Putting a Milestone in Cosmic Perspective

The New York Times

DR. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON is laughing as he scampers down a spiraling ramp of time in the renovated heavens of the Hayden Planetarium, site of the most expensive New Year's Eve fund-raiser in the city. The length of a football field, the ramp represents the 13-billion-year evolution of the universe.

A step or two from the bottom, Dr. Tyson, the planetarium's director and an astrophysicist by training and dreaming, plucks a hair from his visitor's head. On the scale of the ramp, he says, All human history, from cave drawings on, fits on this strand.

And so, teetering near the end of the century, millimoments before the cosmic odometer shifts into a piddly three zeros, we come to Dr. Tyson for perspective. . . .

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