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"It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest."
Black-bellied whistling ducks, Brownsville, TX, Jan 7, 2021: more photos below
Thanks to all who have supported me and commented pro or con on the cartoons I have created and posted the last five years. This is the last new cartoon for some time as I have other writing and art projects I want to spend more time on. However, I will rerun past cartoons daily starting soon. Thanks again. David Gerard, CLICK HERE
Suburbs can be redesigned for wildlife. FOR MORE, CLICK
From embryo to adult life forces shape development. FOR MORE, CLICK
Climatologists differ on 2020 status, but decade ended warm. FOR MORE, CLICK
Scientists taking a new look at islands' biology. FOR MORE, CLICK
Pollution decline due to pandemic. FOR MORE, CLICK
Biden has challenge in restoring faith in government. FOR MORE, CLICK
When Carl Sagan died, I thought there would never be a person who could replace him as the spokesman for astrophysics – then came Neil deGrasse Tyson.
In the last twenty-five years, Tyson has more than filled Sagan’s communicator’s shoes.
When Sagan died, Tyson, who had been a fan and friend of Sagan, was becoming a prominent public figure. That year, Tyson was appointed the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, leading the reconstruction of the facility.
He took up where Sagan left off, becoming not just a voice for astrophysics, but “the voice” for the field and other scientific disciplines and issues.
In 2014, Tyson hosted a television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, that was structured like Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. That year, Smithsonian Magazine published an article that declared “Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable.”
In the article, Tyson says that he was not trying to fill Sagan’s shoes, just be himself. But in the series and the subsequent years, Tyson has proven that he was the perfect person to follow Sagan.
I am not putting Sagan down when I say this, but Sagan was old style.
He was a lecturer in the traditional sense, and at times he could lose his audience in his expositions and reasoning. There’s a YouTube video of him speaking to young people about attempts to contact aliens, something that you think would hold the rapt attention of youths. But in the video, you can see many weary and disinterested faces in the audience. Sagan was intelligent, well-spoken, organized and enthusiastic, but those qualities do not always translate well to the next generation, especially one reared on computers, cable television and video games.
That’s where Tyson met the challenge.
Tyson is affable, genuine, flamboyant, entertaining, and clever. His excitement shows in his face and hands as much as they do in his words. You can’t watch the whirling of his hands and the changes of expression in his face without developing a deep interest in what he is saying. If Sagan inspired thousands of young people to take up the study of astrophysics and increased the scientific interests of millions of casual observers, Tyson has inspired tens of thousands of young people and tens of millions of amateurs.
His rich personality reaches out to a much wider audience than Sagan ever had.
Tyson just doesn’t lecture. He interacts with people. He answers his critics and science skeptics not only with well laid out arguments, but geniality, humor that’s not derisive, and passion.
He seems to be everywhere, on science shows, late night talk shows, radio game shows and podcasts. He hosts his own podcast and his subject matter has expanded as he is adept at being a source of reason on social and political issues.
Tyson, now in his early 60s, has many years left, and his magnetic personality will lead some to say at some point, he is irreplaceable.
For more IN 500 Words or Less, CLICK HERE
The shelves of the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum in Guthrie are full of interesting bygone medicines, concoctions, pharmaceutical paraphernalia, and herbal remedies. I talked with the museum president recently about the history of the museum and the multitude of artifacts within it.