Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was in Austin, TX, on Saturday to deliver the keynote address at the SXSW Interactive festival. He was also launching Cosmos, a big-budget TV show that has turned him into an international science superstar last night.
Elsewhere in Austin, Tyson’s good friend Bill Nye “The Science Guy” hosted Quirky and GE’s “Night of Invention,” featuring a special SXSW edition of the StartTalk Live! radio show with a Quirky invention evaluation session.
Quirky is an open design community where anyone can submit product ideas. Members can vote for best products and influence each other’s designs.
The StarTalk lineup brought together Nye, Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman, GE scientist Balajee Kanna, and comedians Eugene Mirman and Jenny Slate. The guests covered everything from using patents as “an encyclopedia of how the world works” and letting people build on the ideas of others to building robot factories in space.
Quirky’s Kaufman also ran an invention evaluation session where judges, including Nye and the audience, could decide whether gadgets such as a robotic snow plow, a self-cleaning toilet, or a bluetooth enabled safe should be made into commercial products.
Nye said science and tech startups, like those that flock to Austin every March, were intimately connected. “All these startups are going to be based on technologies that depend on our discoveries in science,” Nye told TechCrunch before the event. “As they say, engineers – and I am an engineer, with a license – we use science to make things and solve problems. Everything you can see in your world came out of somebody’s head. And most of the people whose heads it came out of were engineers.”