With last week’s solar eclipse in the rear view mirror (metaphorically, of course), Trevor Noah spoke with Neil deGrasse Tyson about science and curiosity.
I loved his answer about why we should bother to care about the universe when we have so many other pressing issues right in front of us:
… If you think of Earth as our only place to be, as your life as the only thing that matters, as humans as the only species you want to care about, that doesn’t work as a stable solution going forward.
But when you look at it from above… you realize that we have a connectivity to one another, to life on Earth, to the atoms across the universe. It is literally true — not only figuratively true — that the atoms in us came from the same place as the atoms that made the stars… It’s not just figuratively true. It is literally true that we are stardust… That’s almost spiritual!
And if you come out of this thinking that differently about life, it can transform how you make decisions about the present and especially the future.
Lawrence Krauss may have said that better, but Tyson’s answer is no less resonant. When you realize all living things are related, and we’re all lucky to be alive, and that this life is the only one we get, you see the world in a different way from people who believe we were put here for some cosmic reason and our goal is pleasing God and seeing Him in the afterlife.
Tyson was promoting his book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which is full of nuggets like this. Be sure to check it out.