5xFriday: Today’s “Popularizer of Science”

Today’s 5xFriday features 5 quotes by Neil DeGrasse Tyson…astrophysicist, cosmologist, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, and research associate in the   department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He’s been on everything…PBS Nova, The Daily Show and the (already missed) Colbert Report, and Fox’s remake of Cosmos. My two favorite descriptions come from Wikipedia and from the page at the Hayden Planetarium: “Popularizer of Science” and “Science Communicator.”

  1. We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.
  2. Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. They beat the curiosity out of kids. They outnumber kids. They vote. They wield resources. That’s why my public focus is primarily adults.
  3. So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up- many people feel small, cause they’re small and the universe is big. But I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.
  4. During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore—in part because it’s fun to do. But there’s a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us. In that bleak world, arms-bearing, resource-hungry people and nations would be prone to act on their “low contracted prejudices.” And that would be the last gasp of human enlightenment—until the rise of a visionary new culture that could once again embrace the cosmic perspective.
  5. The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

Manhattanhenge: A New York City Sunset  Image Credit & Copyright: Neil deGrasse Tyson (AMNH) Explanation: This coming Saturday, if it is clear, well placed New Yorkers can go outside at sunset and watch their city act like a modern version of Stonehenge. Manhattan's streets will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the Sun sets precisely at each street's western end. Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City's tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north. Were Manhattan's road grid perfectly aligned to east and west, today's effect would occur on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox, March 21 and September 21, the only two days that the Sun rises and sets due east and west. Pictured above in this horizontally stretched image, the Sun sets down 34th Street as viewed from Park Avenue. If Saturday's sunset is hidden by clouds do not despair -- the same thing happens twice each year: in late May and mid July. On none of these occasions, however, should you ever look directly at the Sun.

Manhattanhenge: A New York City Sunset
Image Credit & Copyright: Neil deGrasse Tyson (AMNH)
Explanation: This coming Saturday, if it is clear, well placed New Yorkers can go outside at sunset and watch their city act like a modern version of Stonehenge. Manhattan’s streets will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the Sun sets precisely at each street’s western end. Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City’s tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north. Were Manhattan’s road grid perfectly aligned to east and west, today’s effect would occur on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox, March 21 and September 21, the only two days that the Sun rises and sets due east and west. Pictured above in this horizontally stretched image, the Sun sets down 34th Street as viewed from Park Avenue. If Saturday’s sunset is hidden by clouds do not despair — the same thing happens twice each year: in late May and mid July. On none of these occasions, however, should you ever look directly at the Sun.

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