What I Say

What I Say

Ideas, thoughts, options, arguments

The Earth Wants to Kill You!

On October 22, 2014, Suellen and I went to the University of Indianapolis to listen to Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson’s lecture “This just in: Latest Discoveries in the Universe.” Doctor Tyson, noted astrophysicist and director of the Hayden planetarium who served as executive editor and on camera host and narrator for Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. If you ever have an opportunity to hear him speak in person, please do, it is something you’ll never forget.

We first saw him in person on February 6, 2006 at Butler University before a crowd of a little over 1,000 people. What a difference eight years makes! The crowd over 4,000 people at Nicoson Hall gave him a standing ovation after he was introduced.

Dr. Tyson began his talk by saying, ‘Before we began let’s clear up a couple of matters.’ He showed a slide that said simply in black-and-white, Pluto. The crowd cheered, groaned, and clapped their hands. Tyson asked, “I hope there’s no one here who still has a hang up about Pluto being decertified as a planet.” There were some feet stomping, some applause some other noise from the audience and then someone in the back of the hall shouted out,” but it has a moon.” Tyson fired back,” Actually; it has five moons. And Venus does not have a moon so should we decertify Venus? I don’t think so!” He went on to explain that if Pluto were in the same orbit as Earth, it would lose approximately 70% of its mass. Tyson spoke in some detail about the New Horizon mission to Pluto, a NASA space probe that will do a fly-by on July 14, 2015.

“Despite popular opinion”, he said, ”I was not the one to decertify Pluto as a planet I guess you could say I drove the getaway car!”

He easily moved on to talk about eclipses reminding everyone that there is no such thing as a rare eclipse. An eclipse happens on average less than every four years. You don’t hear people saying a rare Olympics, or a rare presidential election.

Tyson received a cell phone call from Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, and occasional host of Star Talk Radio, a weekly podcast hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He took the call and held the phone close to the microphone so the audience could hear both sides of the conversation. He reminded Bill that he was working. They talked a little bit of astrophysics then Bill ended his call saying. “Go gators!”

“Loving mother Earth, yeah right!” Tyson said, and then he added, “The Earth wants to kill you!” He explained how earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters have led to the extinction of almost 90% of the life that has lived on the planet Earth.”And then there’s the Universe,” he continued, “Cosmic radiation, solar flares, asteroids, comets, supernovas; the destructive forces are everywhere!”

Neil deGrasse Tyson uses humor, audience interaction and a positive glowing personality to explain many astrophysics concepts that lay people cannot only enjoy but enjoy learning about. He ended the lecture taking questions from the audience.

You can follow Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter @neiltyson and @StarTalkRadio

Neil DeGrasse Tyson


Don Boner is president of DL Sites Inc. He has written and directed two feature movies and co-wrote a script with screenwriter Chera Federle. Don lives in Indianapolis.
In 2007 he was honored and inducted into The Southern Legends Entertainment & Performing Arts Hall of Fame.

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