Saturday, February 23, 2008

African-American Scientists: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is arguably one of the most influential African-American Scientists alive today. He is basically an all-around astrophysicist extraordinaire, leaning more toward the public face of the field than the hard-core lab rat type.

Tyson grew up in New York City, attending public schools through graduation at the Bronx High School of Science. He went on to wrap himself in "ivy", graduating with a BA in Physics from Harvard and a PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia University, with an MA in Astronomy in the meantime from the University of Texas at Austin, and has been a visiting research scientist and lecturer at Princeton. He is currently director of the prestigious Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

Tyson isn't the geeky, shy sort of scientist. He's "out there" livin' large. He's handsome, muscular, and trades quips with talk show hosts. He makes frequent appearances on The History Channel's "The Universe" series and hosts PBS's "Nova ScienceNow" series, discussing everything cosmological, from black holes to the formation of the universe, our solar system, and even life on other planets. He analyzes images from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes from all over the planet, including Palomar and the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. He's edited or written nine books, and has another on the way, as well as chapters and articles in other publications, and about a dozen scholarly articles. I won't list here all the assorted honors, guest appearances, astronomy board memberships, and society memberships.

Twice (in 2001 and 2004) Tyson was named by President Bush to be a member of commissions to study America's role in space and to explore the future of space travel. I'll try not to hold it against him. In 2006, Tyson was appointed to the NASA advisory panel by the head of NASA.

He is the recipient of nine honorable degrees, the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and even has an asteroid named after him ("13123 Tyson").

And if all that wasn't enough, Tyson made Time Magazine's "Time 100" of 2007 (HERE), and was named "Sexiest Astrophysist Alive" by PEOPLE Magazine in 2000. Just look at that picture!

Here is Tyson's official website, which contains just about anything you would care to know about the man: http://research.amnh.org/~tyson/.


Image taken from HERE, where you can also find a short interview with Tyson.

12 comments:

Sparkling Red said...

Wow, he is pretty hunky. I'm impressed!

I used to want to be an astrophysicist (when I was 14), until I realized that you have to live in the middle of the desert in an observatory and be nocturnal in order to make ground-breaking observations. I thought that might not be so healthy for my social life.

Dorid said...

When I was young (just before I actually became an astrophysics major in college) I used to adore Carl Sagan. these days, I admit to having one of those school girl crushes on DeGrasse. Not only is he sexy, he makes science sexy.

He's the kind of guy who can really popularize science, not only among young girls, but just about anyone who hears his voice (and his excitement!) when he talks about the the universe.

unsigned said...

Is it just me or is there a little Lando Calrissian in him?

LaserGold said...

Anyone else here listen to the man on Point of Inquiry? It is a skeptical/scientific podcast and I can highly recommend it.

Google Point of Inquiry and look for his interviews. One is about Black Holes and the other is called "The Sky is not the Limit". He drops some great lines and makes some awesome points. Wish I had heard about him when I was studying Astronomy at the University. i would have gotten so much more out of it.

I have found that Neil can be a little bit cheesy in Documentaries and Video Interviews, but in the Point of Inquiry radio interviews he really was stellar. One of my favorite quotes that he dropped in this interview was:

"Science is catching snow flakes with your mouth"

What an amazing quote, it captures the essence that we need to keep a child like fascination about the world around us and keep that alive. Science doesn't just consist of memorizing facts and applying complex formulas for analysis and experimentation, but following your curiosity and having fun. He accurately points out that most adults loose that curiosity and amazement after their teenage years. This needs to be rediscovered and science can be that medium.

Sildenafil said...

I wanna get more information about Neil deGrasse Tyson because I like all those topics related to the space and stars and weird phenomenons occurring in and out our galaxy.

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