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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Want to be the Next Neil deGrasse Tyson? Be Yourself.

November 14, 2012, 12:00 AM
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There are many ways to describe Neil de Grasse Tyson. AstrophysicistPopularizer of science. TV and radio host. Evangelist of space exploration. PETA booster. Oenophile. Director of the Hayden Planetarium. Latin ballroom dancing gold medalist. Prolific author and Twitterer. Honorary doctorate hoarder. Demoter of PlutoHumanistRealistAtheist or agnosticBadass

Tyson should not be described, however, as Carl Sagan: the Sequel. Tyson, after all, was recruited by Sagan to attend Cornell, but passed him over for Harvard. In fact, Tyson has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and that has led him on his own unique journey from star wrestler at Bronx High School of Science to the science celebrity who was chosen by People as the sexiest astrophysicist alive

What's the Big Idea?

In an interview with Big Think, Tyson says he is often asked by fans and admirers the question "What can I do to be you?" Tyson tells us "the only aspect of me that's 'doable'" is to perhaps recreate his academic pedigree. But what is more important than piling up degrees, according to Tyson, is to create the opportunity for yourself to "do what you do best" in a way that "layers onto the formal training you received." 

In other words, don't aim to be a version of someone else. The greatest people in our society, Tyson argues, are those who have been able to "carve niches that represent the unique expression of their combination of talent."

Watch the video here:

What's the Significance?

Tyson says he thinks about his good fortune every day. He has the opportunity to pursue what he finds interesting, and luckily for him the public finds value in some of the things he does best. Imagine, for instance, if Tyson happened to be incredibly talented at tiddlywinks, but didn't really know much about the universe. His fame and fortune would be considerably diminished. 

Your task, Tyson says, is to find opportunities that allow you to express your unique talents in ways that society will value and reward. If everyone had that opportunity, Tyson says, our society would be transformed overnight. 

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

 

Want to be the Next Neil de...

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