Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles

April 02, 2012

This week, Point of Inquiry is thrilled to welcome back one of our most popular guests: Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famed astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

Last time we had him on, Dr. Tyson engaged in a wide ranging discussion about science communication and the place of science in America.

This time, we focus in on his new book—Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier—and his call for revitalizing NASA and letting it play a central role in reconnecting America and science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
is America’s most pre-eminent science communicator. In addition to his work at the Hayden Planetarium and his books and television appearances, he is also the host of Star Talk Radio.

This is point of inquiry for Monday, April 2nd, 2012. 

Welcome to Point of inquiry. I’m Chris Mooney point of inquiry is the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reason, science and secular values in public affairs. And at the grassroots. This week, I’m thrilled to welcome back one of our most popular guests, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famed astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Last time we had Dr. Tyson on, we had a wide ranging discussion about science, communication and the place of science in America. But this time I wanted to focus more on his new book. It’s called Space Chronicles Facing the Ultimate Frontier. And in it, he gives a call for revitalizing NASA and letting it play a central role in reconnecting America in science. Neil Tyson, welcome back to Point of Inquiry. 

Thank you. It’s like maybe my fifth time or something. I wondered. 

And this time to talk about something I think we Americans don’t really think deeply about enough. We’ve become blasé about it. And that’s our future in space. 

Yeah. It’s just it’s kind of lost its presence within our thoughts and dreams and ambitions. And I think it’s high time we we brought it back into the center of our our dreams. 

How do we do that? I was reading just a headline just yesterday. 

It was about big budget cuts to NASA’s robotic missions and the planetary science people were up in arms. And the chief science at NASA guy named John Grunsfeld was she was just trying to placate them. 

But there they seem very unhappy. How do you how do you feel about that situation? 

Well, see, that’s that’s sort of inside baseball right there. What’s actually going on is the NASA budget is is about stable and might have actually gone up by a tiny amount. What happened is certain cost overruns and one funding Channel eight, the moneys from other funding channels within the total NASA portfolio. And so the concern was, if you chase the cost overruns of a very important project, what’s the consequence of that? Two other important projects. And so something. So it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul within the fixed NASA budget. And my preference in all of this is to not even engage that conversation through people certainly duking that out right now. My sense of this is NASA is just underfunded to begin with. And so there’s a there’s a sort of a fight in the stratosphere that needs to happen or maybe in space needs to happen. That is just a fundamental conversation about what what goals we have all given NASA to to perform and what the budget needs to be to meet those goals. But not only that, to have NASA lead us into the future, not just sort of a plot, along with whatever whatever urge comes us from one moment to the next is not is not that’s not a mission statement. Right. And when you don’t have good mission statements, you don’t lead to good missions. And so I have a very different sense of what NASA, what role NASA should play in our culture. And right now, that’s just NASA, just another agency of the government. That’s what those conversations tell me. 

Well, JFK had a mission, right. And one thing you say in the new book is that space exploration has been most chiefly inspired by wartime situations. That’s that’s when we really spent on space. So do you think we would react to a China and India surpassing us in some way, the way we reacted to the Soviet, surpassing us in some way? Is that what it would take or did it feel? I don’t I feel like it might feel different now, even if that happened. 

So, yeah. So there’s a lot of sort of false memory of Americans from that era, from the JFK moon launch era and our false memories. Are we we went to the moon because JFK had charisma or because or because it’s in our culture as Americans to explore or it’s in our DNA as humans to. 

And so there’s a lot of. And that’s all just baloney. It’s it’s not. It’s true. That’s not why it ever gets funded. We all make feel that way about exploration. But at the end of the day, somebody’s got to write the check. And Kennedy knew and understood this. So every point where he said, let’s explore the moon, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. And this is a great adventure. And all that was prefaced by we need to show the path of freedom over the path of tyranny. Just go back to his speeches and you’ll see the context in which the moon voyage was announced. And you recognize that we felt deeply threatened by the Soviet Union. It was a Cold War. 

And it’s hard to resurrect that feeling in modern times because it was so distant. 

It’s a it’s a general a couple of generations away. It’s in the past. And it’s a state of mind that that is so removed from any sense of military conflict today. But back then, there was Sputnik. We go back to 1957. Sputnik wasn’t just some satellite. That’s what we call that was it was called it was a hollowed out intercontinental ballistic missile shell. That’s what that was. And yes, they took out the warhead and put in a little radio transmitter that went beep beep to a radio receiver. But and so to the average person, it’s, oh, isn’t that nice to space? Space age has begun. The military folks said if they can send that over our heads, they can send one with a warhead. 

So we were we were at war. And so war was the driver, period. 

And yes, in modern times, if if China, that’s all they’d have to do. I joke about this half seriously, Chuck, about this. 

Just get China to leak a memo. Then you’d have to be a true memo. Just get him to leak a memo. They say they want to put a military base on Mars. We’ll be in Mars in 10 months, one month to completely fund it and build the new spaceship. And nine months to travel with you. So, yeah, we would surely be motivated and China would be put up as our next sort of military adversary and money would flow like rivers. 

I but I don’t want war is definitely a driver and it would be a driver. And it’s the driver of all great expenditures of money and human capital there ever was. But I don’t think that’s necessary in modern times. There are other drivers that could accomplish this. 

Well, so what are they? I mean, for example, I just looked at the NSF data just came out and NSF indicator’s science. 

Sorry, excuse me. China surpassed us in total scientists production in the last you know, in terms of P.H. D I we didn’t we didn’t get all fired up over that. It’s not like we’re suddenly we’re finally going to reinvest in science in this big way like we used to. 

So it’s not we don’t know we don’t know how threatening that actually is. Yeah. Yeah. Right. It turns out of course. And the point I make at length in the book is another great driver of human investment and cat in financial as well as financial, intellectual and physical capital is the promise of economic return. 

And that is that was responsible for, for example, the voyages of Columbus and Magellan. And and you just you list all the big expensive initiatives undertaken by nations and cultures of the past that were, as we already said, was a big driver. Nobody wants to die. And then no, nobody wants to die poor. Right. So this these are the two great drivers. And so what people don’t understand is why here in America are we have a an incomplete understanding of the causes and effects of things. So we say, oh, we need more jobs. Let’s get more manufacturing here. All right. And there’s a band aid for you. All right. Let’s do that. 

We want to keep factories here instead of overseas. 

Oh, let’s put some tariffs on and put some tax incentives to keep the factory here. Tax incentives for the company. That’s another Band-Aid there. We need more scientists. So let’s make better science teachers. Let’s put a Band-Aid there. 

And we think that pouring money at these specific problems will solve them piecemeal and somehow create the world that we all want to reinvent for ourselves. 

But no, no, they’re bandaids. They’re bandaids. Yeah. So now you have a great science teacher. Now you want to become a scientist. What happens at the other end of that pipeline? There’s no. What are you gonna do? Where’s the science to apply? Where’s the science going on? Where all of your invested energy could then be put to good use? There isn’t any. There isn’t any on the scale that existed, for example, in the 1960s, the great, you know, the golden age of space exploration. I claim that if you double NASA’s budget, like half a penny to a penny on your tax dollar, then we could, like, declare that space is our next backyard. 

And and all destinations are open to us. And this gets written large on the headlines. And then you create a force beyond the teacher that’s gonna attract people to want kids to want to become scientists. So then it doesn’t matter if you have a good enough whether your teacher is good or not. Yeah, you want a good teacher. But even if they’re not, they’re drawn because they want to go to Mars. They want to do some research that’ll find life on Mars. They want to be the engineer to design the spaceship, that aircraft that will navigate the rarified atmosphere of Mars. They want to stop that asteroid that’s on its way. They want to be the first tourist on the moon. All of these options open up. And the innovation necessary to advance that frontier drives tomorrow’s economies. And it creates an innovation culture. And it’s that world that does not exist today. And NASA is like a free recipe to make that happen. 

Well, I’m so I’m sure a lot of listeners. We’re done. One other point about jobs. 

If you innovate, then you’re creating the products of the future. And those jobs can’t go overseas because they haven’t figured out how to do it yet. So this one plan becomes an investment in our economy for tomorrow. And all those bad days are not even necessary because they never happened in the first. These stores that opened up on the landscape that you think you have to solve never actually happen in the first place. 

So your prescription will be one of the great things about your book and has all kinds of cool data. I didn’t know it’s a your data person, I guess. And so you’ve got these figures in the back and it shows. 

Thanks for mentioning that because I had to. I grappled with and I have an editor that helped me to to think about this office, Lang is what is this? I’m making a lot of statements in the book, a comment about budgets and the history of funding. And we said, let’s just have a nice, fleshy appendix so they can go back there and read it for yourself. We have the original Space Act that created NASA. I know it’s there. You can go back there and see all the passages and there it is. It declares it to be a civilian agency. Yet remember was created in a you know, in a Cold War climate. So it’s a civilian agency now who all the first astronauts, their military. So, you know, it’s just it’s a fascinating little chapter in American history. And what I want to do is, is go back there, see what was good about it. Well, we went to the moon. 

Bring that forward, but leave out the war part. 

It was so in terms of in that time period. 

What it shows also in the data is that NASA’s budget as a percent of GDP or as a percent of the federal budget was so much bigger than now. And it’s never been anywhere near that big again as a percent of everything that we’re doing. So are you essentially saying bring it back to that level? 

OK. So, of course, the nation is wealthier today than it was back then. So if NASA has a certain amount of money, that’s the right amount of money and the nation gets wealthier than that. Money doesn’t necessarily need to go up with the nation’s wealth. It’d be nice if it did, but it wouldn’t necessarily have to. What those data should tell us, however. Is that there was an error where as a nation, we valued the space enterprise as a greater fraction of the things we did as a country compared to what we do today. 

So back then, it peaked at four percent of your tax dollars, went to NASA. That was the peak. 

And that was a couple of years before we landed on the moon because a lot of that money was building up all that capacity and and building those. 

So there’s a lot of capital investment in NASA infrastructure to enable the Saturn five, the mighty Saturn five rocket to be built. That got us to the moon, the first and only rocket ever to leave Earth for another destination, something the space shuttle is knows nothing of. Space shuttle boldly went where hundreds had gone before into low earth orbit. 

So, so, so, so the broader point here is that now we pay one half of one penny on the tax dollar. And to a person, everyone who I know who’s ever said we’re spending too much money on NASA. And I ask him, you know, how much do you think we’re spending? They think they think five percent, 10 percent of the tax dollar. And I say, no, it’s one half of one penny. And then they say, I didn’t know that. 

And that pays for the centers. 

And in its day, it paid for the space station and the space shuttles and all the astronauts and the Hubble and the rovers and all of that came out of that amount of money. 

And so the fact that they think NASA got paid so much money tells me that NASA must be doing something right. Because so their money must be hugely visible. Think about that. 

So I want to start a new movement where all government agencies got paid, what people thought they’re getting at. NASA would just make out like a bandit there because people think they’re getting way more than they’re actually getting. So I’m saying yes. 

So let’s let’s double up to a penny and then we can, like, go to Mars in a big way and and go to the moon. And by the way, by the way, what I’m after here is not to stimulate adventure, which you get for free, though. I’m not after discovery. Which you get for free. I’m not after what? Science won’t even be the driver. It has never been a driver. You get some science done because people want to do science. But big money projects are never driven by the urge to do science ever. Not in the history of the world and cultures and civilizations. So let’s be honest with ourselves about this. You know, there are my colleagues of mine who would assert that NASA is their private funding agency so that any time NASA spends money on people or, you know, they say that’s a waste. How could you possibly when in fact, we would get no money from NASA if there were no people, because that’s why it was created. And then and the science budget of NASA, the historical average, the fraction of its budget that goes to science historically has averaged about 25 percent. It peaked at 40 percent just briefly a few years ago. And then the recent average has been about a third. They Starkel average has been about a fourth. Which should tell you that the the driving force of NASA is not science. 

It’s the man program. And the man program has motives that not that are not always driven by science. In fact, they’re hardly ever driven by science, driven by geopolitical forces. 

And I’m okay with that. All right. We live in a political world. NASA was created in a political climate to assert that when politics shows up and cry foul, that’s just being naive. So the whole opening chapter of the book is called Space Politics. Just to put all that out on the table. And it’s really it’s in my attempt to say shut up about this. It is what it is. Now, let’s work within those parameters. Otherwise, you’re just gonna be spewing out a lot of hot air and nothing will ever get done. 

Well, let’s get Mar’s done. I mean, tell tell us a little bit more. Put some flesh on it. What is what is it going to actually mean in terms of the mission? What are people going to going to do? 

OK. So, no, before I answer that, what I want, what I’m after for this extra for this doubling of NASA’s budget to a whopping penny on your tax dollar. What I’m at. So if you pay a thousand dollars in taxes, 10 dollars will go to NASA. 

All right. So that’s how that plays out, of course. If you do the math. So what I’m after here is you double NASA’s budget. 

You create a suite of launch vehicles that can go to any destination we choose in space. We can go to the moon, too, for tourism. We can go to go to the moon, to mine it if you wanted. You go to an asteroid to deflect it. You go to one of these Lagrangian points. Effect is a whole chapter in the book on the grounds and points. The points where all the forces balance and empty space, the gravitational force, as well as the centrifugal forces of revolving orbital systems. And so you can build huge structures there that don’t have any stability problems and you can maintain it. And so you might want to put some things there. You might want to go to Mars for scientific reasons. So any of these reasons would. Be just fine. 

The reason why you’re going into space is first, it’s fun and you get to explore and discover. But the main driver will be that the act of advancing a space frontier will stoke the economy and create an innovation culture that will enable us to compete with the rest of the world. 

That is the primary reason, because right now there are people who don’t care about exploration. They don’t care about going to Mars, but they care about the economy. 

And I don’t know of a greater force operating on the economy than the urge to have your most competent citizens in the sciences, engineering and technology to want to innovate. 

That is the engine of the 21st century economy. 

When President Obama then called for his Sputnik moment, what you seem to be saying is he actually like left out the gun. 

Don’t get me started. OK. So here he is in the in the in is the joint session of Congress. OK. His State of the Union address gives his State of the Union address. Any comments that we’re falling behind in all these metrics around the world? 

And China’s eating our lunch. And I’m paraphrasing, of course. 

And then he says this is another Sputnik moment. So I said, yeah, yeah. So I went to the edge of my couch and leaned in towards the TV. And what does he say? We’ll use this Sputnik moment. 

And I allocate money is to have faster light rail for people and and and more Internet in the homes and an energy independent. I’m thinking. 

Huh? Is that the Sputnik moment? 

Where’s the big grand vision? Where’s the where’s the projects that that we all say that is so awesome. I want to be a scientist and make that happen. What he listed in his Sputnik moment should’ve been happening anyway. There should have been. We should have been energy independent 20 years ago. We should have had light rail 30 years ago. We should add to the Internet, as he described it 10 years ago, waiting for a Sputnik moment to declare that the Sputnik moment, that was a so, so. So I threw something at the TV, if I remember correctly. 

So. So Sputnik moment double NASA’s budget. There you go. Now, the solar system is our back yard. And we and like I said, tourism can drive it. You can have. There could be some business case, like I said, the mining of the moon, whatever. It won’t matter because the real force operating there is that you’re driving our economy. And it’s not simply from spin offs. Spin offs are fun. But that’s not the argument. The argument is the innovation culture that would prevail. And people want. We’ll once again start dreaming about tomorrow, as they did in the 1960s. And it’s that culture that produced the World’s Fair in 1964 and was all about tomorrow. 

And the newspaper articles all about tomorrow, the cities of tomorrow, transportation of tomorrow, the home of tomorrow, food of tomorrow. 

Everybody was dreaming about tomorrow. And that all stopped in the mid 1970s when we stopped going to the moon. So you’re asking me for the case to go to Mars? It doesn’t need a case. The only case necessary is that you’re advancing a frontier. You’re going farther in space tomorrow than you did today. Now, once you have that capacity, sure. Here’s the case. 

I want to know if there’s life on Mars. Let’s find out. I want to see if I can fly in the rarefied atmosphere of Mars. I want to know if there’s fossil evidence of life in the aquifers beneath the surface of Mars. Why don’t I go back to the moon? I want to set up a colony because I might want to take a vacation there one day. I want to go visit an asteroid because one of them might have our name on it. And I want to make sure I understand them so that I can deflect it or destroy it or understand it. 

All right. There might be geopolitical reasons to set up observing posts on the moon. 

All right. Or any of those will work and we’ll have the capacity to do it. I’m screaming at you. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to scream at you. 

That’s OK. Well, what do you say to the folks who have more of a libertarian vision of space exploration where, you know, they’re not into NASA government agency and they just see see government agencies as dysfunctional? But they say, oh, you know, the private sector X Prize is in such. We’ll pull it off through that kind of innovation. 

OK. Every libertarian I know drives on roads paid by the government. Just that’s a point. You know, I don’t know if I should bring that up. You know, should I mention that? 

And every libertarian I know is quite proud of America’s presence in space in the 1960s. The moon voyage was a government program. It was paid for by tax money. It was complete government program. We led the world is one of the proudest moments in the history of our country. And the moon landing and our first trip where we left Earth to go to the moon. That was actually Apollo eight in 1968. That’s where that famous photo of Earthrise over the lunar landscape was taken. That photo is the most recognized photo in the world, was taken in a year. That was the bloodiest in American history since the civil war with assassinations and a Cold War and a hot war and civil rights movement. Laying out every day, hot war, of course, was in Southeast Asia, in Vietnam. So the one pearl of that decade and the shiniest pearl of that year was our advances in space. 

So so I have to assume that libertarians are not literally libertarians, that they have to accept some government support for what it is to live in this country. 

Now, do they want private enterprise? Fine. I’m going to bring bring them on private enterprise. 

The here’s the difference. Contrary to what Newt Gingrich said private about I think I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like, had we given the money we had spent on NASA from the moon landing onward and given that money to private enterprise, we would have been on, you know, we would have moon bases by now or Mars bases backup. First of all, there is no precedent in the history of culture or the human species where private enterprise leads. 

A discovery mission that has never been done before that is dangerous and has unquantified risks. 

It’s impossible for private enterprise to lead an adventure when you have uncertain risks. It’s dangerous and it’s expensive because the very definition of private enterprise is that you have investors who expect a return on their investment. And if you don’t understand that frontier, you cannot. You’re not in a position to promise any return at all. So so if private enterprise does it, it’s a vanity project. They’re not getting the money back. All right, then it’s not then it’s not commercial at that level. It’s just something else. Call it something else. So. So when Gingrich said he used the railroads as an example of private enterprise, you know, crossing the West excuse me, railroads came after Lewis and Clark. Railroads came after the states government acquired the land, came after the maps were drawn. And so let’s let’s be honest about this. So it takes governments to do the first great expensive missions once the patents are are established. By the way, NASA has always partnered with private enterprise. All right. Let’s let’s let’s understand that this is not like it’s only NASA and nobody else. Private enterprise has always been engaged. Lockheed Martin and Boeing. And in the old days, there was Grumman made the the Grumman Long Island made the LEM, the lunar excursion module. And it’s one of the proudest things that that community has done. And they still talk about it this now 40 years later. So, so. So it’s not like private enterprise is not a part of it, but it’s led by government moneys. And then once you find out what’s routine, you cede that to the private in a private sector and they do it more efficiently than you. And they’ve figured out a way to make a profit. And now you can they can attract investors. 

That’s what the low earth orbit path is all about. 

So NASA doesn’t need to go to low earth orbit. They’ve been there, done that. They understand the risks. Let private enterprise do it. I’m fine with that. 

I got to go back to this image of Earthrise because it’s interesting, I asked people online for some questions that they wanted to hear you answer. And I was surprised by a theme that came up several times, which was, OK, you know, if we’re gonna get these great innovations that all have all these kind of economic benefits because of reinvesting in space, what are they going to do for the planet back here that we’re screwing up so badly? Right. It was kind of like a global warming question packed into a space innovation question. What kind of technology are you going to do to help us with the planet where we have water problems, we have climate problems? I was surprised they’re asking that. But I wonder if you think that there is any answer there. 

Of course. So, first of all, that the very question operates with the assumption that scientific, technological and engineering advances are associated are correlated with messing up the environment. That’s just an assumption that’s made. And sure, that’s happened in some cases. I think we’ve done we’ve gone we’ve come quite a long way, especially since the nineteen seventies in cleaning up the air and cleaning up the water. I grew up in New York City where every day you’d you’d brush the soot, the ash that that descended to your shoulders. You brush it off your clothing upon walking to work. Or it might. In my day I was walking to school because every apartment building and every bit, you know, incinerated its garbage and there were smokestacks everywhere and fish and it was no longer swimming in the rivers. That’s not the case anymore. It’s there. The air is cleaner than it’s ever been. And so, yes, technology can bring environmental problems, but technology also bring solutions to environmental problems, the catalytic converter, for example, for cars. That’s a technological solution to a problem created by technology. 

And this is a this is a this is this is not an uncommon pathway. This is a common pathway. 

So and by the way, technology doesn’t always create environmental problems, which we all now have used G.P.S. in some way or another, if not in our car, in our in our cell phone and our smartphones. There’s no obvious attendant destruction of the environment by you using G.P.S.. But is anyone counting the number of people who are not dead because they didn’t get into a car accident for having tried to read an open folded map across the steering wheel driving, trying to find out where they’re going? 

There are little things like that that and we’re living longer and we’re we have much greater access. 

The Internet is transformed the world, of course. So the Internet itself is not is not causing any kind of environmental hazards. Right. So the assumption that, by the way, the Internet was invented by physicists conducting, they just wanted to share data. And in fact, it was first at CERN, the famous particle accelerator that’s getting all these great results lately in Switzerland. And then DARPA funding started the DARBELNET here in the United States in 1969. And and so the rest is history. So so some technology will be at risk of affecting the environment. I’d say most of it doesn’t. And it’s transparent to you because there’s no attendant consequences to it other than that you enjoy it. 

So so I say push forward. The presence and existence of technology has only improved the quality of life of the world, not subtracted from it. There is no time in the past that I would rather live in than the present. 

What I keep thinking about as you talk is you have this incredibly inspiring vision of government and in this case, NASA really doing, you know, great things again. 

And yet, no, despite a government. Yeah. So I did use the word government. But NASA is a pearl in the crown of the government. 

So I kind of hold them in a separate category than, you know, the other sort of blundering, bloated agencies that exist. And you wonder why they why they’re even there. 

But don’t you think that the reason that people are not thinking this way is it just people don’t trust their government? 

I mean, the polling data on that from another readout. No, NASA’s different. You’re right. NASA’s different NASA. When people think government, they don’t think NASA. They think government. When they think NASA, they think space. They think scientists. They think engineers. They think exploration. 

But there’s no NASA doesn’t suffer from that stain. 

No, it is unstained by now. No, it’s. This is not to say that there isn’t. You know, occasionally pork money goes to NASA or that there’s some bloating in NASA. But in the world of bloated agencies, NASA does really well. 

And like I said, evidence and what he’s saying, court exhibit A four for submitted for evidence is the fact that people think that NASA gets more money than they actually do. 

Fair enough. Well, you know, I mean, I’m totally Soho in this space vision. I want to just sneak in a different question. So I don’t know how much you can talk about this yet, but we we have heard that you are actually filming a new cosmos. Are you. Are you working on that yet? Can you give me a ways out. 

But which we’re scripting now. Thanks for bringing that up. And I’m hosting an executive editing the next generation of Cosmos. And I’m teaming up with two of the original three creative principles, Andrian, who may have been a guest on on point of inquiry at some point. And Steve Soder, they are a colleague of mine. And they were two of the original three principles of creative principles of Cosmos. Of course, Carl Sagan is no longer with us. So we are team together. There’s another producer, very talented producer, Mitch kenneled together. And we’re bringing this to Fox. And primarily through the the the interpersonal brokering of Seth Macfarlane Family Guy fame. He’s the creator, Family Guy and many other sort of animated works on the Fox network and so on. So we expect the audience to be huge compared. You know, we’re trying our best. We want to make the best possible product. But even if it failed as television, it will have a greater market airing on Fox than it ever would have on PBS. And I remember my Twitter stream somewhat and they’d learned of this. And someone said, how could you possibly put this on Fox and a bunch of science nitwits on Fox? And the problem primarily referring, I think, to Fox News. 

Yeah, we’re not here. Right. 

Which is a whole other thing. But nonetheless, my reply was, that’s precisely why it needs to be on Fox. And then that’s shut everybody up. Onto the next point that we want. You know, you can you can preaching to the choir. We can reach the people who don’t yet know that there is a choir. Please forgive their religious reference on your show. 

And I know it’s we love. Well, people will probably choke a little bit, but it’ll be fine. 

So we’ll when we expect this in a year. Well, I mean, I think I think it’s wonderful. 

I think it fits really nicely, obviously, with the theme of the book. And, you know, I’m sure that there’ll be some overlap there. 

Oh, yeah. Yeah. 

In fact, you remember the original cosmos accurately, that it had very uplifting themes that called people into action emotionally, physically, to embrace the role that science and discovery can play in shaping the future that we all want for ourselves. And so going forward, we we’re going to capture that spirit of the original cosmos, but bringing it into a modern time since it’s been an entire generation since then. So a scripting now we expect to go into production midyear. And so it’ll air no sooner than next fall, but possibly as late as the early spring of 2014. So it’ll be it’ll be a while. And I’d be I’d welcome an invitation to return. Chattiest chatted up when we get closer to it. 

Well, we see you like on a spaceship. 

What, like like Carl Sagan was a spaceship with the imagination that was called. People had a love hate relationship with that. And I was kind of indifferent and but we are working on sort of vehicles of storytelling. 

And so some as confidential. Others were. Yeah. We’re still still hashing out. But we’ve thought about. We don’t want to bring into the future, into this broadcast those things that failed in the original cosmos that people criticized badly. Yeah. 

Well, listen. 

Dr. Tyson, it’s been it’s been wonderful and a lot of fun to have you on and thank you, as always, for being such an incredible evangelist for science and innovation and inspiring us. 

Well, thanks. And, you know, I can just add a quick point. I was after the book came out, the opening chapter, Space Chronicles was excerpted for as the cover story in Foreign Affairs magazine. And, you know, I knew that such a Magon Zeine existed, but I don’t know that I’d ever picked one up. And because of this, this is a magazine that lands in the lap of every member of Congress. I got invited to testify in front of the Senate two weeks after the book was published. And so and then I’ve got interviews with, like, the business networks. And so what I found is people are recognizing that space is not just some activity of engineers and scientists, that it has actual cultural, political, financial consequences, your decisions that relate to space. 

So, in fact, this seems have crossed over in ways that I had not imagined for it, because typically space books are written by space enthusiast and read by space enthusiasts. But you cross over into the financial sector and into the big business sector and and and and geopolitical sector tells me that it might have struck a chord, that people feel it’s time to do something about our economy. And maybe this solution is in places they hadn’t previously looked. And in the Twitter stream, I’ve seen people created a hashtag called Penny for NASA, the numeral for penny for NASA. 

And so I very I was very charmed by this, the effect that this has had on people. And I and that’s the kind of grassroots birth of a movement that that such change requires. 

Wow. Well, we’ll tell people like everybody heard that use a use hashtag penny for NASA. And that’s not that’s that’s great. That’s a great soundbite. 

And that’s what this is for. Yeah. Just so people know, it’s not just one penny of your life. It’s a penny out of every tax dollar. That’s a lot of pennies. Yeah. So sorry. So thanks for having me on. 

Yes. Thank you so much for being on. And now we’re we’re gonna go tweet. 

I want to thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to join the discussion about today’s show and Neil Tyson’s new book. Please visit our Web site, Point of Inquiry, Dawg. You can also send questions and comments to feedback at point of inquiry, dawg. You can reach us on Twitter at point of inquiry and you can find us on Facebook. The views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor of its affiliated organizations. One of inquiry is produced by atomizing and amrs New York. Our music is composed by Emmy Award winning Michael Walen. 

Today’s intro featured Debbie Goddard. I’m your host Chris Mooney. 

Chris Mooney