This is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, and my nominee for Greatest of the Geeks and Nerds.
Aside from being good-humored and confident when he speaks, he’s fountain of knowledge, not just on astrophysics, but on most everything. Naturally, this makes him a wonderful choice to host the new revival of Cosmos.
Toward the end of the first episode, after exploring the vast known universe and touching upon the slight notes that led to modern scientific principles, he told a simple story. In the short tale, Tyson described his interactions with the original host and creator of Cosmos, Carl Sagan. He started by listing a few of Sagan’s notable accomplishments, then opened a backpack. Inside, he had a copy of Sagan’s day planner from 1976, with one page marked for a meeting with “Neil Tyson.”
Tyson showed another book, a signed copy of one of Sagan’s writings. As he showed these things, Tyson also related how personal nature and compassion that was inherent in Carl Sagan. Even though Tyson did not go on to study with Sagan, the meeting still had an impact. It showed Tyson what kind of man he wanted to be.
Cosmos might be about the vastness of the universe and the grand mysteries waiting to be discovered, but it’s appeal is in embracing the smaller details. Even something as simple as a professor offering a potential student a place to stay for the night can open doors into a much larger world. If that can work for Neil deGrasse Tyson, surely it can work for other storytellers as well.