Sunday, March 23, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson in Canada Twice this Month!

          by Sarah Ansari-Manea

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo c/o Wikipedia.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s best-known, and popular astrophysicists, gave two talks at Canadian universities this month, and his fan club is expanding across the country.

Though he often seems to be most well known for his role in the demotion of Pluto’s planetary status, incredibly interesting tweets, and a variety of of interesting internet “memes,” Dr. Tyson also does his fair share of educating, and strives to participate often in open ended Q&A sessions.

He began his Canadian talks at the University of Manitoba on March 13th, as keynote speaker for the their 2014 Dream Big conference, and his presence was greatly celebrated and appreciated. General WalterNatynczyk, president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and former Chief of the Defence Staff, introduced Dr. Tyson who opened for the week long, space themed event.

A week later, after a short detour to host the 2014 Isaac Asimov Memorial debate on "selling space" on March 19th, Dr. Tyson returned to Canada.

I had the pleasure of attending the University of Toronto based David Dunlap Institute for Astrophysics on March 21st, 2014 for their inaugural Dunlap prize lecture, given to none other than Dr. Tyson. His talk was definitely impressive and engaging, allowing for the interaction of a huge and diverse audience.

Our vision for the award,” according the Dunlap Institute’s interim director, Peter Martin, “is to recognize an individual whose remarkable achievements resonate with our goals for excellence in astronomy and astrophysics. As a reflection of the Dunlap Institute’s commitment to public outreach and education, the first Dunlap Prize is being awarded to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.”

With many books, videos, and other publications captivating audiences across the globe, Dr. Tyson definitely knows how to spark science and space interest in the hearts of many, and raise awareness of scientific illiteracy.

His latest endeavor, as the host of COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey, is a great representation of his constant attempt to popularize the sciences, and bring excitement rather than fear, to the dark corners of the universe. A continuation of the original COSMOS series by Carl Sagan, Dr. Tyson is working to inspire a new generation of thinkers and doers our societies need in order to continue their expansion and existence.

Sarah Ansari-Manea.
Few people have what it takes to engage the general public in the sciences, as they appear irrelevant to most daily engagements, but Dr. Tyson is right up there with Sagan, and other scientifically literate men and women, who want to make the world a better, smarter, place.

Sarah Ansari-Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.

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