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Astrophysicist sees positive signs science ‘is trendy’

Astrophysicist sees positive signs science ‘is trendy’

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OMAHA -- When you think of astrophysicists, you probably don’t think standing ovation.

But more than 1,000 people rose and cheered for Neil deGrasse Tyson Friday night in Omaha — and that was even before he started speaking.

The response is another sign of Tyson’s status as a rock star scientist. He is known for his ability to share his passion and knowledge about science with everyday people, and this year hosted the award-winning Fox series “Cosmos.”

He also has hosted “Nova ScienceNow,” and appeared on such shows as the “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show.”

Tyson hit some serious topics during his talk, such as the importance of the scientific method. But he drew laughs and applause throughout the evening as he riffed on things, including People magazine once proclaiming him the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

“You don’t get big headed about that,’’ he said. “I don’t know who I beat — Stephen Hawking?”

During his talk, called “Science as a Way of Knowing,” he suggested there are some positive signs about science in the United States today.

He noted that “Cosmos” was a 13-part documentary, on network TV during primetime.

“That told me science is trendy,’’ he said.

He emphasized the importance of the scientific method as a way of discovery.

Scientists, he said, carry bias and other shortcomings of judgment just like everyone else. The scientific method provides important “checks and balances.”

“That’s how we roll,’’ he said.

Tyson is an author and is head of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. His interests include star formation, exploding stars and dwarf galaxies.

He was opening night speaker at Apostacon, a conference for atheists and other nonbelievers.

The conference continues today through Sunday at the downtown Doubletree Hotel Omaha.

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