I’ve been absolutely engrossed in this podcast episode where famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Microsoft’s big brain (CTO) Kevin Scott have a heart-to-heart. And something struck me. What Neil was saying about engaging with everyone felt strikingly familiar, just like the words of another great mind – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Incredible, right? So here are a few similarities I picked up from these two science rockstars who have taken the public’s imagination:
- Neil is the life of any party who’s curious enough to invite him. Whether he’s addressing eager 8th graders in a Canadian school or more academic crowds, he spices up his delivery while keeping the meat of his presentation – the facts – untouched. Reminds me of stories I’ve heard about Dr. Kalam who used to connect with students in the farthest corners of India even before he was President.
- Ever seen Neil talking to policymakers? He’s as comfortable as a fish in water, making science sound like the next Avengers movie to encourage them to fund research projects. No apologies, no holds barred.
- Neil regularly works with people of arts, whether they are comedians, Actors or icons from pop culture. In his own podcast, his cohost is always a comedian. He says “Based on my experience, and I think research shows this as well – you are likely to be – you’re more likely to remember what you learned if you were smiling and enjoying the moment that you learned it”. And guess what, Dr. Kalam was no different. He jammed with musicians, poets, and writers to broaden his horizons and share his visions with the world.
- Hearing Neil gush about Carl Sagan feels just like reading Dr Kalam’s moving words about Vikram Sarabhai. It’s like seeing two best friends rave about their role models!
- One thing that both Neil and Dr Kalam hold dear is respect for everyone’s dignity, no matter how simple their background might be. They’ve both had their fair share of outlandish questions, yet they tackle them all with a sense of sincerity and reverence for science. Giving an example, Neil says instead of dismissing it as outright silly, when he was asked “Is the Universe Gay”, he took pains to answer the question without trivialising the real science.
Want to check out the episode I’ve been raving about? Here you go: www.microsoft.com/en-us/behind-the-tech
Did you know? According to Neil, there are over a million podcasts actively buzzing around the world!
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