Famed astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson weighed in on one of geekdom’s longest-running debates this past Friday, answering a question that pits sci-fi franchises Star Wars and Star Trek against each other: Millennium Falcon, or USS Enterprise?
The unofficial Ambassador of Astronomy made quick work of his initial answer before going into detail, saying, “Oh, that’s easy. The Enterprise, there’s no question!”
The query came during the “fan questions” segment of the famed scientist’s National Geographic series StarTalk, a science-themed talk show based off of the host’s podcast of the same name.
The astronomer is no stranger to film and tv-based debates, often weighing in on the scientific realism of various aspects of Hollywood’s projects once they hit theaters. In fact, deGrasse Tyson once convinced James Cameron to change the star patterns that appeared in the sky during a nighttime scene in Titanic, because the original release had the “wrong sky.”
Despite immediately siding with Star Trek, deGrasse Tyson’s reasoning behind choosing the Enterprise was more evolved than typical fanboy love. The ship, he says, revolutionized that way that popular culture thought about space travel.
“The Enterprise is the first spaceship represented in storytelling that was not designed to go from one place to another; It was only designed to explore. Think about that. Every movie, every show that preceded that, built it to go to a destination,” he said, “that was revolutionary in terms of what we would think space would and should be about.”
But his love for the Enterprise also extends beyond what the ship represents in pop culture. As an imaginary technical marvel, the Enterprise is also much less made-up than the Millennium Falcon.
“The Enterprise has the benefit of being real in the sense that there are real scientists and real engineers on staff on the ship monitoring its engines, its warp drives, its photon torpedoes,” he said, “It’s fake real as opposed to the Millennium Falcon, which is just fake fake.”