Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse
Tyson
1958

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

Author Quotes

In the movie [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky?one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?

It's quite literally true that we are star dust, in the highest exalted way one can use that phrase...I bask in the majesty of the cosmos. I use words, compose sentences that sound like the sentences I hear out of people that had revelation of Jesus, who go on their pilgrimages to Mecca.

Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. They beat the curiosity out of the kids. They out-number kids. They vote. They wield resources. That's why my public focus is primarily adults.

Mars once was wet and fertile. It's now bone dry. Something bad happened on Mars. I want to know what happened on Mars so that we may prevent it from happening here on Earth.

No matter who you are, engaging in the quest to discover where and how things began tends to induce emotional fervor?as if knowing the beginning bestows upon you some form of fellowship with, or perhaps governance over, all that comes later. So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.

One of the symptoms of an absence of innovation is the fact that you lose your jobs. Everyone else catches up with you. They can do what you do better than you or cheaper than you. And in a multinational corporate-free market enterprise, it is the company's obligation to take the factory to a place where they can make it more cheaply.

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. And therein lies a fascinating dichotomy. The universe always was, gets no respect as a legitimate answer to What was around before the beginning? But for many religious people, the answer, God always was, is the obvious and pleasing answer to What was around before God?

Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem.

So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.

Stars die and reborn? They get so hot that the nuclei of the atoms fuse together deep within them to make the oxygen we breathe, the carbon in our muscles, the calcium in our bones, the iron in our blood. All was cooked in the fiery hearts of long vanished stars? The cosmos is also within us. We?re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

The Earth took one hell of a beating in its first billion years, fragments of orbiting debris collided and coalesced, until they snowballed to form our Moon.

The moment when someone attaches you to a philosophy or a movement, then they assign all the baggage and all the rest of the philosophy that goes with it to you. And when you want to have a conversation, they will assert that they already know everything important there is to know about you because of that association. And that's not the way to have a conversation.

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.

There are as many atoms in each molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. This is true for dogs, and bears, and every living thing. We are, each of us, a little universe.

There's a lot to do in space. I want to learn more about the greenhouse effect on Venus, about whether there was life on Mars, about the environment in which Earth and the Sun is immersed, the behavior of the Sun.

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.

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