Video of the Day: Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why The USS Enterprise Is The Greatest Starship Ever |
jump to navigation

Video of the Day: Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why The USS Enterprise Is The Greatest Starship Ever July 20, 2012

by Staff , Filed under: Conventions/Events/Attractions,Trek Franchise,Viral Video/Mashup/Images , trackback

Our friends who conduct the Starship Smackdown panel (a perennial favorite at SDCC) were surprised to have famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stand up from the crowd and talk about the greatness of Star Trek’s of the USS Enterprise. Watch the clip below..   


Niel deGrasse Tyson talks USS Enterprise   

Tyson speaks the truth…

The poster Tyson was talking about was this Starship Smackdown created for SDCC by Geek Magazine.

Thanks to Fibbs1701 for video


1. OneBuckFilms - July 20, 2012

Looks like Brandon’s video allowed it to be used here. Good job, Brandon. :)

My wife and I were there for the panel, as is my SDCC tradition, and this was a FANTASTIC way to end Comic-Con.

I’ll remember this for some time.

2. kirk's girdle - July 20, 2012

Love that poster.

3. Lord Garth, formerly of izar - July 20, 2012

New Enterprise is bigger than the star destroyer

4. BRT - July 20, 2012

Way to go Tyson!!!

5. kirk's girdle - July 20, 2012

I’ve often thought of it the same way. Both aesthetically and scientifically, from the matter-antimatter engine, to the transporter, to the viewscreen NOT being a window Matt Jeffrey’s Enterprise was an incredible leap forward in real world thinking and changed how space ships were presented on the screen. His Klingon D7 wasn’t too damn shabby either.

6. Vultan - July 20, 2012

Another reason Neil deGrasse Tyson is the REAL “most interesting man in the world.”

7. Gorn Captain - July 20, 2012

“It’s a beautiful lady, and we love her.” :)

8. Cygnus-X1 - July 20, 2012

Hear, hear.

9. Bill Peters - July 20, 2012

Can we get this man on Trekmovie? I love to hear him do a talk on this on this site.

10. Emperor Mike of the Empire - July 20, 2012

All I ask is for a tall ship and a star to stear her by.

11. Calastir - July 20, 2012

The Enterprise looks like a futuristic cruise ship, instead of a battleship. It could be home and for me that’s what’s so attractive about it.

Like McCoy said: “You treat her like a lady… and she’ll always bring you home.” (TNG: “Encounter at Farpoint”)

12. DiscoSpock - July 20, 2012

#3 – Um, no it’s not. Not even close. Not even if you use the over-sized dimensions the ’09 ship supposedly has.

Meanwhile, in reality–great video! As always, Tyson’s geek cred shines through!

13. Tom - July 20, 2012

I always felt the Ent-D looked like a cross between a Chrismas tree and a duck. Look at the bill on that thing. It’s just awkward looking. Clumsy. Not sleek at all.

Now the Ent-E was a worthy successor to the original TMP design.

The best, though, was the TMP design, used throughout the entire TOS movie series, of course.

14. realburgess - July 20, 2012

Enterprise E is ugly… looks more dated today than any of the other main ships I think (bad CGI in Insurrection doesn’t help). The D is sleek and curvy and looks like something beyond just imaging our own technology today updated 300 years in the future… the E has too many doodads and looks squashed. I don’t like how the saucer starts to merge into the secondary hull like Voyager… I like my ships to have some neck! Love the original and the D.

15. Jeyl - July 20, 2012

JJ: Turn it into a Hot Rod.

16. Dep1701 - July 20, 2012

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr.Tyson. The original TOS Enterprise and her Motion Picture successor are both elegant and functional looking. I never tire of gazing at them.

17. Thomas Jensen - July 20, 2012

The original Enterprise and the motion picture version are elegant and iconic. And the 1960’s Enterprise is still one the best ‘spaceships’ to grace the the television screen.

That’s why they keep using the basic design…over and over.

18. rednax - July 20, 2012

No bloody A, B, C.. or.. D.

19. guvnor - July 20, 2012

i thin k the enterprise d looks nice

20. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - July 20, 2012

I love Tyson. He’s the best thing to happen to popular astronomy since Carl Sagan.

How do I get Smackdown to use MY poster?

21. Bob Tompkins - July 20, 2012

‘…everything else is derivative’….
So true.

22. Rusty Shackleford - July 20, 2012

I hated the D when I first saw it, but over the years I learned to like it. But it, like it’s crew, isn’t in the same league as the 1701 or the refit. My list is:

1a. 1701 refit/1701-A
1b. 1701 original
2. JJPrise (I know, the nacelles, but I loved the mixture of TOS and Refit designs/color scheme)
3. 1701-B (always loved the Excelsior; I remember being a child and seeing TVH in the theatre and telling my Dad they were going to get the Excelsior)
4. 1701-E (like a previous poster said, it’s a logical evolution of the Connie)
5. 1701-D
6. 1701-C (again, logical bridge between the Connie and Galaxy class; I wish we could’ve seen more of this design)

23. saavik001 - July 20, 2012

I like Tyson, except for helping demote Pluto :)

24. Sebastian S. - July 20, 2012

My wife and I met Dr. Tyson last week while dining at our hotel restaurant near the San Diego Comic Con. A few others nearby recognized him and he was gracious enough to interrupt his own dinner and pose for pictures for us. He wore a fedora and khaki shirt, and I’d joked with him that at first I mistook him for a very good Indiana Jones cosplayer. He laughed, and he even said a goodbye to my wife and I after he’d finished his dinner.

As a 15 year member of The Planetary Society, this was a real geek-out moment for me. Tyson is a very gracious man with a great laugh. Meeting him was both a thrill and a genuine pleasure.


25. Sebastian S. - July 20, 2012

# 23

If Pluto’s a planet? Then so is Vesta, Ceres, Sedna, Eris, etc. etc. Kind of opens a Pandora’s box (Pandora the myth, not the Avatar planet… hee hee!).

I think demoting Pluto was good for the overall health of space science as it takes sentiment out of the equation. Although I have to admit I dislike Pluto’s current status/name of ‘dwarf planet.’ How about ‘planetoid'; sort of a halfway point between a planet and an asteroid (and a term used frequently on ST)?

Oops! There I go being sentimental again…. ;-D

26. Vultan - July 20, 2012


I agree. Wasn’t too fond of the demotion at first, I admit, but once I heard Tyson’s reasoning behind the decision it made much more sense. And yes, planetoid does sound better than dwarf. The latter sounds like Dorf Goes to the Outer Rim. ;)

By the way, very jealous that you got to meet Dr. Tyson!

As for the Enterprises shown above, the C is my least favorite design. I’m sure they did it on a budget with some serious time constraints, but I can’t help but wince a little when I see it. So chunky and thick through the middle. Like something a librarian would drive.

27. Sebastian S. - July 20, 2012

# 26


Normally, I’d hate to interrupt a celebrity eating dinner for a pic or an autograph, but Tyson just got right up to pose for pictures for everyone without a second thought. After the pics, no one bothered him again. But as he got up to leave a while later, he stopped and said goodbye to my wife and I. That was VERY classy of him.

And yes, I was very geeked out afterward…. ;-D

28. Chris Basken - July 20, 2012

Some of the scales in this poster are way off. The EDF Yamato is too big. The reimagined Galactica is way too small.

29. Vultan - July 20, 2012


Every interview and speech I’ve seen of his I’m amazed at how, forgive the pun, down-to-Earth he is. Really liked the speech he gave about space funding last year. He sounded borderline angry about the situation—as we all should be.

How was Comic-Con? I’ve never been but have considered in the past few years. Is it really that crowded and poorly coordinated/managed?

30.  moauvian waoul - aka: seymour hiney - July 20, 2012

Watched it as a kid on the ol’ television screen in the early 70’s and this reminded me of how impressed I was, how different it looked to anything else I had seen. And to my mind that made it more real, if that makes sense. I guess I figured who would come up with that odd design just from imagination.

31. ProtoVulcan - July 20, 2012

Too bad Matt Jeffries can’t hear this…

32. DJT - July 20, 2012

Mr. Tyson is correct. Everything else is derivative.

But um, where is the SDF-1 on that chart?

33. Dom - July 21, 2012

I’ll always love the refit/-A Enterprise, but I kind of understand why the ‘neck’ section was phased out. I mean, if you wanted to hit a weak point on the ship, you’d go for the neck! I actually rather like the Enterprise-C. It’s an intriguing combo of the original/refit/-A Enterprise and the Excelsior, to my eye!

34. The Quickening - July 21, 2012

Been a TREK fan since the beginning, but have always thought the design of the Enterprise was disappointing. The design is all over the place with three sections of the ship: the saucer, the nacelles, and the lower section not uniform at all. Its like three design teams worked on the ship and never compared notes. The worst design element is how the pylons attach to the lower section of the ship How the pylons attach seem unnatural and ackward, unlike birds wings which attach to it’s body gracefully and believeably. Later designs of the Enterprise have improved on this flaw, but still don’t completely work for me. I had thought ST ’09 would have corrected this, but they only made things worse.

35. DiscoSpock - July 21, 2012

#34 You should do some reading about the designing of the Enterprise. A lot of thought went into the design, such as placing the warp nacelles as far from crew quarters as possible because of the incredible energies being manipulated there, etc.

It’s a very smart, well-thought out design that has held together for 40+ years.

36. Elias Javalis - July 21, 2012

Never liked the Star Destroyers, Darn ugly. Blahh!!

37. Sebastian S. - July 21, 2012

# 29


Comic Con was crowded; as always. You can’t just make 130,000 flow well into a convention center without bottlenecking, pushing or shoving. But the security did a fair job of crowd control (even if they were IMO unnecessarily bulldog-ish about taking zoom shots of some of the celebrities).

It was a lot of fun. But as my wife pointed out, it’s not the scheduled events themselves, but rather the little cool, unexpected things that happen that REALLY make the convention fun (like running into Dr. Tyson at our hotel restaurant, or sharing a table and a nice talk with “Six Million Dollar Man” star Richard Anderson). Those are the moments that aren’t planned, but make Comic Con so very worth it….

It truly is a Geek Christmas/Mardi Gras.

38. Thorny - July 21, 2012

26… Pluto and the others were called Dwarf Planets because of the precedent of other smaller versions of astronomical objects being called dwarf versions, i.e., Dwarf Stars and Dwarf Galaxies.

39. Chris Basken - July 21, 2012

Re: comparing the TOS Enterprise to the refit. I was under the impression that Probert worked with Jeffries’ Phase Two refit concept. A lot of Jeffries went into that design. I consider it a Jeffries ship as much as a Probert ship, and I also consider it an improvement, aesthetically.

40. JohnRambo - July 21, 2012

The Destiny from Stargate Universe is the Greatest Ship EVER created in Sci Fi!

41. Freyaka - July 21, 2012

#40 I agree wholeheartedly…Though the ancient battleships were right there with it!

So sad that there isn’t any stargate left on TV….Hopefully someday it rises again!

42. spooky - July 21, 2012

40. That slice of pizza looked like crap!

43. spooky - July 21, 2012

I can’t see the names of the other ships… I don’t see anything from Babylon 5 on there. I always thought the design of some of the ships on that show interesting, especially the Vorlons.

44. CarlG - July 21, 2012

@15: … Your point being? Hot rods are awesome.

@43: Seconded! B5 had some amazing ship designs — I loved the clunky human ships with the spinning sections for gravity.

45. Sebastian S. - July 21, 2012

# 38

I know; but ‘dwarf planet’ just doesn’t roll off the tongue like ‘planetoid.’ ;-)

46. Vultan - July 21, 2012


How about “junior planet”? And you have to say it like Sean Connery.


47. The Quickening - July 21, 2012


I can appreciate that a lot of thought went into the design, but to me the end result of all the varying elements and shapes of the ship just don’t work together organically for me. Later designs have improved upon it, but I still maintain, how the neck and pylons connect to the saucer and lower section of the ship, just don’t work as a whole for me. Makes the ship look like a “toy” rather than an actually ship.

48. Outbama - July 21, 2012

47. Considering the mechanics of how space warp works in the Trek universe, the nacelles make total sense in terms of design and placement. The saucer, being able to separate, also makes the neck logical. Would you have prefered the wacky ringed design that we saw a glimpse of in TMP as a painting (or whatever that was)? Jeffries’ design set the standard for sci-fi spaceships that lasts until this day.

49. KyleH - July 21, 2012

I met the man who discovered Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, and his wife, on a dinner cruise for students in 1991. I wonder if he and Tyson ever met… would have been many years before Pluto’s reclassifacation. So, I’m sentimental about Pluto myself. Tombaugh was a gracious and kind elderly man at the time, and he and his wife seemed like very warm and genuine people. Seems like a lot of these luminaries are astoundingly kind and gracious with the public, which is impressive.

50. ThePrimeAlternative - July 21, 2012

check this out…

1701 Prime Alternative:

early internal lighting “Test” vid was acquired from the build FX studio shared file site –

The 1701 Prime Alternative is a state of the art Three foot SFX Model
built by a veteran ILM model builder over the last 2.5 years—

Designed* by two ST fanboys, one in CA and one in Fl; by borrowing* design cues from all the Big Es + a little Kelvin, and then infused them into the great Matt Jeffries original design architecture.

works for me…

Anonymous –

51. Sebastian S. - July 21, 2012

#46 Vultan~


How about Indiana planet?

“We named the DOG Indiana…”


52. Orb of Wisdom - July 21, 2012

Just realized something: Nero’s Narada ship, were a physical model available to build, would be a NIGHTMARE to build piece by piece LOL.

That being said, where’s Farscape’s Moya, any of the Stargate SG-1 ships, and countless others? :S

53. Alt-Spock - July 21, 2012

#18: Aye.

54. Vultan - July 21, 2012


“The DOG? You were named after the dog!”
“Got a lot of fond memories of that dog…”


Love that movie.

55. Mike - July 21, 2012

Serenity shmerenity, what has that show done lately anyway compared to the vast timelessnes of star trek, I dont understand all the serenity uproar suddenly, its just absurd to compare it to trek.

56. Dom - July 22, 2012

55. Mike: ‘Serenity shmerenity, what has that show done lately anyway compared to the vast timelessnes of star trek, I dont understand all the serenity uproar suddenly, its just absurd to compare it to trek.’

Nothing really. Firefly was a fun little show and Serenity was little more than an over-inflated TV movie that got a cinema budget and release because a web-savvy, loudmouth, obsessive fan base conned a studio into hiking it could get a larger audience.

In fact, no bugger went to watch it, hardly any of the mainstream audience knew about Firefly and chose to see pretty much any other movie instead.

After the film tanked spectacularly, it went on to win loads of public-voted film of the year awards thanks to the efficient organisation of the web-savvy, loudmouth, obsessive fan base.

I liked Firefly and Serenity is fine on DVD, but the way people yap on about it, you’d think it’s way better than the bit of fun fluff it really is.

57. Dom - July 22, 2012

‘conned a studio into thinking it’

Darned iPad autocorrect! >:(

58. Nomad - July 22, 2012

The original Enterprise is still the best in many ways. Tyson’s point say it all – before the Enterprise, on the screen at least, there were only pointy rocket ships and flying saucers.
A lot of details about all the later versions – including the movie version – look gratuitous, like the fins on 50s cars. The original Enterprise looks like nothing more or less than a real, working ship, and that’s what gives it its beauty.
Also, the thing I love most about it is the nods to the design of real, earthbound ships. The nacelle struts are reminiscent of masts, the nacelle domes to propellors, and the indentation below the shuttle bay to the shape on the same part of the hulls of classic sailing ships. This is where it is way ahead of subsequent designs, most of which only seems to reference other starships. The classic E didn’t have that luxury available, and is better because of it.

59. rogue_alice - July 22, 2012

I love her. She has always been my favoritie ship. And, she IS a characer in the series.

60. The Quickening - July 22, 2012


Once again, it’s not the placement or the individual design of the nacelles… the saucer… the lower section I am criticizing, or doesn’t work for me; it’s how each of these three sections attach to each other with the pylons and neck that looks off, wacky (good word), dysfunctional, toy-like, unnatural and awkward. And, because of this failure, the three sections together, lack a kind of uniformity as a whole. Sure, I get that making these three sections (or shapes) work together, posed a difficult design problem, but I don’t feel that the original design effectively and totally pulled it off.

To answer your question, no, I wouldn’t like the “wacky ringed design” either, but one awkward design doesn’t justify another.

61. Stargazer54 - July 22, 2012

#50 Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

Nice mods, but really pushing the envelope on the Jeffries design. I know . . . . ILM loves “nurnies”.

Done in LW, Max or Maya? Kinda has a Max feel to it.

62. 010011100 - July 22, 2012

60. Perhaps it’s because the saucer-hull-nacelles design is so ingrained in my mind as the obvious design, like frame-engine-wheels to a car, but I have no idea what you’re talking about or how you’d improve it. They have to connect somehow, thus “neck and struts.” I guess you could make them short and stubby like the Ent-D, but that’s a big reason why that ship (exterior anyway) belongs in the special ed class of starships instead of Galaxy.

63. The Quickening - July 22, 2012


To me, the frame-engine-wheel of a car seem more organic, compacted together, symmetrical and don’t jet-out in all kinds of cock-eyed ways and directions like the Enterprise. I suppose if one looks enough times, one might get use to it. Not sure why the overall shape of the original ship never worked for me, it just doesn’t for reasons described above. Off the top of my head, I thought the Enterprise-E in FIRST CONTACT, did a good job of solving some of the issues I have, though I didn’t like the tacked-on elements it featured.

64. David - July 22, 2012

Sorry guys, the Liberator still takes my vote for being the greatest starship ever. ;-)

65. ThePrimeAlternative - July 22, 2012

# 50 Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

# 62
Your welcome of course … and note that the saucer, neck, secondary hull and nacelles are a one to one scale match to Jeffries original 1701
design—all of the surface details / industral tech elements were borrowed from NX01, 1701TMP REFIT, Kelvin, 1701E, JJprise…and then added to MJ original design architecture.

Also Note that this CGI model was designed to build the hero parts for a actual 3 foot PHY model!!!

Which I cant wait to see in the flesh…so to speak

1701 Prime Alternative:

# 50 Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

Nice mods, but really pushing the envelope on the Jeffries design.
I know . . ILM loves “nurnies”.
Done in LW, Max or Maya? Kinda has a Max feel to it.

66. Chas - July 22, 2012

Ikarie XB-1 was filmed several years before Trek and got away from the saucer or rocket design paradigms.

67. indranee - July 22, 2012

The Enterprise-D had nice lines but it didn’t look like a “woman”. The original looked like a woman. DeGrasse speaks the truth. She was beautiful and seductive.

68. Jim Nightshade - July 23, 2012

i thought of the original enterprise kinda like a flashlight shing a light to a possible future–look at the stealth plane—got a real close look at one as it flew low over our house last weekend–incredible design black triangle couldnt even see the compartment for the pilot–it seemed big black n evil-big e is white and full of light-beauty lady of the future—

69. drumvan - July 23, 2012

great video.

my top to bottom list of e’s, based on exterior design only:

1) 1701 refit
2) 2009
3) e
4) tos
5) d
6) c
7) b (the bottom section looks like a freakin’ bath tub)

in general i really think the versions that have the nacelles slightly higher than the saucer section look more balanced and pleasing (except for “b”). having the nacelles lower and smaller makes it look like an ant trying to push a huge piece of bread uphill.

70. VOODOO - July 23, 2012

Listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson speak makes me realize exactly how dumb I am lol…He is the man!

71. TrekkerChick - July 23, 2012


But *now*, you can mine for mithril on Pluto — as long as you don’t dig down to where the Balrog is hiding.

72. Xplodin_Nacelle - July 23, 2012

I agree with #22. The D never had the same asthetic that the TOS, & TOS Refit/A had

The TOS Refit, & TOS E look so real, & so plausable. The D looks like it’s cartoonish a little bit… (maybe the remastered TNG will make it come alive???)

73. Brett L. - July 23, 2012

Maybe if our society valued guys like Dr. Tyson as much as our vacuous reality T.V. personalities, we’d be a little closer to making a future that includes some of these ships!

74. MONGO - July 23, 2012

Tyson mans preach. Preach brother Tyson mans.

75. madtrekfanuk - July 26, 2012

Still the refit Enterprise for me… Big thanks to Matt Jefferies, Andy Probert, Mike Minor and Joe Jennings! is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.