WSW: Neil deGrasse Tyson Reflects On Science's Future, And Carl Sagan

Apr 15, 2019

Credit WMUK

Remember the late celebrated astrophysicist Carl Sagan? An interesting tie exists between science phenom Neil deGrasse Tyson and him besides both having hosted the popular "Cosmos" show begun by Sagan. It's that Tyson met Sagan as a teenager. In fact, Sagan personally invited Tyson to visit Cornell University to convince him to enroll there. Sagan met Tyson in his professor's office on a Saturday, gave him a campus tour, then gifted him one of his books with a foretelling inscription: "To Neil Tyson, future astrophysicist."

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Credit Courtesy photo

Tyson, director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, tells that story and more to WMUK's Earlene McMichael on today's WestSouthwest news and public affairs show in advance of his May 22nd "Astronomy Bizarre" presentation at Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University.

How did a young Tyson even get on Sagan's radar screen?

He recalls that he had applied to Cornell and the admission office forwarded his application to Sagan for his review. While Tyson, now himself a famous astrophysicist, ultimately chose another school, he says Sagan's generosity of time for him as a high school student transformed him, forever.

"To this day, if a student calls me and wants to talk or talk about a future, I will make time for them to the exclusion of all else that might be going on in my life. The president's on the phone? 'Barack, I'll get back to you. I got a student at the door,' " Tyson says. "So, I've had that level of mission statement burning within me ever since then."

On the WestSoutwest show, Tyson also discusses the likelihood of U.S. missions to the Moon and Mars, science and religion, global warming, his personal experiences with racism, and, yes, Fox Broadcasting and National Geographic temporarily halting his shows.

The companies have since resumed them after concluding an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Here a shorter interview here.

WestSouthwest is produced by WMUK, the public radio station licensed to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. It airs Mondays & Thursdays at 7:34 a.m., 9:34 a.m. & 4:20 p.m. You can subscribe to the WestSouthwest podcast through Apple iTunes and Google Music. There you can leave a rating and write a review.