On God and hurricanes: "Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes.... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."

Happy birthday Neil deGrasse Tyson!


Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist and public educator. He is currently the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. In addition to having hosted two PBS television series on astronomy, he has appeared on numerous television talk shows to explain the complexities of outer space to the general public.



Tyson was born in Manhattan, New York to Sunchita Feliciano Tyson and Cyril deGrasse Tyson. His mother was a gerontologist and his father was a sociologist. From a young age, Tyson was interested in stars, and when he attended the Bronx High School of Science, he emphasized in astrophysics. While there, he also served as editor of the school's Physical Science Journal.

Despite being contacted by famed astronomer Carl Sagan after he applied to Cornell University, he chose instead to attend Harvard University. He majored in physics, but was active in many other campus activities, including dance. He went on to earn a doctorate in physics from Columbia University in 1991, and then continue his post-doctorate studies at Princeton University.



During his studies, he contributed to the discovery of dark energy and improved the measurement of the Hubble constant.

He began working at the Hayden Planetarium and climbed his way to the top, ultimately becoming director. He revamped the Planetarium's look at astronomy after raising $210 million for the facility.


"I would teach how science works as much as I would teach what science knows. I would assert (given that essentially, everyone will learn to read) that science literacy is the most important kind of literacy they can take into the 21st century. I would undervalue grades based on knowing things and find ways to reward curiosity. In the end, it's the people who are curious who change the world."

In 2001, he was appointed to serve on the commission on the future of the aerospace industry. He later served on a commission to examine U.S. policy on space exploration.

One of Tyson's most controversial accomplishments has been spearheading the campaign to remove Pluto from the list of our solar system's planet, instead calling it a "dwarf planet." The Astronomical Union followed his lead in 2006.


In 2004, Tyson hosted a PBS miniseries and co-authored the accompanying book Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution.

Until 2011, he hosted the PBS series Nova ScienceNow. He has appeared on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He also has made appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and The Rachel Maddow Show.


Tyson is lauded for his ability to explain complex concepts in layman's terms.

In addition to making many public appearances on television, he hosts his own podcast called StarTalk.




Selected appearances: 






Selected quotes:

–"The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you."

–"We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically."

–"... there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance."

–"I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime"

–"I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes me want to grab people on the street and say: 'Have you HEARD THIS?"


Related links:

Michael Benson Interview: "We were never expelled from Eden."

Early American Aeronautics: Black and White Photographs from the First NASA Facilities

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Sings 'Space Oddity' in Space!

Cassini Mission

Edwin Hubble's birthday biography

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 05 October 2014
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