Neil deGrasse Tyson on what scientific discovery shocked him the most

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

When I got a chance to interview Neil deGrasse Tyson two weeks ago I mostly asked him about Cosmos and science denial, but as the interview wrapped up, I realized I had time for one last question, so I asked him about speaking  at Apostacon this year and discussed briefly the importance of spreading his scientific knowledge.

I asked him a question that was sent to me by my good friend Joshua Kelly who wanted to know what scientific discovery had basically rocked Tyson’s world.

Tyson first answered pretty generically and said almost all scientific discoveries had done that to him at one point because you learn so many really great things when getting your doctorate, etc.

Yet I insisted he give me more of an answer and he finally lit up saying, “oh I know something!”

I will paraphrase his response below:

The faster you travel to the speed of light, the slower time goes, so if you happen to travel at the speed of light, time stops, meaning you would not age.

There are photons in the universe that do travel the speed of light and in doing so, the photon can travel from one end of the universe to the other, billions and billions of light-years and when it meets it demise at the end, as far as the photon is concerned, it died at the very second it was created.

The fact something can exist for billions of years, but in its own “reality” only exist for a matter of seconds is pretty astounding and not easy to fully understand.

Tyson directed me to his video series The Inexplicable Universe, which is also available on Netflix.

And be sure to catch Neil deGrasse Tyson at An Evening of Scientific Inquiry at Aposacon 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska.

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About Dan Arel

Dan Arel is the author of Parenting Without God, freelance journalist for AlterNet, Salon and The Huffington Post and public speaker. Follow him on Twitter: @danarel


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