Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Universe to an 8-Year-Old Girl


Dr. Tyson explained how we got the universe from the not-universe, or “something from nothing”:

When Brella’s own writer-guy Brendan Baber was assigned an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, his first thought was, “Wow, he’s my little girl’s hero. I wonder if this means she can meet him.”

The situation had its roots in Brella from start to finish: Four years earlier, when freelancing for Brella, Brendan realized his daughter Morgan was a natural-born science nerd. Consulting Brella’s IT manager, Alyse Middleton, he asked “What are some science media appropriate for a little girl?” Alyse advised him to turn Morgan on to Nova ScienceNow, a TV show hosted by Dr. Tyson.

The four-year-old Morgan Baber fell head-over-heels in like with Tyson and Nova ScienceNow, and quickly consumed his children’s books. “She’s been really into Dr. Tyson ever since,” Brendan explained. “When she found out he was hosting the big reboot of Cosmos, it was as though Christmas came early.”

Brendan’s editor at Men’s Health, Eric Spitznagel, knew about Morgan’s obsession, “So naturally I steered the Tyson assignment to him. But I wasn’t ready for what happened next.”

After a bit too much coffee, Brendan had a very strange notion. “The heck with meeting Dr. Tyson—what if I got Morgan to conduct the interview?”

The idea was preposterous. An eight-year-old conducting a high-stakes interview?

“First of all, everybody thought it was nuts,” Brendan explained. “And then nobody would sign off until everyone else approved. Men’s Health, National Geographic Channel, Dr. Tyson’s representatives, they all wanted to know that all of the others were on board before they would say ‘yes.’ ” So how did Brendan secure all of those approvals?

“Yeah, well,” he said, “I might have told everyone that everybody else had already signed off.” So Brendan played sleight-of-hand with the world’s most famous scientist, a cable channel, and a national magazine? “Well, it turned out to be true,” Brendan said. “So I was bringing them the truth from the future.”

Spitznagel was one of the few people on board from the start: “If I couldn’t abuse my position to make a little girl’s dreams come true, what’s the point?”

Brella graciously agreed to sign out a video team to record the interview pro bono, and all systems were go.

The interview, and resulting article, were an inarguable (and unlikely) success.

Dr. Tyson explained why children should not be thanked for being immunized:

And most importantly, he gave context to an old photo of him in wrestling gear: