Carl Zimmer Profiles Neil deGrasse Tyson

Carl Zimmer wrote a wonderful profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson for the January edition of Playboy… but in case you don’t get that, there’s a perfectly SFW version of the piece here :)

A short excerpt:

For most of the people huddling on the ground, tonight is the first time they’ve spent such an extended period looking up at the sky. For three hours, Tyson keeps his audience staring so hard at the heavens he cramps their necks. He speaks of galaxies and the delusions of astrology, how to calculate latitude, the fate of the universe. It is not a lecture. He delivers something more akin to a solo concert. Although he is a card-carrying astrophysicist with a long list of scientific papers in publications like Astrophysical Journal, Tyson has turned himself into a rock-star scientist. He plays to sold-out houses. He appears on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on the New York Times bestseller list, on Twitter (@neiltyson, with 242,400 followers as I write this). He is now shooting a remake of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series, which will air on Fox in 2013.

Tyson spreads himself so wide for two reasons. One is that there’s so much in the sky to talk about. The other reason is down here on earth. For all the spectacular advances American science has made over the past century — not just in astrophysics but in biology, engineering, and other disciplines — the best days of American science may be behind us. And as American science declines, so does America. So here, in the dark, under the stars, Tyson is going to try to save the future, one neck cramp at a time.

In case you missed it, my interview with Dr. Tyson from last summer can be seen here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    Really excellent article, worth reading the whole thing. It’s thanks to Tyson that I don’t tune out physics news. It used to be some forbidding wall of mathematics (What do you call a scientist that hates math? A biologist) but he made me realize how beautiful and interesting it could actually be. He is a world treasure.

    • Annie

      I agree.  I just finished the article and it inspired me to take my coffee out to the patio to look at the sky before the sun comes up.  Tyson is an amazing teacher.

  • Josh

    I’m glad Tyson is getting so much press. Its inspiring that someone so smart can also be super cool.

  • http://www.warhammerau.org baronvoncarson

    Tyson makes it hard not to get excited about science. He’s really just an all round awesome man.

  • aimee eisiminger

    NDT rocks

  • http://thatsmrsbitchtoyou.blogspot.com MrsB

    Yes, Hemant, I just wanted to also add my thanks for linking to that article. I absolutely love the way Tyson can condense unbelievably complex science into its most interesting, easily understandable form to capture people’s interest. It’s truly an art.

  • Anonymous

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