Neil deGrasse Tyson: America needs NASA

Neil deGrasse Tyson
File photo: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on July 29, 2011 in New York City.
Getty Images/Mike Lawrie

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist who makes us all think we understand the universe a little better. Black holes, distant galaxies, and the potential of extraterrestrial life don't seem quite so complicated when deGrasse Tyson explains them.

He joined Kerri Miller to discuss his latest book "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier." In a collection of poignant and humorous commentaries, Tyson looks at the role politics plays in NASA and makes the case that America's economy, security and national morale needs space exploration.

When the United States was sending men to the moon, the interest in science degrees and careers took off. The country needs that excitement again, Tyson said in a recent Playboy interview.

"You multiply NASA's budget a factor of two or three and you give it a grand vision," he told Carl Zimmer. "You say, 'We're going back to the moon, we're going to Mars. Oh, by the way, we're going to be on Mars on this date, and right now we are looking at the elementary school children of the nation to see who has the right stuff, because by the time we're ready to go to Mars, they will be the right age to be astronauts.' You attract an entire generation of people into these epic projects. And to solve those problems that have never been solved before, they have to invent things. They have to have new ideas. New branches of mathematics get discovered. This feeds into society, into our culture. It's a difficult sell, but I think it's our only hope."

Tyson has begun production on a new Cosmos television series, which will premier in Spring 2013.

KERRI'S TAKEAWAY

People would actually take a one-way trip to Mars.

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