49. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Host of PBS’sCosmos and Radio ShowStarTalk, How To Spread Your Message As Far As Possible

49. Neil deGrasse Tyson

“I want to double NASA’s budget,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson, America’s star starman. “That would be sufficient to accomplish everything NASA has been charged to do and allow NASA to dream big.” He traces some of space exploration’s current woes to scientists’ missteps in approaching the public as ambassadors, not educators. “The ambassador goes abroad and does all the talking and represents those left back at home,” says Tyson, who has a PhD in astrophysics. “I don’t ever want to represent anybody. It’s my duty to enlighten people.” He has channeled his knowledge (along with his passion and humor) into books, including Space Chronicles, which has let him hopscotch media. An excerpt in Foreign Affairs earned him an invite to testify before a Senate committee, and video of that got hot on YouTube. On his radio show, rather than interview scientists, he chats with celebrities such as Morgan Freeman and Janeane Garofalo about their love of science. “The goal is to get people interested who never would have been,” he says, and the popularity of StarTalk (a podcast and on air in New York and L.A.) has led to more hopscotching: It spawned a new YouTube series and even live events on the road. “It’s a way to show the listener how prevalent science is in every walk of life.”


  • 1995

    Debuts “Universe” column in Natural History magazine

  • 1996

    Appointed Frederick P. Rose Director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium

  • 2001

    Appointed to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry

  • 2004

    Appointed to the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy

  • 2004

    Hosts Origins on PBS

  • 2009

    Begins hosting StarTalk, a radio program

  • 2012

    Publishes Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

  • 2012

    Testifies before Congress on the importance of funding NASA


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