Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse

American Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author and Science Communicator, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium

Author Quotes

When you visit countries that don't nurture these kinds of ambitions, you can feel the absence of hope...people are reduced to worrying only about that day's shelter or the next day's meal. It's a shame, even a tragedy, how many people do not get to think about the future. Technology coupled with wise leadership not only solves these problems but enables dreams of tomorrow.

Would a NASA reality show ?Lunar Shore? be more popular than ?Jersey Shore?? Civilization?s future depends on that answer.

When your reasons for believing something are justified ad hoc, you are left susceptible to further discoveries undermining the rationale for that belief.

Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. My concern here is that the philosophers believe they are actually asking deep questions about nature. And to the scientist it?s, what are you doing? Why are you concerning yourself with the meaning of meaning?... Well, I?m still worried even about a healthy balance. Yeah, if you are distracted by your questions so that you cannot move forward, you are not being a productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world. And so the scientist knows when the question what is the sound of one hand clapping? is a pointless delay in our progress.

Whenever people have used religious documents to make accurate predictions about our base knowledge of the physical world, they have been famously wrong.

Yes, not only humans but also every other organism in the cosmos, as well as the planets or moons on which they thrive, would not exist but for the wreckage of spent stars. So you?re made of detritus. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?

Where ignorance lurks, so too do the frontiers of discovery and imagination

Yes, the universe had a beginning. Yes, the universe continues to evolve. And yes, every one of our body's atoms is traceable to the big bang and to the thermonuclear furnace within high-mass stars. We are not simply in the universe, we are part of it. We are born from it. One might even say we have been empowered by the universe to figure itself out ? and we have only just begun.

Where there's water on Earth, you find life as we know it. So if you find water somewhere else, it becomes a remarkable draw to look closer to see if life of any kind is there, even if it's bacterial, which would be extraordinary for the field of biology.

You can?t just choose what is true and what isn?t.

When everyone agrees to a single solution and a single plan, there's nothing more efficient in the world than an efficient democracy.

Whether or not people go into space or serve the space industry, they will have the sensitivity to those fields necessary to stimulate unending innovation in the technological fields, and it's that innovation in the 21st century that will drive tomorrow's economies.

You cannot spontaneously levitate and hover above the ground, whether or not you are seated in the lotus position. Although, in principle, you could perform this stunt if you managed to let loose a powerful and sustained exhaust of flatulence.

When Herschel saw Flamsteed?s star drift against the background stars, he announced?operating under the unwitting assumption that planets were not on the list of things one might discover?that he had discovered a comet. Comets, after all, were known to move and to be discoverable. Herschel planned to call the newfound object Georgium Sidus (Star of George), after his benefactor, King George III of England. If the astronomical community had respected these wishes, the roster of our solar system would now include Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and George.

Whether or not you can never become great at something, you can always become better at it. Don't ever forget that! And don?t say I?ll never be good. You can become better! and one day you?ll wake up and you?ll find out how good you actually became.

You can't come away with this cosmic perspective thinking that you are better than others and want to fight. That's why you'll never have astrophysicists leading nations into war.

When Kennedy said, 'Let's go to the moon,' we didn't yet have a vehicle that wouldn't kill you on launch. He said we'll land a man on the moon in eight years and bring him back. That was an audacious goal to put forth in front of the American people.

While I'm a big fan of science fiction, especially as rendered in expensive Hollywood blockbusters, it's the real universe that calls to me.

You can't have people making decisions about the future of the world who are scientifically illiterate. That's a recipe for disaster. And I don't mean just whether a politician is scientifically literate, but people who vote politicians into office.

When people believe a tale that conflicts with self-checkable evidence it tells me that people undervalue the role of evidence on formulating an internal belief system. Why this is so is not clear, but it enables many people to hold fast to ideas and notions based purely on supposition.

While the Copernican principle comes with no guarantees that it will forever guide us to cosmic truths, it's worked quite well so far: not only is Earth not in the center of the solar system, but the solar system is not in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy is not in the center of the universe, and it may come to pass that our universe is just one of many that comprise a multiverse. And in case you're one of those people who thinks that the edge may be a special place, we are not at the edge of anything either.

You can't train kids in a world where adults have no concept of what science literacy is. The adults are gonna squash the creativity that would manifest itself, because they're clueless about what it and why it matters. But science can always benefit from the more brains there are that are thinking about it - but that's true for any field.

When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.

Why the ancient civilizations who built the place did not use the easier, nearby rocks remains a mystery. But the skills and knowledge on display at Stonehenge are not. The major phases of construction took a total of a few hundred years. Perhaps the preplanning took another hundred or so. You can build anything in half a millennium - I don't care how far you choose to drag your bricks. Furthermore, the astronomy embodied in Stonehenge is not fundamentally deeper than what can be discovered with a stick in the ground. Perhaps these ancient observatories perennially impress modern people because modern people have no idea how the Sun, Moon, or stars move. We are too busy watching evening television to care what's going on in the sky. To us, a simple rock alignment based on cosmic patterns looks like an Einsteinian feat. But a truly mysterious civilization would be one that made no cultural or architectural reference to the sky at all.

You could also ask who?s in charge. Lots of people think, well, we?re humans; we?re the most intelligent and accomplished species; we?re in charge. Bacteria may have a different outlook: more bacteria live and work in one linear centimeter of your lower colon than all the humans who have ever lived. That?s what?s going on in your digestive tract right now. Are we in charge, or are we simply hosts for bacteria? It all depends on your outlook.

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Neil deGrasse
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American Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author and Science Communicator, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium