#169 Astrophysics For People In a Hurry: Neil deGrasse

Tyson talks about the possibility of intelligent life on other planets, tackles science deniers on the right and left, and explains why we should invest more in pure science. Tyson also discusses his book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.”

"What's curious to me is you have the liberal community claiming the (moral) high road ...against the science deniers of the right with regard to global warming and evolution in the classrooms... as though they are somehow untainted by non-scientific thinking,” Tyson tells us. "There is a whole portfolio of science denying that also happens in the liberal left."

Investments in pure science led to many remarkable breakthroughs in medicine, technology and physics - often decades after the research began. Following the discovery of quantum physics in the 1920's, "it would take forty to fifty years before we would see the rise of information technology," says Tyson. "There is no information technology without an understanding of quantum physics."

Tyson also discusses his sense of awe and wonder about the secrets of the cosmos.

““You can’t be a scientist and have discomfort with not knowing,” he tells us. “When there is a frontier that’s unexplored, where there are stupefying depths of ignorance, it excites you. It gets you out of bed in the morning and running to the lab.””

— Neil deGrasse Tyson

#168 The Case for Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson, America’s most prominent spokesman for science and Director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, talks about the benefits of a cosmic perspective, the case for manned space flight and much more in this first part of our wide-ranging conversation. We also discussed Tyson's book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry."

Richard and Jim met Tyson at his offices at The American Museum of Natural History. While insisting he is not an advocate for manned space flight, Tyson says "history tells us" space exploration "is one of the most potent forces to operate on the scientific ambitions of a citizenry." At the height of the Apollo program in the 1960's, "you didn't need special programs to get people interested in science," Tyson explains. "There were weekly headlines about our journeys into space and you knew you needed the best of the best to breech the frontier of space."