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Superstar astrophysicist: Why ‘Star Trek’ beats ‘Star Wars’

You may view “Star Trek” as just another science fiction movie, but world renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t.

Tyson, in the video below, explains that he is a big fan of Star Trek — all of the various television series — because the franchise makes some attempt to use physics to tell its stories. Star Wars never did, and that’s one of the reasons he prefers Star Trek.

Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York,  told Business Insider:

I’m old-school with the big traditional TV and movie series, so I’m old-school Star Trek. I’m partial to the old crew, Captain Kirk.


I never got into Star Wars. Maybe because they made no attempt to portray real physics. At all.


So how does Star Wars do it?  In the following video Tyson and a colleague talk about the astrophysics of  “Star Trek.” He says”

I think Star Treks — all versions of the series — have made admirable attempts to do the right thing with the laws of physics. Where they are on the frontier, that’s where the imagination of the writer … comes in, and that’s just fine. But you can’t undo the well-tested and well-known laws of physics that ought to serve as a foundation for what you’re doing. Otherwise the whole thing just become fantasy  and and you might as well just write stories that are no different from ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Star Wars.’

Here’s how “Star Trek” uses astrophysics, according to Tyson and a colleague:

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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