Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks To Katy Perry About Aliens — And It Gets Weird Fast

Many think of alien talk as outside the realm of acceptability, but it’s picking up mainstream attention fast. Even people like pop star Katy Perry feel more comfortable talking about space, conspiracy, and even aliens! Recently, Perry sat down with Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium since 1996 and host of the Emmy-award winning show Star Talk.

Fun fact: For this episode, one of Tyson’s co-hosts, former SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata, was named after an alien crystal from Star Trek. Tyson begins his talk with Perry at her home in Los Angeles.

In Perry’s estimation, one of the things that keeps regular people away from science is fear:

“Why don’t people like science?” Perry asked. “I think they’re scared of it, maybe. Scared of the unknown.”

But Perry herself doesn’t seem too afraid of the unknown. In fact, a detail that emerged from the interview is that she has a ticket reserved for space.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson has a project in the works called the Virgin Galactic, whose mission is to take people to the stars — commercially. The project was founded in 2004, but has suffered its fair share of setbacks, including the death of one of its pilots.

This didn’t deter celebrities like Perry from signing up (and buying her ex-fiancé Russell Brand a ticket for his 35th birthday).

However, she admitted to Tyson that she took the ticket back.

“I’ll be number 562,” Perry said. “I’m a little bit anxious about it, because it’s the unknown! And like, you know, gravity and stuff.”

Perry and Tyson on Aliens

In 2011, Perry released her hit song E.T., so it wasn’t a shocker to fans that she has an obsession with aliens.

Check out some of the lyrics:

Kiss me, k-k-kiss me
Infect me with your love and fill me with your poison
Take me, t-t-take me
Wanna be a victim, ready for abduction
Boy, you’re an alien, your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural, extraterrestrial

Even more, Perry ran her idea by Tyson of living in a simulation run by aliens. She referenced another of her songs called “Chained to the Rhythm” to explain her obsession with the idea that we could be trapped in what she describes as an “ant farm.”

“That’s what the ant farm in there [E.T.] represents,” said Perry. “Sometimes we are chained to this idea … and constructs and things that we think we should be or things that the world tells us to be … how do we think for ourselves? Or can we even think for ourselves?”


Perry’s idea might sound a little out there, but philosophers have toyed with this forever, all the way back to the third century. Science fiction also plays with this theme, with films like Inception challenging the idea of what it means to be “awake” and “dreaming,” and how you would tell the difference. They both feel real while they’re happening, don’t they?

Tyson Katy Perry
“So comfortable we’re living in a bubble, bubble. So comfortable we cannot see the trouble, trouble.” — Chained To The Rhythm

Frankly, that idea boggles the mind. That might be why Perry vowed to “press Ctrl, Alt, Delete on this whole situation.”

Perry offered one of her most dazzling insights when Tyson asked what she would do if aliens visited us here on earth. Reactions to this question in sci-fi movies are always varied. In the 2016 movie Arrival, Amy Adams plays a linguist charged with deciphering first contact with extraterrestrials. And throughout the film, Adams struggles to explain to other characters the importance of thinking before behaving rashly to otherworldly visitors.

And Perry’s answer to the question likely made every fictional scientist ignored by a five-star general jump with glee.

“I would just listen … hello? We can only go 35,000 feet without costumes? I’mma listen.”

“I Believe In Something Much Bigger Than Me”

At one point, Perry even took the reins of the conversation and went on a spiritual journey.

“Do you believe you have a soul?” she asked.

“I don’t know what a soul is,” said Tyson.

The origin of the idea of a soul is far too complicated to go into right now. However, suffice it to say that it continues to confound and fascinate thinkers throughout the ages. If we could pin down a definition, it might be a meaningful question to ask whether life from other planets would have that.

Lastly, Perry shared some of her personal cosmic beliefs with Tyson.

“Look, I don’t know if it’s the god that’s old and has a long beard … but it’s like a force … [it’s probably going] ‘Stop trying to figure out who I am, try and figure out who you are.”

To check out Perry’s complete interview, click here!

Feature image credit (Neil Degrasse-Tyson):  NASA

Feature image credit (Katy Perry): Joella Marano

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