Neil deGrasse Tyson – My Hero

Neil deGrasse Tyson talking asteroid physics with a 9-year old

Great asteroid science, explained so even a 9-year old can understand it. Well, so a 9-year old who throws around words like “non-Newtonian solids”, that is. The look on Dr. Tyson’s face is priceless. Also, enough material for a library of science fiction books.

A fascinatingly disturbing thought

(Which actually comes around minute 8, after many interesting thoughts, including the suggestion that we are descended from Martians)

The components of the universe, in decreasing order of frequency, are:

Hydrogen
Helium
Oxygen
Carbon
Nitrogen

Which equal the components of us, in decreasing order of frequency, minus helium, which is inert. This is NOT the fascinatingly disturbing thought.

The man expounds on aliens, life on other planets, DNA, and chimpanzees.

It is “inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches in the world. There are more stars in the universe than sounds and words ever uttered by all humans who have ever lived.”

As to why we should explore other planets:

“Venus is the best example in the solar system of a planet gone bad.”

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on UFOs

Anyone familiar with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s down-to-earth, tell-it-straight brand of astrophysics will not be surprised by this diatribe on UFOs.

“We’ve all bought and enjoyed books called ‘Optical Illusions’. Right? Well, We all love optical illusions. But that’s not what they should call the book. They should call them brain failures. Because that’s what it is. A complete failure of human perception.”

“Maybe you did see visitors from another part of the galaxy. I need more than your eyewitness testimony. And in modern times, I need more than your photograph. Photoshop probably has a UFO button today.”

He’s not saying they haven’t been here. He’s just saying the evidence isn’t there. If you do happen to be abducted, he advises you to steal the ashtray off the flying saucer. Bring proof. Something interesting.

Something interesting I learned is that UFO sightings are LOWER among amateur astronomers, even though they spend more time watching the sky. Why? “Because we know what the hell we’re looking at.”

The Erosion of Progress by Religions

This lecture is slow to get going, but it’s worth sticking with, and watching until the very end. Although he’s not one to shy away from controversial topics, this lecture starts on safe but interesting ground with Naming Rights. Elements, stamps, the Internet. Whoever discovers gets the right of naming. He’s going somewhere with this—of course he is, he’s Neil deGrasse Tyson. Things get poignant when he puts up his own personal photos of September 11th, 2001. He quotes President Bush making a Bushism, saying “Our god is the one who named the stars.” Except, it turns out, most of the stars have Arabic names.

Now it all comes together. This is because the Arabs had a brief but famous period of mathematical and scientific discovery—famous if you were paying attention that year in school, or recognize words like “algebra” and “algorithm” and “arabic numerals”.

It only lasted three hundred years because of the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. Something from which the world’s billion Muslims have not recovered as an intellectual force (he has compelling evidence).

And there is disturbing evidence that we’re heading in the same direction.

Intelligent Design is Stupid

As an evolutionary biology major, this topic is dear to my heart. Intelligent design hadn’t been proposed back when I was in college, but I spent too much time arguing with Creationists (a weakness, I admit…but it was fun). Face it: We are not perfect, just good enough, and those of us still here, reading this, are pretty damn lucky. After watching this video, you will be utterly humbled to realize we exist at all.

Though seriously, would it be too much to ask for totally separate holes for breathing and eating?

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3 thoughts on “Neil deGrasse Tyson – My Hero

  1. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 12/12/13 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

  2. Pingback: Quote of the Day 18 December 2013 – Evidence | Marc Gilbert-Widmann

  3. Pingback: Haiku: Liaison | Rob's Surf Report

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