As far back as I can remember, my personal heroes have been scientists – physicists or astrophysicists to be exact. While most kids grow up admiring sports stars, politicians, civil rights activists, movie stars, or “dad,” I grew up reading about and admiring men like Einstein, Copernicus and Kepler. As an adult, I have read most of Stephen Hawking’s works. I am impressed by his ability to explain the complexities of space, time and the universe in simple terms that most people can understand.
I have speculated as to why these people are my heroes… Maybe it’s because I am related to famous astronomer Sir William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, Titania, Oberron, and Infrared Radiation… Maybe it’s because these men can answer questions for me that others cannot… Maybe it’s because I grew up glued to the TV, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (Jean Luke Picard is absolutely my favorite fictional hero).
Today, I have a new hero. A man who is much closer to me, in both space and time, than Herschel, Einstein, Copernicus, Kepler or even Hawking could ever be. Actually, I used to live only a few blocks from his office.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. He is the host of NOVA’s scienceNOW on PBS and a frequent guest on popular shows such as The Daily Show. Dr. Tyson is becoming very active on Facebook and Twitter, has a wicked sense of humor, and often communicates with his fans.
Like Hawking, Dr. Tyson has the ability to explain complex concepts in simple language that is easy to understand. Better yet, he has an engaging personality and sense of humor that keeps me very interested in his activities. Best yet, he is a true New Yorker – born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx, and educated at Columbia.
I have just started reading Dr. Tyson’s latest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (2012). I actually stopped reading the biography of Steve Jobs halfway through to start Space Chronicles, which most people who know me would find unbelievable.