Neil deGrasse Tyson says periodic table is a cultural 'icon'

Posted at 3:10 PM, May 07, 2017

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said Sunday that the periodic table of elements, "should be one of the greatest icons of our culture."

Tyson, who has written a new book called "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on his show "GPS" that he considers the periodic table so important that he decided to devote an entire chapter in his book to it.

"Think about it: when I think of a kitchen and you want to bake a cake, you need the ingredients -- the flour, the sugar, the rest. If you want to bake the universe, or stuff in the universe, start with your ingredients. The periodic table has the 92 elements, hydrogen through uranium, out of which everything is made," he said.

As for those who might wonder what the periodic table has to do with them, Tyson emphasized that our very existence comes down to "the chemistry and physics on Earth," which "repeats everywhere in the universe."

"These elements are on the moon, on the sun, on other galaxies. And so, we're not made of special ingredients. We're made of the same ingredients. To some people, that's depressing, but to me, that's enlightening," Tyson said.

"You're the same as the universe," he added.