The most astounding fact

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked in an interview with TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.


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  • Orange

     See that’s what you can do when copyright isn’t as important. You can steal everyone else’s vimeo clips from random videos about time lapse and Afghanistan (which incidentally you wonderfully linked already) and actually make them into a story which is interesting.

    The singing though, truly awful.

  • Kthxbai

    Being able to truthfully tell kids they’re made of stardust is awesome, they just love it.

  • Michael

    How sad. This guy needs to recall his philosophy of science classes to remember the difference between facts and assumptions.
    His assumption is that the big bang is responsible for everything we see which is an unverifiable assumption that is actually falsified by our observations of the universe and the laws of nature (thermodynamics etc.)
    in contrast, facts are supported by observation.
    Any speculation about our origins is an assumption that is outside of the score of science which does its work in the present.

    • Mike

      You might do with a dose of your own medicine, dear namesake. Starting with an ad hominem attack is a bit of a red flag to those who have seen these threads before.

      Scientists are quite happy with his statements. Unless you adopt a completely silly philosophy, that you only believe that which you personally can measure (which excludes all religion, which is where this is no doubt going to end up), then observations and measurements of the cosmos stack up nicely. No reputable astrophysicist will argue that we are all stardust. Very few of them bother to keep up with the nut-jobs who use godly thermodynamics to prove that the earth is 6000 years old.

      • Michael

        Where was the ad hominem?
        Regardless of what reputable astrophysicist’s argue it doesn’t change the fact that the big bang is a philosophical starting point that can neither be proven nor dis proven by science therefore it is not a fact, which was his assertion.
        As for the “fact” that we are stardust, that fits nicely in the category of silly philosophies that you mentioned.

    • Euan Rt

      You missed the point Michael. That being that all things – us included – are made of the same basic elements and that those elements continue to be recycled after death in the case of living organisms. The atoms in us were once part of dinosaurs. It is really cool to think of our eternity in this light and not only in the light of spirituality. If your god can’t handle that then you need a bigger God.

      • Michael

        on the contrary Euan, I got the point. We are made of the same basic elements. However, that is where the facts stop and the story telling begins.
        And I disagree about that spiritual nonsense being cool. Logically that belief leads one to conclude that life is meaningless. We are simply matter in motion, dancing to the beat of our Dna .

    • Peter Wilson

      I say good luck to the scientific types that beleive in what they are doing. But of course they admit there are new discoveries to be made, possibly contradicting existing knowledge. And don’t start on string theory and the possibility of the dozen or more space/time dimensions which is close to being accepted as scientific fact, while at the same time rubbishing things like spirituality and psychic powers.

      The only thing that matters is what you believe. If that means an all-encompassing God, then that is your truth. Personally I believe in the infinity of the universe, a constantly expanding and contracting of the cosmos, and in the evolution of human beings, which account for the rise in spirituality and similar disciplines.

    • Steve P

      What? The main point of the video is that the elements making up organic lifeforms on Earth (including humans); carbon, nitrogen, oxygen etc were formed as a result of stellar nucleosynthesis. This has nothing to do with Big Bang theory as such; other theories such as the now discredited Steady State theory do not preclude stellar nucleosynthesis.The principles of nuclear fusion are understood well enough to allow the successful testing of thermonuclear weapons.

      It was observations of the universe such as cosmic background radiation and the hydrogen/helium ratio that led to the Big Bang theory becoming the prevailing cosmological model.

      Incidentally, it was the Belgian priest Georges Lemaître who in 1927 first proposed the theory of an expanding universe, and then in 1931 the hypothesis of the “primeval atom” which would later be known as the Big Bang theory.
      Apparently he didn’t have any problem reconciling his theories with his faith.

  • titanuranus

    Of course, god did done diddly done did it , is much easier to get your head around.

  • George

    “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth.. when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons (and daughters) of God shouted for joy? [4-7, Job 38]”

    Obviously it was before I was born and well before Noah signed on as boy in the Ark, but never mind.  It doesn’t rock my faith in God.  Dust I am and to dust I will return, for a time.

    I’m looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth.

  • Doug_S

    Music in that clip is excellent. I took the liberty of buying from iTunes. If anyone is interested the music is by The Cinematic Orchestra “To Build a Home”. A little like Coldplay if you are into that. Am fairly sure this scientist also appears in he Symphony of Science video’s.

  • Stevo

    Mankind has come so far in recent years. From storytelling to facts tested. Isn’t the now undeniable fact of us (and everything else, wind the film back.)  being made of stardust better than a story of a burning bush?

    There is so much more we don’t understand, but thankfully, humans dedicated to inquiry using the scientific method  will continue to search for the answers.

     Just because we don’t understand something cannot  invoke an omnipotent being. 

    I like the music too.  

  • Grant Dexter

    Which came first, stars or galaxies?

  • parorchestia

    This is somewhat old hat now. To me the most astounding fact is that there have been so many extra solar system planets discovered recently. We can reasonably conclude that there are many billions of planets which could support life.  Yet there is no reliable evidence of contact by any alien  life forms.  So…. this seems to mean that inter stellar travel is not possible.   So….. there is no escape from Planet Earth when it enters its death throes, as it will.  And it’s no good running for the hills.

    In any case, the greatest discovery was evolution by natural selection, which allows biology to claim it is the only science with a theory that explains all its phenomena.  

    • MrV

      Of course you’re assuming it is a priority for ‘alien’ life to visit a primative ape species.

    • BW_Lord

      Also the brief glimpse of the cosmos that we have had so far is likely equivalent to a billionth of 1%.

  • parorchestia

    Doesn’t explain my observation.  Any intelligent species will have scientists, tourists, interfering bureaucrats and many others who would feel impelled to visit all the various intelligent life forms in the universe.  If 10% of planets in the Goldilocks zone harbour intelligent life then we, on earth, should have been exposed to a flood of curious alien sociologists or just plain tourists if interstellar travel were possible.  It obviously ain’t, and we are stuck here for the duration. 
    In itself, this is a pretty important observation that through its implications beats any other observation about our universe.

  • parorchestia

    Oh, I forgot missionaries.  Nothing would keep them away.