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In his new book, Neil deGrasse Tyson encourages us all to stay curious




Cover art of Neil deGrasse Tyson's new book,
Cover art of Neil deGrasse Tyson's new book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry."
W. W. Norton & Company

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Space and the world above us are fascinating, but let's face it, sometimes concepts like quantum entanglement or binary pulsars can be a little... intimidating. 

Fear not, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has you covered. 

In his new book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," Tyson brings the heavens down to earth by deconstructing complicated concepts for the laymen.

His only requirement for reading? Curiosity.

How do the laymen benefit from knowing about astrophysical concepts?

"This is an offering. If you are curious, this is for you. And even if you're not curious, it might make you curious, because maybe you forgot what it is to be curious. Because of the interstitial sort of mind blowing things, I'll just give you an example. This is in the last of the dozen chapters:

Do you know that there are more molecules of water in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in all the world's oceans? What that means is, that there are enough molecules in your glass to scatter into every other glass of water that could be drawn from the world's water supply. 

So, if you drink that water and then it passes through your body as you would expect. Through sweat, through pee, through whatever other way, then water that is passed through your kidneys can be consumed by others and is consumed by others. And if you wait enough time, every glass of water you drink has molecules that pass through the kidneys of Abraham Lincoln, of Socrates, of Jesus. 

And this is a connectivity so you learn how small we are and how big the universe is but you also learn how connected we are to this great unfolding of cosmic events."

How important is the role of 'science communicator' to you?

"I don't wake up in the morning saying, 'How can I bring the universe down to earth today?' That is a non-thought. What does happen is, I get asked. And I'm a servant of this curiosity and I say to myself in some capacity, in some ways,  that if I'm good at it I would be irresponsible if I did not offer myself to the curiosity of those who express it.

The broader picture is science literacy in general, which really matters if you want an informed democracy where decisions we have to make in the 21st century, pivot on whether or not you know the science that relates to the legislation you want to vote for or put into play.

If you want an informed democracy rather than one that will unravel itself then you would want lawmakers to have sufficient science literacy so that they could make as informed decisions they can in the interest of this republic. 

If we all had a better handle on science and we actually understood some of these theories, how would the world be a better place?

"It's the cosmic perspective that brings a better world. I don't mean to sound all kumbaya and hold hands and go up into space– I don't mean to come across that way, even if it sounds that way.

What I want to assert is, if you look at the source of most conflict in the world, somewhere you part the curtains there's an ego manifesting itself. It could be ego of the individual. It could be ego of family, of culture. This ego has no place in the universe. And I don't have to tell you that, it just happens that way. 

You learn that Earth is not the center of all motion and neither is the sun and neither is our galaxy. So my point is, the cosmic perspective systematically dismantles your ego, on every level. And you look at earth from space and it doesn't have color-coded boundaries, where the countries were shown in your schoolroom globe in social studies class. It makes you do a double-take on all the inane conduct that humans have expressed, simply as a product of thinking they were more special than others. 

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