Q & A with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Photo Credit
2013 AMNH, Roderick Mickens

An interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, coauthor of Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour

What is one thing you wish more people understood about the universe?
The incomprehensible depths of time and the mind-stretching depths of space conspire to leave the human mind all but incapable of grasping the entire universe in one thought. Add to this the stupefying range of heavenly objects found within it, and you come to see how and why astrophysics is an endless frontier of space, time, and mind.

What about the universe most inspires you?
I will never tire of the perennial search for life in the universe--be it intelligent or microbial. This adventure is now a collaboration among astrophysicists, chemists, and biologists, and stands to bring forth the greatest surprises in the decades to come.

Why should we care about the universe beyone our solar system? Why is it important to know what is light-years away from us?
Why was it important to discover the structure of the atom in the 1920s? You can't see atoms. Nobody ever interacts with them directly. And the entire study of quantum physics diverted resources that could surely have been better invested helping society correct its ailments. Yet sixty years later, the IT revolution would have been impossible without those "pointless" atomic discoveries. And the history of scientific research provides countless such examples. So, while we have no idea how modern cosmic discovery will matter to future generations, one thing is for sure--we should all be surprised if it doesn't.

There are plenty of books about the cosmos. What makes this one special?
Welcome to the Universe bridges the chasm between popular accounts of scientific discovery and textbooks on the subject. There's a neglected community of science enthusiasts out there who hunger for more. Our book doesn't simply tell you what's in the universe. We empower you to understand the operations of nature--the machinery of cosmic phenomena.