Decomposition Competition With Dan Deacon Dan Deacon's recent music video, "Sat By A Tree", features comedian Aparna Nancherla's body decaying. Deacon plays a game where he guesses how long it takes various things to decay or decompose.

Decomposition Competition With Dan Deacon

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The final round is coming up, but first, it's time for us to play a game with our special guest. Please welcome back to the stage Dan Deacon, everybody.


DAN DEACON: I left and came back.

EISENBERG: So, Dan, the music video for your song "Sat By A Tree" - it's a time-lapse video of our friend, comedian Aparna Nancherla - her body...

DEACON: Best person.

EISENBERG: ...Decaying into the earth.

DEACON: Yes, it is.

EISENBERG: OK - a friend of yours? How did you decide that Aparna should play this part?

DEACON: That's a great question. I met Aparna at MaxFunCon...


DEACON: ...Which is, like, a wonderful collection of nerds that I go to every year. I tend to DJ the party. And Aparna did a set and - immediately fell in love with the set. And I feel like Aparna's delivery and her cadence and her facial expressions are so vital to the - her performance and, luckily, immediately was like, sure. Yeah. Bunch of bugs - sounds good.

EISENBERG: That's great. Inspired by your video for "Sat By A Tree" and your love of audience participation, we're going to play a special edition of our game Wisdom of the Crowd. It's called Decomposition Competition. So before the show, we asked our audience to estimate how long various things take to decay.

DEACON: Please know this.

EISENBERG: Super-fun - and then we averaged together their guesses, and I'm going to ask you the same questions. And we're going to find out who came closer - you or the crowd. According to Popular Mechanics, approximately how many weeks does it take for a banana peel to decompose when thrown on the ground?

DEACON: Oh, God. Wouldn't it be different in, like, a humid environment instead of an arid environment?

EISENBERG: True. OK, we are going with a average environment.



DEACON: That's good to know.


DEACON: That's good to know. Well, I don't know anything about this, so I'm going to say six weeks.

EISENBERG: OK - very good answer.

DEACON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: The audience guessed 30 weeks.


EISENBERG: The real answer is 104 weeks.

DEACON: What? Bananas?

EISENBERG: I know. Although they...

DEACON: We got to stop these bananas.


EISENBERG: So they decompose quickly in compost, but if they are just on the ground, it takes much longer. And park rangers around the world have asked hikers to not discard banana peels and apple cores just on the path for this reason.

DEACON: I said six.


EISENBERG: It takes a long time. There's a lot of...

DEACON: So it's a gift that keeps on giving.

EISENBERG: I guess it does for 104...

DEACON: A hundred and four - two years.

EISENBERG: Two years.

DEACON: See; I would measure that in two years, not 104 weeks.

EISENBERG: Well (laughter), all right. All right. All right. How about this one? According to NASA, how many billions of years will it take for the sun to exhaust its nuclear fuel and turn into a white dwarf?

DEACON: How many billions of years for just the sun, our little old sun?

EISENBERG: Just the little old sun. This is according NASA, too, right? So...

DEACON: I'm going to go with - it didn't work out so well for me last time, but I'm going to go with six weeks.


EISENBERG: OK. Good answer.

DEACON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: The audience said 10 billion years.

DEACON: That is a pretty big difference.

EISENBERG: So the audience thinks the sun has 10 billion years left.

DEACON: I could still be closer.

EISENBERG: You said six weeks.

DEACON: Six weeks.

EISENBERG: The answer is 6.5 billion years.

DEACON: They got me there. It was close, though...

EISENBERG: It was close.

DEACON: ...To be fair.

EISENBERG: It was close. All right, this is your last one. In 2018, a writer for the online magazine The Outline conducted a non-scientific study into...

DEACON: My kind of study.

EISENBERG: Yes - into the lifespan of Internet memes. So according to his findings, how many months did it take for an average meme to fade from popularity and flatline on Google?

DEACON: I'm trying to think of what memes have come and gone. You know, I'm thinking about - getting a little wistful thinking about all the memes in our lives that are no longer.

EISENBERG: I mean, the one...

DEACON: The memes we should have liked - we haven't liked recently. Maybe we should have liked them. All right.

EISENBERG: Well, this is very lighthearted. It's a non-scientific...

DEACON: Six weeks.

EISENBERG: Six weeks.


EISENBERG: The audience guessed that it takes 4.625 months, and the answer is four months.

DEACON: Four months. Wait. This is according to the non-scientific study.



EISENBERG: It's a writer from the online magazine...

DEACON: Six weeks.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) You did great.

DEACON: Thank you. I got none of those right.

EISENBERG: Dan, you did fantastic. Dan's new album "Mystic Familiar" is out now, and he kicks off his North American tour later this month. Give it up for Dan Deacon, everybody.


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