Back to the Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Monday, March 10, 2014

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Fox's Cosmos (FOX)

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and author of the book The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, talks about the reboot of the show originally hosted by Carl Sagan, and takes your questions about astrophysics and news from the universe.


Neil deGrasse Tyson

Comments [49]

Ed from Larchmont

Yes, Luther was a heretic but Giordano went right off the reservation. (Black magic, worship of the universe, etc.) But why did the Church burn people at the stake? Because they were - if impenitent and refused to be silent and stop teaching error - a danger to the souls of uneducated people whom they would mislead. And, finally, for their own good - perhaps when they felt fire they would repent, and see that this fire is just the start of the fire that awaited them if they didn't repent.

Mar. 11 2014 09:14 AM
William from Manhattan

Dr Tyson is terrific. Just needs to be a little more circumspect about blanket statements. No case on record of atheists storming into churches to forbid teachings of faith? I think some victims of religious persecution at the hands of Russian and Chinese communist regimes would beg to differ. Oh, and there was that guy Pol Pot. I just wouldn't go as far as Dr Tyson to whitewash any specimens of humanity regarding intolerance, be they atheists, scientists, anyone.

Mar. 10 2014 07:27 PM
Maria from Garden City, Ny

I don't see how, presented with "billions" of possibilities out there as illustrated by episode 1, anyone can conclude we are the only form of life in the universe/multi-universes. Such a conclusion is not scientific. It's a huge leap of faith.

Mar. 10 2014 03:05 PM
Dr. Robert Magliola from New Jersey

I would like to correct the impression given by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson regarding the reasons for the burning at the stake of the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno (by the way, he was a friar, not a "monk"). Bruno was executed because of his denial of the Most Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; and because of his widespread and very public dissemination of these heresies. Bruno's scientific theories, while being in part foundational--in his opinion-- for his denial of the above Teachings, were not the determining cause of his execution. Other scientists of the day argued for the Copernican theory, and were willing to entertain the notion of multiverses: they were not persecuted. Indeed, Copernicus himself had remained his whole life a Catholic priest in good standing. // Wikipedia is sometimes not a reliable academic source, and sometimes is--depending on the academic credentials provided by the particular Wikipedia topic in question. Its article on Giordano Bruno, both in the English and Italian version, is very good (see the pertaining critical apparatus provided at the foot of the Wiki-article). I refer readers of this comment to the Wikipedia article simply because it is so accessible. // The Catholic Church over the subsequent centuries learned to distinguish between the empirical and the religious dimensions, and not to interfere with science as such. Nowadays the defenders of a uniformly literal interpretation of all Scripture are Evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Protestants of many kinds.

Mar. 10 2014 12:07 PM
bernie from bklyn,earth

BL Show- thank you!! great segment! we're all lucky to have grasse-tyson in our lives.

Mar. 10 2014 11:34 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The idea that religious ideas has never been useful in guiding science is profoundly incorrect. As everyone knows, when doing experiments one doesn't start with nothing: one designs an experiment to search for something, and that search is determined by one's theoretical views (philosophy, religion, metaphysics). Reason and faith are two separate faculties in man, but they serve each other since truth is not self-contradictory.

Mar. 10 2014 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It seems to me that the more we learn about the universe, the more things we find that limit the likelihood of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Habitable zones, plate tectonics, the right balance btwn. a star's UV light & a planet's atmospheric composition (so most mutations don't lead to cancer), & yes, the right history of that evolution (incl. extinctions) may all be absolutely necessary & extremely rare. So I was glad to hear Dr. Tyson mention, toward the end of last night's episode, the meteor strike that killed the dinosaurs & how intelligent life might not have developed on Earth without it.

If there's no other intelligent life in the universe, that means the whole cosmos & its entire history is in effect our support system. Doesn't that make us incredibly important, not insignificant?

Mar. 10 2014 11:14 AM
Lizette Cantres

Kudos to Dr. Tyson, my fellow alumnus from the Bronx H.S. School of Science. I love the new Cosmos but I absolutely hate the intrusive commercials. I think I will have to wait to watch show in a commercial-free medium.

Mar. 10 2014 11:11 AM

Brian, Please stop promoting religion - and religious dogma - and join the 21st century.
You seem like such an intelligent person until religion becomes part of the subject.

Mar. 10 2014 11:06 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Bruno was involved in magic and he was a forerunner of some of the ideas of the Protestant Reformation which started not too long after his death.

Mar. 10 2014 11:00 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Neil deGrasse Tyson should be on WNYC every day. Alleged annoying ads and extraneous fx aside, I look forward to watching "Cosmos" tonight.

Mar. 10 2014 10:57 AM
John A

Too many scientists today become experts in everything. That's not science, that's vanity. I agree, Neil, keep hiring worthy writers for your shows.

Mar. 10 2014 10:55 AM
tom grise from Carroll Gardens

Hi, Neil.

Weird question...

I find profound the concept that our perception of the passage of time is no different than our perception of the expansion of the other "spacial" dimensions that we perceive (the universe expanding, for example). Does this relation have any recognized impact on physics or astrophysics these days? Psychology?


Mar. 10 2014 10:52 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The six days of creation - one meaning of that could be the six great extinctions, one of which was the dinosaurs.

Mar. 10 2014 10:51 AM
Robert from NYC

Ugh, it's not gee-or-dA-no, it's jor-dA-no. It's not lu-chee-A-no (Pavarotti), it's lu-chA-no. Often gi and ci + vowel in italian are pronounced j-and ch respectfully + vowel in english or spanish. Gia is not gee-a it's ja. Get it right. Ugh!

Mar. 10 2014 10:51 AM
Rob from Morristown

I have a big complaint from a little guy. My 8 year old son is mad that the premiere was on from 9pm-10pm. He doesn't understand why such a fascinating and educational show would be on TV too late for aspiring young scientists like himself.

I kept him up to watch anyway - on top of daylight saving time! - and we both love the program. Thanks to Dr. Tyson for his efforts!

Mar. 10 2014 10:50 AM
Ed from Larchmont

De Chardin - a little off the boat in terms of his evolutionary ideas, silenced for a while. But the idea that we're exceptional isn't proven or disproven by science. Not hubris, but a question of reality. (Evolution in a philosophical argument of the chain of being can be used to prove the existence of God.)

Mar. 10 2014 10:49 AM

Neil - Thank you!!

Fantastic work!!

Mar. 10 2014 10:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

So there is NO life after death? We just evaporate?

There is NO intelligent life on other planets that are able to reach out to us?

Mar. 10 2014 10:48 AM
John A

I hope all those wishing for more science on PBS put up if not shut up - contribute generously so that they can Afford such things.

Mar. 10 2014 10:48 AM

…and then the religious kooks came out...

Mar. 10 2014 10:48 AM
Mike from Madison NJ


Did you say the Background Radition is 13.8 billion light-years away?

If so, 1 billion years from now, will it be 14.8 billion light-years away?

Mar. 10 2014 10:47 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Of course one doesn't go to the Bible for science - careful on your interpretation of Genesis, way too glib - that's not it's purpose. It's purpose is meaning.
But I'll make a prediction from theology that might be useful in science - physical reality will be found to have 12 dimensions, not 11.
Can't we just talk about the universe without going into theology, a different question?

Mar. 10 2014 10:47 AM
Paul from Glen Cove

When I found out Fox was broadcasting the show I wasn't too surprised to find that MacFarlane executively produced it.

Mar. 10 2014 10:46 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Why wait for Andromeda? It was mentioned in an online discussion that a dwarf galaxy, the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, is "colliding" w/the Milky Way right now. What are astrophysicists learning from observations of the part of the galaxy where this is happening from the light that's now reaching us?

Mar. 10 2014 10:45 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Can't be bigger than the God of Scripture. Bruno wasn't killed because of his ideas of the physical universe. He was involved in magic, denial of Church dogma, etc.
See the Vatican Observatory that has run since that time.

Mar. 10 2014 10:44 AM

Great show last night! I found your story about Carl Sagan fascinating about when Carl Sagan invited you up to Cornell for the day as a 17 year old student. It was very touching to hear the impact he had on your career!

Mar. 10 2014 10:43 AM
Ed from Larchmont

One proof of the existence of God is that the human mind has the ability to understand physical reality.
Bruno was a heretic, not just his ideas of physical reality.

Mar. 10 2014 10:42 AM
Edward from NJ

If two objects are moving in opposite directions at any speed greater than 50% of the speed of light, does communication or observation between those objects become impossible? The answer would seem to be yes, but what are the other consequences of that scenario?

Mar. 10 2014 10:42 AM
John A

So, he met Sagan and was personally escorted around his lab... Why did he Not sign up to Cornell?

Mar. 10 2014 10:42 AM
Janet from Westchester

My sentiments are with the first two posts. Why wasn't this done as a commercial-less documentary,
either on cable or PBS? And particularly annoying was the imbedding of the ads inside the program.
One minute you are traveling in the universe and then suddenly you are in an ad for Samsung. I finally turned
it off in frustration. I admire Dr. Tyson and hope to find this in a commercial-free format.

Mar. 10 2014 10:39 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Being a huge science and sci-fi geek, I want all of these multiverse/string/energy theories to be true. However, we will most likely never be able to prove the existence of other universes beyond our own. At least not anytime soon, considering where we're currently at as a species.

Mar. 10 2014 10:38 AM
Kelly Davis from Ridgefield CT

Looked forward eagerly to Cosmos - couldn't watch it. The five minute commercials every five minutes, flash editing, background boom and bang nearly drowning out narrator, swelling soaring music - for what? isn't the universe enough?

Mar. 10 2014 10:37 AM

Everyone who has seen the final scene from last night's Cosmos was drawn to sentimental tears, and loving the emphasis that it placed on educating the future.

But we all questioned one thing about the scene (as you encouraged us to do in the opening scene). Was that really Dr. Sagan's schedule calendar? Evidence raises questions - in particular, why was there only one entry?

Mar. 10 2014 10:36 AM

he is making stuff up...

Mar. 10 2014 10:36 AM
Tony from Canarsie

I enjoyed the first episode very much, but did Giordano Bruno really look that much like George Harrison?

Btw, I wonder how many creationists' heads exploded during that cartoon?

Mar. 10 2014 10:35 AM
Antonio from Bayside

Is it possible Jovian worlds radiate heat/energy to sustain life on nearby moons?
I heard the moons (in Jovian worlds) actually have moons worlds with oceans; how can this be so if those planets are so far from the sun...,

Mar. 10 2014 10:35 AM
The Truth from Becky

Brian you are asking for too many absolutes! Are you "trying" to be annoying?

Mar. 10 2014 10:35 AM
david from Astoria

Question for guest:
For all the glorious images provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, is it right to think that, except for extremely bright objects, that the human eye, even when "placed" rather nearby a space phenomenon, will never see things as Hubble sees them, due to our limited visual sensitivity and the dimness of many objects (unless you are almost on top of them)?

Mar. 10 2014 10:35 AM
The Truth from Becky

Can't wait to watch the new show.

Mar. 10 2014 10:34 AM
John Huntington from Brooklyn

Mr. Tyson is known for demanding astro-physical accuracy of things like the movie Titanic, the direction of spin of the globe on the Daily Show, etc. etc. And yet Cosmos was filled with asteroids and spaceships making WOOOOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHHHH sounds in space, where there's a vacuum and therefore no sound. Does he care to comment on this?

John Huntington
Professor of Entertainment Technology, CityTech/CUNY

Mar. 10 2014 10:33 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Isn't the idea that there are other universes just a mathematical speculation?

Mar. 10 2014 10:33 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

The only remarkable event that seems to have occurred on my birthday (besides the fact that it's MY birthday!) is that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake on that day--at least according to a literary calendar that I used to use.

So I was glad to hear about him last night.

Mar. 10 2014 10:13 AM
Adrien Chaudpain from Brooklyn, NY

Questions for Dr. Tyson.

It may have been beyond the writ of the program creators, but why did FOX interrupt the flow of such a program with those advertisements? They could have done it like a NOVA documentary, or like a "Downton Abbey" episode.

One disappointment -- the speculation about a "multiverse" spoils an otherwise fact-based science program. By definition, the "multiverse" is not observable or testable. Since this concept is not falsifiable it should have no place in the program.

I am looking forward to buying the series, so that I can savour the richness without those annoying "commercial" interruptions.

You mentions Bruno, but the Church also persecuted Gallileo in its war against science.

Mar. 10 2014 10:09 AM
Tony Jannetti from Lower east side

Will Cosmos be available to view online? Tried watching online last night and ended up on my digital TV that kept bleeping out what the good Dr. was saying.
Sooo frustrating...

Mar. 10 2014 10:06 AM
John from Queens

What discoveries / developments in science / astronomy did you feel had to be included in the new series, which had to be updated and which had to be left out for lack of time but were important to you.

Mar. 10 2014 09:35 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Intriguing theory.

Mar. 10 2014 09:28 AM

What's the purpose in the first episode of using the story of Giordano Bruno, his heretical view of many worlds, subsequent torture, trial and burning at the stake by the Inquisition? Sagan's Cosmos used the story of Hypatia of Alexandria, the last librarian, as a symbolic martyr in the battle of science and reason versus mysticism and dogmatism. Is Bruno the Hypatia of this series?

Mar. 10 2014 08:42 AM
Jessie Henshaw from Way uptown

Dr. Tyson,
The question I’d like to ask has to do with how beginning anything seems to require a "bang" of some scale to get it going.

Basic physics principles were what first implied a “big bang” of explosive “inflation” had to have been how the universe began, before observations confirmed it.

Don't the same basic principles of continuity of energy processes imply a need for smaller local bursts of organization, to satisfy energy conservation, for starting up the processes of any other energy system?

I began to suspect it from the readily observed "little bangs" of explosive non-linear development one seems to find generally at the start of any new system in nature.

I call it the "law of emergence & continuity". Would you then say every new energy system is a "new universe" in that way, requiring an explosion of local innovation to develop?

Mar. 10 2014 08:38 AM

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