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Neil deGrasse Tyson Walks The Dog

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is everywhere, a true public scientist—by his own estimate, Neil spends only about 10% of his time actually doing his science and the other 90% talking with policymakers, running the Hayden Planetarium, and trying to get the general public really, really excited about science (and part of that work, of course, involves being the host of

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NOVA scienceNOW ). Neil’s willing to sacrifice so much of his research time, because he knows, like Carl Sagan before him, that science is deeply interwoven into all of our lives, and, as Sagan himself used to say (and as Neil likes to quote), “When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!”

Neil deGrasse Tyson Walks The Dog-neil_as_a_boy.jpg
A portrait of the astrophysicist as a young man.

So the guy’s an icon. But you’d never know it when he came into our studio. Neil’s friendly and easy to work with—a total pleasure. And while the following story didn’t make it into his videos, it’s one of our favorites of the ones he told us. It’s about how Neil managed to upgrade from his first telescope when he was a young boy:

“I realized that my ambitions were bigger than [my first] telescope—I needed a bigger telescope. So, now we’re talking more money—my parents don’t have that much money. But I lived in an apartment building with a lot of dogs that needed to be walked. So I’d walk dogs three times a day, and I’d walk multiple dogs. So, I’m raking in like five bucks a day, something like that. And I think I had accumulated a hundred dollars before long.”

Neil’s parents paid for half of his new telescope, and he used his dog-walking money for the rest. Even after he’d bought the telescope, though, he kept walking those dogs. After all, he still had to buy a camera to take pictures of everything he saw through his telescope.

Watch his videos and follow his links.