On April 15th this past Monday, one of the most popular and distinguished astrophysicists of our time—Neil deGrasse Tyson—came to Iowa City and gave a lecture to over one thousand people in the Iowa Memorial Building. Dr. Tyson is most famously known for his astrophysics presentations on the PBS science special NOVA, but on Monday he devoted most of his time to enlightening the audience about a different topic—our nation’s bleak future for scientific discovery.
Dr. Tyson showed various ways of how American society lacks appreciation for science, and how the general public has a phobia of math, compared to other first-world nations, such as Japan and Germany. One of the most intriguing examples Dr. Tyson gave was how Germany doesn’t refer to “basement floors” or “sub-basement floors” in their buildings, but instead call them “floor -1” and “floor -2,” which is more logical. Another example he gave was a study done by National Geographic, in which ordinary citizens from 34 countries took a survey evaluating their level of acceptance of the theory of evolution. Surprisingly, the U.S. ranked almost dead last in the results, Turkey being the only country behind us.
Despite the criticism Dr. Tyson posed, he ended his lecture on an inspiring note after discussing the beauty of the universe and how each and every living organism used to be made of stardust. He also urged the audience to be positive influences for younger generations by encouraging involvement in science programs as early as possible.
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