If you’ve never heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson, I only have one question: “Where have you been? In a bubble?”
Okay, that was two questions. But, on the off-chance that you have been in a bubble (either literally or metaphorically) the last decade or two, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most visible and outspoken scientists since Carl Sagan. He is, quite literally, one in a million considering the number of astrophysicists in the world, but also considering the number of genuinely funny and engaging scientists.
His talk on Tuesday night was sold out -the house was packed. And afterwards, I stood in line to get my copy of Death by Black Hole: and Other Cosmic Quandaries signed. And what do you suppose he did, just as I handed him the book (turned to the page he preferred to sign)? After waiting in line for a full hour, Dr. Tyson said, “hang on just a sec. I need to do this first.” He then proceeded to work on a Rubik’s cube. I have the photo to prove it!
But I was far from annoyed… in fact, I was completely and utterly elated! Earlier that day, I was describing Dr. Tyson to my wife and explaining why I would be late coming home from my graduate bioarchaeology class, so I pulled up his webite and clicked on a couple video links to the John Stewart show so she could see who he was. And there was John Stewart cracking on Dr. Tyson the day after his appearance for staying in the Green Room after the show to finish a Rubik’s Cube. My wife thought it was funny and now here he was, right in front of me, working mathematical magic on the Cube.
Dr. Tyson said, “sorry,” while clearly orienting the puzzle in a deliberate pattern, concentrating on getting to a point where he was closer to the solution and could remember where he left off so he could finish it later.
My reply was, “oh, take your time.”
My grin was from ear to ear.
Oh, and it was a great talk too!