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People credit me for making the universe interesting when in fact the universe is inherently interesting, and I’m merely revealing that fact. I don’t think I’m anything special for this to happen.

For me, the most fascinating interface is Twitter. I have odd cosmic thoughts every day and I realized I could hold them to myself or share them with people who might be interested.

All tweets are tasty. Any tweet anybody writes is tasty. So, I try to have each tweet not simply be informative, but have some outlook, some perspective that you might not otherwise had.

Philosophically, the universe has really never made things in ones. The Earth is special and everything else is different? No, we’ve got seven other planets. The sun? No, the sun is one of those dots in the night sky. The Milky Way? No, it’s one of a hundred billion galaxies. And the universe – maybe it’s countless other universes.

The history of exploration across nations and across time is not one where nations said, ‘Let’s explore because it’s fun.’ It was, ‘Let’s explore so that we can claim lands for our country, so that we can open up new trade routes; let’s explore so we can become more powerful.’

Those who see the cosmic perspective as a depressing outlook, they really need to reassess how they think about the world. Because when I look up in the universe, I know I’m small but I’m also big. I’m big because I’m connected to the universe, and the universe is connected to me.

I don’t want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not and end up going extinct. We’d be the laughingstock of the aliens of the cosmos if that were the case.

Part of what it is to be scientifically-literate, it’s not simply, ‘Do you know what DNA is? Or what the Big Bang is?’ That’s an aspect of science literacy. The biggest part of it is do you know how to think about information that’s presented in front of you.

I want people to see that the cosmic perspective is simultaneously honest about the universe we live in and uplifting, when we realize how far we have come and how wonderful is this world of ours.

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There is always a place I can take someone’s curiosity and land where they end up enlightened when we’re done. That’s my challenge as an educator. No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.

The universe is almost 14 billion years old, and, wow! Life had no problem starting here on Earth! I think it would be inexcusably egocentric of us to suggest that we’re alone in the universe.

For most of human civilization, the pace of innovation has been so slow that a generation might pass before a discovery would influence your life, culture or the conduct of nations.

I think the greatest of people in society carved niches that represented the unique expression of their combinations of talents, and if everyone had the luxury of expressing the unique combinations of talents in this world, our society would be transformed overnight.

Half of my library are old books because I like seeing how people thought about their world at their time. So that I don’t get bigheaded about something we just discovered and I can be humble about where we might go next. Because you can see who got stuff right and most of the people who got stuff wrong.

As an educator, I try to get people to be fundamentally curious and to question ideas that they might have or that are shared by others. In that state of mind, they have earned a kind of inoculation against the fuzzy thinking of these weird ideas floating around out there.

Big ideas, big ambitious projects need to be embedded within culture at a level deeper than the political winds. It needs to be deeper than the economic fluctuations that could turn people against an expensive project because they’re on an unemployment line and can’t feed their families.

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Most of what Einstein said and did has no direct impact on what anybody reads in the Bible. Special relativity, his work in quantum mechanics, nobody even knows or cares. Where Einstein really affects the Bible is the fact that general relativity is the organizing principle for the Big Bang.

When Kennedy said, ‘Let’s go to the moon,’ we didn’t yet have a vehicle that wouldn’t kill you on launch. He said we’ll land a man on the moon in eight years and bring him back. That was an audacious goal to put forth in front of the American people.

Stephen Hawking’s been watching too many Hollywood movies. I think the only kind aliens in Hollywood are the ones created by Steven Spielberg – ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘E.T.,’ for example. All other aliens are trying to suck our brains out.

If the United States commits to the goal of reaching Mars, it will almost certainly do so in reaction to the progress of other nations – as was the case with NASA, the Apollo program, and the project that became the International Space Station.

I claim that space is part of our culture. You’ve heard complaints that nobody knows the names of the astronauts, that nobody gets excited about launches, that nobody cares anymore except people in the industry. I don’t believe that for a minute.

Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect. I kind of want to know what happened there because we’re twirling knobs here on Earth without knowing the consequences of it. Mars once had running water. It’s bone dry today. Something bad happened there as well.

When we see animals doing remarkable things, how do we know if we’re simply seeing tricks or signs of real intelligence? Are talented animals just obeying commands, or do they have some kind of deeper understanding? One of the biggest challenges for animal researchers is to come up with tests that can distinguish between the two.

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I don’t want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not and end up going extinct. We’d be the laughingstock of the aliens of the cosmos if that were the case.

Not enough books focus on how a culture responds to radically new ideas or discovery. Especially in the biography genre, they tend to focus on all the sordid details in the life of the person who made the discovery. I find this path to be voyeuristic but not enlightening.

I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I’m doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world – the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.

In science, if you don’t do it, somebody else will. Whereas in art, if Beethoven didn’t compose the ‘Ninth Symphony,’ no one else before or after is going to compose the ‘Ninth Symphony’ that he composed; no one else is going to paint ‘Starry Night’ by van Gogh.

We account for one-sixth of the forces of gravity we see in the universe. There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.

There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It’s the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end.

I’ve known from long ago that the universe was calling me. If you were one of those annoying adults that said, ‘Oh, what are you gonna be when you grow up?’ I would say, ‘Astrophysicist.’ And then they’d walk away real quickly.

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For most of human civilization, the pace of innovation has been so slow that a generation might pass before a discovery would influence your life, culture or the conduct of nations.

There are a lot of things you can do in space, and space essentially is unlimited resources. We are climbing over ourselves here looking for the next source of energy. The universe has an unlimited source of energy.

Any time scientists disagree, it’s because we have insufficient data. Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem. Either I’m right, or you’re right, or we’re both wrong. And we move on. That kind of conflict resolution does not exist in politics or religion.

We account for one-sixth of the forces of gravity we see in the universe. There is no known objects accounting for most of the effective gravity in the universe. Something is making stuff move that is not anything we have ever touched.

If you think of feelings you have when you are awed by something – for example, knowing that elements in your body trace to exploded stars – I call that a spiritual reaction, speaking of awe and majesty, where words fail you.

I want people to see that the cosmic perspective is simultaneously honest about the universe we live in and uplifting, when we realize how far we have come and how wonderful is this world of ours.

I want to know what dark matter and dark energy are comprised of. They remain a mystery, a complete mystery. No one is any closer to solving the problem than when these two things were discovered.

When we see animals doing remarkable things, how do we know if we’re simply seeing tricks or signs of real intelligence? Are talented animals just obeying commands, or do they have some kind of deeper understanding? One of the biggest challenges for animal researchers is to come up with tests that can distinguish between the two.

The history of exploration across nations and across time is not one where nations said, ‘Let’s explore because it’s fun.’ It was, ‘Let’s explore so that we can claim lands for our country, so that we can open up new trade routes; let’s explore so we can become more powerful.’

We think scientific literacy flows out of how many science facts can you recite rather than how was your brain wired for thinking. And it’s the brain wiring that I’m more interested in rather than the facts that come out of the curriculum or the lesson plan that’s been proposed.