Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is returning to Nashville once again. The popular scientist will give his presentation entitled “An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies” in Andrew Jackson Hall at TPAC on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
Dr. Tyson is a fascinating lecturer and his talk and slide show this time around takes you into his analysis of and appreciation for science as it is represented on film for popular culture, from Star Wars to Frozen to The Martian. His one-man show is an entertaining and enlightening review of all the science that our favorite movies got wrong, combined with some of the stuff they got right. It incorporates the latest films as well as some classics that you may not have realized had much science in them at all.
Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City, where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.
Tyson’s professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship. He is also a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.
Tyson was Executive Editor and on-camera Host & Narrator in 2014 for Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, the 21st century continuation of Carl Sagan’s landmark television series Cosmos. The thirteen episode show, available on DVD and BluRay, won four Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, two Critics Choice awards, and other industry recognitions, and ran in primetime on the FOX network, and in 181 countries (in 45 languages) around the world on the National Geographic Channels.
His current TV program, StarTalk combines celebrity guests with informative yet playful banter for people who never thought they would, or could, like science. In 2009, Tyson assembled a stable of professional standup comedians and put them with real scientists in a talk format that helped bring science to commercial radio with the NSF-funded pilot program StarTalk. It became a podcast recently wrapped its third season of one-hour television shows on the NatGeo channel. In its first year on television it was nominated for a “Best Informational Programming” Emmy.
A companion book to the series, Star Talk, was published in 2016. I find it a helpful reference work, and fun to pick up every once in a while when I want a treat for my brain to play with. His most recent book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, is also available as a three-hour book on cd read by Tyson that I have found to be entertaining, educational, and inspirational.
Back in 2001, Tyson was appointed to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. Their final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations for Congress and for the major agencies of the government that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.
In 2004, Tyson was appointed to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the ‘Moon, Mars, and Beyond’ commission. This group navigated a path by which their new space vision could become a successful part of the American agenda. Then in 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, to help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.
In addition to esoteric scholarly works for dozens of professional publications, Dr. Tyson has written and continues to write accessible material for the public to consume. From 1995 to 2005, Tyson was a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine under the title Universe. And among Tyson’s dozen books is his autobiographical memoir The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist; and Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, co-written with Donald Goldsmith. Origins is the companion book to the 20014 PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series Origins, on which Tyson served as on-camera host.
Two of Tyson’s other recent books are the playful and informative New York Times bestseller Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet, which chronicled his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto’s planetary status. A PBS/NOVA documentary The Pluto Files, based on the book, premiered in March 2010.
Tyson’s tenth book, 2012’s Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, contained almost every thought he had ever had to that date on the past, present, and future of space exploration.
For five seasons, beginning in 2006, Tyson was the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA’s spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, an accessible look at the frontier of the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe.
Tyson is the recipient of at least nineteen honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. His contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of an asteroid, 13123 Tyson.
On the lighter side, Tyson was voted “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive” by People Magazine in 2000.
Neil deGrasse Tyson lives in New York City with his wife, a former IT Manager with Bloomberg Financial Markets, and their two children.