If you've ever listened to StarTalk radio, then you'll know that its host, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, has a great sense of humor. But deGrasse Tyson also has a serious side, which he reveals time and again in his books, shows, Twitter page, and popular science articles.

Often, deGrasse Tyson's humor strikes a serious chord that not only makes us laugh but also think. As a popular science educator, deGrasse Tyson is out to inspire generations of innovators to reach for the stars.

While it's tough to narrow down his best quotes, we've taken a stab here. We've also paired some of them with photos of the most impressive science projects of our age:


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." 

Source: CNN interview in 2011.


"During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore - in part because it's fun to do. But there's a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us." 

Source: "The Cosmic Perspective" published in the Natural History Magazine in April 2007.


"I don't want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don't understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity. The day that happens, Americans will just sit in awe of what we don't understand, while we watch the rest of the world boldly go where no mortal has gone before." 

Source: "The Perimeter of Ignorance" published in the Natural History Magazine in November 2005.

science-is-a-cooperative-enterprise-spanning-the-generations-its-the-passing-of-a-torch-from-teacher-to-student-to-teacher-a-community-of-minds-reaching-back-to-antiquity-and-forward-to-the-starsNASA Goddard Space Flight Centre


"I am trying to convince people - not only the public, but lawmakers and people in power - that investing in the frontier of science, however remote it may seem in its relevance to what you're doing today, is a way of stockpiling the seed corns of future harvests of this nation."

Source: During an interview with Stephen Colbert at Montclair Kimberley Academy on 29 January 2010.


"I never want you to quote me citing my authority as a scientist for your knowing something. If that's what you have to resort to I have failed as an educator." 

Source: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Debunks 2012 Armageddon


"As an educator, it's my duty to empower you to think. So that you can go forth and think accurate thoughts about how the world is put together." 

Source: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Debunks 2012 Armageddon

handprintCourtesy of Tasha Sturm at Cabrillo College via MicrobeWorld


"Within one linear centimetre of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world." 

Source: 2012 Reddit AMA 


"Does it mean, if you don't understand something, and the community of physicists don't understand it, that means God did it?… If that's how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on." 

Source: The Moon, the Tides and why Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Colbert's God


"A little known secret is that a physicist is one of the most employable people in the marketplace - a physicist is a trained problem solver. How many times have you heard a person in a workplace say, 'I wasn't trained for this!' That's an impossible reaction from a physicist, who would say, instead, 'Cool.'" 

Source: 2012 Reddit AMA


"It's the inspired student that continues to learn on their own. That's what separates the real achievers in the world from those who pedal along, finishing assignments." 

Source: Global Ideas from Pluto's Challenger


"Knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going." 

Source: "In the Beginning" published in the Natural History Magazine in September 2003.

a-little-known-secret-is-that-a-physicist-is-one-of-the-most-employable-people-in-the-marketplace--a-physicist-is-a-trained-problem-solver-how-many-times-have-you-heard-a-person-in-a-workplace-say-i-wasnt-trained-for-thiKim Dismukes


"If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it's not just an opinion that you desperately want to be true."

Source: 2015 Twitter post


"If you ask adults how many teachers - out of the scores in elementary, middle school, high school, college and graduate school - made a singular impression on who and what they are, it's never more than three or four teachers. Everybody else is a distant second to this set. When we finally create a cloning machine, we should clone those teachers." 

Source: Global Ideas from Pluto's Challenger


"Creativity is seeing what everyone else sees, but then thinking a new thought that has never been thought before and expressing it somehow." 

Source: Global Ideas from Pluto's Challenger


"Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations. It's the passing of a torch from teacher, to student, to teacher. A community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars." 

Source: 2014 television series: Cosmos, A Space Time Odyssey

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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