Neil is an astrophysics professional who has been the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City for over 20 years. He has grown in popularity that he has a beer named after him and is the first American to receive the Steven Hawkins Medal. For a man who has his gaze always in the sky, he is a very down to earth guy. He attended the specialized public school, the Bronx High School of Science as a good start on his great educational journey in life. That New York City school graduated 8 Nobel Peace Prize Winners. Will Trump cut back funding great public schools like that too? Adults and kids love Neil because he is the epitome of geek cool and is funny but also extremely knowledgeable about our earth and what is in our skies.
His mantra is “Let’s Make America Smart Again.” He can fill a venue full of people that are willing to pay rock concert prices to see him rant live talking science. Typically there are about 200 requests for him to speak somewhere per month and he chooses to do his thing about 4 times per month inspiring crowds of people somewhere. No one in America currently has the charisma and simplicity to teach us about science better than Neil. His most popular talk is when he shows clips of the movie Armageddon and tears it apart pointing out all its inaccuracies and falsehoods about the earth. 7.2 million people follow him on Twitter. He has been famous since 1999 when he argued that Pluto wasn’t a planet.
Neil became fascinated with the skies at the age of 9 when he visited the Hayden Planetarium that he is now the Director of. At 12 years old he received his first telescope. In 9th grade he took a bigger telescope that looked like a bazooka weapon to the roof of his Bronx apartment and they thought this black guy had a weapon and was going to kill people from his rooftop till he talked and instead of agitating the police as many killed black men do these days, he talked science and entertained the cops. Yes, education can be lifesaving. At a very early age his parents told him how to talk to cops. His mom said to look a cop straight in the eye, answer all questions, be polite and no wise guy answers and memorize their badge numbers. Racism has been a generational fact of life for black people.
His parents were educational professionals but he was told to go to typically black colleges. Tyson did get into Harvard and earned his Doctorate degree at Columbia University. He doesn’t dwell on the racism in his life but stresses scientific literacy for Americans in his books. His podcast called Star Talk sounds more like a talk show than a science lecture. The guests include actors and comedians. He knows how to appeal to the general public. He can trick the people who don’t like science to listen and laugh while they learn something. Yet he takes it very seriously as our star in the sky ambassador. This is one guy worth supporting and acknowledging as one of the good guys out there in popularity.