For Christmas, Neil deGrasse Tyson sets Twittersphere in motion

Dec 30, 2014

By Emanuella Grinberg

It’s a number that even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is having a hard time wrapping his brilliant mind around.

His Christmas Day tweet commemorating the birthday of Isaac Newton was retweeted more than 69,000 times as of this writing, making it the most popular of his Twitter career so far — and, arguably, his most controversial.

“On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642,” the StarTalk host tweeted.

He followed it up with a nod to the commercialization of Christmas: “Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).” By then, he was on a roll. Earlier in the day, he tweeted, “QUESTION: This year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.”


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10 comments on “For Christmas, Neil deGrasse Tyson sets Twittersphere in motion

  • Have alwasy found Tyson to be overly accomodating with theists and personally think it is a waste of time. If you are a unbeliever they will target you eventually regardless of how polite and reasonable you are. The Richard Dawkins “Militant Atheists” probably offends less people than a softer approach to the topic.



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  • Earlier in the day, he tweeted, “QUESTION: This year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.”

    Or those who prefer the Viking pronunciation, THOR’S Day!



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  • This reminds me of the thousands of tweets that went out on November 22nd, 2013, lamenting the passings of Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis 50 years earlier. The many notables born on December 25th include Humphrey Bogart, Rod Serling, Sissy Spacek, Jimmy Buffett and Barbara Mandrell. Needless to say, the date lends itself well to a wide variety of comedic one-liners.



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  • 5
    truth beauty says:

    Brilliant!!…Maybe a good idea to put F=ma and F=kq1q2/d^2 on the Christmas decorations haha….What gets me though is the mainstream media and the word “controversial”. I know it was used on Richard Dawkins when introduced during a Q & A program here in Australia. Why is seeking the truth…reading a bit of history from wide sources controversial? Why isn’t a priest introduced as controversial?…December 25…Mithras’s birthday? Jesus’s birthday unfounded. Priest believes Jesus had many miracles, walked on water and rose from the dead…controversial?….Mainstream media needs to stop putting adjectives in front of people who are merely speaking truths. Newton was born on December 25…not controversial. Newton would transform the world…not controversial..and yes it’s Thursday for a lot of people in the world…all truths. People are easily influenced by describing someone as “controversial” as it implies that they might be a tad radical. The thought embedded is if they’re radical is the consensus of opinion against them…therefore are they truthful. I think it says more about the reporter and their lack of knowledge on the subject.



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  • Actually, I think perhaps the “Here’s a ticket back to the cave” idea should be promulgated; it might just catch on in certain circles and clear the way for unimpeded progress; it might be possible to manage two consecutive steps forward for a change, without tripping over some idiotic objection put forward by “The faithful”, on the grounds that god wouldn’t approve of it; after all, we have to accept that they have a direct personal line to the almighty.

    It might be more fun ridiculing religion if its adherents had a sense of humour. As it is, they’re too wrapped up in their preposterous solipsistic vanity to be able to appreciate or even recognize a joke; especially one at their expense.

    Ah well, press on, regardless.



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  • 7
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Actually, I think perhaps the “Here’s a ticket back to the cave” idea should be promulgated; it might just catch on in certain circles

    I love that expression. NDGT may well have given birth to a meme with this one.



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  • What an inventive witticism -elegant and civilized. Tyson upsets expectations by juxtaposing the real promise of the scientific secular worldview for humankind, with the imaginary one of Christianity. No tolerant modern Christian would take offense or miss the helpful point. Those retrogressive believers of narrow mind and narrow education, mired in mean-spirited fundamentalism, will hopefully make their exit from the stage after a brief moment of sound and fury.



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  • Nicely done, although I suspect his surprise is somewhat feigned. He’s too smart a man not to have realised it would cause ripples and the follow-up tweets read like he’s gleefully poking at the “offended”.



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