Friday, November 18, 2011

Neil deGrasse Tyson

You wouldn't think so from his credentials - he is an American astrophysicist, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium, and host of PBS's “Nova Science Now” - but Neil deGrasse Tyson is a great interview. He is both bright and funny, as I found when I first saw him on "The Daily Show." He also had insightful comments on "Real Time with Bill Maher." A sampling of quotes follow.

"...part of what empowers fluidity when speaking to the public is your exposure to pop culture....if you speak to a group as an educator in any discipline and you’re not prepared to engage what interests them as a stepping stone or as metaphor or as a means of fleshing out a conversation in ways that have the emotional, intellectual, and cultural relevance to that audience, then you are not communicating."

"I try to strike a balance between speaking what we know to be true and embedding it in a context that shows why you should care about it....I spend a lot of my life engaged in public activity — if there's a thing everybody's doing I'm going to do that. I can add that to my pedagogical utility belt, and draw on it when I speak."

"Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. The 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."

"Now imagine a world in which everyone, but especially people with power and influence, holds an expanded view of our place in the cosmos. With that perspective, our problems would shrink—or never arise at all—and we could celebrate our earthly differences while shunning the behavior of our predecessors who slaughtered each other because of them."

Tyson offers viewers more than a sound bite. He reels them in with what he calls a "cosmic biscuit" and then offers an infinitely wider perspective on our worldly issues.

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