The Most Astounding Fact

Late last night, I received a link to this video from one of my former students, and as my daughter and I have been spending a great deal of time looking at the heavens through our telescope lately, it seemed perfectly appropriate and too good not to pass along.

In this short clip Neil deGrasse Tyson answers the question, “What is the most astounding fact that you can share with us about the Universe?” His answer reminds us that we a part of this magnificent and incredible universe… all of us. It’s the same message that Sagan had when he said that “we are star-stuff,” or when said that “we are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We are creatures of the cosmos and always hunger to know our origins, to understand our connection with the universe.”

When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small, ’cause they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.

So as Jack Horkheimer used to say “keep looking up!” And when you do, feel big.

10 thoughts on “The Most Astounding Fact

  1. There are very, VERY, few things which make me weep, weep as an expression of overpowering emotion. I’m not very ‘weepy’. Seeing Mars last night made me weep, Carl Sagan could make me weep, Richard Feynman could make me weep…and this.

    Oh…and wow! You just made me remember Jack Horkheimer! Big smile for that!

  2. Once I was in the middle of the Atlantic… I was in a cargo ship for a job (measuring engine performance). I wasn’t supposed to walk outside alone, specially at night. Around 1 am. But the sea was sooooooo calm…. And the sky soooo clear…. Then alone I went to the bow of the ship… The engine, 200 meters behind, could not be heard. The sound was made only from the wind and the water meeting the hull. And… above… just stars, stars, stars…. I could lay in there and see nothing else but that endless space, until I got that feeling of “falling down into space”….. So when I was back to my Laboratory in São Paulo and my boss asked me if it was good to be in a real cargo ship I didn’t have to hesitate before emphatically saying YES! 🙂

  3. Very much like Alex above, I found myself weeping as I watched the video. It is such a beautiful thought, to think of oneself as “big” because we are a part of the immensity of the universe.

    I also have to commend Axel above for stepping outside on such a night, in spite of his uncertainty, and I must report pure, unadulterated, oneness with his thoughts and feelings which were inspired by the immensity of that experience.

    Your thought to share such beauty with us speaks volumes about the spirit who lives within you, and which now resides in some measure in your daughter, as she is a part of you, like we are all a part of the universe.

    I add another resounding, “YES” to this moment you shared with us……John H.

  4. I loved Sagan’s Cosmos as a child – I used to watch it during the summer school break and was immensely influenced by him. Years later, I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with his widow, Ann Druyan, and I totally blew it because all I could do was gush about him LOL

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is pretty cool and he’s always a pleasure to watch on the Colbert Report. I’m fascinated to see how he and Druyan produce Cosmos 2. I hope it’s as awe-inspiring as the original.

    For me though, the “new Sagan” is Professor Brian Cox. I got Wonders of the Solar System on blu-ray for Christmas and it’s stunning. He has the same charm, the same child-like wonder about the universe that Sagan had – he even has floppy hair and that same grin LOL

    Truthfully, I envy them all. I would love to be in a position where I could inspire so many people in so many ways with nothing more than words, imagination and the stars.

    Clear skies!

  5. I witnessed the starriest skies ever from the hights of the Carpatians on an August night, many years ago. But the skies in the Mohave Desert are at least as mind blowing! Thanks for sharing, Kris!

  6. After seeing this taxation, I feel much better. It’s simple, we are part of the cosmos and that’s really amazing and positive. Thanks for sharing these pictures as encouraging.

  7. Thanks for sharing this beautiful video. I need to look up more, especially out here where I live, can see stars every where. No lights to hinder the view. I forget that sometimes. Thanks.

  8. Videos like these should be used to argue against any kind of hate among human beings. We all come from the same place and it doesn’t matter if we are black or white, heterosexual or homosexual, fat or thin. We all come and go to the same place.

  9. Jack Horkheimer is the Chuck Klesath (the Colorado Pharmacist) of astronomers. Klesath himself have no immediate family.

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