Neil deGrasse Tyson

is an American astrophysicist and science communicator.

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neiltyson9251 karma

Excellent question. We think life is alive and a slap of iron is not because, among a few other reasons, we have metabolism. We consume energy in the service of our existence. If we find any other entity that does this too, it would make a good candidate for life. Consider also that you reference and "unearthly" element. That is not likely at all because the periodic table of elements is full. There's no room for any other elements to be discovered in the natural universe. And using spectroscopy, we confirm that these very same elements are found in stars across the universe itself. Not only that, the four most common chemically active ingredients in the universe (H, He, O, C, N) are the SAME four most abundant ingredients in life on Earth. So our bias in searching for "life as we know it" is not entirely close-minded. -NDTyson

neiltyson7956 karma

I may be partly guilty for your scientific angst. Most of my public science persona involves conveying the joy of scientific discovery, and especially the joy of curiosity, from childhood through adulthood. What's commonly absent from my messaging is the steep investment of time and energy (physical and emotional) that becoming a scientist and actually doing science requires. In fact the struggle is what must be loved by aspiring scientists because being a practicing scientist requires this of you daily.

Not knowing the answer to a problem and struggling to find the answer is precisely what science is. It's neither more nor less than this. The fact that you are experiencing this very struggle is not a barrier to your progress it is the best evidence that you are on a path where you belong, if you love what you do.

Good luck. Sometimes you need that too.


neiltyson6160 karma

Lately I've had about one such incident per week. Although my target is one per day. I recently learned from some dynamicist colleagues that the striking visibility of Saturn's ring system is not eternal, coming and going with the dynamical forces of all that orbits the planet. Which means if I were around back when the Dinosaurs roamed and showed them Saturn through a telescope, it might have been an uninteresting sight. Very sad. -NDTyson

neiltyson5919 karma

Wolf in sheep's clothes. My read of the (entire) plan is to remove Earth monitoring from NASA's mission statement. leaving NASA to think only about the rest of the Universe and not Earth as a part of that same universe. Unless this task is picked up by some other agency, the disconnect will be disastrous to our understanding of our own planet, preventing us from knowing and predicting our own impact on our own environment. My sense is that the next generation (30 and younger) does not think this way. They just don't happen to be old enough to be head of agency, corporations, or government yet. So I look forward to when they are all in charge. Especially anyone born since 1995 -- the year we discovered our first exoplanet. For that reason, I dub that demographic "Generation Exoplanet". -NDTyson

neiltyson5870 karma

I think it's the multiple attempts of private enterprise to put their money were our dreams are. At that level, success is not as important as acting on the urge to explore. Lest we all ossify in the present. -NDTyson

neiltyson5297 karma

Course title every university should offer: "How to tell when someone else is full of shit"

neiltyson4254 karma

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people 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 along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.

neiltyson4230 karma

I really like Earth. So any space trip I take, I'm double checking that there's sufficient funds for me to return. Also, I'm not taking that trip until Elon Musk send his Mother and brings her back alive. Then I'm good for it.

Any demonstration of rocket reusability is a good thing. When we fly on a Boeing 747 across great distances, we don't throw it away and roll out a new one. Reusability is arguably the most fundamental feature of affordable expensive things. -NDTyson

neiltyson3804 karma

Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. The beat the curiosity out of the kids. They out-number kids. They vote. They wield resources. That's why my public focus is primarily adults.

neiltyson3619 karma

Nope. Learn something every day. -NDTyson