HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Neil deGrasse Tyson on Ho...

Sat Oct 13, 2018, 08:22 PM

Neil deGrasse Tyson on How Space Scientists Have Long Been an 'Accessory to War'

By Emily Eakin

Oct. 12, 2018

In the spring of 2003, as the United States launched its invasion of Iraq, the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was attending the annual conference of the Space Foundation, in Colorado Springs. The conference brings together professionals from various fields who share an interest in space — scientists, commercial satellite makers, as well as government and military officials — and as the invasion got underway, some of the attendees drifted to a television screen to watch the spectacle unfolding live on CNN.

Whenever the anchor would announce a strike by, say, a cruise missile, employees of defense contractors in the crowd whose companies had helped make the missile would cheer. For Tyson, a popular television and podcast host as well as the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and a man who was raised in the city’s generally liberal and antiwar milieu, the experience was a discomfiting epiphany. It forced him to consider that scientists like him had been intimately involved in the development of warfare’s destructive capabilities. (He also understood that some conflicts are justified.)

“I realized that my professional ancestors have been handmaidens to this kind of exercise since the beginning of time,” Tyson said. That insight has now yielded his 15th book, “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military,” which he co-wrote with his longtime editor Avis Lang and which just ended a three-week run on the nonfiction list. There it joined Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” (2017), a witty guide to cosmological science that spent 73 weeks on the list.

“Accessory to War” took Tyson and Lang more than a decade to write in part because the history of space scientists’ entanglement with military might turned out to be so rich, encompassing technologies from maps and compasses to satellites, drones, GPS and rockets. “Do you realize that George Washington wrote lovingly of his telescope in waging the Revolutionary War?” Tyson asked. “This was known by the artist who painted ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’ Zoom in and look at what he’s holding in his right hand.”


2 replies, 1256 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Neil deGrasse Tyson on How Space Scientists Have Long Been an 'Accessory to War' (Original post)
BeckyDem Oct 2018 OP
mitch96 Oct 2018 #1
Fortinbras Armstrong Oct 2018 #2

Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Sat Oct 13, 2018, 11:21 PM

1. I liked his other book

And I'm trying to wade thru this one.. Not as easy to read as
“Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2018, 07:42 AM

2. WRT the comment about George Washington

Galileo largely supported himself by making telescopes for the various armies in Italy. For example, the Duke of Urbino contracted with Galileo to supply telescopes for every officer in his army. So yes, Galileo was a military contractor.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread