When it comes to STAR POWER in the field of science, few if any can outshine star-gazer Neil deGrasse Tyson. Martha Teichner takes us into his orbit:
This is what happened when astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson paid a visit to his old high school. You might expect pandemonium here, at the Bronx High School of Science in New York City, which has graduated eight Nobel Prize-winners.
For these kids, the “star man” is a rock star.
But adults love him just as much. One man said, “He’s, like, only the smartest man on the planet.”
“Whoever thought a scientist could be funny, you know?” said one woman.
And another man summed it up: “He’s the epitome of geek cool.”
On a weeknight, he can fill a theater with people willing to pay rock-concert prices to see him live talking science, in a show he calls, “Let’s Make America Smart Again!”
He typically gets 200 requests to speak every month; he picks maybe four. His most popular talk: “An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies.”
Tyson has 7.2 million Twitter followers. “That’s a crazy number! I don’t even understand it,” he told Teichner. “I wake up in the morning and say, what? Should I, like, remind people, ‘You know, you’re following an astrophysicist here?'”
He’s been famous ever since he argued in 1999 that Pluto wasn’t a planet. He wasn’t the only one, but he’s still being blamed for its demotion.
Tyson was starstruck when he visited the Hayden Planetarium in New York City for the first time at the age of nine. Since 1996, he’s run the place.
“As a kid, I thought I knew what the sky looked like from the Bronx — it had a couple of dozen stars in it,” he recalled. “I come here, the lights dim, and there’s countless thousands of stars. I thought it was a hoax!”
By his twelfth birthday, when he received his first telescope, Tyson had already decided he wanted to be an astrophysicist, to study the cosmos. By the time he was in ninth grade, he’d bought himself a bigger, better telescope.
He’d haul the telescope up to the roof, which…