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Sound of Science - 'Neil DeGrasse Tyson'

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Joe: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. We’re Joe and Gaylen from NIU Center for Black Studies. 

Gaylen: Today, Joe and I will explore black history beyond the stars. 

Joe:? The name Neil DeGrasse Tyson might sound familiar; he was a topic of discussion in the science community and public for a long time. His interest in the stars took off when he visited the Hayden Planetarium as a child, and from there a star was born. 

Gaylen: Before Tyson went to Harvard, he applied to Cornell University where his application was sent to Carl Sagan for his comment. Sagan personally sent a letter to Tyson’s house to invite him on a tour of the university. Tyson was inspired by Sagan the entire time. 

Joe: Tyson had to take the bus back home, but it was snowing, so Sagan offered his home to the 17-year-old. Tyson quickly realized that Sagan cared about the next generation, so he told himself that if he ever became as famous as Sagan, he would treat students the way Sagan treated him. 

Gaylen:?He went on to receive multiple degre, all after being told by a fellow wrestler at Harvard that “blacks in America do not have the luxury of your intellectual talents being spent on astrophysics.” That didn’t stop his journey. After he graduated from Harvard, he was one of only seven black astrophysicists in the US. 

Joe:? Astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, Tyson at one point was even the center of the Pluto controversy, deeming it unqualified to be a planet. 

Gaylen: ?Eventually, he became the youngest director of the Hayden Planetarium (since 1996) at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

Joe: Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is an inspirational figure to everyone, especially the African American community. Breaking barriers was a goal to him, and he did just that. 

Gaylen: He once said, “It’s not that the black community cannot afford to have me do astrophysics, it’s that the black community cannot afford to have me not do astrophysics." 

Joe: Tyson accomplished more than many people realize, but that’s all the time we have today! Tune in throughout the month of February as we explore more black scientists here on The Sound of Science on WNIJ… 

Gaylen: Where you learn something new every day.  

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