Neil deGrasse Tyson is an author, radio host, TV host, planetarium director and of course, everyone's favorite current big thinker on life and the universe. The astrophysicist, who is an associate at the American Museum of Natural History, makes regular appearances on shows like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report, making him pop culture's favorite space scientist.
And yesterday, he took some time to do an AMA for reddit. Let's just say that it was a pretty successful thread.
If you aren't familiar with AMAs on reddit, they are "Ask Me Anything" threads that run like an online Q&A session. Reddit users post questions on the thread and the subject of the AmA answers whichever question they feel like answering. AMAs usually take the form of "I am ______, AMA," and can feature celebrities or random people with interesting stories - for instance "I am a bi-polar ex-heroin addict, AMA."
Tyson's AMA did well, to say the least. It is by far the top scoring (based on upvotes) post on reddit this week, and is already the 98th most popular post of all time. When you think about the magnitude of links submitted to reddit daily, this is no small feat.
Just began an AMA session on Reddit. For those who have no clue what that phrase means, continue on with your day.
The really amazing thing about Tyson's AMA is the volume of comments that it received - currently 10,634. For perspective, the top scoring AMA post of all time happens to be the 10th top scoring post of all time across all of reddit. It featured long-time Jeopardy winner Ken Jennings, and amassed 5,273 comments - about half of what Tyson's generated yesterday. In fact, there is no post in the top 100 that even comes close in terms of comments.
And for good reason. Dr. Tyson said some pretty amazing things during the AMA. The top comment comes from the question "What never fails to blow your mind in physics?" Tyson answered as follows:
1) The fact that an electron has no known size -- it's smaller than the smallest measurement we have ever made of anything.
2) That Quarks come only in pairs: If you try to separate two of them, the energy you sink into the system to accomplish this feat is exactly the energy to spontaneously create two more quarks - one to partner with each of those you pulled apart.
3) That the space-time structure inside a rotating black hole does not preclude the existence of an entire other universe.
MindBlown x 3
Here's Tyson's favorite short science fact:
That our bodies atoms are traceable to supernova stars that scattered their chemical enrichment across the cosmos, spawning the birth of star systems that contain planets, at least one of them containing life.
Here's Tyson on teaching science to kids:
Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. The beat the curiosity out of the kids. They out-number kids. They vote. They wield resources. That's why my public focus is primarily adults.
The AMA was so popular, that it's already prompted redditors to post with frequency on the topic of the already-legendary AMA. He's spawning his own new memes, and people are posting their favorite answers from the session with gusto. If you want to see what I'm talking about, look at the lead image from this article and check out this search on reddit.
It's also possible that the overwhelming flood of comments took down reddit for a short period of time. Soshable points out that early this morning, reddit was down for "emergency maintenance."
As his last comment, Tyson suggested that he does one of these AMAs every month. In the meantime, enjoy this: