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HOST: Welcome back! Our next guest is an astrophysicist here to teach us about the wonders of the universe — Dr. Daniel Schneider! We’re so pleased you’re with us.
DAN: I hope the way I’ve arranged my facial features communicates that same sentiment back at you in a convincing manner.
HOST: Dan, can you explain to our viewers at home how black holes work?
DAN: (very fast and technical) It can be shown by simple application of the Einstein Field Equations of General Relativity that when a sufficiently massive star runs out of fuel at the end of its life cycle it will collapse into an infinitely dense, infinitely small, yet, incredibly massive, point-like object which can be shown to have a finite boundary surrounding it known as an Event Horizon which is defined as a point of no return: any matter, light, or information which enters inside this region is inevitably drawn to the singularity at the center of the black hole.
HOST: Um…sorry, I meant to say, can you explain how black holes work in 1–2 simple sentences with a joke at the end?
DAN: (snippy) I respect black holes too much to do that.
HOST: But Neil deGrasse Tyson can do it.
DAN: Yes, he can. And despite the ever-rising level of vomit in my esophagus, I’ve come on this show to tell you to stop comparing all astrophysicists to Neil deGrasse Tyson. I chose astrophysics as a career because it meant I would never have to speak to anyone at lunch ever again, never mind on national TV. My outfit was not put together by a stylist. This corduroy jacket actually needed to be patched on the elbows, and this eczema is all too real.
HOST: I can see that.
DAN: I’ve been sent by a committee of astrophysicists to ask the general public to stop thinking of us as funny, witty and media-ready. We do not aspire to be any of those things. I’ve already used 85% of my spoken words for 2014 during this interview.
HOST: But Neil deGrasse -
DAN: — Tyson is an aberration from the pattern! An outlier! He’s in the tails of the distribution!
HOST: Is that a…science burn?
DAN: No, but this is — Tyson is basically a tour guide at Epcot. He boils difficult concepts down to diluted forms easily consumed by the masses. He’s the Coors Lights of astrophysics.
HOST: I have to tell you, sounds like you’re just jealous. Neil deGrasse Tyson makes it so fun for us to discuss dark matter at cocktail parties, and you….you…well, you’re not what we expected.
DAN: That’s what my mother says. Let me tell you a story about the stars.
HOST: Yes, a story about the cosmos! Finally!
DAN: When I was 10, I looked up at the stars and then out at a terrifying sea of fifth grade girls and knew that I could only become proficient at one of them. I did the complicated calculations and I chose the stars, Bill. The stars. I knew I had a much high probability of understanding the mysteries of the universe than I did at understanding basic human interaction.
HOST: Dan, is there anything about the world you CAN teach us about quickly?
DAN: Sure, there’s one thing.
HOST: Thank god.
DAN: Humanity’s role in the universe is so ridiculously minuscule and pointless that if our tiny minds ever allowed us to fully grasp the reality of how precarious our very existence is we would all go insane instantly and be the better for it.
HOST: On that note, we’ll be right back.
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