A Personal Hero and a New Top Show

Hailing from the Big Apple, where Dom currently resides, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of the most well-known scientists of our time. One of my personal heroes after learning about him through my degree in chemistry, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from Harvard University, a Master of Arts degree in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and a PhD in astrophysics from Columbia University, Tyson is a champion for science communication. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate for astrophysics at the Museum of Natural History, both in NYC (Dom I’m looking right in your direction right now) and constantly appears on The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher, advocating science education and knowledge. On top of these, Tyson hosted the NOVA ScienceNow on PBS from 2006 to 2011, and currently hosts one of my new favorite TV shows, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on FOX, a continuation of Tyson own personal hero Carl Sagan’s 1980’s show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey-FOX-s1-2014-poster-1

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, produced by none other than Seth McFarlane of Family Guy and Ted, premiered on FOX on March 9th, and I was instantly hooked. Seeing the previews and knowing that Neil DeGrasse Tyson would be hosting it already had me very interested, but that first episode sealed my Sunday night plans from 8 to 9 PM for the next few months. Starting with the episode “Standing Up in the Milky Way” Cosmos immediately shows the aspect that I love most about it: the production value and the way the information is presented. Tyson uses the “Ship of the Imagination” to explore our world and universe’s history. Telling the stories of scientists, some famous, others undeservedly much less well-known, along with animations, Cosmos caters to the general population very well. Using this, it makes the information much more appealing than a lecture in a classroom!

Topics covered by Cosmos include:

  1. Condensing our universe’s history into a single calendar year – using the Big Bang as the first second of January 1st and present day as midnight of December 31st, did you know that our whole written history would be the last second of the last minute on December 31st?
  2. Artificial selection, selective breeding, natural selection, and extinction – one of the more controversial episodes, Tyson explains things such as evolution and mutation on a molecular and DNA level, five great extinction events the Earth has seen, the possibility of life on other planets, and the “Tree of Life”.
  3. Pattern recognition in early civilizations – the fact that our distant ancestors, THOUSANDS of years ago, were able to use the stars, the seasons, and primitive astrology to explain the happenings around them is amazing to think in my opinion!
  4. Those less well-known scientists I mentioned that shaped our world – people like Jan Oort, who discovered comets and the Oort cloud, Edmond Halley who collaborated with the great Isaac Newton to put the laws of physics in mathematical terms, Ibn al-Haytham whose ideas on light and optics in the 11th century, led to the invention of the telescope, Joseph von Fraunhofer whose work led to the discovery of the composition of stars and other planets using astronomical spectroscopy, Clair Patterson who was the lead investigator of lead occurrence on the earth and its effect on humans, and the team of ladies including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and Cecilia Payne whose work led to the classification of the stars, the means to measure the distance from a star to the Earth using spectra which was used to identify other galaxies, and the determination of the composition and temperature of the stars. Tyson begs the question in one episode “why do we know the personal lives of celebrities and athlete’s, but have no idea who Jan Oort is?” Powerful question.
  5. Black holes – the discovery of black holes by X-rays, and the postulations about the warping of spacetime and time dilation inside a black hole, as they are so dense and massive that even light cannot escape their gravitational force!
  6. The Electric Boy – an entire episode dedicated to the life of Michael Faraday! Faraday is the ultimate overcoming adversity story. Coming from absolutely nothing, and told his whole childhood he wasn’t smart and wouldn’t succeed, Faraday went on to harness electromagnetic power to create the first electric motor and electrical generator. Faraday also discovered the connection between light, magnetism, and electricity called the Faraday Effect (obviously!) which also led to the discovery of the Earth’s magnetic field. Faraday was a bonafide boss!

Cosmos has two episodes remaining, and it’s saving the best for last! It’s never too late to start watching and I one million percent recommend watching the next episode that airs on June 1st, taking Memorial Day weekend off, and it’s a doozey. According to the preview at the end of the last episode, Tyson will delve into the ultra-controversial issue of global warming, an issue that he has a very strong view on. Tyson, along with Bill Nye, constantly appears on TV opposite people claiming global warming isn’t a pressing issue, attempting to educate us all on the imminent issue at hand. This will be a can’t miss episode that I implore everyone to check out! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cheers!

Live long and prosper everyone!- Neil DeGrasse Tyson (probably)

Live long and prosper everyone!- Neil DeGrasse Tyson (probably)

Advertisements

My Fitness Journey

I’ve been an athlete my whole life. Played football, baseball, basketball, and raced BMX bikes as a kid so I was constantly active. Once I got to high school, BMX took a back seat to the other three (although I would occasionally go back and race every once in a while. Never forget how to ride a bike right?). I chose to go to the University of Redlands, a small D-III school in Southern California, so that I could play both football and baseball at a collegiate level. While I did end up leaving the baseball team so I could concentrate on football, which was more than enough to keep me active. Growing up that way had put in my head the thought that becoming overweight would NEVER happen to me. Welp….

Yikes...

Yikes…

After making the switch from running back to fullback after my freshman year, the coaches told me I needed to put on some weight and get stronger. So for the next three years I hit the weights and the cafeteria hard, gradually going from 200 pounds to 240 pounds as a senior. I still had my athleticism though. Enter second semester senior year and my senior thesis as a chemistry undergrad. A whole semester of many all-nighters fueled by a diet of Adderall, energy drinks, pasta, pasta, and more pasta, and of course weekends full of copious amounts of beer because, college. The end result is what you saw above. TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY pounds. That far off thought had become a reality and I had been in denial that it was happening the whole time. I was uncomfortable and unhappy, and needed to do something about it.

Enter summer of 2012 and a now great friend of mine, Neil Anderson at GPP Fitness in Centerville, UT. General Physical Preparedness uses a combination of cross-training, body building, weight lifting, and core work, and that worked wonders for me. I dropped 25-30 pounds within the first three months, combining workouts 6 days a week with a diet that cut carbs almost completely out of my diet (except for drinks with friends on the weekends. Let’s not get crazy here). I couldn’t get enough of the workouts! I was getting more and more in shape, feeling more and more comfortable, and slowly but surely getting back to my old self again. One of the many outside sources of inspiration was actually my co-blogger Dom. He was/is also achieving his own fitness goals, and always offered encouraging words and motivation whenever I needed it. After these few months, I needed a change and decided it was time for that change. Moving back to California at the end of that summer proved to be another step in this journey.

That’s where I found CrossFit. I got a small taste at GPP, but I needed more, something more intense and competitive. I still had that competitive edge in me from college football. CrossFit was everything I could’ve asked for, especially after finding CrossFit Intersect in Long Beach, CA owned by Joey Altobelli. Right off the bat I loved it. The community was amazing and the workouts were fun and challenging. Keeping a somewhat clean diet and intense workouts all week, I continued dropping the pounds and getting in better shape. After about 4 months of work, I entered my first competition. What a rush! Nothing like a legit CrossFit competition! Having friends and workout buddies around you, cheering you on while you enter the pain cave and finish a workout is an incredible feeling, and one that took me through 5 competitions, including coed teams, male teams, and mixed teams.

So a year after starting this journey, I came to this….

Don't mind the face. It was 4:30 AM ok?

Don’t mind the face. It was 4:30 AM ok?

This was taken exactly a year after the first picture. I was down 55 pounds to 215, dropped about 9-10% body fat, and increased every one of my lifts and workout times. Since that picture (which is about the same as it looks now) I have lost an additional 7 pounds, some more body fat percentage, and haven’t been in this good of shape since I was in high school. And it feels absolutely AMAZING. I am now back at GPP in Centerville, this time as a trainer, my fitness experience being trusted enough by Neil to help other people reach their goals. Along with my training at GPP, I have taken up Olympic weightlifting at Praxis Olympic Weightlifting in Murray, UT, taking on another challenge that I love. I have also picked BMX back up, racing at Rad Canyon BMX, as well as playing competitive sevens rugby with my good friend Sean Sellwood. I still have some fitness goals to accomplish, but I know that I can get there through hard work and dedication, which is what it takes to accomplish ANYTHING. Thanks for reading!

-Tyson

Final Stats:

Before: 270 pounds, 25ish% body fat, size 40 waist, 9+ minute mile, 155# snatch, 200# clean and jerk, depressed

After/Current: 207 pounds, 12% body fat, size 36 waist, 6 minute mile, 225# snatch, 290# cleans and jerk, happy