Born in the year 1958 in Manhattan, New York, the American science communicator and astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson is currently a director and research associate in the country’s Natural History Museum (Tyson & Irion 31). The second born child in a family of three children was, however, brought up in Bronx, New York, by a gerontologist mother, Sunchita, and a sociologist father, Cyril. Neil went to the Science High School at Bronx whereby he captained the wrestling team and was also the chief editor of his school’s physical science journals (Tyson 44). At the age of eleven years, Neil developed a keen interest in the field of astronomy after visiting the Hayden Planetarium. In his memoirs, Neil suggests that “so strong was that the imprint (of the night sky) that I’m certain that I had no choice in the matter, that in fact, the universe called me” (Tyson & Irion 49). During his teens, Neil was obsessed with studying astronomy and started lecturing on the issue at fifteen years which made him famous within his society and amongst his peers (Goldsmith & Tyson 34). According to Neil, it was Dr. Sagan, an astronomer from Cornell University, who had the greatest influence on his efforts in studying astronomy (Tyson 23). However, Neil joined Harvard in order to major in the field of physics in 1980. In 1983, he graduated from the University of Texas located at Austin where he gained his Master’s degree in astronomy (Goldsmith & Tyson 65).
The research carried out by Neil mainly focused on evolution along with stellar formations. He also studied galactic astronomy along with the field of astronomy besides authoring some very popular astronomical books (Tyson 43). In the year 1995, Neil begun writing articles for the journals on Natural History and coined the terminology “Manhattanhenge” (Goldsmith & Tyson 69). This was mainly done for the purposes of describing the two days in a year when the evening sun aligned with Manhattan’s street grid thereby making the sun seen on the streets that had no obstructions (Tyson, Liu & Irion 102). Neil has been appointed in the previous years to serve on various presidential commissions on space exploration and has been awarded various medals for his distinguished service to the public. In addition, Neil has also received NASA’s highest national honor for his service in the astronomical field (Tyson 48).
When Neil was the director at Hayden Planetarium, he resisted the traditional thoughts of people so that he could keep them away from referring to the planet Pluto as the universe’s ninth planet (Goldsmith & Tyson 64). In his explanations, Neil insisted that he required looking at what was common between objects while grouping terrestrial planets along with gas giants into one group. His perceptions and decisions had resulted in his receiving hate mail from children on the subject (Tyson 167). According to Neil, the intelligent design notion thwarts the advancement of knowledge that is scientific. He claimed that he was agnostic since he did not believe in the existence of the knowledge concerning God. For instance, during one of his interviews, Neil said that “Every account of a higher power that I’ve seen described, of all religions that I’ve seen include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.” (Tyson, Liu & Irion 111) During his life, Neil wrote extensively about his perspectives concerning religion, science’s spirituality, and spirituality itself. He has worked together with Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, in presenting various talks whose topics are based on science along with religion (Tyson 66).
Neil de Grasse is a renowned science communicator who regularly appears on radio, TV along with other media forms. He has been a regular guest on various television shows; in the year 2007, he was invited to be the key speaker at the Deerfield’s academy Koch center (Tyson 73). In his speech, Neil emphasized science’s impact on the 21st century and explained to his audience that the investments made into science could be expensive (Goldsmith & Tyson 74). He, however, insisted that the returns that society may get from these investments through the knowledge gained along with piquing interests were invaluable (Tyson 129). Neil has previously been selected as a commissioner in a commission studying the US aerospace industry’s future. This commission produced its final report that was published in the year 2002 containing recommendations for promoting the thriving futures of transportation, national security along with space exploration (Goldsmith & Tyson 95). Later on, in the year 2004, Neil served in a 9-member committee that was responsible for implementing the exploration policies of America. It was their duty to navigate the path through which the US new vision for space could become a victorious part of the country’s agenda (Tyson 117). Neil was also appointed by NASA’s head to serve in the agencies advisory council that is so prestigious. Neil and the advisory council were supposed to guide the agency through its recurrent need of fitting its vision into their restricted budget (Tyson, Liu & Irion 121).
Neil has written very many publications that have helped provide greater insights to the American public concerning the universe and space (Goldsmith & Tyson 64). For instance, Neil has written a magazine column for the Natural History Magazines and ten other books that include his memoirs in ‘The Sky Is Not The Limit: Adventures Of An Urban Astrophysicist’ along with other books he has co-authored with Donald Goldsmith (Tyson 94). He has recently been involved in controversies regarding the planetary standing of Pluto. Neil has been making efforts to sensitize the American public who seems to be not aware of scientific facts that exist around them (Tyson 123). These efforts have been facilitated by his collaboration with standup comedians from different regions of the country that has greatly helped in bringing science topics to the country’s commercial radios. His efforts of studying and resolving issues regarding space have made the US astronauts name an asteroid after him (13123 Tyson) (Goldsmith & Tyson 164). As an honor to Neil’s work, he has received over ten honorary degrees and a distinguished medal for service in NASA. This is the highest award that has ever been granted to a citizen of the country who does not work for the government. All these awards have been given to him for the contributions he has made in the appreciation of our cosmos by the general public (Tyson, Liu & Irion 133).
Recently, Neil has been trying to explain the scientific activities that lead to global warming. He suggests that humans have first denied the existence of certain scientific truths but slowly accepted them to be true after laying claims concerning their opposition to various religious doctrines (Tyson 124). He additionally suggests that there exist numerous differences between plants along with animals, and the field of science operates in consensus concerning the experiments carried out (Goldsmith & Tyson 167). According to Neil, astronomy has formed an interesting and useful topic that can be explored for the benefit of humans. Recently, Neil has been vocal in criticizing the country’s administration for their withdrawal of funds for NASA. He says that NASA may greatly impact the people’s culture, and it is less costly when compared to the benefits it might bring to the country’s economy. He finally suggests that the end of dreaming for the Americans began when their administration decided to defund NASA (Tyson, Liu & Irion 212).