“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t really care what you think about the provable facts of our world, because they’re just that: facts. While Tyson’s scientific accomplishments, thought-provoking books and viral-worthy lectures make him a notable thinker of the 21st century, it’s really his desire to educate the public on the wonders of the universe — and our existence in it — that makes him a valuable voice of the scientific community.
Neil deGrasse Tyson often expresses awe regarding the universe — and specifically, our place in it. Much of his writing is devoted to the ways we are connected to the space around us in very literal ways.
“Not only are we in the universe, the universe is in us. I don't know of any deeper spiritual feeling than what that brings upon me.” - Beyond Belief: Science, Reason, Religion and Survival, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
“I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime.” - 2011 interview from The Science Studio
“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out — and we have only just begun.” - Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
“Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.” - I Am Neil deGrasse Tyson, AMA 2012
“We are all connected. To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.” - History Channel documentary The Universe
Neil deGrasse Tyson values both knowing something and not knowing it, provided that not knowing it leads to a learning experience. If not, it may result in ignorance, which no scientist would value.
“One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter account
"A little known secret is that a physicist is one of the most employable people in the marketplace — a physicist is a trained problem solver. How many times have you heard a person in a workplace say, 'I wasn't trained for this!' That's an impossible reaction from a physicist, who would say, instead, 'Cool.'" - I Am Neil deGrasse Tyson, AMA 2012
“You can’t be a scientist if you’re uncomfortable with ignorance, because scientists live at the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.” - Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
“Scientific inquiry shouldn't stop just because a reasonable explanation has apparently been found.” - Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
"My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all that the universe has to offer." - I Am Neil deGrasse Tyson, AMA 2011
"The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you." - Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
“I know of no time in human history where ignorance was better than knowledge.”
"If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it's not just an opinion that you desperately want to be true." - Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter account
The quintessential science teacher, Neil deGrasse Tyson values a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. While every educational journey begins with a devoted teacher, he cautions adults to allow children to guide their own education.
“We spend the first year of a child's life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There's something wrong there.”
“There is no greater education than one that is self-driven.”
“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter account
“Our academic system rewards people who know a lot of stuff and generally we call those people smart, but at the end of the day who do you want: the person who can figure things out that they've never seen before or the person who can rattle off a bunch of facts?” - 2010 interview with Stephen Colbert, Kimberley Academy
"Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations. It's the passing of a torch from teacher, to student, to teacher. A community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars." - Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”
Don’t start thinking that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a serious, buttoned-up guy. His writing is full of clever wordplay and witty remarks that bridge the (not-so-wide) gap between English majors and scientists.
“In the beginning, there was physics.” - Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
“You know that passage in the Bible that says, ‘And the meek shall inherit the Earth’? Always wondered if that was mistranslated. Perhaps it actually says, ‘And the geek shall inherit the Earth.’” - Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
“Anyone who has studied the problem recognizes the likelihood that there's life elsewhere in the universe. Now, if you want to say that there is life out there that is intelligent and built a flying saucer and traversed the galaxy to come here and land on Earth and be spotted by people who see lights in the sky ... okaaay.” - 10 Questions for Neil deGrasse Tyson, TIME Magazine
“Dinosaurs are extinct today because they lacked opposable thumbs and the brainpower to build a space program.” The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist
“Yes, Einstein was a badass.” - Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
“I love the smell of the universe in the morning.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter account
Above all, Neil deGrasse Tyson believes in asking questions and lifelong learning. For more science quotes, facts and fun, check out: