Neil deGrasse Tyson to receive the National Academy of Sciences’ most prestigious honor

By Rachel Feltman

The National Academy of Sciences has announced that Neil deGrasse Tyson, most widely known for hosting the recent reboot of Carl Sagan’s popular science show “Cosmos,” will receive their most prestigious award at a ceremony this April.

The Public Welfare Medal was first presented in 1914 (when it went to two men integral to the Panama Canal building project) and is intended torecognize those who work to promote science for the benefit of humanity.

Tyson will be the first person to receive the award for his efforts in science communication to the general public since Sagan himself won in 1994. The two men are connected by more than their shared awards and TV styles: Back when Tyson was a high school student in the Bronx considering colleges, Sagan wrote him a heartfelt invitation to visit his lab at Cornell — one that Tyson accepted. He ended up at Harvard instead of learning at the feet of the master, but I guess he turned out okay.

"Through just about every form of media available, Neil deGrasse Tyson has made millions of people around the world excited about science," Susan Wessler, home secretary for the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the selection committee for the award, said in a statement. "Ultimately, the success of science depends on the public’s understanding of its importance and value. Neil masterfully conveys why science matters — not just to a few, but to all of us."

Tyson has been a vocal advocate for science literacy since his appointment as director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York in 1995. His “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” reboot was an Emmy-nominated critical success, and was shown in 181 countries in 45 languages. Tackling everything from the dawn of time to the theory of evolution, Tyson managed to educate and excite viewers of all ages across the globe. He’s now set to have the first ever late-night science program: StarTalk, which will air on National Geographic starting in April, will be a studio-filmed adaptation of his popular live events and podcasts of the same name.

And Tyson’s outreach doesn’t stop when the TV is off: His Twitter accounthas everything from quippy thoughts about science to awestruck proclamations about the beauty of the universe, to hard and fast takedowns of anti-science views in the news.


Curiosity drill site reveals Mars isn’t red - it’s greyish-blue

NASA’s Curiosity rover has drilled down into Mars to collect samples, and it’s revealed that just under the dusty red surface, the Red Planet is actually a greyish blue.

The drilling happened at a site called Telegraph Peak, right up in a region called Pahrump Hills, where Curiosity has been working for the past five months. It’s been drilling into the rocky surface to get some idea of how and when Mars evolved from a wet environment to the dry and dusty one we see today, and in the process has discovered that the dusty red top layer is made up of completely different stuff than the actual planet itself.

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A theropod limb moving without violating its anatomy. Notice the knee never straightens, and the ankle doesn’t flex past 90 degrees on the recovery. Perhaps most importantly for animators, notice that the toes are really important for driving the animal forward in the last 1/3 of the stride as they push off - the reason most made-for-TV dinosaur specials have dinosaurs that look like they lack mass (or worse, are floating along the ground) is because riggers and animators want to skip the toes to save time, which basically means they are cutting off a third of the propulsive stroke (and often break other joints in the process).


The search for gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, a discovery that would serve as proof of the universe’s earliest moments of supposed hyperinflation, has been full of upsdowns, and even death, but that’s just part of the circle of science.

Let A Capella Science wow you with this Lion King-inspired tune that tells the story of "The Surface of Light."

I would say more, but I’m just blown away by how awesome this is.