October 5 – Happy Birthday, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Posted October 5, 2016

Today's the day to celebrate one of the world's most famous astrophysicists. Why is THIS particular astrophysicist so famous, you might ask?

Could it be because he is so adorable?

Of course, like anyone who has achieved a lot, Neil deGrasse Tyson worked hard, going to school and getting a bajillion degrees, doing research associate stuff in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, and directing the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

And then he worked a little more:

He wrote columns and a Q&A for magazines, he published books, he did public speaking, and he hosted TV shows and podcasts. Because of all of this stuff, NdGT is considered at least as important for his science communication with the public as for his science itself.

He carries the public-communications torch once carried by beloved (and, sadly, now dearly departed) astronomer / writer / public speaker / TV show host Carl Sagan. For one thing, Sagan's amazing TV series Cosmos had a new-updated version, in 2014 – and it was hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In that show, NdGT explained a bit about Sagan's influence on him:

Carl Sagan wanted to meet with NdGT when the latter was just a 17-year-old kid from the Bronx. Sagan showed young Neil around Cornell University and gave him an autographed book (“For Neil Tyson, With all good wishes to a future astronomer”). It was very meaningful to NdGT that Sagan did all of that...

...and then:

At the end of the day, he drove me back to the bus station. The snow was falling harder. He wrote his phone number, his home phone number, on a scrap of paper. And he said, "If the bus can't get
through, call me. Spend the night at my home, with my family."
I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me and to countless others. Inspiring so many of us to study, teach, and do science. Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations.

Neil deGrasse Tyson cannot help but spill wisdom here, there, and everywhere, so as a special birthday celebration, enjoy:

Also on this date:

First Wednesday of October

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