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Neil deGrasse Tyson brings his expertise to sold out audience

Posted: February 19, 2014 - 4:16pm

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will discuss the universe when he speaks to a sold-out audience at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

The lecture in Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall — “The Search for Life in the Universe” — will last 60 minutes with a 30-minute Q&A session to follow. The lecture is sponsored by Conway Printing Company.

Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History.

“There are going to be more students at this lecture than we’ve ever had at any of our lectures, so it’s very popular with the students,” said UCA Public Appearances Director Amanda Horton.

Tyson explored science in the hit PBS show, “NOVA ScienceNOW,” providing an easily understandable look into the universe. His run on the show was from 2006-11.

He will host “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey,” a National Geographic Channel/Fox documentary series premiering March 9.

Tyson’s publicist, Jodi Solomon, said audiences have shown deep appreciation for his wide variety of unscripted responses during the Q&A session.

“His answers, even to simple questions, are informative and entertaining in ways that benefit the entire audience, not just the one who asked the question,” Solomon said.

Tickets for his Reynolds appearance sold out in 45 minutes on the first day of sales, a record time for the performance hall.

To accommodate the demand for additional tickets, sold-out simulcasts will be shown in Lewis Science Center room 102 and College of Business room 107, allowing for about 300 attendees to watch him speak on screen.

“This [simulcast] is a first for Reynolds,” Horton said. “Our administration felt very passionate about trying to open up this lecture to more people.”

A one-hour book signing will follow the Q&A session for all ticketholders.

Tyson’s often outspoken scientific observations about pop culture have landed him a spot of his own in trending news.

As one of the scientists involved in removing Pluto’s status as a planet, Tyson said he might be the only astrophysicist to ever get “hate mail in crayon for killing Pluto.”

He has appeared on “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” People Magazine named Tyson the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive” in 2000.

UCA physics and astronomy professor Dr. William Slaton placed Tyson among other science communicators such as Bill Nye, Jane Goodall and Carl Sagan.

“He can inspire and educate young children or adults with his words and images of the cosmos,” Slaton said. “I think he excels at this because that sense of wonder is still in his voice, and his audience catches the thrill of discovery from him.”

Slaton said that as a physics educator, it makes him happy to see so many people coming to hear an astrophysicist speak.

Junior John Ferrier, UCA Physics Club president, said Tyson was a wonderful ambassador for science because he has a sense of humor.

“To us [in the physics community], science is cool, and Dr. Tyson makes it cool to everyone else,” Ferrier said. “He has a way of conveying how we feel and see things to others.”

Though the show is sold out, tickets may become available the day of the event. Any turn-back tickets would available one hour prior to the lecture. Tickets into Reynolds would be free for students and $5 to $15 for the public.

For more information, contact Horton at 501-450-3682 or ahorton@uca.edu.

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