With the rampant anti-intellectualism and distrust in science that continues to plague our country these days, we need passionate, well-spoken defenders to cut through the B.S. and speak the truth. In the 1980s, Carl Sagan filled that role very well, with his Cosmos series capturing the imaginations of many young people who went on to pursue careers in science. Sagan passed away in 1996, but the torch has been passed in recent years to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and the go-to guy whenever a news agency needs somebody to provide easily digestible sound bites for a new science story. Tyson turns 55 years old today.
The Sagan parallels will become even more direct in the not-too-distant future, with Tyson set to host a new incarnation of Sagan’s Cosmos, set to air on Fox sometime in 2014. Tyson has the knowledge and the passion to be a great host for a new Cosmos, but he also shares one other quality with Sagan that makes him even more ideal. He’s got a touch of the poetic about him, a way of speaking about the universe that elicits excitement and wonder in the listener. Compare two of our favorite videos below: Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” speech, and Tyson’s “Most Astounding Fact.”