Neil deGrasse Tyson was an Earth physicist. He was known for the quote "The universe is under no obligation to make sense to me".

Spock quoted Tyson on this in his personal log while he was awaiting a signal from Michael Burnham, who was reported missing. The quote came up after Spock talked about how though time was relative, he found it difficult to reconcile that the 124 days he had been waiting might be a blink of an eye for another. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2")


Background information

New York City native Neil deGrasse Tyson (born 5 October 1958; age 62) was not identified by name, but was implied by both Spock's description and direct quotation. The quote appears in Tyson's book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Tyson was one of the first real world scientists to publicly take a dim view on the dodgy science employed in the first of the CBS Star Trek incarnations, Star Trek: Discovery, already in a November 2017 blog entry on his hereafter mentioned StarTalk podcast website, specifically where the "absurdity" of spore drive was concerned, pitting it against the scientific theoretical plausibility of warp drive as employed in Roddenberry/Berman-era Star Trek (scientific plausibility had been a prerogative for Roddenberry when he conceived his creation). [1] That it was in this series in which he became quoted ad verbatim therefore had, be it on purpose or by coincidence, a certain sarcastic undertone considering the wording of the quotation chosen.

Tyson had already appeared in person in the segment "Real Science with André Bormanis" which was part of the special features on the third season DVD release of Star Trek: Voyager. His real world connections with Star Trek did not end there though; produced and directed by former Star Trek showrunner Brannon Braga in conjuncture with co-producing colleague Seth MacFarlane, he hosted the 2014 docu-series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the updated and modernized remake – or sequel – of Carl Sagan's acclaimed 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (served by visual effects company Magicam, Inc. and production illustrator Rick Sternbach, both of them winning an Emmy Award for their work on Sagan's show). In the first episode of the 2014 series, Tyson explained that it had been Sagan who inspired him to embark on a career as an astrophysicist, in the process becoming a laureate from three different universities, including Harvard.

Like so many of his scientific colleagues such as Lawrence M. Krauss, Stephen Hawking and his great example Carl Sagan himself for that matter, Tyson is tireless in his efforts to make science accessible to the non-scientist populace at large, and has hosted, or made guest appearances in, numerous popular science television shows. To promote this end even further, he partnered up with fellow science communicator Bill "The Science Guy" Nye and launched on 1 June 2009 the still running StarTalk audio podcast series, in which he and his guests discusses the connections between pop culture and real world science. The podcast has spun off the by National Geographic aired StarTalk television show in April 2015, and Star Trek has been the main topic in several episodes of both iterations on more than one occasion, the television show actually kicking of with a Star Trek themed one. Known such episodes include,

  • StarTalk (podcast)
    • "The Science of Star Trek" (22 June 2009)
    • "A Conversation with Nichelle Nichols" (2 July 2012)
    • "Neil deGrasse Tyson Answers Star Trek IV Time Travel Question" (22 August 2012)
    • "Neil interviews Star Trek TNG stars LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner at Comic-Con 2012 (22 November 2012)
    • "Neil deGrasse Tyson on Time: Doctor Who, Star Trek or Ray Bradbury?" (22 January 2013)
    • "Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Loves Star Trek and The Twilight Zone" (6 July 2013)
    • "From Warp Drives to Cloaking Devices: Star Trek Cosmic Queries Sunday" (21 February 2015)
    • "Cosmic Queries: Star Trek" (22 February 2015)
    • "Star Trek interview with Denise Crosby" (8 November 2016)
    • "StarTalk All-Stars Live! – The Science of Star Trek" (8 November 2016)
  • StarTalk (television)

Other television guests with Star Trek ties themselves included Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Lloyd, Mae Jemison, Stephen Hawking, Lawrence M. Krauss and Seth MacFarlane, though not necessarily on the subject of Star Trek as main topic.

As director of the Hayden Planetarium Tyson has actively argued for the reclassification of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, and his opinions weighed in substantially on the ultimate formal decision taken by the International Astronomical Union to do so in 2006, reaffirming the decision in 2008, declassifying the former planet even further to a "Plutoid". What he had underestimated however, was the emotional attachment people, especially children, had for the "runt of the litter", resulting in criticism and hate mail and loosing for the time being part of the goodwill he had accrued. (The Colbert Report, 17 August 2006) He had to answer for this again in the heavily Star Trek referencing sitcom The Big Bang Theory when he made his 2010 guest appearance in the season four episode "The Apology Insufficiency" (making, along with colleague Nye, an additional guest appearance on the popular show in 2018). These reclassifications have, to date, never been mentioned in Star Trek. [2]

Incidentally, when Tyson became employed by the Hayden Planetarium in July 1994 (rising to head the organization only two years later), he just – by four months – missed out on the New York City leg of the very first official Star Trek exhibition, the Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit which had then landed at the planetarium, but had closed previously in March.

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