The Moon, the Tides and Neil DeGrasse Tyson

2011 ,    »  -   62 Comments
Ratings: 8.95/10 from 41 users.

The Moon, the Tides and Neil DeGrasse TysonThe Moon, the Tides and why Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Colbert's God is the actual title of this interview.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, host of the PBS series NOVA Science Now and co-host (with comedienne Lynne Koplitz) of the radio show Star Talk.

He is the author of nine books including his memoir The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist and his most recent, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet.

This is a conversation on cosmology, physics, and the history and purpose of science among other topics.

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62 Comments / User Reviews

    Heather Wade
  1. Heather Wade

    He was cool in the Nova programs, but in this interview he just seems like a jerk.

  2. wald0
  3. wald0

    Informative and interesting, I like Tyson. He does come off a little blunt toward this guy in this interview, as well as the first one they did, but he seems nice enough. He just seems to get annoyed at certain questions that he thinks are irrelevant, I don't think he diggs the whole interview thing.

    He talks alot about the increase in interest that the general public seems to display lately concerning cosmology and physics, something I've noticed myself. South Park even did a quantum mechanics themed episode and Family Guy did the muti-verse episode. I'm glad to see people take an interest in this stuff, but I wonder why it has happened. My best guess is that quantum mechanics and string theory and all are so wierd and counter intuitive that they seem almost like magic. They have restored people's sense of awe I suppose. Then again relativity is weird as well, time dilation, curved space, black holes, worm holes, etc. I don't know, maybe the nerds just finally got their turn at bat. Oh well, I suppose we should just enjoy it while it last, before everyone goes back to whatever pop culture fad that is popular right now.

  4. wheelnut53
  5. wheelnut53

    he showed excellent patience with this interviewer I just hope he was paid and the check didn't bounce

  6. Robert M
  7. Robert M

    Ah I look forward to this one, hard to find the unpoliticized scientific mind, and Tyson seems to manage it.

  8. NAND Gate
  9. NAND Gate

    rofl classic

  10. NAND Gate
  11. NAND Gate

    It can be very tiresome trying to indulge in complex ideas while being prompted by daft questions.

  12. NAND Gate
  13. NAND Gate

    WOOOOT! Great choice Vlatko

  14. NAND Gate
  15. NAND Gate

    My guess is that it is caused by the death of religion. We have no right to believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters anymore, so people are looking for understanding elsewhere. Kudos to them, I say.


    he just seems to look for the "intelligent" come back all the time. He has this "i know it all attitude", when he knows very little about anything of any real importance. I am sure he is a "smart", person, one can have a quick mind and not have the right questions to debate? I mean nothing i am saying is carved in the cosmic he seems more interested in how he comes off or how well he disputes the question in the first place?

  18. Guest
  19. Guest

    96% old info 4% no new info.

  20. Robert M
  21. Robert M

    After viewing I would say not too bad, they seem to have interviewed more on the pretence of philosophy rather then science, so his expressions are understood :p Most of the questions did seem irrelevant if you would expect a scientific lecture as I did, but I think he also answered some relevant questions to those that are interested in making those first steps to becoming a scientific mind.

    The interviewer seemed to mumble and was hard to understand at times, but I would say it's still worth a watch.

  22. 2BAeon
  23. 2BAeon

    Neil de Grasse Tyson has a clear funtional mind. He gets what is important and what is not. When a film presents Neil it is known there will be something of interest, even if it is only the ability to see clearly. This doc brought a smile, a feeling of happiness and satisfaction time would not be wasted watching.

  24. andian
  25. andian

    Wow, I think this is a boring load of old 'brain work' fancy spending too much time with somebody who thinks that his whole being is only here to support the small mess of cells that we call a brain, and a strange very defensive person at that.

  26. Gary V
  27. Gary V

    Not one of the best docs that I ever watched, I didn't hear anything that I didn't already know. I found myself wanting to switch off half way through, but managed to force myself see it through to the end, to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    In the beginning man created God to answer all the questions that at the time we did not have the answers to, but now especially in these times of amazing scientific discoveries, we now know a lot of the answers to those questions.

    * For Sale - God *
    No longer required.
    (but still a very useful tool for frightening gullible young children into behaving themselves). No I'm joking, please DO NOT use outdated myths about heaven & hell to frighten young children, it is child abuse.

  28. Richie Cahill
  29. Richie Cahill


  30. David Foster
  31. David Foster

    How about: "If you're not good, then Santa won't bring you any toys this Christmas!"?

  32. Petar Vitanovich
  33. Petar Vitanovich

    I believe in God and definatly do not consider myself gullible, that is a childish athiest point of view. I am also a man of science. God should never get in the way of science, since God and religion are my belief, they do not pertain to my seeking of knowledge. Believing in God or practicing religion should never get in the way of seeking for enlightenment. Like I said, the belief of God or no God should have nothing to do with science, the problem arrises when stupid Protostant, Baptist, or Catholics, who elect a man who can "somehow talk to God" try to feed the masses while being fed from the peoples pockets. In my religion (Serbian Christian Orthodox) nobody forces me to do anything, we are all the same, and you come if you believe there is something else, thats all religion is, is just the personal belief that there just might be something else playing with our universe, or there just maybe might be something waiting for us on the other side of death. Thats why im sticking up for religion, I know athiests like to throw us all together, but we are not all the same, coming from a religious person, me, one of my biggest pet pieves is when someone tries to tell me about something that they don't know by saying, "Oh, well God did it" "there was adam and eve in the begining and blah blah blah"... For me thats pure ignorance and trying to combine belief and knowledge. To me my priest once told me, "Pete, we can sit here and read the Bible and say Oh this is how it exactly happened, or we can interpret it as metophors, but in the end we will only be able to find the truth to all this around us is when we die, which seems sad to have to wait until then, but it almost makes the end beautiful for mankind since death will be the ultimate lesson, either these folk stories are real, or they were just a bunch of crazy stories from people living in a lonely dessert. The end always holds the final answer."

  34. John Gros
  35. John Gros

    Science took so long to grab us due to religion, and the way it shapes peoples brains during their upbringing.

  36. Teddy Mcd
  37. Teddy Mcd

    Seems to me from the above manifesto that you are a closet agnostic. I say this because of the phraseology you use -"there just might be something else playing with our universe" also "there just maybe might be something waiting for us on the other side of death" and, "in the end we will only be able to find the truth to all this around us is when we die". The use of 'might, maybe , could be' and the like are not terms a theist would use but truly are agnostic terms and to a lesser degree part of the atheist lexicon.

    Take no offense, you are in good company for this site is the home of many agnostics of which I am one and also a plethora of atheists and tho' I can't speak for them all I feel confident in saying - what we, the agnostic and atheist seek is evidence and not hearsay. And guess what? Uh-huh, there ain't any - zero!

    Final note - Don't go calling people stupid , tsch-tsch, or childish for that matter but rather try to understand your own lack of understanding and let doubt be your guide.

  38. russ smith
  39. russ smith

    lol I am athiest. There is no gods demons etc BUT I do incorporate many religious morals in my life because I like them on principle. I you see someone starving feed them, naked clothe them, free the oppressed, and help those in need of help. BUT I CHOOSE to do so of my own free mind and will because these principles are right - I always have the option to let em all suffer and die but I CHOOSE not to do so. PRINCIPLES is what separates humans from the animals.

  40. David Foster
  41. David Foster

    Funny how all discussion here seems to degenerate into a science v.s religion debate. Don't get me wrong; I ain't complainin'. It's always been my favorite argument. :-)

    Carry on...

  42. dekay49
  43. dekay49

    debating religion shows a serious defect in our evolutionary process.

  44. John Gros
  45. John Gros

    What is the exciting new 'brain work'?

  46. Mowgli33
  47. Mowgli33

    Neil deGrasse Tyson brings some complex issues to the table and presents them in an understandable way.

  48. Heather Wade
  49. Heather Wade

    We drown in a sea of sarcasm.

  50. Gary V
  51. Gary V

    Yep that one works too, a different fairy story but it can have the same effect. Either way it is wrong to lie to children.

  52. David Foster
  53. David Foster

    If you ask me, THIS deity does more damage than his predecessor.

    (think about it)

  54. David Foster
  55. David Foster

    Really? I always saw it as a 'part of our evolutionary process'.. One we must come to terms with.

    For example: My dog's thinking is a lot more magical than my own. I would even go as far as to call it: "super-divine". So, I don't really think we "invented" the divine, so much as we are now faced with the challenge of "becoming" the divine.

  56. Gary V
  57. Gary V

    I agree, we shouldn't even bother to discus it any more, it should just be confined to the history books where it belongs. Under the heading "nonsense that our ancient ancestors once believed". Right next to "The Earth is flat" & "The Earth is the centre of the universe". The fact that some of us still believe in outdated myths & some of us don't is just proof that some of us have evolved (intellectually) further than others. lol

  58. Gary V
  59. Gary V

    Believing that you can understand what your dog is thinking is just as irrational as believing in a non-existent God, but at least your dog does exist so maybe not quite as irrational.

  60. princeton
  61. princeton

    not so much that they are religious morals.. i think they are just plain old regular human morals,, but have been hijacked by religions... as if it takes a religious person to figure out that helping others is a good thing.. well duh, we're all born weak babies who would die in hours without another person's help.. you'd have to be retarded to not pick up on that simple exchange and emulate it in your life in some way.
    everyone understands those basic principles. (though may not act on them)

  62. David Foster
  63. David Foster

    @Gary V: An animal will tell you what it is thinking. One has only to listen. Is such a thing so difficult?

    Many a time in my life, I have heard scientists ask: "Do animals feel love?"; to which I have heard many an animal lover reply: "What are you, f**cking stupid?!?!"

    Therein lies the problem with accepting only "scientific" rationality.

  64. Gary V
  65. Gary V

    @David Foster
    I think that you are just digging yourself into a deeper hole now, I would stop digging if I were you, Put the shovel down & think about what you are saying.

    You are still saying that you can understand the thoughts of animals, no now in fact you are saying that they talk to you. lol

  66. Gary V
  67. Gary V

    I have noticed that you speak some very wise words my friend.

  68. Matt Kukowski
  69. Matt Kukowski

    I think Neil is brilliant. But, the world is in some serious trouble, one reason is science enabling non-scientists to squander the resources of the world and abuse it with bombs and Uranium bullets, not to mention Japan Fukishima accident.

    He needs to focus more on how do we use science for common sense and good, and keep it more 'light'. Science is a 2 edged sword ... and the 'bad' side of science is surfacing by misuse and over use...

    I wonder if science will get us out of the mess or just exasterbate the issues with yet more science!

    Personally, finding the answers by going back to nature by getting our heads out of the stars and back down to earth. Gardens, ecology, population concerns and energy/oil replacements is what he should be trying to educated people about.

  70. David Foster
  71. David Foster

    Science has a hard time avoiding the non-scientists abusing their wares, considering that's where their funding comes from. Oppenheimer wanted to develop a power source that could save the world. But first, he had to destroy it to get the research money.

    I like your idea of "getting our heads out of the stars", though. Couldn't agree more!

  72. David Foster
  73. David Foster

    Hehe... And some who refuse to look at ancient myths are unaware that 2000 years ago most peoples did not believe the earth was flat, OR that it was the center of the universe. We had to re-learn all of that following the Dark Ages. Oh, what we might know today, had not the library of Alexandria burned!

  74. Gary V
  75. Gary V

    @David Foster
    Hehe.. I did not say anywhere that these events were at the same time in history, I just said that they should all be under the same heading of "nonsense that our ancient ancestors once believed" & I think that it is probably a fair assumption to make that in previous times that they also thought that the world was flat because that is how it would have appeared to them, before they had any knowledge to the contrary. Are you saying that we lost ALL knowledge about what happened before the Dark Ages because of a fire in one library? Because if you are that would mean that everything in the Bible that pre-dates the Dark Ages is as I have always said just myths created by men. Please refer to the first part my earlier post below. lol

  76. henrymart81
  77. henrymart81

    I can't stand this guy. Therefore I didn't watch the video. Just saying.

  78. RileyRampant
  79. RileyRampant

    ditto. can't stand him at all. and he's everywhere.

  80. Jack1952
  81. Jack1952

    I think that religion is a part of our evolution. Religion deals with the abstract. The first questions a human would have would likely deal with nature and survival. Understanding why things happen helps to avoid dangers in nature. Starting with a clean slate it is easy to see how magic would seem a plausible answer. I remember a 4 year old once, quite sincerely, explaining that the trees moving caused the wind to blow. She was not lacking in intelligence, only knowledge and experience. Early man would have been in the same position. Spirits would explain the unexplainable. Placating those spirits would become an obsession. We may find that religion is systemic in any technological society's development. If and or when we make contact with an alien culture we may find that they had to go through a religious phase as well. As of now we only have our own planet's cultures to use as a reference. From that, we do know that every culture on earth, no exceptions, have a religious element in them. This may indicate a cultural imperative in an advancing species. This does not mean that we will never outgrow this religious imperative, at least I would hope not. It just doesn't seem to be happening fast enough.

  82. Hilário Martins
  83. Hilário Martins

    We shouldn't get our heads of the stars because is imperative for the long term human survival that we understand the universe around us and to see if is possible to escape this planet for another home in case of a major and probably extinction causing catastrophe. DON'T forget what happened to the dinosaurs.

    And please, astrophysics are responsible for some of the major scientific advances in the 20/21 century, so tanks god for the "getting our heads in the stars" community of scientists.

  84. Guest
  85. Guest

    I listened to a clip on UFO by Tyson yesterday. I must say he was quite clever in his can find it on you-tube.

  86. Guest
  87. Guest

    The movie Down the Rabbit Hole opened the subject to the mass. Although a lot of people suggest that it was all hogwash, it was put together in a way that anyone could open the door and jump in their rabbit hole and let their personal peculiar thoughts&ideas of the cosmos and of the for once.

  88. Gaius_Balthar
  89. Gaius_Balthar

    Actually, it was keeping "our heads in the stars" that allowed humankind to develop the knowledge that is at the foundation of many functional things that we take for granted today.

    Without looking at the stars, we'd have not had celestial navigation. So rule out long distance naval travel entirely right there.

    How about optics? I'm pretty sure that things like binoculars, eyeglasses, telescopes, etc are undeniably useful and benevolent scientific inventions. The 3000yr old Nimrud crystal rock lens is likely to have been designed for an ancient telescope.

    How about measuring time accurately? Pretty useful.

    Science is a tool that can be used or abused. It is neither inherently good nor bad. Science cannot "get us out of this mess" because we are humans and making new messes is what we do best.

  90. Leslie Witherspoon
  91. Leslie Witherspoon

    Ummm, our heads ARE made out of stars. Sooooo, no luck there I guess.

  92. Michael Burns
  93. Michael Burns

    there is a god - it's called the universe!

  94. Daniel Bender
  95. Daniel Bender

    I can not imagine making this subject anymore "lighter"

  96. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson
  97. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    I love me!

  98. staszekgobi
  99. staszekgobi

    Mr. Tyson as usual, brilliant, thx.

  100. staszekgobi
  101. staszekgobi

    Thank you so much for this program and so many other contributions. Your points are valid and solid and anybody that disagrees should check their pulse. Thanks again.

  102. sknb
  103. sknb

    My brother, myself, and my boyfriend met Mr. Tyson with his family briefly in NYC at the Natural History Museum.

    I was MUCH more honored to shake his hand than I would be for any actor or rock star.

    My favorite part of this interview is ... wait I can't pick just one favorite.... but I think they would be..

    1) When he explains how we only know 4% of the Universe, but explains why Bill O'Reilly looked like an idiot by saying "the tides go in , the tides go out, we can't explain that" but acknowledges that if Mr. O'Reilly had said " well you can't explain dark matter", then that would have been valid.

    2) When he says that "God" can be thought of as an ever- disappearing circle of scientific ignorance". Even as he said that, I never felt he had any hatred in him. He is a man in awe of the Universe - AND he wants to bring that awe to others.

    I have a friend at Columbia University who is a physics major trying to work on an anti- matter periodic table. He gave his research paper to Mr. Tyson and Mr. Tyson made a joke about "his anti matter brane". Love it. He's funny too!

  104. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson
  105. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    As much as I would love to keep up this masquerade, purely out of respect for the real Neil deGrasse Tyson, I must admit I am not he. Just a fan. Your praise is appreciated, nonetheless.

  106. David Gadiuta
  107. David Gadiuta

    haha the human condition. love it. Neil is great though... hes got very cheeky but understandable delivery on most topics but hes generally right!

  108. Jean Layton Wilkinson
  109. Jean Layton Wilkinson

    I enjoyed this video. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a great exampled for open minded people both young and old .

  110. David Maheu
  111. David Maheu

    Uh, what? Your "smart" comment lacks "intelligence".

  112. David Maheu
  113. David Maheu

    He is everywhere because most people like him. He is an excellent ambassador to science.

  114. edgedweller
  115. edgedweller

    Can't like Tyson's demeanor, its as if he's above everything and everyone

  116. Matt Beaudoin
  117. Matt Beaudoin

    frustrated. I was trying to describe the reason for 12 hour tidal cycle against a 24 hour day. I recalled bits of the 'other tide.' When I saw the documentary, I assumed it would be ABOUT tides... decent documentary, but can we get a more irrelevant name for it?

  118. Tobias MacRobie
  119. Tobias MacRobie

    The trouble with science is that it isn't for everyone. Usually indicated by people using the term science as a label. or scientists. The "WHAT" is important. The criticism of how "what" is used is the key in this topic, and "scientists" have no real authority on this according to secular policy and scientific method. Objective and critical reasoning give no quarter to values based arguments. Only in a few places do scientific counsels actually have standing - such as adaptive management programs where policymakers are REQUIRED to engage in two-way dialogue with scientists before policy action can be carried forward. Scientific concerns must be addressed or dismissed according to whatever public priority - usually boiling down to money, as such most warning go unheeded but again without authoritative effect, science is just an advisory tool. The ultimate "I told you so" versus "You are wrong" thing. You wanna get on someone? Get on policymakers for catering to a system of profit based on continuous growth - where sustainability is considered a failure. The very essence of political structure in modern civilizations is what needs to be uprooted like an invasive weed. We're grown enough socially that we should be able to depose our antiquated rituals of human domination over nature as a central theme to existence. Anyway, watch the damn show - it's just supposed to introduce ideas to folks. Get the ball rolling. Maybe get people interested in a science class or something. Biology is a good start - where you can learn about the relationship of sensory perception and endocrine triggers that form most of what we believe to be conscious decisions. Did you know that a father's scent can suppress the expression of his biological daughters sex hormones? All she has to do is catch the scent of dad, and she will be less prone to nookie. So go on, grab a slice of science and get real, it is investigative details and counsel, not world-saving authority.

  120. randomjohn
  121. randomjohn

    You are wrong. He just keeps calm, true and does not humor his interviewer with fake emotions (like when you smile simply out of politeness or nod your head in agreement). He listens and responds to a point in many levels of deepness.

  122. Tomaz Kosir
  123. Tomaz Kosir

    He should have avoided the b*tchspapping of the interviewer for semantics, euphoria and just being in awe (for the God in front).. the guy isn't really a bad person just for loving what he does and being excited:( ..and he stays professional regardless watching mr. Tyson blasting with his peepee all over nettles..

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