Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson: a brief summary of his life

Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958) is an American astrophysicist, whom has been committed to science for over 50 years, and its representation in the 21st century.

LIFE AND ACHIEVEMENTS

Tysons fascination with space and astrophysics begun on a very young age when he visited the ‘Sky Theater’ at the Hayden Planetarium at only 9 years old. He had the feeling that the universe was calling out for him. 25 years later, he would be a renowned laborant at the planetarium himself. (http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/)

Even though Tyson was stuck at school, he was already obsessively studying astronomy in his teen years. At only 15 years old, Tyson gave lectures about varied astronomy-related theses and research. These lectures, which were rarely brought by a non-graduated teenager, were brought to the attention of Carl Sagan, who tried to make Tyson submit to his university. Tyson described this in one of his books (The Sky Is Not The Limit) as:

“Within a week, I received a personal letter from Carl Sagan. He wanted to meet me in Ithaca, New York. I knew that I wanted to become a scientist, but Carl thought me what kind of person I wanted to become.”

Eventually, Tyson chose Harvard, where he graduated in 1980 with an AB-diploma. After his education, Tyson chose to become an astronomy teacher at the university at Maryland, where he acquired an MPhil in astronomy and a Phd in astrophysics. With these titles, Tyson continued his career involving his fascination for space.

He got in touch with NASA and the ARCS foundation, which led to multiple joined researches with multiple noted physicists. An outcome of one of those researches was a thesis which had an important influence on the discovery of dark matter in 1998, one of the most important discoveries in terms of physics.

The total of these achievements brought Tyson multiple, important positions at the university of Princeton and Maryland, and not to forget, The American Museum of National History. In the earlier mentioned Hayden Planetarium, he was appointed director in 1996.

Beside the fact that he’s an incredible scientist, Tyson is also a renowned author and documentary producer. Which started as a column in a magazine, Natural History, grew to become a true phenomenon. One of Tysons most famous columns is the so-called “Manhattanhenge.” In a column for a special edition in an American magazine, Tyson pointed out that each year for 2 days, the sun is  in perfect line with the streets of New York, which causes New York to become even more hectic than it already is, by all the tourists and photographers who are desperate to record the most exceptional sundown of the year.

Tysons titles keep going, such as member of the “Moon, Stars and Beyond”-club, the presidential commission of space, an honorary medal from Nasa, the most sexy physicist in the world and the list goes on. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_deGrasse_Tyson#Recognition)

But Tyson is not only being hated by New Yorks taxi-drivers 2 days a year. In 2006 Tyson proved that Pluto is not a real planet, which led to the suspension of Pluto out of the planetary system. A specific group of people did not, and still don’t, agree with Tyson, and want justice for their beloved dwarf planet.

PERSONAL LIFE AND OPINIONS

Tyson likes to leave his spirituality without labels. He doesn’t answer to the question if he’s an atheist or a believer, because he’s neither. About spirituality, he said the following:

“For me, when I say spiritual, I refer to a feeling that would connect you to the universe in a way that you can’t describe with just words. We think about the universe as an intellectual playground, which it surely is, but the moment you learn something that touches you in an emotional way instead of an intellectual way, then I would call that a spiritual experience with the universe.”

Tyson also rises up against racism, and broke through in his time in that area. During the time that Tyson grew in scientific matter, African-American culture was also taking a stand, and that was something Caucasian people needed to get used to. For some unexplained reason, were black people labeled as dumb. A stereotype that Tyson broke.

His support for all NASA-projects also contributed to his scientific footprint on the world. Tyson once stated that NASA doesn’t have the money to do what they should be doing. The USA is about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to a wall, which they could easily spend on research, investigations, satellites, trips to space, biochemistry on other planets and so on.

At last, I would like to bring on of my personal interests involving Tyson to the table.

One of my favourite videos ever, is the video in which Tyson explains the meaning of life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndj5KjKyr3E

What Tyson is stating in the video, comes down to this:

If we would not all live with the thought ‘one day, I’m going to die,’ why would we keep on living? Because there will always be a tomorrow. Why would you invest time in love, if there is always a tomorrow? Why would you invest time in science, if there is always a tomorrow? Why would you care, if there is always a tomorrow?

Death is not the end. Death is the reason, that life happens.

Jérôme Standaert

Hi! I'm Jérôme, a young, ambitious writer from Belgium! My main writing subjects are pop culture, important people, social media, novels, video-games and tv-shows. Hope you enjoy :D
  • Danielle

    I love your brief biography on such a fantastic human being and influencer. His description for his spirituality couldn’t be more perfectly stated and easily grasped. I look forward to reading more of your biographies from other legendary people.

    • Jérôme Standaert

      Thank you so much! Very appreciated

  • Dee Warner

    This is a fantastic tribute. So, obviously you have a great respect for Tyson, is this because he’s influenced your life and your thinking ? The best tribute to a brilliant role model is to learn from them and then pay that learning forward. I’d love to know how your hero has shaped your journey, and what you’re most likely to transmit down to the next generation?

    Congratulations on a brilliant article.

    • Jérôme Standaert

      Hello, Dee! Thank you for this warm and kind comment!
      Tyson has influenced my way of thinking, in much more ways than just spirituality. This essay was actually written for school (originally in Dutch, my mother language). My teacher thought it was SO good, she thought it was really touching. I wanted to show other people what I could do, so I signed up for this site. Not only has Tyson paved my way to become a scientist, he has unknowingly influenced my way into becoming a journalist too. 🙂