The astrophysicist talks about alien life, sci-fi and why he believes Australians shouldnt get stuck in traffic
Albert Einstein has been called many things: a genius, a pioneer, a Nobel prize winner. Neil deGrasse Tyson just calls him a badass.
I think it fits, right? Its not a stretch, he tells Guardian Australia before his appearance in Melbourne on Saturday night. The dudes a badass.
This description of the father of modern physics is one of many notableturns of phrase in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, the latest book from the astrophysicist and host of the StarTalk podcast. He is currently touring Australia with Think Inc to promote the book and talk about the science of the universe, with shows in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.
The book has had an extraordinary global reception, placing in the top five of the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. Its success reflects a broader appetite around the world for science told with passion and conviction, outside of high school textbooks.
Tyson stresses, though, that if youre not in a hurry you really shouldnt buy it.
If youve found time to read other books on astrophysics, youre not in a hurry, he says. Put this book down and read the other stuff. Im very serious about this: dont buy the book if youre not in a hurry.
The book is not quite astrophysics for dummies; while it is simplified, it is not simple. It is more a collection of the best and most thrilling moments; astrophysics greatest hits.
Its astrophysics handpicked for the most mind-blowing things that exist in the universe, Tyson says.
It is also the first time Tyson has recorded an audiobook; those in a hurry, after all, dont always have time to sit down and read. One particular benefit of this, he says, is to make the book available for those stuck in traffic in Los Angeles and also for those stuck in traffic in Australia, a situation he nevertheless finds highly improbable.
Why there is traffic in Australia, I have no idea, he says. Hardly anybody lives here. I dont know what the hells wrong, yall got to figure that one out.