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  • Uhm, for those of you who may not know the Academy forum

  • is a program that is organized and funded by PAMKA. Uh, it is to bring

  • to campus outstanding speakers who will engage our students and our faculty

  • and our families and it is also our pleasure to be able to open it up to

  • the larger community. So we welcome you all. We're really delighted that you've

  • braved the elements to join us tonight

  • Before we get going, uh, with our program tonight there are just a couple people that i want to thank

  • for making it possible for us. Uh, first Amy South. Amy, where are you?

  • Amy's around somewhere. Amy is our community vice president

  • There she is, in the back

  • she is uh, ultimately, responsible for, uh, the entire event tonight

  • Next is Lucy [Botsick??]. Lucy is in the doorway up there. Lucy has

  • executed every single detail for tonight.

  • We have Trish Perlmutter

  • Trish has sheparded this program from the very beginning

  • And last but not least,

  • Judy Polonofsky and Debbie Kozak who make absolutely everything

  • happen for us here at MKA So thank you very much

  • So now, without further ado it's my pleasure to introduce

  • the headmaster of the Montclair Kimberly Academy, Tom Nammack

  • Good evening, and welcome. I'm delighted to welcome you to the Monclair Kimberly Academy

  • And I want to also thank again our parents' association.

  • They have made this evening possible for us

  • while the program

  • is free of charge

  • it's not clear expectations

  • for how we will conduct ourselves as an audience

  • I have a couple things I'd like to ask of you

  • Please, there's to be no

  • electronic recording

  • audio or video

  • please don't hold your phones up to take pictures

  • mostly because it distracts the people behind you

  • and we'd really like to focus on our very special guests this evening

  • it's my privilege to introduce our guests

  • i think they're well known to all of you

  • but I do want to say a couple things about them

  • Doctor Tyson

  • has been a frequent guest on the Colbert report

  • but, uh, or "Report" I guess is the proper

  • pronunciation

  • We're delighted that he's here

  • and we are also delighted and, uh

  • um... very grateful

  • that mr stephen colbert has agreed to interview him

  • for our benefit

  • Stephen Colbert

  • comedian, author

  • and host of the Colbert Report

  • is both one of the funniest

  • and possibly the bravest comedians of our time

  • I want you to consider his performance

  • at the national press club dinner in 2007

  • as he, uh, as he stood just a few feet from the President of the United States

  • known the rest of us as the most powerful man in the world

  • Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium

  • author of nine books, teacher, lecturer

  • host of Nova's four-part series "Origins"

  • and member of two presidential commissions

  • on United States aerospace industry

  • and the future of our country's space exploration

  • Dr. Tyson has a gift for working successfully

  • within the realms of research,

  • education, and policy formation

  • i owe you all an explanation about our theater tonight

  • what you see on stage

  • is the beginning of a set

  • for a seventh-grade production of "Romeo and Juliet"

  • this year's selection

  • for what is as i said an annual performance

  • and I think it's fitting that Dr tyson is going to warmup the stage

  • for the two most famous star-crossed lovers in all of American literature

  • it occurred to me that there are few things

  • that stephen colbert

  • and Neil Tyson have in common

  • and I wanted to comment on them

  • both of them

  • share

  • an over-arching purpose

  • to make sense of the world

  • They also share a common strategy

  • They often look to the stars

  • human or heavenly

  • for evidence of how things work

  • though Stephen Colbert is far tougher

  • on the objects caught in his gaze

  • Whereas Dr. Tyson is only known

  • to have obliterated Pluto.

  • they share methods in their respective fields, whether it is the search

  • for evidence that makes sense of the world and the universe

  • or the creative construction of questions and tests

  • by which the truth and significance of who

  • or what is before them are evaluated

  • Perhaps then,

  • they both have something in common with william shakespeare

  • the desire to provide their audience with a lens

  • to see the world

  • from the previously unconsidered

  • point of view

  • and not just as others would have us see it

  • So while the stars may be dazzling

  • training and instinct appear to have taught each of them

  • to look away from celestial bodies

  • i'm really sorry i had to get that bad cliche in there somewhere

  • and to consider the effects

  • that those celestial bodies have on everything

  • and everyone around them

  • In addition to the challenge of questions

  • that each of them

  • make us confront, their work

  • has given the world a little more of that very rare

  • and gem-like substance

  • known as the truth

  • Or in Stephen Colbert's case: "truthiness"

  • and we are very grateful. ladies and gentlemen

  • Mr. Stephen Colbert

  • and Doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo"

  • Uh, I don't know

  • Neil, thanks so much for coming Yeah ... thank you.

  • Mr/Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson is

  • he's been on my show six times

  • and often when I come out

  • to brief the audience before I do my show

  • they ask me "who's your favorite guest of all time?"

  • and I say, not just for volume, but it's Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  • but because not only uh... do I love what neil knows

  • but uh, I love

  • that he loves what he doesn't know

  • always interested in the next thing to learn (Oh yeah) and always rolled to whatever

  • idiocy my character wants to throw on him

  • I think the only time i ever surprised you as you told me a

  • a little while ago

  • uh was i asked you should uh... should scientists go to Argentina or hike

  • the Appalachian trail

  • If they want people to talk about them

  • it's the universe talking there the universe [??]

  • Yeah that ... I missed that one Yeah you missed that news story

  • To go on his show

  • it's like the hardest interview ever

  • I have to, like, I'm laden with current events just

  • to mix with my science cause I don't know where he's gonna come at me

  • and I gotta be, like, ready with seven tennis rackets

  • to hit it back

  • And on set with that one news story remember with that guy, was it south carolina guy

  • who remembers

  • He goes to Argentina and becomes well-known for having done so and you ask me straight-out

  • should scientists

  • visit Argentina more often to become better known

  • and it just went.. I just

  • you aced me on that one (You're welcome)

  • Now, Neil, we've got a lot of talk about tonight (yeah) a lot of

  • subjects science is a big thing but i want to start off with

  • this is not a bribe (that's alright)

  • I want to start off with .. with these chairs I feel myself sliding

  • No, no

  • This stage is not level

  • oh welcome to the barn raising

  • Didn't realize we were speaking before the Omish tonight

  • That's gonna

  • make it tought to talk about science and technology

  • All right, Neil

  • i want to start uh...

  • i want to start, in a broad way

  • are you Tweeting now, or are you actually trying to interview me?

  • no, i'm just looking at ...

  • i'm just looking at photos of myself

  • get a little work done I need a little freshen up

  • let me ask you a very basic question: science

  • from

  • "scientia", Latin, meaning knowledge

  • I didn't take Latin but I'll take your word for it

  • is it better

  • to know

  • or not to know

  • i think

  • well my blunt answer is it's better to know (alright) but i think

  • that is debatable though

  • well I said "my" answer. Someone else might have a different answer

  • for instance, Oedipus might have a different answer

  • Yeah, I mean I think

  • is .. is knowledge always a good thing?

  • I have to say yes

  • why?

  • because it empowers you

  • to react

  • and possibly even to do something about it

  • if something about it needs to be done

  • ok, but who we are

  • is what we know, right?

  • Part of who we are is what we know

  • and our identity

  • is often based on how we see the world

  • yes, and uh... personality for sure

  • and if we learn something

  • that does not jive with how we think about the world

  • won't we have to reexamine who we are? Yeah, it could mess you up

  • Once again I'll go back to Oedipus

  • He plucked his eyes out rather than know any more

  • Yeah, well, you know people back then you know, they did stuff like that

  • Yeah, people back then

  • not people today

  • so i think

  • there are people who would not know

  • who would rather ... remember the old days

  • I don't know if it still happens where a doctor would find out you had cancer, they wouldn't tell you

  • They wouldn't tell you (give it to me straight doc) Yeah and

  • why would even have to say

  • give it to me straight unless there was a day when they didn't give it to you straight?

  • If I have five years left I wanna know I have five years left

  • Cause I wanna, like

  • do something different in those five years if (Neil?) yeah?

  • I have some terrible news

  • so there are some people who don't

  • there are some people who don't value science

  • and if they don't value science

  • are they valuing ignorance? Yes, and.. but I will not pass judgment on them

  • what I will say is

  • if they have are at maximal comfort in their ignorance.. fine

  • except that they will not be the participants on the frontier of

  • of cosmic discovery

  • they will be disenfranchised

  • Hello .. hello

  • I'm sorry I've got a phone call... hello?

  • I'm sorry I have to take .. I have to take this.. Hello?

  • My mic.. my mic isn't working?

  • Hello?

  • that's better Now who's in control?

  • So they won't be in control of the next.. they won't be participants in the next cosmic discovery

  • No they won't they won't

  • not only will they not

  • be on that frontier making any discoveries

  • they're not in a position to enhance their life for having access to those

  • discoveries themselves

  • Can knowledge

  • ever be a bad thing?

  • i don't think so

  • what about actions that

  • knowledge takes us to? You think that Oppenheimer

  • when the bomb went off and he said

  • "I am become death, destroyer of worlds"

  • do you think he perhaps questioned for a moment

  • whether the knowledge they achieved that led to the creation

  • of the bomb perhaps should have been left undiscovered?

  • Do you know what he said in response to those kinds of questions?

  • Yes?

  • he said

  • because people said "Have you ursurped the power of God?"

  • and he said

  • If God didn't want this power to be there he shouldn't have put it in the atom in the first place

  • kind of an interesting point, I think

  • What he was saying that the world is accessible to us

  • so would you say

  • "Don't smelt the ore and make iron

  • and make a sword out of it because you could cut yourself"?