Neil deGrasse Tyson is a widely respected astrophysicist and authority on many things science. His job, as of now, is to direct the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. He’s also an author and frequent guest on an array of popular shows like The Daily Show and Real Time with Bill Maher. He’s basically pop culture’s favorite scientist.
But on the internet, he might be best-known in some circles as the “we’ve got a badass” guy. Yes, Neil deGrasse Tyson has achieved what some people can only dream about (or have night terrors, it kind of depends): he has become an ever-present meme.
This isn’t to say that the denizens of the internet only know Tyson as his meme’d self. His achievements and works in his scientific field are much-celebrated – especially on reddit, where Tyson has somehow garnered hero-like status. Tyson has participated in multiple AMAs on reddit, “Ask Me Anything” sessions that work like a crowdsourced interview. Every AMA that he does becomes the talk of the reddit town – oftentimes for days afterward.
But you might have seen his countenance used in one particular fashion on the web – as a standard commentary used to make fun of people who make self-important, boastful statements online. Like all memes, the various acceptable uses can morph, and in this case the meme is also used as a joke when people buck authority in the lamest way.
It started as “Watch out, we’re dealing with a badass over here,” but you’ll see it as “watch out, we got a badass over here” or some other similar phrase.
The meme got its start after Tyson gave a certain reaction during an interview with Big Think. He was discussing his love for Isaac Newton, and the hands-up motion came when Tyson mentioned that Newton invented Calculus before the age of 26. That reaction became a gif, and the meme was born.
Months later, here is Tyson reflecting on how it feels to be a meme, courtesy of On The Verge:
The prediction about Tyson’s reenactment of the meme becoming a new one? Yeah, it’s already happend.