Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse
Tyson
1958

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

Author Quotes

Unlike what you may be told in other sectors of life, when observing the universe, size does matter, which often leads to polite ?telescope envy? at gatherings of amateur astronomers.

We spend the first year of a child's life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There's something wrong there.

In the twentieth century, astrophysicists in the United States discovered galaxies, the expanding of the universe, the nature of supernovas, quasars, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, the origin of the elements, the cosmic microwave background, and most of the known planets in orbit around solar systems other than our own. Although the Russians reached one or two places before us, we sent space probes to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. American probes have also landed on Mars and on the asteroid Eros. And American astronauts have walked on the Moon. Nowadays most Americans take all this for granted, which is practically a working definition of culture: something everyone does or knows about, but no longer actively notices. While shopping at the supermarket, most Americans aren?t surprised to find an entire aisle filled with sugar-loaded, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. But foreigners notice this kind of thing immediately, just as traveling Americans notice that supermarkets in Italy display vast selections of pasta and that markets in China and Japan offer an astonishing variety of rice. The flip side of not noticing your own culture is one of the great pleasures of foreign travel: realizing what you hadn?t noticed about your own country, and noticing what the people of other countries no longer realize about themselves.

It's the great tragedy - people employed in ways that don't fully tap everything they do best in life.

Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That's a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don't know what you're doing. That's what scientists do every day.

Math is the language of the universe. So the more equations you know, the more you can converse with the cosmos.

No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don't ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.

One of the things that fascinates me most is when people are so charmed by the universe that it becomes part of their artistic output.

Perhaps these ancient observations 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.

Science is an enterprise that should be cherished as an activity of the free human mind. Because it transforms who we are, how we live, and it gives us an understanding of our place in the universe.

So you're made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?

Stephen Hawking's been watching too many Hollywood movies. I think the only kind aliens in Hollywood are the ones created by Steven Spielberg - 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'E.T.,' for example. All other aliens are trying to suck our brains out.

The evidence all points to the fact that we occupy not a well-mannered clockwork universe, but a destructive, violent, and hostile zoo.

The Moon is a souvenir of that violent epoch. If you stood on the surface of that long ago Earth, the Moon would have looked a hundred times brighter. It was ten times closer back then, locked in a much more intimate gravitational embrace.

The remarkable feature of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. After the laws of physics, everything else is opinion.

There are many millions of living species of animals and plants, most of them still unknown to science. Think of that ? we have yet to make contact with most of the forms of terrestrial life.

There's no greater sign of the failure of the American educational system than the extent to which Americans are distracted by the possibility that Earth might end on December 21, 2012. It's a profound absence of awareness of the laws of physics and how nature works. So they're missing some science classes in their training in high school or in college that would empower [them] to understand and to judge when someone else is basically just full of it. Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.

Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect. I kind of want to know what happened there because we're twirling knobs here on Earth without knowing the consequences of it. Mars once had running water. It's bone dry today. Something bad happened there as well.

We think scientific literacy flows out of how many science facts can you recite rather than how was your brain wired for thinking. And it's the brain wiring that I'm more interested in rather than the facts that come out of the curriculum or the lesson plan that's been proposed.

Informed ignorance provides the natural state of mind for research scientists at the ever-shifting frontiers of knowledge. People who believe themselves ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.

I've been a minimalist my whole life, even if you wouldn't know it from my office.

Knowing how things work is important, but I think that's an incomplete view of what science literacy is or, at least, should be. Science literacy is an outlook. It's more of a lens through which you observe what goes on around you.

Maybe meaning of life is something you create, you manufacture for yourself and for others. And so when I think of meaning in life, I ask, 'Have I learned something today that I didn't know yesterday?' Bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the universe.

No one wants to die, and no one wants to die poor. These are the two fundamental truths that transcend culture, they transcend politics, they transcend economic cycles.

One reason we should go space: You know the dinosaurs would have gone there if they could have. Dinosaurs didn't have opposable thumbs or a space program, though.

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