Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Updated Sep 07, 2020 at 06:06AM EDT by ohmyjosh.

Added Feb 03, 2013 at 12:03PM EST by Sav.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and advocate of science and free thought. Like Carl Sagan, Tyson is often heralded as a champion of science and rationality on websites like 4chan and Reddit.

Online History

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s public appearances and presentations have been frequently shared on the video-sharing site YouTube. On November 22nd, 2006, YouTuber agillesp123 uploaded a video of Tyson speaking to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins about his approach to persuading the public to better understand science, to which Dawkins humorously replied by quoting the editor of New Scientist magazine saying “science is interesting and if you don’t agree, you can fuck off” (shown below). Within the next seven years, the video accumulated over 1.9 million views and 30,900 comments.

On November 17th, 2007, a page titled "Neil deGrasse Tyson" was created on Facebook,[7] which received over 188 million likes within the next six years. On January 29th, 2009, Tyson joined the microblogging site Twitter under the handle @neiltyson.[2] He often publishes humorous tweets related to scientific concepts and current events. Within the next four years, Tyson received over 1.01 million followers.

On March 2nd, 2012, YouTuber Max Schlickenmeyer uploaded a video featuring Tyson's answer to a Time Magazine reader who asked "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?", to which Tyson responded with the fact that the same atoms in his body were once part of the stars that make up the entire universe (shown below, left). Within one year, the video received more than 4.3 million views and 17,000 comments. On November 27th, YouTuber MinutePhysics uploaded a animated video in which Tyson's answers the question "Does the universe have a purpose?" (shown below, right). Within three months, the video received over 1.7 million views and 25,000 comments.

On January 9th, 2013, Tyson appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast, where he discussed the extraction of rare natural resources, astronomy and the multiverse theory (shown below).

Reddit AMAs

Tyson participated in his first "ask me anything" (AMA) post in the /r/IAmA[3] subreddit on November 13th, 2011, which received over 44,000 up votes and 10,900 comments prior to being archived. The second AMA[4] was posted the following month on December 17th, receiving more than 21,000 up votes and 7,600 comments. His third AMA[5] was submitted on February 29th, 2012, accumulating over 40,200 up votes and 11,600 comments. As an advocate for science and education, Neil deGrasse Tyson's quotes are frequently posted on the /r/atheism subreddit in image macros (shown below).

LIFE DOESNT EXIST ANYWHERE BUT EARTHP THATS LIKE FILLING A CUP WITHOCEAN WATER AND SAYING THERE AREN'T ANY WHALES IN THE OCEANet I don't have an issue with what you do in the church but I'm going to be up in your face if you're going to knock on'my science classroom and tell me they've got to teach what you're teaching in your Sunday school. Because thatis when we're gonna fight. - Neil deGrasse Tyson "I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don't'"

In Rage Comics

A rage comic outline drawing featuring Tyson was taken from a frame in an interview with the online knowledge forum Big Think[4] on living and longevity that was uploaded to YouTube on June 3rd, 2011 (shown below). The non-plussed reaction can be seen in the following video when Tyson explains how Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus before his 26th birthday:

It is often used in rage comics with the caption "Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here", which implies that the face is used in a sarcastic manner to boastful and arrogant statements.

Watch out Guys, we're dealing with a badass over here

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

On March 9th, 2014, the pilot episode of a modern sequel to Carl Sagan's science education documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage premiered on Fox, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson as the host presenter of the show and featuring Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane as the executive producer. In the follow-up to the 1980 space documentary, which was globally simulcast across all Fox-affiliated network for the first time in its history, Tyson will revisit the topics previously explored in the original series with new discoveries in addition to presenting new material.

Issac Newton's Birthday Tweet

On the day of Christmas in 2014, Tyson posted a tweet[8] commemorating the birthday of the renowned 17th-century English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, which gathered upwards of 77,900 retweets and 77,100 favorites in the first week. In the next two hours, Tyson followed up with additional tweets commenting on the arbitrary premise of Christmas (shown below).[9][10][11]

Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig 1h 6,687 ★ 7,651 Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltysor Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA). 2h t 7 ★8,920 ,818 Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642 2h 26.3K ★ 24.4k

Soon, Tyson's tweets began drawing criticisms from others on Twitter who found his remarks as insensitive toward the Christian community. On the following day, Tyson tweeted a response to his critics, garnering more than 31,900 favorites and 29,800 retweets in the first 72 hours (shown below).[12]

Follow Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by obiective truths rather than offended by them. 7:05 PM-26 Dec 2014 29,823 RETWEETS 31,910 FAVORITES

Also on December 26th, Tyson issued a statement on Facebook[13] to address the backlash on Twitter, while noting that his Christmas special tribute to Isaac Newton has become his "most retweeted tweet" to date.

"My sense in this case is that the high rate of re-tweeting, is not to share my enthusiasm of this fact, but is driven by accusations that the tweet is somehow anti-Christian. If a person actually wanted to express anti-Christian sentiment, my guess is that alerting people of Isaac Newton's birthday would appear nowhere on the list."

B.o.B. Diss Track

On January 25th, 2016 Atlanta rapper B.o.B., who has self-identified as a member of the Flat Earth Society, tweeted a photograph of himself against a skyline with the text [sic throughout] "The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this." He then tweeted a screenshot from Flat Earth Movement literature that proclaimed that Polaris (the North Star) can be seen 20° south of the Equator. Tyson answered the rapper's question, writing "Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you've never looked up."

B.o.B bobat . Follow The cities in the background are approx 16miles apart... where is the curve? please explain this RETWEETS LIKES 2,942 2,401 7:05 PM-24 Jan 2016 B.o.B Obobatl Jan 25 Polaris 99) Viewed from a ball-Earth, Polaris, situated directly over the North Pole, should not be visible anywhere in the Southern hemisphere. For Polaris to be seen from the Southern hemisphere of a globular Earth, the observer would have to be somehow looking "through the globe," and miles of land and sea would have to be transparent. Polaris can be seen. however, up to over 20 degrees South latitude 583 1.2K Follow aneiltyson @bobatl Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You've never been south of Earth's Equator, or if so, you've never looked up. RETWEETS LIKES 3,273 5,724 10:54 AM-25 Jan 2016

Later that day, B.o.B. posted the track "Flatline" to his Soundcloud account (it has since been deleted, but a YouTube mirror is available below). The song featured a clip of Tyson explaining how the earth is more of an oblong shape than round, and what causes its round appearance are the oceans and atmosphere. The song also name-checked several Holocaust deniers as a demonstration of B.o.B.'s ability to think freely.

The song's release was covered in many major media publications, including Vox, Gawker, and the Onion A.V. Club. On January 27th, 2016, Tyson tweeted that his nephew, the rapper Steve Tyson (who goes by Tyson) had created a B.o.B. diss track in response, and posted it to Soundcloud. That track received over 837,000 plays in 24 hours.


After serving on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and the Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy under President George W. Bush, Tyson received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor that can be given to a civilian by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On August 17th, 2006, Tyson was interviewed on the comedy television news program The Colbert Report, where he revealed that he had received a large amount of hate mail from people who disagreed with his argument to keep Pluto from being labelled as a planet. Tyson is known for being an opponent of the concept of intelligent design and defines himself as an agnostic.


Neil deGrasse Tyson has received negative attention for his brand of science communication, which some find pompous and condescending, particularly on Twitter. In 2017, CollegeHumor [14] published a list entitled "12 Times Neil Degrasse Tyson Was Stupidly Condescending on Twitter." Wired[15] magazine once referred to him as "a blackhole, sucking the fun our of the universe."

"Awesome" Tweet"

On April 12th, 2018, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted,[16] "In my day, the word 'Awesome' was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows." The post (shown below) received more than 6,700 retweets, 48,000 likes and 4,700 comments in 24 hours.

Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson In my day, the word "Awesome" was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows.

Shortly after Tyson posted the tweet, many online reacted negatively to his assertion. Merriam Webster's tweeted[17] account tweeted, "Neil." Within 24 hours, the tweet (shown below, left) received more than 2,500 retweets and 17,000 likes.

The 93-year-old former congressman John Dingell retweeted Tyson's post and commented,[18] "Lighten up, nerd." The post (shown below, center) received more than 10,000 retweets and 55,000 likes in 24 hours.

Twitter[19] user @ScottLimbrick posted a series of tweets by Tyson of the scientist making the same joke in various formats. They included the caption, "when you repeat the same joke at the dinner table to make sure everyone has heard it." The post (shown below, right) received more than 300 retweets and 1,800 likes in 24 hours.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Ф @neiltyson-19h In my day, the word "Awesome" was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows. 4.8K 48K Merriam-Webster Webster @MerriamWebster Replying to @neiltyson Neil. John Dingell @JohnDingell Lighten up, nerd Neil deGrasse Tyson. @ne.ltyson In my day, the word "Awesome" was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows. when you repeat the same joke at the dinner table to make sure everyone has heard it Neil deGrasse Tyson Noin de @neiltyson The word "awes like Moon landir @neiltyson ny day, the word "/ Today, it's an un erved for things like king on the Moon,n WS M 13 Apr 2018 11:52 PM- 6 Apr 2015 Neil deGrasse T @neiltyson went to the Moc of the word "Aw 1:33 AM-6 Oct 2015

Several media outlets published pieces on the reaction to Tyson's tweet, including Mashable, [20] The Daily Dot, [21], AV Club,[22] CNET[23] and more.

Personal Life

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born October 5th, 1958 in New York City and was raised in the Bronx.[1] As a young child he became interested in astronomy after visiting the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. While applying for colleges, Tyson's application to Cornell sparked the interest of professor Carl Sagan, who then tried to recruit Tyson to attend Cornell for undergraduate studies. Instead, Tyson attended Harvard University where he majored in physics. After earning a masters degree in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, Tyson earned his doctor of philosophy in astrophysics at Columbia University. Tyson's biographical information and curriculum vitae can be found on his profile page on the website of Hayden Planetarium[6] , where he has served as the director since 1996.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Parodies

Neil deGrasse Tyson Parodies refers to a series of jokes and references to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s penchant for pointing out the scientific impossibilities of popular piece of popular culture. These jokes usually include the phrase “Extremely Neil deGrasse Tyson Voice.”

[Neil Degrasse Tyson voice] Actually, the pee IS stored in the balls

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