Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse
Tyson
1958

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

Author Quotes

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.

When students cheat on exams it's because our school system values grades more than students value learning.

With automatic spell checkers running unleashed over what we compose, our era is that of correctly spelled typos.

You don't take a dead cat to the vet. I mean you might, but why?

When we finally create a cloning machine, we should clone those teachers. Maybe that's 100 years from now, but that's at the top of my list. Until that happens, the educational system has not fully understood the causes and effects of achievement and success in life. There remains a culture that equates high grades with success in school and correlates success in school with success in life. That mentality is so deep within us that it may be inextricable from our behavior.

With regard to robots, in the early days of robots people said, 'Oh, let's build a robot' and what's the first thought? You make a robot look like a human and do human things. That's so 1950s. We are so past that.

You have not fully expressed your power as a voter until you have scientific literacy in topics that matter for future political issues.

When we see animals doing remarkable things, how do we know if we're simply seeing tricks or signs of real intelligence? Are talented animals just obeying commands, or do they have some kind of deeper understanding? One of the biggest challenges for animal researchers is to come up with tests that can distinguish between the two.

Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.

Author Picture
First Name
Neil deGrasse
Last Name
Tyson
Birth Date
1958
Bio

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