Usually, celebrities and entertainers are better known for spreading scientific misinformation than they are for using their public platforms to promote responsible research. But if you filter out all the anti-vaxxers and people preaching pseudo-science, you might find there are actually some incredibly educated entertainers who are huge science advocates. Here are eight celebrities who love learning about and preaching solid science.
Radio host and Canadian hip hop artist Shad has confessed he’s profoundly fascinated with science. In 2014 he gave an original spoken word performance to Perimeter Institute’s graduate class of master’s students. He later explained the unexpected connections he discovered between music and theoretical physics thanks to his experiences at Perimeter Institute.
7. Teri Hatcher
With a mother who was a computer programmer for Lockheed Martin and a father who’s a nuclear physicist, maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Teri Hatcher has an affinity for the sciences. Before she became famous as Lois Lane or desperate housewife Susan Mayer, Hatcher attended De Anza College where she studied mathematics and engineering.
6. Lisa Kudrow
Best known for her role as the fluffheaded Phoebe on Friends, Lisa Kudrow also has a prominent science background. After studying biology at Vassar College in New York, she went on to assist her father, a world-renowned headache specialist, with important research before settling in to her acting career.
5. Anne Hathaway
Although she might not have a formal science education, Anne Hathaway has often described herself as a science geek and has been caught on movie sets reading physics texts by Hawking and Einstein. In a recent interview promoting her new movie The Intern, Hathaway was quoted saying that if she wasn’t an actress she “would probably try to get an internship at CERN,” she said. “Just to see the Hadron Particle Collider in action and actually be there when they find the Higgs boson particle—well, they have found the Higgs boson particle. But to have been there when it happened.”
4. Mike Judge
Despite his most famous creation being a couple of dim-witted cartoon characters named Beavis and Butt-Head, Mike Judge is actually a really smart guy who earned a physics degree at UC San Diego. Before breaking into the entertainment industry, Judge also worked as a computer programmer writing software for military fighter jets.
Nicknamed “The Genius,” Wu-Tang Clan founding member GZA is best known for putting his massive vocabulary to work writing original songs and hip hop lyrics. But fans of his music might not now that he’s actually extremely well-read in the areas of astrophysics and quantum physics. He is also currently working with teachers’ college and professors at Columbia University to improve science education in New York City. Furthermore GZA’s highly anticipated conceptual album is titled “Dark Matter” and is said to be inspired by questions relating to astronomy, physics, and the nature of the universe.
In addition to being a founding member of The Black Eyed Peas and a judge on The Voice, pop star Will.i.am is also a big time promoter of science education. In 2013 he launched a £500,000 initiative to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths for disaffected children at the Science Museum in London. “Inspiring young people through science and technology is a powerful tool and I am proud to see my donation to the Prince’s Trust being put into action to help engage disadvantaged youth who would not otherwise have access to technology and science education,” says Will.i.am. He was also the first person to sing on Mars when the Curiosity Rover premiered his song “Reach for the Stars” in 2012.
1. Alan Alda
A television icon with distinguished roles on popular shows like M*A*S*H and The West Wing, Alan Alda is a huge advocate for science and has hosted several scientific series including Scientific American Frontiers, The Human Spark (aimed at answering the question of what makes us human), and most recently, Brains On Trial (a look at the role brain science plays in the American criminal justice system). Alda’s passion for communicating science has also earned him many honors such as the Sagan Award, for increasing the public appreciation of science, and the Scientific American Lifetime Achievement Award. Nowadays he’s a visiting professor at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where he frequently interviews experts on the latest advances in various scientific fields.