Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has been getting a lot of hate lately. The director of the Hayden Planetarium, who, in his own words, only drove the “gateway car” that led to Pluto being demoted to dwarf planet status in 2006, has frequently claimed that he has been unfairly blamed.
“I tell you, I would love to hear what Neil has to say now,” Stephen Colbert, soon-to-be-host of "The Late Show" on CBS, said, in a video released just a day after NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of the former planet. Colbert then grilled Tyson over his purportedly “blasé” reaction to the flyby.
“Do you have anything to say about this? Are you excited?,” Colbert asked Tyson, holding up a photo of Pluto taken by the spacecraft on July 13. “On a scale of one to awesome, how awesome is this?”
Tyson responded: “I would say awesome minus 10 percent,” adding that it would be “totally awesome” if Pluto were much bigger.
Colbert, pointing at the surface feature on Pluto, then retorted: “It looks like a planet. It’s got atmosphere. It even has a heart … unlike you, who will give it no love.”
During the 14-minute interview, Tyson succinctly explained the science behind the flyby, and how he would rather demote all four rocky planets in the solar system, including Earth, than reinstate Pluto to its former status.
“To save your skin, just to win an argument … you would turn Earth into a dwarf planet?,” Colbert said.
Tyson, however, is not backing down on Pluto’s status change -- a debate that has been reignited after the New Horizons flyby.
“It’s not even on my tie!,” Tyson said, in the interview, pointing to his tie carrying depictions of the eight planets in the solar system.
Here's a NASA video explaining the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet: