Plugging his new book, Space Chronicles, Neil DeGrasse Tyson appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and nearly made Jon want to become an astrophysicist himself (watch the clip, you'll want to become one, too!).
Tyson is doing pretty well bringing the wonder back to science and making it friggin' awesome—just like the great Carl Sagan. Known as a popularizer of science, Sagan helped people want to learn about the Universe with the same passion as Sagan himself. In Carl Sagan's words:
Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We've longed to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of starstuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. The journey for each of us begins here.
As it turns out, the very thing that Carl loved most about the Universe, is also what Neil loves most, and both of them just make you want to pack a bag and head for the stars (well, them and Doctor Who), because really, you're just going home.
The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures.
These stars, the high mass ones among them went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy—guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself.
These ingredients become part of a gas cloud that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems, stars with orbiting planets, and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.
So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small because they're small and the Universe is big—but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.
There's a level of connectivity. That's really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That's precisely what we are, just by being alive.