The Most Astounding Fact About The Universe

In a 2008 interview by TIME magazine, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked what he thought the “most astounding fact” about the Universe was. Never at a loss for words, the famed scientist gave his equally astounding answer. His response is in the video above, set to images and music by Max Schlickenmeyer.

It’s the best three minutes and thirty-three seconds you’ll spend all day.

Via and It’s Okay to be Smart.

21 Replies to “The Most Astounding Fact About The Universe”

  1. I don’t know, it pisses me off for some reason. 😀 Maybe, it’s just a matter of marketing and I have it reversed.

    What about the fact that the universe even exists or the fact that human brain exists or the ability of the universe to develop intelligent life. That cooked stuff is just a mundane process.

    1. I think maybe he was agreeing with you, HAU. When he said the star formed elements were in us…I think us meant…our brains, our achievments, our phenomenal world. It took stars to cook the ingredients just right so that we could rise out of the pan and scream “I exist!”.

      1. In any case it’s going to be subjective!

        What astounds one person most might not be the same that astounds another person most. And personally, I often encounter a new fact to be most astounded about 😛

      2. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s most astounding fact is really a subset of something grander. By means we are not entirely clear on yet the universe emerged from the vacuum in a manner by which it could exhibit a huge range of complexity and in doing so it gave rise to observers of itself. I think there is some extremization principle which maximizes the Kolmogoroff complexity or entropy in spacetimes so as to give rise to this.


      3. For me, the strange and astounding thing is that we can investigate so much of space. It is easy to imaging coming to a point where we have theories but no way of building experiments to test them. This may happen one day, but it hasn’t happened yet. Spectral lines told us what the sun is made of. Spectral lines and shifts tell us about the expansion of the universe. Dim and distant objects have told us about the early history. Natural experiments in space allow us glimpses of states we could not mimic on any earth-bound apparatus. Like a good film plot, TV series, or computer game, there is always just enough to keep you hanging on for the next bit…

    2. I agree with Peristroika… Look at it this way: The fact that everything is created from starstuff as Sagan said is akin to a house being built. The things you mention are like the furnishings. It’s all wonderful, but the foundation is the building itself. It all emerges from that…

    1. The Coldplay-wannabe nature of the music put me off tbh. The NGT part was good though.

  2. I think the Universe as we know it by now is per se the most astounding fact with its infinite diversity that doesn’t stop marvelling us. As we peer through it farther away in space and time it becomes like a kaleidoscope whose reflections produce, when the tube is turned, changing patterns that never repeat themselves.
    All facts about the Universe are so astounding that just its existence is a mind boggling puzzle that will keep intelligent beings everywhere occupied with its secrets till the end of time. Should we be so lucky.

    1. Junovider, in the main you are more right than many others posting here, but, these things do repeat, that is a basic part of science. The one off event is very hard to characterize in that those criteria must be repeatable and therein lies the non-kaleidoscopic nature of the universe. It is regrettable your vision is flawed in this area.


      1. You can’t be “more right” in a matter that, squidgeny rightly points out, is subjective.

  3. every1 that says theres no proof of this ,if ur a cristian weres ur proof? , dont tell me u got faith thats just another word for imagination, science is nothing but facts, this is what all the facts lead up 2

  4. Sentimental, wonderfull, and scientifically accurate by standard science…but painfully wrong in the not so remote future.
    In the main time some are trying to decript the “mistery” of consciousness and that MAY change everything, including the irrelevance of atomic poetics.

    1. snq7, the not so remote future is always there, awaiting our presence, our footfalls, our discovery.

      So much more of the science of the present is tied to what was then ‘a not so distant future’ that to say that standard science will be proven painfully wrong is, well, painfully wrong… really.

      And, in the mean time, those who are attempting the engagement in decryption about general human and animal and plant consciousness and any changes that might happen based of that new information to our science systems will in short order compile, catalog, condense, and publish. This is what science does is it not?

      I did like your idea of atomic poetics though. I do think that area is very relevant unlike yourself.

      ‘I think that I shall never see an atom lovely as it be’, to paraphrase a poet I once read.


      1. Wow Mary! You really like to hurt with words..I really liked , ‘amused’ is the correct term, your sucker punch line “unlike yourself”. But I’ll explain somethings in a proper way.
        The idea of body-atoms from the stars and ultimately from hydrogen and helium from the child universe is really astounding, a really beautiful concept.
        Our substance-self is phrased in a stellar beginning instead of a mud (and nasty) biblical origin, and that stimulates a more charming and transcendent mood, entails a happier mode of being “created”. But this kind of amusement is an orthogonal understanding in relation to the strict scientific explanation. Nonetheless it is integral to the cognitive dynamics of scientists and science fans alike.
        But there is a tension in atomic poetics that arises in a dark space of our moodsphere: our own irrelevance, that is,when we “care” about it, is discovered in our atomic dispersive nature: death. Stellar-origin amusement falls with entropic rising. WaxyMary, WanyMary.

    2. What is amazing is subjective, so no, new finds may change your perception of “the most amazing” fact but it won’t change solid facts like Tyson’s.

      As for consciousness there is as of yet no cogent definition, so it is too early to ruminate whether it is a fact. The rest is not so amazing, the embodied mind is known to be an evolutionary product and work by “atomic poetics”.

  5. Awesome video! Does anyone have an idea from where the part of the video with the human eye comes from? It appears for a few seconds at 1:30 and is also the screenshot you can see above…

    In the credits I cannot see what it is (does it appear in it?). It should be between Salar de Uyuni and BBC: Charles Darwin and the tree of life…

    Someone an idea? Please let me know!!

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