Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, director of the world-famous Hayden Planetarium, a monthly columnist for Natural History, and an award-winning author. Tyson is also the host of NOVA ScienceNOW and a frequent guest on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and television documentaries on the universe. His latest book is The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet.
In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Neil deGrasse Tyson recounts recent discoveries in astronomy, including methane on Mars and its possible implications, and questions regarding dark matter and dark energy. He explains how ignorance is seductive for the scientist. He details his involvement in the controversy regarding the status of Pluto, and the role of the Hayden Planetarium in the international debate over solar system nomenclature. He describes whether teaching the controversy over Pluto’s status is helpful in teaching astronomy, and how this compares to the “teaching the controversy” argument regarding evolution versus intelligent design creationism. And he shares his views about the best ways to teach the solar system to students, by comparing and contrasting objects in the solar system and how they relate to each other.