When you think of what famous filmmakers do in their spare time, what comes to mind? Maybe write their next screenplay? Maybe sit by a fire and think deeply on how cinema reflects life? What about taking their submarine and exploring the deepest parts of the ocean?
On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with filmmaker and explorer James Cameron to discuss how imagination, exploration, and innovation have been the main factors in his multidimensional career. In studio, Neil is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist and StarTalk All-Stars host Charles Liu.
We start in the beginning and Jim tells us who inspired him growing up – would you be at all surprised if he said Jacques Cousteau? You’ll find out about his deep love of science from a very early age as well as his deep love for the ocean.
Then, we dive into some of his most notable films including The Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar. You’ll hear why Jim was inspired to make Titanic, and it wasn’t because he wanted to make a movie. We discuss Avatar and Neil confronts Jim about the “science” of the floating mountains on Pandora. You’ll also learn why the ocean served as inspiration for the eclectic range of life on Pandora, and why Jim thinks the details are the most important thing when building epic worlds on film.
After that, Chuck leads Neil and Charles in a game of “Outer Space or Underwater” and tries to stump our two astrophysicists with questions on where certain life forms come from: science fiction or the ocean. You’ll hear about Jim’s voyage to the Mariana Trench and the process of building the submarine that took him there, the Deapsea Challenger. Neil and Jim discuss the possibilities of exploration on Europa and Enceladus. Chuck also learns about the many ways you can die in the universe –including death by black hole – to the delight of Neil and Charles.
All that, plus, Jim asks Neil a well-thought-out Cosmic Query and we ponder if sending artists into space is a facet of the next generation of space exploration.
Please join us tomorrow night for The Spirit of Exploration, with James Cameron at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!