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Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why It's Ok To Be Insignificant

“Just a reminder, we are a speck”

While stopping by “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to plug his latest book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson did what he does best: break down the mysteries of the universe for us commoners. To start things off, Colbert pulled out this image of Earth taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft:


Image via NASA

If you squint your eyes, you can just barely spot it beneath Saturn’s massive rings. “Just a reminder, we are a speck in the middle of a cosmic void,” Tyson told Colbert. He added that if you were an alien traveling through space, you’d barely notice Earth because it’s so puny. Though Tyson was quick to note he isn’t the first to view our home planet this way; Carl Sagan first drew our attention to this sobering fact by referring to Earth as a “pale blue dot” in 1990.

“You should not be walking the streets without a baptism in cosmic perspective,” he said. When Colbert asked him what he meant by that, Tyson explained, “If you look up in the universe and feel small, it’s because you started out with an ego unjustifiably too high to begin with.” Based on that statement alone, it sounds as if everyone should indoctrinate themselves on matters of the universe. (Perhaps we could send a copy to the White House?)

Amid cheers from the audience, Tyson went on to explain how we’re active participants in the unfolding of the universe because we’re made of the same basic elements comprising everything from sand to solar systems. Then he delivered this kicker of a line: “People like to think, ‘I’m special because I’m different.’ But there’s a whole other way to look at it. Maybe you’re special because you’re the same.” Maybe Tyson should enter a beauty pageant, because he’s well on his way to orchestrating world peace.

If you’re looking to further blow your mind, his book opens with this first sentence:

“In the beginning, nearly fourteen billion years ago, all the space and all the matter and all the energy of the known universe was contained in a volume less than one-trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence.”

No one can reignite a childlike sense of wonderment in even the most cynical of adults quite like Neil deGrasse Tyson. You can watch his interview with Colbert above and check out his book here.

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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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