Current Weather
The Spy FM

Neil deGrasse Tyson Helps His New ‘Bud’ Superman Get A Glimpse Of Home

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
December 3, 2012

On Monday’s Morning Edition, Hayden Planetarium director and pop-culture go-to science guy tells NPR’s David Greene the story of how he came to lend a hand to Superman.

DC Comics, Tyson explains, approached him for permission to use the Planetarium — as well as his likeness — in a story where Superman witnesses the destruction of Krypton, since the light from the distant planet is just now arriving on Earth. Tyson told them that he was happy to help, and that instead of just making up the story of Superman seeing Krypton, he could help them ground it in at least some actual science.

Okay, so here’s how Tyson explains it: Superman didn’t age during his trip to Earth, because he was still an infant upon arrival, meaning he must have traveled here through a wormhole with his little ship. If he’s in his late 20s now (the estimate DC provided) and this is the time when he can witness the explosion of his home planet, then the planet is 27 or so light years away.

While it’s impossible to see planets that far away, you can see stars, so Tyson picked out a real, existing, actual red star — its name is LHS2520 if you would like to send it a congratulatory note — to serve as the star around which Krypton orbits.

The story, of course, is somewhat emotional for poor Superman, who already knows what’s coming (he has perhaps the ultimate spoiler alert), but can only watch helplessly, given that … well, it happened 27 years ago.

Would it really be possible to see the misery so far away? Tyson says the answer is … sort of. There’s a method that can be used to make multiple telescopes work together to form an interferometer — a super-powerful device that, in the comic, is so big that it “turn[s] the entire earth into one coherent telescope.” Of course, that requires Superman to muster the power of all the telescopes on earth and get them working together, which Tyson admits in real life would be a teensy bit difficult.

It’s still difficult, of course, to be the guy who has to watch home disappear. David Greene naturally asks whether Tyson gave Superman a nice hug. “It was a huggable moment. Maybe the next panel would have had me hugging him,” Tyson says.

It’s hard work being an astrophysicist, but in this case, Tyson says he was happy to “assist Superman in his time of need.” Superman, of course, is special. “I would not have done it for Aquaman.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

12AM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center