Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse
Tyson
1958

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

Author Quotes

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.

You have people who believe they are scientifically literate but, in fact, are not. And I don't mind if you're not scientifically literate, but just admit that to yourself, so that you'll know, and perhaps you can take a first step to try to eradicate that.

When you innovate, you create new industries that then boost your economy. And when you create new industries and that becomes part of your culture, your jobs can't go overseas because no one else has figured out how to do it yet.

Without a doubt, the most spectacular way to die in space is to fall into a black hole.

You know that passage in the Bible that says, ?And the meek shall inherit the Earth?? Always wondered if that was mistranslated. Perhaps it actually says, ?And the geek shall inherit the Earth.?

When you organize extraordinary missions, you attract people of extraordinary talent who might not have been inspired by or attracted to the goal of saving the world from cancer or hunger or pestilence.

Without physics there?d be no Fashion Channel ? there?d be no TV. But w/o fashion, physicists might just be naked. Not good.

You will never find scientists leading armies into battle. You just won't. Especially not astrophysicists - we see the biggest picture there is. We understand how small we are in the cosmos. We understand how fragile and temporary our existence is here on Earth.

When you put money directly to a problem, it makes a good headline. It makes a good campaign slogan. You get to claim that you've engaged in these activities within an election cycle. But certain investments take longer than an election cycle.

Words that make questions may not be questions at all.

You've never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another. What the laws of physics say.

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.

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