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February 15, 2011 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about meeting Carl Sagan as a teenager. [slyt]
posted by Taft (23 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Night I Met Einstein

And that kid went on to become a noted playwright.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:57 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was such a science nerd in high school. If there was a science ambassador as fun, cool and able to describe complex terms simply like Neil DeGrasse Tyson back then, I might be wearing a white coat right now.

Okay, maybe there was, but my family didn't get Nickelodeon.
posted by chemoboy at 7:03 PM on February 15, 2011


Tyson chose Harvard, fwiw.

The whole interview is great.
posted by gen at 7:28 PM on February 15, 2011


There have been a few times in the past where I was a critical about some of the productions he was involved with. I've never criticized his passion for what he does, just that he was being too "101" in some of the segments, and he should challenge the viewers more.

I saw this clip, or another interview he did where he told of his meeting with Sagan, and realized what an idiot I was being.

The conviction with which he speaks in this clip about his responsibility for encouraging science in students is so obviously heartfelt, I realized that getting as much of that '101' stuff into as many the kid's minds as possible and fanning any spark of interest into a fire is a damn noble thing. I've been hooked on science ever since I can remember, so sometimes I do take it for granted that people dedicate their careers to making sure science gets its props and the value of making sure students of all ages don't ever stop asking questions about 'what the universe really is.'

Learning is a kick in the pants sometimes, and sometimes a kick to an ego is necessary. Thanks, Neil. Sagan would be proud.
posted by chambers at 7:34 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tyson is a born educator, an incredibly charismatic talker, and a spectacular hoot. I interviewed him once, and it almost made me woozy, it was so much fun.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:36 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, I love that guy.

This is one of my favorites: "If you're scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you."
posted by mhoye at 7:54 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow ... that was great ... sometimes the universe says, 'go that way,' and most of the time I think it's good to pay attention to that impulse.
posted by Relay at 9:04 PM on February 15, 2011


Hmm, Metafilter. Billy Ray Cyrus interview, or Neil deGrasse Tyson interview?
posted by xmutex at 9:18 PM on February 15, 2011


Billy Ray Degrassi Cyrus?
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:17 PM on February 15, 2011


...just that he was being too "101" in some of the segments, and he should challenge the viewers more.

I 100% agree; for a long time I thought that he was a little condescending in his approach, trying to make things too warm fuzzy bunny easy, but the more I watch him, the more I see it's just his natural geewhizzitude coming out. And he seemed a lot more polished than Jack Horkheimer (previously), but it's just a different style.

Another host who has grown on me is Alan Alda, with Scientific American Frontiers. He comes across as really enthusiastic and genuinely interested, but his audience probably skews a little older than Tyson's. Which is also good...gotta do something for all age groups.
posted by foonly at 10:34 PM on February 15, 2011


I also agree he might be a bit too 101. But I think he has always aimed to get people interested in the sciences and not to further the interest of those already involved. Since I'm one who is already well versed in this sort of thing, I don't think I can adequately judge his motives.

I have been a bit disappointed at how this season of NOVA Science now really is just a rehash of the cooler discoveries brought to light by the recent season of NOVA documentaries. I recall my teachers playing parts of NOVA episodes for us in school, and I always thought that was a lazy way of teaching. Especially since the cantor most documentary narrators is the kind of thing I'm comfortable going to sleep to.

But I don't think I'm the target audience. So I say let him do what he's been doing. The way he confronted the uproar over Pluto's demotion was well handled. If only more scientists were more engaging in their endeavors.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention in my first post, but this really is a great clip.
posted by chemoboy at 11:15 PM on February 15, 2011


Nice story, thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:42 PM on February 15, 2011


There have been a few times in the past where I was a critical about some of the productions he was involved with. I've never criticized his passion for what he does, just that he was being too "101" in some of the segments, and he should challenge the viewers more.

Yeah dude...its because of Sagan and his 101 approach that most Americans know that rubber O-rings aren't as durable in drastic temps as you'd expect them to be.

Hopefully that mistake won't be made again...and I bet that mistake has been caught thousands of times because of Sagan's 101 approach.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:45 PM on February 15, 2011


Yeah dude...its because of Sagan and his 101 approach that most Americans know that rubber O-rings aren't as durable in drastic temps as you'd expect them to be.

Hopefully that mistake won't be made again...and I bet that mistake has been caught thousands of times because of Sagan's 101 approach.


???

My criticism before was from a frustration from only having a few rare options for slightly more advanced level television programs, not a demand for a new prime-time fall lineup of doctoral lectures on the durability of synthetic polymers. If anything, that frustration makes me actually get of my ass and learn stuff that I can't have delivered to me through the TV.

Carl Sagan was not '101' programming, nor am I trying to say Sagan and DeGrasse are equals, either. Sagan's ability to contextualize science, history and the changing way of how we look at things was exceptional, and really hasn't been equaled since. DeGrasse has to deal with shorter attention spans, wrapping the science in a candy coating of entertainment, and trying to share his love of science to people who may be just interested in scientific stuff and also people who might not think about science much. He's speaking to a whole different audience than me, and I didn't fully appreciate that. If they dig DeGrasse, they'll eventually find out about Sagan, download Cosmos from Netflix, and go on from there, for example. He's not trying to be Sagan, he doesn't need to. He's trying to get more people just to be entertained and associate science with something that can make them think a bit, and encourage that interest. I can appreciate that.
posted by chambers at 12:25 AM on February 16, 2011


Wasn't the O-ring thing Feynman, not Sagan? And in Congressional testimony, not in a popular science show?
posted by Flunkie at 4:06 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must be the only one who doesn't love Tyson. I find his speech and body-language to be self-conscious to the point of being extremely distracting. And, at least on shows like NOVA, the content to be so dumbed down as to be useless.
posted by DU at 4:25 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah dude...its because of Sagan and his 101 approach that most Americans know that rubber O-rings aren't as durable in drastic temps as you'd expect them to be.

That was Feynman.
posted by DU at 4:27 AM on February 16, 2011


How nice to see this after that Billy Ray Cyrus nonsense. Like a cool drink of water after a mouthful of slurry.
posted by Decani at 4:47 AM on February 16, 2011


I had an opportunity to see Tyson lecture last fall and got the impression that he adjusted his presentation based on the audience, which was primarily college-age science students and professors. FWIW, I like his presentation style, as subject matter like the cosmos is difficult for me to wrap my brain around and he makes the material more accessible.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:32 AM on February 16, 2011


What DU said. Whenever I see NDT, I think he's obviously a very bright guy, but what he's mastered isn't science, but self-promotion. That doesn't make him a bad guy, it's just that I'd rather see an actual scientist rather than a professional science interpreter.

And that "We have to fund NASA or the US education system is down the tubes" YT was embarassingly self-serving.
posted by sneebler at 11:13 AM on February 16, 2011


Wasn't the O-ring thing Feynman, not Sagan? And in Congressional testimony, not in a popular science show?

Yes, if you mean the bit where, as part of the Blue Ribbon Panel investigating the Challenger disaster, he immersed a small O ring into his cup of ice water and then showed how it had gotten stiff and inflexible.
posted by aught at 1:44 PM on February 16, 2011


What DU said. Whenever I see NDT, I think he's obviously a very bright guy, but what he's mastered isn't science, but self-promotion. That doesn't make him a bad guy, it's just that I'd rather see an actual scientist rather than a professional science interpreter.

Not surprisingly, this reminds me a lot of what people were saying about Sagan back in the day.
posted by aught at 1:48 PM on February 16, 2011


This seems relevant.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:17 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


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