Discussing Parasites with a Former President on Tonight’s StarTalk

Things get presidential on this episode of StarTalkwhen Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with former President Jimmy Carter. Carter served as the 39th president of the Untied States from 1977 to 1981. After his presidency he founded The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization aimed to wage peace and fight disease around the globe. One of the largest scale and most significant contributions of the Carter Center is the effort to eradicate the Guinea worm, a painful parasitic infection that has plagued humans for centuries. Since efforts began in 1986, global cases have been brought down from an estimated 3.5 million to only 126 in 2014. During tonight’s interview, Carter shares his background in science, the political challenges he faced in his fight against the Guinea worm, and which diseases and parasites are next on his list to go.

In addition to Carter’s present-day involvement with scientific advancements, Neil digs right into Carter’s long standing “geek credentials:”

Also on this evening’s episode, Neil is joined by Chuck Nice and Mark Siddall, vice president of the American Society of Parasitologists and curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. Siddall’s research has focused on the evolutionary biology of a wide range of parasites, from single-celled microbes to leeches. Together, they all discuss topics including the importance of parasites on the earth, how parasites interact with humans, and how culture has played a role in the history of diseases.

And then, Bill Nye joins us from the streets of Manhattan to point out that the biggest threat to our lives and heath is often microscopic. Germs and parasites have wiped out entire civilizations in the past, but through our understanding of them we’ve developed technologies and vaccines to combat the invisible enemy, allowing us to live longer and more productive lives than ever before.

Don’t miss an all-new StarTalk, tonight at 11/10c!