Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse

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

Author Quotes

There's something about witnessing something in the sky that makes people think they're seeing something unique or special. I don't really understand the psychology of it, to be honest.

We account for one-sixth of the forces of gravity we see in the universe. There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.

What are the chances that this first and only smart species in the history of life on Earth has enough smarts to completely figure out how the universe works? Chimpanzees are an evolutionary hair?s-width from us yet we can agree that no amount of tutelage will ever leave a chimp fluent in trigonometry. Now imagine a species on Earth, or anywhere else, as smart compared with humans as humans are compared with chimpanzees. How much of the universe might they figure out?

It has been said that every great emerging scientific truth goes to three phases: First people say: "It can't be true". Second they say: "It conflicts with the bible." Third they say: "It's true all along."

I've spent quality time in the aerospace community, with my service on two presidential commissions, but at heart, I'm an academic. Being an academic means I don't wield power over person, place or thing. I don't command armies; I don't lead labor unions. All I have is the power of thought.

Knowledge of physical laws can, in some cases, give you the confidence to confront surly people. A few years ago I was having a hot-cocoa nightcap at a dessert shop in Pasadena, California. I had ordered it with whipped cream, of course. When it arrived at the table, I saw no trace of the stuff. After I told the waiter that my cocoa was plain, he asserted I couldn?t see the whipped cream because it sank to the bottom. Since whipped cream has a very low density and floats on all liquids that humans consume, I offered the waiter two possible explanations: either somebody forgot to add the whipped cream to my hot cocoa or the universal laws of physics were different in his restaurant. Unconvinced, he brought over a dollop of whipped cream to test for himself. After bobbing once or twice in my cup, the whipped cream sat up straight and afloat. What better proof do you need of the universality of physical laws?

More evidence my 14yr old daughter is a Geek: after prompting me to ask if she knew any jokes about sodium, she replied, ?Na.?

Not enough books focus on how a culture responds to radically new ideas or discovery. Especially in the biography genre, they tend to focus on all the sordid details in the life of the person who made the discovery. I find this path to be voyeuristic but not enlightening. Instead, I ask, After evolution was discovered, how did religion and society respond? After cities were electrified, how did daily life change? After the airplane could fly from one country to another, how did commerce or warfare change? After we walked on the Moon, how differently did we view Earth? My larger understanding of people, places and things derives primarily from stories surrounding questions such as those.

Our academic system rewards people who know a lot of stuff and generally we call those people smart, but at the end of the day who do you want- the person who can figure things out that they've never seen before or the person who can rattle off a bunch of facts?

Physics is the only profession in which prophecy is not only accurate but routine.

Science literacy is being plugged into the forces that power the universe. There is no excuse for thinking that the Sun, which is a million times the size of Earth, orbits Earth.

Some claim evolution is just a theory. As if it were merely an opinion. The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened. Accepting our kinship with all life on Earth is not only solid science. In my view, it?s also a soaring spiritual experience.

That is, cosmic dark matter enjoys about six times the mass of all the visible matter.

The first trillionaire in the world will be the person who mines asteroids.

The most accessible field in science, from the point of view of language, is astrophysics. What do you call spots on the sun? Sunspots. Regions of space you fall into and you don?t come out of? Black holes. Big red stars? Red giants. So I take my fellow scientists to task. He?ll use his word, and if I understand it, I?ll say, Oh, does that mean da-da-da-de-da?

The supermoon is a 16-inch pizza compared with a 15-inch pizza. It's a slightly bigger moon; I ain't using the adjective 'supermoon.'

There are thousands of asteroids whose orbit in the Solar System crosses that of Earth. And we have a little acronym for them - NEOs: near Earth objects. And our biggest goal is to try to catalogue them, so we know in advance if one is going to put us at risk.

They [scientists of centuries past] call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.

We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.

What are the lessons to be learned from this journey of the mind? That humans are emotionally fragile, perennially gullible, hopelessly ignorant masters of an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos.

It is the destiny of stars to collapse.

Just an FYI: ?Thursday the 12th? is just as rare as ?Friday the 13th?.

Let me tell you something about full moons: kids don't care about full moons. They'll play in a full moon, no worries at all. They only get scared of magic or werewolves from stupid adults and their stupid adult stories.

Most gravity has no known origin. Is it some exotic particle? Nobody knows. Is dark energy responsible for expansion of the universe? Nobody knows.

Not enough people in this world, I think, carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.

Author Picture
First Name
Neil deGrasse
Last Name
Birth Date

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