Tag Archives: space

Neil deGrasse Tyson Graciously Answers Questions From My Children (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — For a nearly infinite number of reasons, I am profoundly under-equipped to interview astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I do not know the age of the sun, I have zero ideas about how to deflect murderous asteroids rocketing at us from deep space, and I know precisely two facts about Saturn, which are the same two you do. (It has rings and would float in an enormous bathtub.)

For this reason, and to preview Tyson’s December 5 appearance at Old National Centre, I have outsourced the following interview to two much more knowledgeable associates: my 13-year-old and 6-year-old, who joined me in listening to Tyson’s endlessly enjoyable StarTalk podcast on the drive home from Thanksgiving and have, as such, come to regard Tyson as Earth’s Smartest Person. Tyson, quite graciously, is happy to go along with this. “All you need is curiosity, and kids have it in abundance,” he says. “A professional scientist is simply a kid who never grew up.” (My 6-year-old, on the morning drive to kindergarten, asked me, “Is this the day you talk to that guy who’s the biggest expert on everything?”)

Indeed, as a best-selling author, podcast host, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, owner of a Twitter account with 10 million followers, host of the revival of the Cosmos television program, and teacher of unceasing charm and enthusiasm, Tyson has achieved the superstar status afforded to scientists like Carl Sagan, the MythBusters and, y’know, Einstein. He’ll bring all that expertise to town in a one-man show titled An Astrophysicist Reads the Newspaper, all about the current scientific climate, as well as asteroid collisions, cosmic travel, dark matter, and purely theoretical objects known as “newspapers.” (The show’s about two and a half hours and for all ages, though some language may be PG-13, because when discussing your potential extermination by enormous flying mountains from space, it’s appropriate to curse a little.)

So now, if you’ll permit, my sons throw a few questions to the biggest expert on everything.

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How to Watch the Eclipse and/or Burn Your Eyes Out, Both Seem Like Solid Ideas This Week (The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — The “Great American Eclipse,” a celestial event of singular majesty that will take place Monday, Aug. 21. And it’s a big deal because it’s a total eclipse, which for large swaths of America will blot out the sun, briefly create an artificial night and herald the beginning of the end of days. (Ha! Just kidding! Unless you’re in Kentucky, then you’re probably on board.) An eclipse hasn’t crossed the continental United States since June 8, 1918, so people are getting really, really excited about this.

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We Have to Leave Earth Anyway, So Which of Humanity’s New Planets Is Best Suited for Golf? (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Theoretical physicist and humanity-terrifier Stephen Hawking announced last week that Earth is a doomed cesspool of unstoppable ravage and decay, which is something we obviously all knew already. But the renowned scientist was good enough to put a number on his doomsday prophecy, reporting that we humans need to locate, travel to and colonize another planet within about 500 years, give or take, depending on traffic.

For the most part, this is fine — it’s getting pretty hot around here anyway, and those of us here in Indiana can fund the trip with the sale of our beachfront homes. But while “scientists” and “theoretical physicists” and “those charged with deciding who will travel to this new planet, which should include plenty of tallish gray-haired Slovaks, just saying” debate which planet we should lay waste to next, we here at The Loop have different criteria: Where the hell are we going to play golf? Before we rush into any rash planet-colonizing decisions, let’s break down our potential new homes in the solar system.

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