Magazine article Black Enterprise

Backtalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Backtalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Article excerpt

OVER THE YEARS, NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON HAS BECOME PERHAPS the most recognized scientist in the country. As the host of PBS's NOVA science NOW, and a regular guest on popular shows such as Jeopardy!, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report, the 53-year-old astrophysicist continues to bring his own brand of scientific enlightenment to the masses. BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Tyson, the Frederick E Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, to discuss African Americans in the sciences

Why is it important to have a knowledge base in the science?

We should all embrace and value--at a minimum--that people [should be] scientifically literate so that, as an electorate, you can make informed decisions about issues that rise up; your knowledge of science impacts how you might vote on an issue or on important decisions related to the future of society, its economy, the environment. All of these, at their core, involve scientific literacy. And I don't expect everyone to want to be a scientist.

How can parents and educators nourish their children's interest in science?

It's all about access to opportunity. All I can do is be visible in my activities. I no longer do Black History Month talks. If that's when you think of inviting me to talk, then clearly if I never show up in your thoughts the other 11 months I'm not as visible a scientist as I should be. The next step would be to provide an environment that doesn't interfere with what might be seeds of curiosity that could lead to someone being a scientist. …

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