Neil deGrasse Tyson Facts | The Most Interesting Man in the Universe
By Svetlana Pham, April 2014
If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in physics or another physical sciences field, then you’ve probably already heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson. By all accounts Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the coolest scientist to have ever lived, and he might just be one of the most interesting and influential thought leaders of the 21st century. If you haven’t heard about him from one of your friends or seen one of his many viral videos – you are in for a treat, because NGT is the man making astrophysicists seem positively thermogenic!
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Tyson was born in 1958 in New York City. He attended the Bronx High School of Science where he was the wrestling captain and editor of the science journal. He attended Harvard University where he majored in physics, was a competitive ballroom dancer, and captain of the wrestling team. After completing graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin and winning a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team at a national tournament, he received a Masters of Philosophy in astrophysics and a Doctor of Philosophy of astrophysics from Columbia University.1
Tyson’s graduate thesis helped lead to the discovery of dark energy and the improvement of measuring the Hubble constant. Tyson then went on to research and work at Princeton University after which he began working at the Hayden Planetarium in 1996. He currently serves as the director at the Hayden Planetarium. He renovated the facility and participated in research that contributed to the declassification of Pluto from the lists of planets saying it was officially, in fact, a dwarf planet, more similar to a moon or other celestial satellite object.2
In 2001 Tyson was appointed to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry3. Then, in 2004 he served on the President’s Commission of Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy4. Tyson then received the NASA Distinguished Public Service medal5.
So Tyson is smart, which is cool, but here are some facts about him that make him completely awesome:
A pop culture phenomenon, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has more than 1.87 million twitter followers6. That’s more than Jay Leno7 and Axl Rose8 combined! Tyson’s popularity isn’t only because of his intelligence; he was voted sexiest astrophysicist alive by People Magazine in 20009. And, talk about street cred, he played a vital role in the release of a science based rap album “Dark Matter” by GZA from the WuTang Clan10. Tyson has made countless speaking appearances and frequently makes guest appearances on radio and television shows including the Daily Show and The Big Bang Theory11.
Tyson proves that scientists can be real life superheroes (even without exposure to radioactive gamma rays). If our world were ever in danger, Tyson is the man with the knowhow to save us all – he can tell you how to blow up a planet12, defend the earth from asteroids13, and stop the sun from burning out14.
Finally, NGT, as he is known to some of his fans; knows how to appreciate the finer things in life during his downtime. His impressive wine collection has been featured in Wine Spectator Magazine15.
So, toss aside your stereotypes about the geeky scientist toiling away alone for hours in a basement laboratory. You may be able to become a total rock star with expertise in even the most mundane of disciplines. Let your passion guide your academic endeavors, personal pursuits, and professional decisions and don’t be afraid to let your inner star shine.
About the Author: Svetlana Pham is a New Jersey based freelance writer. She has a BA in English from Rutgers University and an J.D. from New York Law School.