‘Not enough people in this world, I think, carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.’
—Neil deGrasse Tyson
When I was in high school, I watched the television series Cosmos with Dr. Carl Sagan and fell in love with science. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have followed a path that led to my career in medicine if it wasn’t for the inspiration I got from watching that program and reading Dr. Sagan’s books. In fact, the epilogue in my book quotes Dr. Sagan’s words referring to Earth as the Pale Blue Dot. I was very appreciative that Dr. Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan gave me permission to repeat his important words.
But it’s been 35 years since Cosmos was on, and almost years since Dr. Sagan passed away. But the torch has definitely been passed on to another great scientist: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and science educator cut from the very same cloth as Dr. Sagan. (The two actually met in 1975, but that’s another story. Google it!) Two years ago NDT hosted the reboot of Sagan’s original inspiring series: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. It provided a new generation with the opportunity to experience the awe and wonder that people like me did back in the ’80s.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has also had strong comments for the media regarding the way they provide false balance in their coverage of scientific subjects like climate change. In his words:
[Y]ou don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say “now let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers.” Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.
Politics and the interests of big business have always played a big part in the misrepresentation of the facts, and of the consensus among the scientific community, and Tyson recognizes that point as well. Back in 2011, he stated that those who deny climate change need “to be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don’t like the consequences of it. That’s what it means to be a mature adult.”
We’ve been waiting a long time for another Carl Sagan. Thank goodness we’ve found one with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was in Toronto last week and I got the opportunity to see meet him in a VIP ceremony afterward. He was warm, gracious, and very funny. His talk went on for two and a half hours and covered the latest in scientific news (gravity waves!) as well as what it will take for our species to thrive during the next millennium (some major changes in attitude, it turns out).
There will never be another Carl Sagan. But thank goodness we have Neil deGrasse Tyson.