Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most celebrated science communicators and popularizers alive today. He is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and hosts NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS. He has also written several popular texts about astronomy, including his most recent book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Neil in his office in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. From intelligent alien life to our stellar origins, how to think outside of the three-dimensional box to what baffles one of the great thinkers of our time, this was a conversation I won't soon forget. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I also hope you'll take the time to join the conversation by leaving a comment below. Talk nerdy to me!
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People who boast about their IQ are losers.
My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.
I think computer viruses should count as life ... I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
We are so insignificant that I can't believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.