. It's okay."

NDT: "We get Mars, flat-tail."

PRF: "Okay, okay, chill out."

NDT: "Did you know that most liquids contract, rather than expand, when they freeze? Water's an exception, it's crystalline structure causes it to take up more space than it's liquid form. So on a world where water was not the main liquid, thinking creatures might say 'chill in,' because their liquids would contract when frozen."

PRF: "That's actually kind of.... cool."

NDT: *Laughs giddily like a schoolgirl*

PRF: "So, if we lived on a world with a different non-water liquid, it would shrink when it froze, and wouldn't float to the top of the lake or ocean or whatever? It would sink to the bottom?"

NDT: "Yes, retaining it's cold, not being thawed out by the lifegiving sun." *At the mention of 'life-giving sun' Tyson kneels, touches the floor with his right knuckle, then raises his left fist to the sky before mouthing a word I cannot hear* "Therefore, oceans made of a non-water liquid would freeze an Earthlike planet, turning it into a lifeless snowball."

PRF: "Whoa. Did you cover that on Cosmos?"

NDT: "I didn't want to terrify you all into sleepless nights."

PRF: "But you did that whole thing on 'The Great Dying.' I couldn't sleep for a week, knowing that we're basically doing the same thing to the ocean now."

NDT: "Ah, the Great Dying. Hail Satan."

PRF: "What?"

NDT: "Good friend of mine. Let's carry on."

PRF: "I'd really like to come back to what you just said..."

NDT: "The Great Dying wasn't that great, but there was a hell of a lot of dying. Like, everything dead. *There is a bit of a glimmer in his eye here, but I cannot tell if it is sadness or joy* Most everything in the oceans died as it became an anoxic pit of poison, spewing clouds of toxic methane gases out over the continents. Even the trilobites, who had survived on the Earth for most of the history of multicellular life, enduring meteors, comets, volcanoes, the appearance of predators, diseases, parasites - even they were wiped from the book of life, swept by the cold hand of the Death Ocean into the Halls of Extinction."

PRF: "So I was searching the phrase 'Death Ocean' to come up with a pithy clip of a Death Metal band playing the song, but every time I typed it in, all these articles were about how we're actually killing the oceans."

NDT: "You mean 'that thing that's most of the Planet?"

PRF: "We're fucked, aren't we?"

NDT: "Fucking would imply some sort of coitus. When we've killed the oceans, we will simply cease to exist, after centuries of hopeless torment."

PRF: "I think we're going to end on that note."

NDT: "Actually, the note we end on will be the strangled cry of the infant in the crib as clouds of methane flow over what's left of the straggling, starving dregs of humanity, torn down in the peak of their civilization from their gleaming cities and hopeful concrete temples, to choke and bleed in the streets as they fight over the last few grains of corn that were harvested years ago from poisoned fields of blood..."

PRF: "Cut off the mic. Cut it all off. End the transmission, damnit! Why is he smiling?! WHY IS HE SMILING!?

NDT: "...actually, when you say 'hope,' as in 'there's hope for the future,' what you really mean is 'I want the future to be this way' but the Universe doesn't care, it..."


We regret losing another Pearl River Flow intern team. We are now hiring. We do not, as it is, 'pay,' though the 'exposure' is great, so bring weather-appropriate gear. You will be expected to fight raccoons for your daily snack allowance.