Neil deGrasse Tyson: Cosmic Queries – A Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, & Where We’re Going! | Into The Impossible Podcast with Dr. Brian Keating

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Key Takeaways

  • Neil’s wine advice: match the food you’re eating with a wine from the same culture
    • Italian wine with Italian meals
    • French wine with French meals 
  •  Neil defines leadership as people who serve others and gain followers as a result
    • “If I have as many followers as I do, it’s because I’m feeding people” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Neil is glad he didn’t get famous overnight because since his rise in fame came slowly, it allowed him to make slight adjustments over time
    • “I have learned to deal with the fame” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Fame is a double-edged sword:
    • Fame often leads to wealth because as you get more famous, you get more opportunities 
    • But you lose the ability to do normal things like go shopping in a store or tour a museum without having people come up to you
  • Because of his skin color, Neil had to work even harder to get to where he is today. People may think Neil was born gifted, but he contributes his success solely to hard work.
    • For instance, he studied Jon Stewart to watch how often Jon interrupted his guests and how he included current events in the show. As a result, Neil was invited back on the show 14 times.
  • If someone’s ritual or religion doesn’t take away from your freedom or harm you, they should be able to do what they want
    • “The whole point of living in the United States of f*cking America is that people have free expression of religion” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Every day, Neil tries to become a slightly better person by learning something new
    • “Any day that goes by where I don’t learn something is a wasted day” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Intro

Books Mentioned

Neil’s Love For Wine

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson enjoys wine not just for the taste or science behind it, but he also enjoys sharing it with others   
    • There’s also something peaceful about wine, you never see a bar fight happen because two men drank too much wine
  • Dom Pérignon is named after Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who was an important quality pioneer for Champagne wine.
    • When Dom tasted his creation, he said “I am tasting the star”
  • Neil’s wine advice: match the food you’re eating with a wine from the same culture
    • Italian wine with Italian meals
    • French wine with French meals

Thoughts on Leadership  

  • President Lincoln is known for several accomplishments but one of his achievements that don’t get much recognition is founding the National Academy of Sciences
    • Neil wrote a short and eloquent piece on this valuable contribution to society which was later illustrated as a video
  • Neil defines leadership as people who serve others and gain followers as a result
    • “If I have as many followers as I do, it’s because I’m feeding people” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Pros and Cons of Being Famous

  • According to Google searches, Neil deGrasse Tyson is the most famous scientist of all time
  • Neil doesn’t like it when people come up to him asking for a photo or autograph because it means they see him as a personality figure instead of a scientist
  • Neil is glad he didn’t get famous overnight because since his rise in fame came slowly, it allowed him to make slight adjustments over time
    • “I have learned to deal with the fame” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Fame is a double-edged sword:
    • Fame often leads to wealth because as you get more famous, you get more opportunities 
    • But you lose the ability to do normal things like go shopping in a store or tour a museum without having people come up to you
  • Whenever someone approaches Neil, he’s always thinking what how to block or respond to that person if they try to lunge or attack him

Neil’s Secret To Success: Hard Work

  • Growing up, Neil didn’t have any teachers who really believe in him and expected great things from him
    • “I was never considered a great student by teachers” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
      • He SATs scores were okay but not exceptional. 15 years later, the SATs asked if they could use an excerpt from Neil’s writing on the verbal part of the SATs.
  • Because of his skin color, Neil had to work even harder to get to where he is today. People may think Neil was born gifted, but he contributes his success solely to hard work.
    • For instance, he studied Jon Stewart to watch how often Jon interrupted his guests and how he included current events in the show. As a result, Neil was invited back on the show 14 times.

Respect People’s Rituals & Religions

  • Rituals bind people as community and it’s important to respect other people’s cultures whether or not you believe in it
    • When filming The Cosmos, Neil was asked by one of the Native American chiefs to join him for a prayer and Neil agreed even though he didn’t believe in the ritual
  • If someone’s ritual or religion doesn’t take away from your freedom or harm you, they should be able to do what they want
    • “The whole point of living in the United States of f*cking America is that people have free expression of religion” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Living A Good Life

  • Every day, Neil tries to become a slightly better person by learning something new
    • “Any day that goes by where I don’t learn something is a wasted day” Neil deGrasse Tyson
      • You want to learn something new every day so that over the years you accrue tons of wisdom
  • How will Neil judge his life? 
    • If his contribution made the world a slightly better place, he’ll be satisfied with his life
      • “What matters is I have helped others lead scientifically enlightened lives” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Additional Notes

  • Neil used to wrestle in high school and college
  • How to be less racist, whenever you’re talking to a person of color ask yourself: Would you say the same thing if this person was white?
    • If not, don’t say it
      • “I think that’s the litmus test” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Notes By Alex Wiec

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