Complete darkness and total blackout. Heavy breathing all around. Not a single sound or disturbance in the audience. Spectacular image projected on the large screen. Crowd captivated by the overflowing anticipation. A flashlight is switched on the stage. A figure starts reading a passage in a heavy and calm voice.
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
A shiver ran down my spine, I jumped off my seat and applauded with all my might as he completed the excerpt from Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.’ This is the effect Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson has on people; no matter what your background or opinion about space and science may be! He is a rock-star with a remarkable stage presence and one of the most captivating speakers anybody will ever come across.
From waiting for his lecture since it was first announced to standing in the ever growing serpentine line for hours. From eagerly anticipating the gates at Elliot Hall of Music being opened to witnessing him live, it was an amazing encounter in itself!
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was greeted with a standing ovation even before he started speaking and he lived up to all the hype and expectations. He spoke about latest discoveries in space and made the recurrent joke on Pluto. The crowd erupted in laughter frequently as he enticed everyone with his theatrics and intellectual insight.
The talk was concluded by an interactive Q&A session and was followed by a book signing event. There were many takeaways from this occasion, one of them being to challenge the current ideology on acceptance and tolerance of the scientifically illiterate in various fields. Dr. Tyson quoted his celebrated ‘three stages of scientific truth’ inspiring the younger generation to pursue their passions and not being blinded by beliefs and fallacies.
Like always, Dr. Tyson connected science and politics in a stunning manner catering to a wide audience ranging from 9 year olds to scientific researchers. It was incredible to see an occurrence like this being structured and having it free for everyone. Purdue can definitely use more of these experiences and I am looking forward to such healthy discussions and talks in the future.
I will end this article by making a confession about how I had to cut into the long line and grab a main floor seat near to the stage. However, knowing that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is speaking, who wouldn’t?