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The Soul of a Nerd

Neil deGrasse Tyson , the new host of the PBS-TV program "NOVA scienceNOW", is director of the Hayden Planetarium in the Rose Center For Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. He is the recipient of seven honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.


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Fantastic. Pretty much encapsulates why my hero is Carl Sagan and my anti-hero is Pat Roberston.

As an artist who loves theoretical physics, I particularly liked Tyson's sketching pumpkins anecdote. What a wonderful way to put it. -tgs-

wow, that was impressive.

thanks for posting this, i doubt i would have made it through all the talks to get to it.

this man is a fantastic communicator of the passion of doing science.

-- óskar

Wow. This guy is an amazing speaker.

If there is going to be more of this posted, Tyson's bit in session 2 on "Stupid Design" (from 32:00 to 37:05) is pretty amazing.

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Finally a HUMAN BEING! Here's a guy who's come into his professional academic life with mind and spirit still intact. (Maybe the world needs more nerds who can kick your ass.) Neil is fortunate to have preserved his sense of awe without being crusted over by a derisive and superior attitude. He sites his turning point which opened his perception beyond the rigors of science being enough. I think, deep down, that's a function of humility. And with the stream of "reason vs. religion" arguments going down here, he a good anecdote to the somewhat snide and reductive side of Dawkins and Harris, while very bright guys, the two don't strike me as particularly warm characters.

Neil deGrasse Tyson for President!

Thank you for this clip.

Thanks, Norm. That was really beautiful, and beautifully encapsulates what I think and believe.

Thanks for posting my request... Neil is such a humanizing, captivating speaker. Candid, likable, highly intelligent... Neil Tyson for president, indeed.

What an awes inspiring speech. That alone exemplifies the way many of us feel about science, and it's that feeling that would often result in me reading chemistry papers and books despite the fact that I choose not to continue in that direction academically. It should be an affront to anyone who ever felt so passionately about science to be told that they will never experience such a depth of emotion simply because that person refuses to delude himself or herself into into it.

This is terrible! The man is nothing less than an outright apologist for irrationalism. C'mon, people -- the man is anthropomorphizing PHOTONS!

He claims to have no problem with people "taking" the knowledge he as a scientist finds, and using it for whatever "resonates" with them -- and he explicitly mentions New Age "thinking" -- what kind of man of science IS this?!

In this day and age, when breathing through your nose is enough to get you labelled an "elitist," and our airwaves are filled with deranged and dangerous religious propaganda (how would you feel if you invented the radio, only to watch some maniac use it to try brainwash the world about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?) this so-called scientist is talking about a "...kinship with the cosmos that resonates deeply with New Age thinking..."

That guy is dangerous to science. He's a danger to reason.

If he had an epiphany from drawing pumkins, he couldn't have been a very stable person to begin with. If that sounds harsh I'm sorry -- but I completely identify with the guy. I grew up as a huge, unemotional nerd, and have spent lots of hours in art classes, so I understand where he's coming from. But that's just a bad train of thought, that...

Norm that was really impressive, thank you. What an eloquent and interesting man. It is amazing to see that the enthusiasm and passion that is most commonly associated with Religion can be present in a man of science as well.

On another point although Dawkins is a hero as far as I am concerned Tyson's comment about his methods not being wholly effective to non scientific people is well put. I have been thinking something similar for a long time.

Yeah, this guy impressed me. Session 2 is really good, with Sam Harris and deGrasee Tyson's brilliant speeches. I loved the way he passionately explained his points, and the way he misspelled "crockodile".

I agree with Voxton to an extent. This guy is dangerous. Anyone who is a powerful public speaker is dangerous. A sharp knife is also dangerous. Neither should be considered a threat simply becaus of their potential power to damage.

That said, I wasn't terribly impressed with the content of what he said. It struck me as the wrong way to place vaule on empathy and aesthetics. We were convinced by the passion of the argument more than the argument itself.

Some of his ideas I have considered myself. I have looked at stars and considered the significance of the photons that hit my eye, and how such a vanishingly small percentage of photons that leave the star hit something that triggers a thought in a conscious entity. Compared to the idea of perhaps marginally warming a spec of space dust it does feel like the photon was lucky.

We place value on consciousness. We're a bit biased that way, but we're the conscious ones anon of the others are going to argue with us :-)

ps. If you want an example of a powerful public speaker that is a problem, look at Tony Blair.

Hey thanks for the posting Norm.

I relate much of my own experience with Tyson due to my being proponent of science and a musician. I think that if there is a connection between the feelings one gets from religion and the feelings one gets from some effect of enlightenment by science then to replace the rediculousness of religion should be on the minds of every educator or anyone interested in some form of advancement.

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