Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, MA ’83—profiled in our March|April issue—has appeared on dozens of TV shows, from The Colbert Report to Battlestar Galactica. Starting in 2013, he’ll host the relaunch of Cosmos on Fox. In his free time, he’s written 10 books, served on presidential commissions, and started a research department at the Hayden Planetarium.
And did we mention he’s a wine connoisseur who can tell exactly how long a bottle of wine has been opened from just one sip? After a home experiment in which he tasted the same wine hourly, his palate is permanently primed to date each glass. “I got into an argument once in a fancy New York restaurant,” he says, “because the waiter told me a bottle was fresh, and I could tell it had been open for a day.”
Tyson is also huge on YouTube, where hundreds of clips from his lectures and media appearances garner tens of thousands of views. Here’s a hand-picked sampling of the astrophysicist at his funniest, most moving, and most thought-provoking.
1. Opening a Rocket in His Office
n 2008, TIME filmed Tyson opening a replica of the Saturn V rocket in his office at the Hayden Planetarium. Here, he has the giddy joy of a kid on Christmas morning and the sharp insights of a master orator.
2. Why Our Bodies Are Made of Stardust
Tyson loves to find poetry in science. Here he explains why our bodies contain ancient stardust.
3. Why Science and Faith Are Compatible
Tyson talks about why science and faith aren’t mutually exclusive.
4. One Smart Dog
In this NOVA ScienceNOW segment, Tyson shows us Chaser, a dog who knows 1,000 words.
5. Why the World Won’t End in 2012
Tyson takes on the 2012 phenomenon.