Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Big Shoes to Fill

entertainment, cosmos, neil degrasse tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the name for “spokesman of the universe.” Tyson is an astrophysicist by title and one of the few scientists with a personality that puts the comic in cosmic. Complimenting his amiable persona, Tyson’s ability to melt esoteric subjects into transparent prose makes him a gifted orator. Yet Tyson is not the first astronomer to put the star in rock star. The late astronomer Carl Sagan became a household name when Cosmos: A Personal Voyage aired in the 1980s. Now it is Tyson’s turn to serve as host for a rehashed version of the hit television sensation entitled Cosmos:A SpaceTime Odyssey. Given the original success of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson has some big shoes to fill.

Tyson has proved himself worthy of being deemed the modern-day Carl Sagan. Yet much time has lapsed since Cosmos originally aired 34 years ago. The teaching styles of the two men are unparalleled, however and are tailored towards different generations. Sagan had a distinguishing, monotone voice that was both sober and direct. In contrast, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s excitement for the universe often digresses into a sermon long tangent that is both humorous and informative. Both men have modes of teaching that are riveting to listen too: one old school, the other new school.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Big Shoes to FillIn regards to the former, what made Sagan’s Cosmos so appealing is not just the information that was presented, but how it was presented. Sagan is widely known for his congested voice and memorable quotes in Cosmos. In particular, Sagan is noted for his emphasis on the letter “b” when pronouncing “billions” – contrary to popular myth, Sagan never uttered the phrase that he is most known for in the Cosmos series, “Billions and billions.” More controversially, Sagan is also known to have expressed his naturalistic worldview, the view that nature is all there is, in infamous lines such as, “the cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be” and “we are star stuff.”

With immortal quotes like these, it is clear Neil deGrasse Tyson has big shoes to fill. Now that the star ash has settled, old Cosmos fans are curious whether the new Cosmos series will live up to its predecessor. To add fuel to the fire, Tyson’s skills as a scientist do not transcribe to his skills as an actor. For instance, check out Tyson’s short performance on The Big Bang Theory. Nevertheless, Tyson does have experience as a television host on NOVA Science Now and is a frequent guest on The Colbert Report. Perhaps Tyson will feel more at home hosting Cosmos as well.

Although Neil deGrasse Tyson has a personality that one cannot help but love, his relationship with the general public has not been tension free. Specifically, Tyson received a backlash of hate mail, from third graders to adults, when Pluto was demoted from a planet to a “dwarf planet.” On the other side of the coin, Neil deGrasse Tyson was recognized as the “Sexiest Astrophysicist of the Year” by People Magazine, giving him even more leverage to serve as the face for the new Cosmos series.

Carl Sagan was an intellectual giant and left Neal deGrasse Tyson some big shoes to fill. Luckily for Tyson, the universe is much bigger than Sagan’s shoes. Since Cosmos first aired, a host of exciting cosmological discoveries have been made, from dark energy to the confirmation of the Higgs Boson. Given these astronomical findings coupled with Tyson’s persona, Cosmos is sure to be a voyage to just set sail.

By Nathan Cranford

L.A. Times
Mental Floss

5 Responses to "Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Big Shoes to Fill"

  1. Bill Gradwohl   January 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I’d like Mr. Tyson to show proof that Black Holes and Neutron stars exist. Proof, not speculation or inference. While at it, explain why the gullible public is supposed to believe in Dark Matter and Dark Energy when no proof of its existence is known. I know why Astronomers believe it since their jobs and reputations depend on it.

    Id like him to publicly state that a Belgian Priest / Astronomer, Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, concocted the Big Bang Theory to try to resolve his religious and scientific views into a unified theory. There’s not a shred of proof for it.

    I’d like Mr. Tyson to mention that the astronomer Halton Arp cataloged numerous visual images showing that the concept of redshift does not automatically convert to distance, and that he was denied telescope time for his heresy against established dogma. Knock redshift and the expanding universe theory is revealed as false.

    I’d like him to explain why peering into a sun spot reveals a cooler interior environment than the surface, when there’s supposed to be a nuclear furnace inside. Why the temperature goes up, way up to 1.5 Million degrees, as you get away from the surface of the sun. We all know that the closer you get to the oven, the higher the temperature. Why is the sun different and how is that possible?

    I’d like Mr. Tyson to address how magnetic fields are generated with the absence of electricity, since plasma physics is almost an unheard of branch of science as far as Astronomers are concerned.

    Modern Astronomy is perfect for entertainment as there’s so little provable science in it.

    • clive doubell   January 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Maybe he will answer your questions when creation scientists start to understand that science doesn’t “prove” anything. Science provides “evidence”, and that evidence is evaluated.

      If you want to “prove” something you should rather stick to mathematics and predicate calculus.

  2. Rivkah   January 12, 2014 at 12:35 am

    ‘to just set sell? just set SELL?’ My eyes! Ack. 🙁

    • Angelina Bouc   January 12, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Thanks for the catch, Rivkah. Errors are a human concept, especially when it’s one word out of an entire article. Have a good one, and thanks for your read!

  3. Ed Roslin   January 11, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    “the cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be” But now we ask; what’s beyond the visible universe and what caused the big bang? Is our universe just one in a multiverse?


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