'Cosmos' Host Neil deGrasse Tyson Answers Our Unanswered Pop Culture Questions
Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts Fox's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
"It's a very warm feeling that people are feeling warm from it, for sure," deGrasse Tyson told Yahoo TV. "It's a delight to see people have a geek core within them awakened. Either the flame had been extinguished long ago or had never been ignited, maybe it was just a dim ember waiting to be fanned, but in any of these cases, people have sort of risen up and embraced science in general and the universe in particular. It's an endorsement, I think, of what it was to make Cosmos again, and a recognition that there was value to it."
His favorite geeky fan reaction says it all: "My favorite tweet of them all — because I was monitoring what people were saying — was just before the 9 o'clock hour when it was about to air, someone tweeted: "Shhhh! It's almost 9 p.m. Cosmos is ready to air. Neil Tyson is going to crack a knowledge egg on your a--." Now that is in vernacular! That's somebody who not only was excited for themselves — for what they were learning and what they were seeing — but they wanted other people to shut up and listen. I was very impressed by that enthusiasm, and that energy and candor. I didn't retweet it, but just search 'knowledge egg a--.' [Laughs.] it's got to be the only tweet ever to have those three words in it."
We asked the scientist, ever-enthusiastic himself, to crack another kind of knowledge egg: A pop culture knowledge egg, answering some very serious unanswered questions. "I'm not a pop culture nut — I'm a pop culture observer," deGrasse Tyson clarified. "A nut would be eagerly seeking it out and participating in it. I view it more the way an anthropologist views a tribe." Here are his anthropological findings...
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Oh, I remember that commercial. I remember when they said they were going to come up with an answer, and I said, "Well some people's tongues are wetter than others. [Laughs.] There cannot be one answer for this!" I knew that even when I was young when I first saw the commercial — I was like, "This is bogus," right off the top. If you lick it with a dry tongue, nothing's happening. [Laughs.] It requires that you salivate. Heavily. But I would say around 1,000.
And where is the beef?
Oh the little old lady, "Where is the beef?" [Laughs.] It's there, it's just vastly less than she expected.
What do you think was inside that glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction?
It just had to be radioactive plutonium.
Yeah, yeah, of course. But that would mean that the people holding it are sterile, but we don't wait long enough to see if they make babies to verify.
Who was the boss on Who's the Boss?
That's the one with whatshisface in it. You know, I didn't really watch that show — what's the guy's name? Tony Danza! [Laughs.] Who's the Boss? Yeah... I think I've seen one episode of it, but I would say that, in general, the person who's the boss is the one who reacts most violently for not being obeyed. That's the boss. That's the one you have to pay attention to. That's a general truth, I think.