Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist who was born in 1958. Other fields in which his relevance is felt include planetary science and science communication. Tyson studied at Harvard, University of Texas at Austin, and Columbia University; he is an acclaimed author. He worked at Princeton University from 1991 to 1994 as a postdoctoral research associate.
He became a staff scientist at the Hayden Planetarium in 1994 and a visiting research scientist and lecturer on the Princeton faculty in 1995. Tyson became the planetarium’s director in 1996, overseeing a $210 million rebuilding project that the university finished in 2000. He has been the director of the Rose Center (Earth and Space‘s Hayden Planetarium) in New York City since 1996. Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in 1997, and he has been a research associate there since 2003.
For better or worse (and correctly or incorrectly), Dr. Tyson has developed a reputation as a skeptic when it comes to human space flight. He publicly dubbed SpaceX founder Elon Musk insane in 2016 for believing SpaceX could carry humans to Mars without NASA’s help.
This, however, does not mean that he is against the idea. Let’s examine some of his thoughts of this famed scientist, shall we?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson Quotes
“The good thing about science is that it’s true, whether or not you believe in it.”
“During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore — in part because it’s fun to do. But there’s a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.”
“I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand and that nobody yet understands is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity. The day that happens, Americans will just sit in awe of what we don’t understand while we watch the rest of the world boldly go where no mortal has gone before.”
“I never want you to quote me citing my authority as a scientist for your knowing something. If that’s what you have to resort to, I have failed as an educator.”
“I am trying to convince people — not only the public, but lawmakers and people in power — that investing in the frontier of science, however, remote it may seem in its relevance to what you’re doing today, is a way of stockpiling the seed corns of future harvests of this nation.”
“As an educator, it’s my duty to empower you to think. So that you can go forth and think accurate thoughts about how the world is put together.”
“Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon, there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.”
“Does it mean, if you don’t understand something, and the community of physicists don’t understand it, that means God did it?… If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.”
“A little-known secret is that a physicist is one of the most employable people in the marketplace — a physicist is a trained problem solver. How many times have you heard a person in a workplace say, ‘I wasn’t trained for this!’ That’s an impossible reaction from a physicist, who would say, instead, ‘Cool.”
“It’s the inspired student that continues to learn on their own. That’s what separates the real achievers in the world from those who pedal along, finishing assignments.”
“Knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.”
“If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it’s not just an opinion that you desperately want to be true.”
“If you ask adults how many teachers — out of the scores in elementary, middle school, high school, college, and graduate school — made a singular impression on who and what they are, it’s never more than three or four teachers. Everybody else is a distant second to this set. When we finally create a cloning machine, we should clone those teachers.”
“Creativity is seeing what everyone else sees, but then thinking a new thought that has never been thought before and expressing it somehow.”
“Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations. It’s the passing of a torch from teacher, to student, to teacher. A community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars.”
Space Exploration Quotes
“I am proud to be part of a species where a subset of its members willingly put their lives at risk to push the boundaries of our existence.”
“The news media reported the $250 million [the cost of two failed Mars missions] as an unthinkably colossal waste of money and proclaimed that something was wrong with NASA. The result was an investigation and a congressional hearing. Not to defend failure, but $250 million is not much more than the cost to produce Kevin Costner’s film flop Waterworld.”
“When provoked, the itsy-bitsy invertebrates known as tardigrades can suspend their metabolism. In that state, they can survive temperatures of… 73 K (-328° F) for days on end, making them hardy enough to endure being stranded on Neptune. So the next time you need space travelers with the “right stuff,” you might want to choose yeast and tardigrades and leave your astronauts, cosmonauts, and taikonauts at home.”
“Since there have been people, there have been explorers, looking in places others hadn’t been before. Not everyone does it, but we are part of a species where some members of our species do—to benefit us all.”
“I have found that when calculating what no one has calculated before, like my observing sessions on the mountain, my mental acuity peaks. Ironically, these are the times that I would flunk the reality check normally reserved for mental patients and dazed boxers: What is your name? What day is it? Who is the president of the United States?… I do not know, and I do not care. I am at peace with my equations as I connect to the cosmic engines that drive our universe.”
Who is the author of the Listed Quotes?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson needs little introduction to science enthusiasts and is a very passionate man about science and space, and all the things beyond us. He is a famed astrophysicist with an alluring sense of humor while also possessing the rare ability to juxtapose his humor with an ability to communicate profound, thought-provoking truths.
Primarily, Neil DeGrasse Tyson has made immense contributions to science, especially regarding space. He continues to be a role model to many budding scientists in increasing diversity in STEM fields.