"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

10 Reasons I Adore Neil deGrasse Tyson Even More Than Before I Saw Him in Person

On Monday, I ventured past the Orange Curtain, into Hollywood with hubby Dale and good friend Kelly, to see Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Pantages Theater. I had gotten the tickets last summer. Marcus wanted to go, and we took a chance that his semester schedule wouldn't prevent him from attending. We took a chance and lost.

This is why I never buy lottery tickets. 

So Kelly used his ticket and off we schlepped. Dale asked me numerous times what Dr. Tyson would be doing, and I answered numerous times plus one that I had no idea. We took our seats (really good ones) and waited to see what the evening would hold. 

What we were treated to, in honor of being in Hollywood, was NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON PRESENTS SCIENCE GOES TO THE MOVIES. Think of it - an entire evening of Dr. Tyson telling you that the movie TITANIC used the wrong sky in its night scenes, and the movie TED actually called him to get the night scene correct, and more. He had them in alphabetical order, and had to leave some out to make it all fit in two-and-a-half hours.

After that, he answered about 10 questions from the audience, and read Pale Blue Dot (see http://youtu.be/p86BPM1GV8M). He was not just brilliant. He was wise. For three hours.

So much muchness! I'd admired NdGT from his YouTube snippets, his appearances on talk shows, and of course, his reboot of COSMOS. But now that I've spent three hours listening to him speak live, I admire and adore him. 

You could say I admore him. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Once he gets his teeth in a subject, he wrings every bit of energy from it. He spent two-and-a-half hours taking us through at least 15 films and discussing what they got wrong and what they got right.

2. He can talk for hours without any notes. This, people, is a mad skill.

3. Either he has the softest, most pliable shoes ever made, or he likes to give his talks in socks.

4. He has no problem dancing with joy, or falling to his knees in frustration. It's a good thing he wore jeans because he would have torn holes in nicer slacks.

5. He watches all kinds of movies, and he can't help but be impressed/dismayed by ANY science in them. (Example: he loves the line in FROZEN'S Let It Go, "My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around.")

6. On the one hand, the entire world seems to come at him as scientific theories and equations and physical laws. On the other hand, he can connect to his audience as a guy who could sit down and have a beer with you. (Of course, he'd probably treat you to a discourse on carbonation and surface tension, but at least it would be entertaining.)

7. He did his own charts for the evening talk. How do I know? Because there were typos on several (which he apologized for). Hey, Dr. Tyson, need a proofreader? My rates are reasonable.

8. He actually got mad at the movie GRAVITY because Sandra Bullock is supposed to be playing a medical doctor, but she's messing with "his" Hubble telescope. "Hey, I'm an astrophysicist, but I'll bet I can do brain surgery. Stand back and let me at it."

9. Every question from the audience was taken seriously, answered thoughtfully, and proclaimed "a good question" by him. Graciousness squared.

10. He is happily and unapologetically a nerd, and thinks everyone else should be, too.

I enjoyed the evening to the nth degree, but more importantly, I had several "aha" moments. In the end, Dr. Tyson made me want to be smarter.

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