Neil deGrasse Tyson and Isaac Newton

(Cosmos | Fox)

(Cosmos | Fox)

"We got people slogging through calculus in college just to learn what it is that Isaac Newton invented on a dare ... that’s my man, Isaac Newton!"

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

What makes a scientist? Curiosity and enthusiasm! Perhaps there are scientists who lack these character traits, but not so for Neil DeGrasse Tyson — especially when he speaks of Isaac Newton.

Isaac Newton. I mean, just look... You read his writings; hair stands up — I don’t have hair there, but if I did, it would stand up on the back of my neck. You read his writings; the man was connected to the universe in ways that I never seen another human being connected. It’s kind of spooky, actually.

He discovers the laws of optics, figured out that white light is composed of colors. That’s kind of freaky right there. You take your colors of the rainbow, put them back together, you have white light again. That freaked out the artist of the day. How does that work? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet gives you white. The laws of optics. He discovers the laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. Then, a friend of his says, ‘Well, why do these orbits of the planets, why are they in a shape of an ellipse — sort of flattened circle? Why aren’t they some other shape?’

He said, ‘You know, I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.’

So he goes home, comes back a couple of months later, ‘Here’s why. They’re actually conic sections, sections of a cone that you cut.’

And he said, ‘Well, how did find this out? How did you determine this?’

’Well, I had to invent integral and differential calculus to determine this.’

Then, he turned 26. Then, he turned 26. We got people slogging through calculus in college just to learn what it is that Isaac Newton invented on a dare, practically. So that’s my man, Isaac Newton.

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