Starship Spitzer presents: The Bots of Both Worlds

Many months ago, I went over to the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech to record this episode of Spaceship Spitzer. I played a (hopefully) humorous semi-parody of myself, and I also did the voice for the robot called Irwin. What I didn't know until I saw this yesterday was that Amy Okuda, who plays Tinkerballa on The Guild, was also in this (because we didn't work at the same time.)

Hey guess what? If you have a pair of those red and blue 3D glasses, you can also watch it in 3D, which I understand is all the rage among the damn kids today.

I'm super proud of this video, and I'm honored to be part of something like this, because it makes science accessible to younger people, while making it entertaining for them and for adults. You'll notice that I didn't say "makes science cool," because I believe that science already is cool.

I hope that programs like Starship Spitzer will do for today's children what series like Cosmos and guys like The Star Hustler did for me when I was a kid: get me excited not just about what's out there, but helped me experience the thrill of exploring and understanding it.

Listen, do me a favor: go outside tonight, and look up at the moon. While you do that, consider this inspirational line from last night's Big Bang Theory, (which I'll paraphrase because I can't find it online): Our species went to the moon and left evidence of our visit there, just sixty years after barely achieving flight. Which goes like this: "…there are man-made objects on the moon, put there by a member of a species that only 60 years before had just invented the airplane." (Thanks, karohemd!)

We have to understand our universe. We have to know what's out there. I think we have to keep looking up, and we have to keep exploring, because if we keep screwing up our own planet in the relentless pursuit of even more money for jerks who could don't care about the rest of us, we're going to need someplace to go.

51 thoughts on “Starship Spitzer presents: The Bots of Both Worlds”

  1. it certainly is a very cool video. thanks for sharing it. I wish they had programs like that here in Russia.
    (omg, and so many Star Trek quotes…)
    can’t watch the moon tonight – it’s too cloudy here. looked at it through my new telescope on Saturday, though.
    thanks again!

  2. Excellent stuff. Bringing science close to people who would otherwise not be interested is a fine thing to do.
    I loved the episode Felicia Day did for this as well.
    Oh, is Amy in any way related to Mike (as in Okudagrams)?
    Re Leonard’s quote: Checking my DVR brings up:
    “The fact that we can do this is the only way of definitively proving that there are man-made objects on the moon, put there by a member of a species that only 60 years before had just invented the airplane.”

  3. I am looking forward to reading Wheatonesque, especially the chapter where you sit in a corner eating Chapstick. (Also, Wil Songs didn’t make me think whale songs, but rather Hillsong. I feel a sudden urge to sway back and forth and send you money.)

  4. OK this is sweet and all, but could they, like, have found a worse co-star for the role of scientist chick? I mean, like, come on. Could she be any ditzier?
    I’m sort of reminded of the Monty Python sketch with the aliens and the scotsmen, except there, it was meant ironically.
    I also think this could be way shorter. Remember Silverhawks? They nailed these.
    Sorry, I’m all out of nice things to say tonight. Check back tomorrow.
    Oh yeah, love your interview picture (this one’s on loan from tomorrow).

  5. Just wanted to say that the video is fun, it repeats the knowledge in an entertaining way, and that I can’t wait to see what WilSongs is like.
    I can only imagine that it consists of you trying to talk whale in a manner similar to the Dory character in Finding Nemo… for 12 tracks.
    And one other thing. One of the local (SF Bay Area) PBS stations still has short clips from the Star Hustler except i think he changed his name.

  6. Sweet! They used the YouTube 3D extensions so you can actually watch it as cross-eyed 3D video too. If you’ve never tried that before, give it a shot. Practice with some still images first. Amazing what our eyes can do!

  7. Thanks for the awesome overload. I adore the Spitzer videos so this made my day. Maybe someday on RFB you could read an excerpt from Wheatonesque or play a tune from Wil Songs (which I assume is just you making ‘gronk gronk’ sounds into the microphone).

  8. YES! Tuba-bot FTW!
    Oh, yeah … you were pretty good too, Wil :)
    And in response to one of your replies:
    Barth: OK this is sweet and all, but could they, like, have found a worse co-star for the role of scientist chick? I mean, like, come on. Could she be any ditzier?
    You: She’s supposed to be a little ditzy; that’s part of the humor.
    So, you’re saying she was channelling Penny and Leonard’s future love child? ;)

  9. Great work on the IR-1 bot character. However your Wil Wheaton characterization was a little lacking. Here, I have some notes for your take a look at….

  10. My kids kept coming over to the computer to see what i was watching – cool (on so many levels)! My father dabbled in astronomy for a considerable part of my childhood. He had a telescope that you could hold in your arms (about 1ft diam and 2ft long) and peer at the moon! he even had a bigger one that would track the moon path through the sky. Perhaps here is where the love of star wars was rooted to – loved the SW references, btw! We would visit the University of Texas observatory where they would use their mondo bondo super high powered telescope (located on campus) to let the public view various items in space (clarify – not the McDonald Observatory)!

  11. Wheatonesque – is that, like, something you can do to your facebook profile picture? “Click here to Wheatonesque your photo!” ;-)

  12. So, where can I buy this “Wheatonesque” book of which you speak? And that “Wil Songs” album? Huh? Huh? Huh? Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah! Huh? Huh? Huh?
    (Why am I suddenly reminded of Zim?) (:

  13. Enjoyed the episode. Interesting that the cast includes veterans of both the Star Trek and Babylon 5 universes (Ed Wasser from B5 (“Morden”) voiced the IR-2 robot).

  14. Hey Wil,
    This was awesquee!
    You’re a “celebrity”… and your voice and likeness was used in a fictitious manner!
    From WilSongs(tm):
    Celebrate cool science- come on! (Let’s celebrate)
    There’s some science goin’ on right here
    A celebration to last throughout light-years
    So bring your big bang, and your nerdsquee too
    We gonna celebrate cool science with you!

  15. If we really end up destroying our own planet, I don’t think we deserve the skills needed to travel to another planet.

  16. Aw, that was really cute (and informative). I snort-laughed repeatedly and I’m going to start measuring things in “Irwins”. Well done.
    Cheers.

  17. Hmm.. I figgered that the WilSongs disk would be Wil singing some classic oldies: Mr. Tambourine Man, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and Spleen!
    Is it available on itunes, yet?
    Later, I’ll check out the 3D, since I collect that kinda stuff, it’ll be cool to hear Wil in 3 dimensions!

  18. That video is frickin hilarous! Thanks for sharing, man.
    “Irwin” definitely stole the show, but Cheesy Wil was pretty funny, too.

  19. “…if we keep screwing up our own planet in the relentless pursuit of even more money for jerks who could don’t care about the rest of us, we’re going to need someplace to go.”
    I was just talking about this with my husband last night.
    Sigh…too true.
    Oh, and we are still waiting on that eating Chap Stick thing. (That’s my way of saying that I’m really enjoying the comments in this post.)

  20. Wow, I’m glad that was just coffee I was drinking while watching otherwise both me and the laptop would be 3 sheets to the wind. Um… didn’t anyone else play Wil’s drinking game? Oh.
    Umm… well. Carry on.

  21. I guess I’m living behind the moon for some time now, so forgive me if this has been asked before: Amy Okuda? Any relations to Michael and Denise? My google-fu gave not a definitive answer…

  22. That was excellent. Good work there, Wil!
    We loved this week’s Big Bang: my wife bounces a laser off the moon as part of her job. The beauty of BBT is that they mostly get the science right. She operates a 3.5 meter telescope in New Mexico and it was featured on Mythbusters a couple of years ago, National Geographic last year, and she was in Smithsonian Magazine a couple of months ago.

  23. That was Great !!!- two new Whil Wheatons for me this week !
    “The Wheaton Recurrence” finally aired in Australia.
    So now we have “Shove a cork in it Wheaton” to alternate with a growled “Wheaton…”
    I really appreciate your writing as well!

  24. “We have to understand our universe. We have to know what’s out there. I think we have to keep looking up, and we have to keep exploring, because if we keep screwing up our own planet in the relentless pursuit of even more money for jerks who don’t care about the rest of us, we’re going to need someplace to go.”
    QFFT. Events of the past 1.5 months have added proof to this assertion. BTW, who would’ve thought Kevin Costner and James Cameron would end up possibly cleaning up BP’s mess?

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