Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most prolific and high profile astrophysicists of our current age. He is also, quite probably, one of the funniest scientists of all time! And today is his 60th birthday!
He has spent an entire career helping the general public understand the complexities of his field of expertise, often in an easy-to-digest and entertaining manner. But he doesn't 'suffer fools' easily either.
His fascination with the cosmos and quest of knowledge is highly contagious and is helped by his kind manner and showmanship during delivery. He surely is one of the most entertaining science educators around.
The following 25+ examples are proof positive of the man's incredible wit and playful nature. Happy birthday Neil!
1. Carpooling with Neil is great fun, especially in a NASA Mars Rover
Neil recently went on a joy ride with Stephen Cobert in NASA's Mars Rover on the Late Show. Not only was it an interesting tour of the rover but the pair had a great time 'cruising' around.
They even found time to stop off and get some groceries, conduct a Mars Rover and Dozen Egg experiment and explore some interesting facts about seats on Mars.
If you ever find deGrasse Tyson hitching a lift, if this is anything to go by, don't pass up the opportunity. You will not regret it!
2. Everything is a social construct, right? Let's ask Neil
The professor's Smart Phone is based on a thousand facts of science. The only social construct is the social media enabled by it.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 18, 2017
Everything is a social construct, right? Although certain things are relative and open to opinion, scientific empirical methodology most certainly is not.
The very claim that this could be the case shows a complete lack of understanding of science and its processes. Thankfully when people point this out on platforms like Twitter, Neil deGrasse Tyson has got their back.
3. deGrasse Tyson is also an expert dietitian
Wanna lose 1200 Calories a month? Drink a liter of ice water a day. You burn the energy just raising the water to body temp.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) May 27, 2010
If the last example wasn't enough evidence of this man's many talents he can also offer you some advice on weight loss.
Since we all struggle to keep the weight off Neil has, in the past, offered some practically free methods of getting into shape. Who needs to spend thousands at the gym or be miserable following a strict diet plan.
Thanks again Neil, you're a star!
4. Even the undead are not safe from Neil's wit
Dracula & other undead people who sleep in coffins must have good abs. They always rise up flat-backed when the casket opens.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 3, 2014
Have you ever wondered how Dracula and other undead are able to get up so easily from lying flat on their back? No neither have we, but Neil has.
He makes a very good point. The problem is you'll never be able to watch these scenes again without giggling, or perhaps, trying to check out how buff they are.
5. Father Chrismas's other reindeer aren't safe from Neil either
Male & female Reindeer grow antlers, but males lose them in winter. All Santa’s reindeer, Rudolph too, are therefore female.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2015
Not content with destroying everyone's cherished childhood memories of Rudolph he couldn't let the other reindeer get off scot-free.
As he quite correctly points out all reindeer grow antlers but only one sex sheds them at winter time. This might just give us a clue as to the actual true nature of Ol' Saint Nick's preferred beasts of burden.
Again thanks, Neil!
6. He is full of useful health and safety information
Just an FYI: If you removed all veins, arteries, & capillaries from your body and laid them end to end, you will die.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 26, 2012
Just in case you need some advice on how not to die when you go about your day it might be worth following Neil deGrasse Tyson. Not only is he highly proficient in the field of Astrophysics, but his knowledge of Human Biology is second to none.
Take this piece of sage advice for example - just in case you were tempted to try it at home.
7. It seems Neil should always be consulted on matters of science in sci-fi films
In Terminator, only living things can time-travel. But hair is dead. So Arnold should've landed in LA not only naked but bald— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 8, 2010
Although it's far from the biggest issue people have with the plot, it's certainly one many of us probably completely missed. But who said blockbuster movies had to be completely consistent with reality - it is science fiction after all.
8. What do we call people from Venus?
Anyone from Venus is formally a Venereal, but Doctors got to the word before astrophysicists, so we invented Venutian instead— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 15, 2012
What would we call aliens or future human colonists from Venus? Although it is probably academic (it's hard to imagine anything surviving there), it's fun to think about.
It seems Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks so too. Apparently, they should technically be called Venereal(s) but that might not go down too well. Neil explains further in a tweet from 2012.
9. Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn't just restrict his tweets to science-based topics
Does it disturb anyone else that "The Los Angeles Angels" baseball team translates directly to "The The Angels Angels"?— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 11, 2012
Neil deGrasse Tyson, ever the curious mind, will often let his mental ramblings show in the public forum of Twitter. A prime example is his musings on some of the oddities on sports teams' names.
Perhaps you've also wondered the same but he certainly has a good point. How many more are there out there we wonder?
10. Neil deGrasse Tyson knows exactly how to cheer you up
In 5-billion years the Sun will expand & engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes. Have a nice day— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 30, 2013
We all have up and down days. What's really important in life though is having people around you who know exactly what to say to cheer you up.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those people and if you're not lucky enough to know him in real life you can always just follow him on Twitter. Have a nice day now!
Yeah, thanks, Neil!
11. Neil is great at helping out people with basic explanations
That’s why we have telescopes (and other tools of science). They allow us to know things from far away, without ever going there.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 8, 2018
We are in an age of widespread science denial from all sides of the political compass. Although scientific progress is based and grounded on skepticism, some go beyond the pale.
But to be fair with this Twitter user, unless you're interested in science this is a fair question.
Luckily for them, Neil was online at the right time to enlighten them with some basics of scientific instrumentation. Now they have no excuse to not know.
12. Neil's famous Flat-Earther smackdown
The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart... where is the curve ? please explain this pic.twitter.com/YCJVBdOWX7— B.o.B (@bobatl) January 25, 2016
@bobatl Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 25, 2016
You might all remember his famous run-in with Flat Earther Rapper B.o.B back in 2016. This was around the height in the growth of popularity of the Flat-Earth movement with B.o.B being the latest high profile denier to voice his thoughts on the concept.
Neil deGrasse Tyson clearly had had enough and decided to tackle B.o.B head-on via Twitter. In typical deGrasse style, he promptly responded with his own opinion on the matter.
Of course, this wasn't the end of the matter. A short "dis" song battle ensued with Neil coming out the ultimate victor.
13. Not all apps are on your smartphone
( No need to ask me where I looked up these numbers - I didn’t. I calculated them myself. It's called the "Brain App” )— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 3, 2014
With the entirety of human knowledge now available to all of us at our fingertips, it seems many of us have forgotten how to actually think. Perhaps Einstein (well the Einstein-inspired character in the 1995 film Powder) was right when he said "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots."
But as Neil points out not all of us have become that reliant on technology, just yet.
14. Sometimes it's best to take precautions - even with science experiments
Neil deGrasse Tyson risks life and limb to help you understand the basics of science. He is a true hero and educator whose every living moment is dedicated to enlightening everyone.
In his demonstration of the principles of the pendulum helps us understand why we should trust the laws of science. Or not as the case may be.
In case you're wondering this is an extract from Season 1 Episode 6 of "Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still" from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
15. Tackling the Moon landing conspiracy
Our collectives association of EM radio waves with sound is strong. Was one of the first ways we exploited that band of light. EM waves can carry information that we convert to sound on the receiving end. We sometimes do that with cosmic sources.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 7, 2018
Much like the Flat Earther movement, the Moon landing hoax fallacy has gained some traction in recent years. In February of this year, Neil deGrasse Tyson took on a Moon Hoax conspiracy theorist in typical deGrasse Tyson-tact.
After one Twitter user thought that they had "slam-dunk" evidence it was faked Neil stepped in to help explain the basics of Electromagnetic Radiation.
16. The man just keeps giving with his useful advice
Just an FYI: In a mirror, you can only kiss yourself on the lips.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 12, 2013
Which parts of yourself can you kiss in the mirror? Not that many apparently according to Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Well not just according to Neil, according to the laws of nature and human biology of course.
17. The Terminator is not the only one with issues
From issues with Sandra Bullock's character in Gravity to The Martian. Neil is famous for making his expert opinions known about movies and the issues with their depiction of reality. In the following talk, he takes on three of the biggest recent sci-fi blockbusters and tears them to pieces.
To be fair he has some very valid points but his criticisms are delivered in a very hilarious manner.
18. This one seems legit
QUESTION: What were the very first straws made of? ANSWER: Straw.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 17, 2014
What were the first straws made of? Why do we even call them straws?
Don't worry Neil deGrasse Tyson has you covered, as usual.
Interestingly though our first evidence of drinking tubes was from the Ancient Sumerians in 3000 BC. It seems they used to use long metal cylinders of precious metals to reach their even more precious beer below the fermentation byproducts.
19. Tyson makes no bones about his love for science
I love the smell of the universe in the morning.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 10, 2012
Anyone who has seen Neil deGrasse Tyson's presentation or interviews is immediately struck by his absolute love for all things science. His dedication to knowledge is palpable and he cannot help but contain his passion for the subject.
Oftentimes this spills over to other media like Twitter. This tweet is a prime example and might just reveal his love for an iconic film.
20. Well that really takes the fun out of Christmas, thanks Neil
According to the song, Rudolph's nose is shiny, which means it reflects rather than emits light. Useless for navigating fog.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2011
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer might be a bit of a charlatan according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Although the famous song lyrics clearly state it's shiny, and depictions in films tend to show it glowing, Neil has 'got his number'.
Thanks to the powers of scientific knowledge we finally know the answer to Rudolph's little dirty secret. Naughty Rudolph!
21. Yeah nobody asked you, Neil...
Not that anybody asked, but the symbol "lb" for pound comes from an abbreviation of the constellation Libra, the scales.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) May 17, 2013
Don't you just hate it when people drop useful information into your life without asking? Take the derivation of the names for some of our units of measurement.
Most of us are content to live our lives simply knowing they exist without having to take up brain space about their origins. Yet Neil seems to take perverse pleasure in unauthorized knowledge giving.
22. Neil rocks the house in Celebrity Family Feud
How do you pronounce Uranus exactly? This and many other funny moments really reveal Neil deGrasse Tyson's sense of humor on his appearance on ABC's Celebrity Family Feud last year.
According to Neil, it's only acceptable to pronounce it "Your-Anus" until the age of 8. Host Steve didn't take too well to that (seeing as he's 60 years old). Of course, the exchange was all in jest.
23. Neil deGrasse Tyson never hides his views on NASA
Apollo in 1969. Shuttle in 1981. Nothing in 2011. Our space program would look awesome to anyone living backwards thru time.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 8, 2011
Neil deGrasse Tyson has long advocated for increasing NASA's budget. He has often been seen arguing that "it is the most powerful agency in the dreams of the nation".
deGrasse Tyson has even testified in front of the US Senate Science Committee about NASA's underfunding.
"Right now, NASA's annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that—a penny on a dollar — we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th-century birthright to dream of tomorrow."
It should, then, come as no surprise that he continues the debate on social media like Twitter. He does have a point.
24. Have you ever wondered what Neil's rap name would be?
We've all seen those "What would your Wrestler Name Be?" type posts on social media but what would Neil deGrasse Tyson's rap name be? Apparently, it’s a question he has put some thought to.
On a podcast held during the B.o.B debacle mentioned earlier, Neil reveals his answer.
Given his profession and love of all things science, it should come as no surprise that it would, in fact, be MC2. Of course - what else?
25. Possibly the best email sign-off of all time
Geek e-mail signoff: No trees were killed to send this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 28, 2011
We are all familiar with those disclaimers at the ends of films or some emails. Things like "no animals were harmed" or no "trees were killed sending this message" etc.
Obviously, neither of these and more do not apply to electronic forms of communication. Therefore they are obviously the most ethical means of sending information and data to have ever existed, right?
It seems this assumption is completely wrong according to the Neil deGrasse Tyson. He suggests we should probably all add the following disclaimer/sign-off to the end of our emails as a matter of urgency.
Those poor electrons.
26. deGrasse Tyson can also Moon Walk
Did you know that even famous astrophysicists are fans of Michael Jackson? We know incredible isn't it?
Here's proof positive of the man's many talents and love for one of the most iconic and prolific musicians of our time.
27. Do you know any jokes about Sodium?
More evidence my 14yr old daughter is a Geek: after prompting me to ask if she knew any jokes about sodium, she replied, "Na"— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 23, 2011
"Out of the mouths of babes" as the famous saying goes. To anyone who is a parent, they will attest to the wisdom of this timeless adage.
Neil deGrasse Tyson's two children, Miranda and Travis, must have a 'whale of a time' being brought up by their dad. After all, as we have seen their father's wit is no world famous.
It seems some of this has rubbed off on at least his daughter. To be fair this is an old joke but it never gets boring.
28. Not all constellations have cool names
The most boring constellation: Triangulum Australis. A profound lack of imagination - any 3 stars in the sky makes a triangle— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 19, 2011
From Ursa Major, Andromeda to Orion, many of the constellations we can easily see in the night's sky have some awesome names. Although a few of them look nothing like their namesakes when you first view them, others really do conjure up images of mythical beasts and ancient heroes.
But, as Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, some of them do have very lackluster names indeed. One prime example is Triangulum Australis.