“The universe can mess with your ego.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson calmly narrating the patterns of the universe may be the next most soothing sound, second to only Morgan Freeman’s voice.

Tyson, an astrophysicist, cosmologist and science spokesman, visited DAR Constitution Hall Thursday to discuss the future of space investigation and what it means to be a culture of creativity.

No big deal.

It was surprising to hear him talk less about scientific facts and theories and more about a scientific movement founded upon passion and curiosity.

Tyson used a country’s currency to assess the extent of a culture’s value of science.

For example, the Canadians changed the back of the Canadian five-dollar bill from a team of hockey players to the Canadarm, a series of robotic arms used in space exploration.

Serbian dinars portray a young and charming Nikola Tesla, who seems to be saying, “Come hither. I do science.”

And the United States? We have Benjamin Franklin. However, it is debatable as to whether or not the $100 bill celebrates a founding father or a scientist.

Tyson also displayed a map of the world.

However, this was not your traditional map. Each country’s size was altered to reflect the amount of scientific research it was conducting.

Today, the United States is one of the leading countries in scientific research. In the future, it will be surpassed by Western Europe and Japan. Tyson argued the U.S. needs to improve the cultural curiosity of its citizens.

But, why explore space?

As the credits flash across the screen of an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, one can see the Earth has no atmosphere – it looks dusty and blue, hardly beautiful.

There are no clouds.

This was before astronaut William Anders took the iconic photograph, Earthrise, in 1968. Tyson said this began a new era of environmentalism.

Before Earthrise, people lacked knowledge regarding the Earth’s atmosphere.

This photo capturing the Earth’s appearance from space, helped spur the environmental movement of the 1970s. This led to the modern-day environmental movements, according to Tyson.

Earthrise showed the Earth like never before. The picture depicted a world with no territorial borders. The planet was just a swirling mass of clouds, oceans and land. Space exploration, Tyson explains, leads us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Earth and its inhabitants.

Tyson delves into our own “insignificance” to support curiosity and exploration. To do this, he concluded his talk with a reading from Carl Sagan’s book, Pale Blue Dot.

Tyson projected a picture of the Tree of Life onto a screen and displayed human beings as being more closely related to small mushrooms than grand trees. He conveyed the insignificance of humanity. It was both beautiful and humbling.

“There are more bacteria working in one centimeter of your lower colon than there are humans that ever existed,” Tyson said.

Minds blown, as usual.

Raye Weigel is a freshman English and community health double major and can be reached at rayanneweigel@gmail.com.

One response to “Blog: Former University Lecturer Neil deGrasse Tyson Visits D.C.”

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