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Monday, November 25, 2013

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Comes Down To Earth

 On Wednesday November 20, 2013 world famous Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson came to Mohawk Valley Community College to give his latest lecture aptly entitled: "Latest Discoveries in The Universe".

If you don't know who Neil DeGrasse Tyson is you either have no interest in science and no television or you never read the names of the special correspondent on the news during International celestial events. He is the contemporary 'Carl Sagan', original host of the popular television series The Cosmos and author of many books on Space. In fact. Tyson does not have a problem admitting his fondness for Sagan and he even credits him for his success. But there is no doubt Tyson is carving his own terrestrial path in the world of astrophysics.

 Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the 'go-to-guy' when it comes to simple, digestible explanations for complicated phenomena in Space. When the Chelyabinsk Meteor exploded over Russia last year, The Today show called Tyson. If there was a sci-fi laureate for The United States he would be It. Taking the grand dimensions of that explosion into a package fitting 30 Hiroshima's...whoa.

       Degrasse's relative popularity can also be measured by the many media projects he is involved with. He is currently the host of NOVA on PBS and is scheduled to appear in a re-make of Carl Sagan's popular science series The Cosmos (14 episodes). In addition he is The Director of The Hayden Planetarium.

What more can he do? Perhaps write a few books. Which he has managed to do as well. All this, while keeping a tight lecture schedule. The event at MVCC treated at least 1,500 people to a wide ranging powerpoint lecture that focused on Discovery. New Discoveries, knowledge and the 'state of the art'.

On stage, swishing in comfortable loafers, dressed in Blue jeans and a blazer, the charismatic 'uber nerd' chomped/smacked on, local product, Mercers Ice Cream, shattering the uptight image of proper, quiet preparation. The mostly twenty something crowd chuckled at his numerous, witty asides throughout the lecture and paid attention for the entire two hours without interruption.

Sitting still wasn't easy for everyone. MVCC President R VANWAG donated 25 seats to local non-profit For The Good Inc for the struggling Study Buddy Program. As a result, twenty three kids got to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson break down black holes and magnetic pole shifts. His broad appeal was obvious from the ripples of laughter pulled out of the younger kids.
The Black screen with nothing on it....Black Hole..."A perfect picture".

That joke really cracked up the seven and eight year olds, they had to be quieted down. It was refreshing to see some kids challenged and others intrigued. At the end of the day, science was 'cool'. The dire predictions about our future promoted by some climatologists and politicians were skillfully avoided. the overall tone of his lecture focused on discovery, curiosity (Mars Rovers, pun intended) and possibility.

As an adult I was excited to go but it was equally exciting to see this experience through a child's eyes. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is important for multiple reasons. His knowledge has propelled him to the front of the class and the camera. He didn't catch a ball, he can't rap, none of that. He is good at math. You can see the rest.
   

4 comments:

Len Hart said...

David, thanks for your fine homage to Neil. Indeed, he is not only the heir apparent to Sagan, he has carved out his own style and audience. I suspect that Neil is actually reaching more people these days that did Sagan. My kudos to both men. They are leaders of a rare type. Again ---thank you.

Len Hart said...

David, thank you for your excellent homage to Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He's one of my heroes for all he has done for science. He has enriched our culture and made learning and knowledge "cool". He is not only worthy of Sagan, he has taken science and science education "where no man had gone before." Again --thank you. --Len (The Existentialist Cowboy)

David B. Dancy said...

Thank You Len...your voice resonates and I love to peek into real, investigative editorials that you write. We fight for truth sand exercise the rights we have left, Good Health to you.

David B. Dancy said...

Thank You Len...your voice resonates and I love to peek into real, investigative editorials that you write. We fight for truth sand exercise the rights we have left, Good Health to you.