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Neil deGrasse Tyson on StarTalk, Stephen Colbert being the brainiest celeb he's met

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He’s the hippest astrophysicist on the planet (can any others say they have over 4 million Twitter followers?) and on Sunday, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular podcast and science-based talk show, StarTalk, will return for a second season on the Nat Geo channel.  

This year, Tyson will chat with celebs and self-proclaimed geeks like Bill Clinton, Trevor Noah, and Larry Wilmore.

“They just like what the interviews have been,” Tyson says of the long list of famous names hoping to be a part of his show. “They want to show a different side of themselves. Plus there’s enough geek within us all that no matter your level of celebrity, we can find it.” Still, he insists his guests don’t have to have a ton of knowledge about science in order to be on StarTalk. “They’re pop-culture figures, so there’s no risk of the guest running off in some direction that you have no clue about,” he says. “I require that they’re curious, and then they can learn what we can tell them about science.” 

Though Tyson has met a lot of Hollywood geeks, he says the brainiest one he’s ever run across has been Stephen Colbert. “By far,” he says. “No doubt, he is the most scientifically literate person in pop culture I have ever met.” 

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He also learned something new about Larry Wilmore when he appeared on the show this season: “He’s also a magician!” Tyson says. “He was sitting there doing card tricks for me. Magicians are their own smart species — they know how fallible the human cognitive system is, and how it can fool you into thinking something is happening that isn’t.” 

Another surprisingly fun geeky guest? Edward Snowden, who was on the show last season. “We found out about his inner geek,” Tyson says. “We talked about aliens communicating using the microwave background radiation of the universe. It’s a fun interview. And I got him onto Twitter!”  

In advance of StarTalk‘s second season premiere on Sunday, you can stream the first episode in its entirety over at NatGeoTV.com. Check out a sneak peek featuring Bill Clinton below.