Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson

i-bd4f6318fa3193df56e94ad49fb8772d-neilParaphernalia-thumb-245x289-63243.jpgI am going to interview Neil deGrasse Tyson this coming Sunday on Minnesota Atheist Talk. Details of the timing and how you can listen to the interview live can be found here. Unlike my recent interview with PZ Myers, in which I literally asked him the very questions you posted on my blog, I've got a handful of topics I'd like to bring up with the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and widely read author. However, I will be happy and honored to pick one or two (or three) questions among those you may post below. So go ahead and suggest a question or two.

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Do you think we will ever know what happened before, or the source of 'The Big Bang'.

What task takes up most of your time as the Director of the Hayden Planetarium? As director, what specifically would you LIKE to devote most/more of your time to ('teaching' is not a specific enough answer)

What is the biggest change you have seen since your childhood, in science education? What do we know about the cosmos, that we did not dream of when you were a child.

Nasa has just hired you and given you 50 billion dollars to spend on a project of your choice. Full carte-blanche! What would your project be?

By frank habets (not verified) on 29 Mar 2011 #permalink

I definitely second @1. I would also add "What toppings make for a good pizza?" and as a follow up, or supplement I suppose, "Thick or thin crust?"

I mean, I've read a good deal of his books and seen many of his numerous TV appearances, but he has never elucidated his feelings on this contentious issue.

By Herp N. Derpington (not verified) on 29 Mar 2011 #permalink

How come the category 'Science' has never been used in final Jeopardy? The network records a somewhat fuzzy for the early seasons but come on the show has been on TV since 1964!
Thanks for you attention regarding this important issue.

Back in the day, I used to love Stephen Jay Gould's monthly column for Natural History magazine. In the back of the magazine was a brief astronomy guide for the month by someone I'd never heard of named Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It was, without a doubt, the driest piece of writing in Natural History, and completely devoid of anything resembling personality or style. For years, I had no idea Dr. Tyson was Black -- based on his NH column I assumed he was Translucent and Ephemeral.

A couple of decades later, and suddenly Dr. Tyson owns the MF-ing SciCom joint.

Dr. Tyson often recounts a dreadful media interview that led him to take on the challenge of becoming a science communicator on a par with Sagan. I would say he's totally succeeded at that, but he's done so in a way that is honest and personal.

So, a two-parter for Dr. Tyson:

- What do you think of your early stargazing columns for Natural History? What's changed for you, and what would you do differently, given the chance?

- What do think of science-communications consultants [e.g., Chris Mooney] offering content-free platitudes about how to become better communicators? What would you tell scientists about how to communicate, based on what you've learned over the last decade or so?

as a long time reader of Sky and Telescope i see some impressive work being done by amateurs.with the equipment and software they have now how would they stand up to the professionals of the past? can the amateurs do the same work as the scientific community of the 1930's,40's or much later?

As an amateur astronomer I sometimes have curious onlookers wanting to look through my telescope, asking questions about planets, stars, a lunar eclipse or whatever. I like to think I usually do a decent job of showing interesting objects and answering these questions. But once in a while there is a difficult person: an astrology enthusiast, or someone who has latched on to a mistaken idea (thinking Arcturus was Mars even after having the ecliptic, with several bright planets and the moon pointed out AND having "arc to Arcturus" pointed out, is the worst case of this I have experienced).

What is the best way to keep these difficult people from spreading their nonsense, and correcting them if it is possible?

By James McCann (not verified) on 29 Mar 2011 #permalink

What motivated him to go into science, and what suggestions does he have for encouraging today's students to do the same?
(These sound rather boring after the questions of others, but I think the latter is important.)

Since scientists tend to function as both teachers and students, I'd like to know more about how he made that transition, whether it was a conscious decision, how he manages both roles now, so on.

I'd like to know what he thinks the probability of life on other planets might be? I'm not talking just multi-cellular life, but even mono-cellular. With the recent discoveries by the Kepler mission I would imagine that changes the equation somewhat.

In Carl Sagan's final episode of the "Cosmos" series called "Who Speaks for Earth?" he told us about the concerns that he felt most passionate about. If Dr. Tyson had the opportunity to sum up his own greatest passions in a similar broadcast, and not limited to astronomy but anything at all from his own unique perspective, what would he want us to learn?