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Why I Want You to Seek the Inner Geek

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Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson is director of the Hayden Planetarium in the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. He was also host of the National Geographic television series Cosmos.

Can science save us?

I don't know if science can save us. What I do know is that the absence of science will kill us. If you look at the improvement in quality of life around the world, it is entirely brought about by advances in science and technology.

Why is it critical to interest adults in science?

In most adults I've met, there is some ember within that carries their soul of curiosity. For some it is almost extinguished and needs to be fanned. For others it's like a pilot light. You just have to put some extra fuel there, and it ignites. We live in a time where it is possible to reignite people's inner geek—or reveal an inner geek you didn't know you had. Your inner geek is simply what empowers your curiosity about the natural world. When you see a problem, you ask, I wonder how we can solve it? rather than, I wonder how fast we can run away from it?

What advice do you have for the person who hosts Cosmos 30 years from now?

It's hard to predict what problems we will have solved and what new problems will befall civilization 30 years from now. If you polled people in 1900 and asked them what they feared most for civilization, they'd say they worry about hunger and overpopulation. Starvation was a big issue because they knew what the production levels of farms were and saw the rate of population growth. What they didn't know what that we'd figure out how to farm better. They were not considering innovation. Today if you ask people, they'll say they worry about climate change or a virus. Isn't that interesting? Our risks today were undreamed of a hundred years ago.

Neil deGrasse Tyson feels that everyone has an inner geek. What ignites the curiosity inside of you? Let us know—and also tell us who you'd like to see in 3 Questions—in the comments below.