Daily Archives: March 17, 2012

Weekend read: “Neil Tyson: King of the Cosmos”

Neil deGrasse TysonA good longread for the weekend: a profile of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

“Tyson graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1976 and went to Harvard. He wrestled, tutored prisoners in math, and studied astrophysics. In his sophomore year, he was talking with a fellow black student, a senior who was about to start a Rhode scholarship. The senior was appalled to hear Tyson talk about astrophysics. “Blacks in America do not have the luxury of your intellectual talents being wasted on astrophysics,” he declared.

“It was as if Tyson had been stung by a hornet. The stinger buried itself so deep inside him that it took nine years to work its way out. By then, Tyson was finishing his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Columbia. During graduate school, he became the department’s go-to person when reporters called to ask about something weird in the sky. He began answering questions readers sent to StarDate magazine. One day, a satellite recorded explosions on the surface of the sun, and a local television station asked Tyson if he would talk about it on camera. After the filming, he went home and watched himself on television. It was the first time he could recall ever seeing a black scientist speaking as an expert on American television. His college shame fell away.”