mechanical pop Deputy Editor-in-Chief Courtney Linder recently sat down to speak with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world-renowned astrophysicist and science interviewer, host of the PBS series Nova Science now And the Universe: A SpaceTime Odysseycreator of the StarTalk franchise and bestselling author Astrophysics for people in a hurry. Tyson’s career in astrophysics, combined with a knack for making science digestible, made him a famous person.
In this first installment of our multi-part video series, mechanical pop explaining the universe, we explore Tyson’s cosmic baptism at the young age of nine. New episodes come out every Wednesday, so be sure to check out more of Tyson’s thoughts on the multiverse, aliens, the James Webb Space Telescope, and more.
Tyson’s emotional childhood escalates into a lifelong space race, as he seeks answers to his questions about the universe. It all started with his first family trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he discovered what would later be his long-term home: The Hayden Planetarium. At the age of nine, Tyson already knew that his interest in science was growing, so he pursued his curiosity.
Between 1972 and 1976, Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science. At the age of fifteen, he was invited to attend college lectures at Cornell University by Carl Sagan, the famous scientist who played a leading role in the American space program in the 1950s. Although Tyson’s time with Sagan helped advance his interests in astrophysics, his studies continued at Harvard University. Tyson received his MA in Philosophy of Astrophysics from Columbia University in 1989. From there, he went on to complete his Ph.D. in 1991.
Tyson studies many components of our universe. From supernovae to dwarf galaxies, he has been at the forefront of understanding the structure of our Milky Way and what lies beyond. His adventures in questioning the universe have earned him nine honorary awards, including NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal – the highest civilian honor.
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, on their website.
Today, the Hayden Planetarium occupies a special place for Tyson. He began working at the planetarium as a scientist in 1994, while also conducting research at Princeton University. He now holds the position of Planetarium Director, a position from which he was once inspired.
Role models “overrated”
Tyson’s parents, Sunchita and Cyril, played a large role in shaping his cosmic perspective. Sanchita, also known as “Tony,” cared for her children, and understood the day-to-day hardships of racism in America. Ms. Tyson told WNYC, “All three of my children are brown, and they stay brown all year round… We had to make it clear at a very young age that some people wouldn’t be kind to them.” studios in 2014. While the civil rights movement was making progress with important legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, racial prejudices ingrained in America persisted. Toni watched her children closely, while encouraging Tyson to pursue his dreams.
Cyril Tyson was a sociologist and activist in the civil rights movement. Cyril was a former star turned teacher who led anti-poverty programs, many of which were designed to improve public schools to be fair and equal to their students. At an educational conference in 1964, Cyril said, “Teachers don’t teach…They have low expectations and say kids can’t learn because they’re black.” He encouraged Cyril Tyson to be exactly what he wanted to be, and when he got older, Cyril was right by his side, building his first telescope.
Tyson says the idea of role models is ‘overrated’ popular mechanics. why? Because you are limiting yourself to one style of thinking, one example to follow, by apotheosis of others. Tyson had many inspiring figures come into his life, from his parents to Carl Sagan and other scholars and professors alike. He took bits and pieces from their stories, research, and passions, and made them his collective inspiration. In his words, “I’m making this kind of Frankenstein model with bits and pieces of people with talents I wanted to imitate.” Tyson explains that having a role model limits an individual’s freedom of choice. If you want to explore all the possible outcomes of your life, you should believe in yourself rather than someone else.
You can read more about Tyson’s cosmic perspectives in his all-new book, Starry Messenger: Cosmological Views of Civilization.
Taylor Vasilik, video producer for popular mechanicsAnd the hostility worldAnd the Cycling magazines. She recently graduated from Temple University where she studied Film and Media. Her favorite hobbies include DIY projects, exploring new music, shooting videos, and traveling. On the weekends, you can find her shopping at her favorite thrift and antiques stores.