We Asked Neil deGrasse Tyson Why Space Makes Us Feel So Small

Consider our minds officially blown.

Do you ever think about the sheer size and scale of the universe and feel incredibly small? Just look at the Pale Blue Dot photo of us taken from 6 billion kilometres away. Not only is it incredibly overwhelming how tiny are are in the grand scheme of the universe, but it’s enough to give even the chillest Earth dweller a little anxiety.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Space

So, instead of basking in our existential angst, we thought it’d be best to chat to a few people who actually know what they’re talking about. Astrophysicist, author and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson and Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer, producer, and director Ann Druyan stopped by to lend their scientific expertise – and sassy hot takes – to the latest episode of It’s Been A Big Day For…

Listen to our chat with Neil and Ann below:

When asked about what aspect of space blows their minds most, Tyson responded, “However far we boast of having reached, [the Earth] is so small compared to the size of the galaxy.”

Druyan chimed in to agree, saying, “What blows my mind, is to be so small, but to ask such big questions.” 

Neil deGrasse Tyson Space
Neil deGrasse Tyson & Anne Druyan. Credit: Jerome Domine/ABACAPRESS.COM.

Despite technically being as small as we feel, Tyson said everything in the universe is made up of the same ingredients. “On Earth we have this urge as humans to want to feel special. When you look at the universe, and you see the ingredients, it’s the same ingredients that are in our bodies – the hydrogen, the oxygen, carbon, nitrogen – the most common ingredients in the universe, are the most common ingredients in life on Earth.”

“The idea that we are special, I think should be rethought,” he said. “Maybe, we’re special not because we’re different, but because we’re the same.”

Mind, BLOWN.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Space

During our chat with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan, we also spoke about why science isn’t about having our biases and projections confirmed, the idea that if we were all scientists, war might not exist, searching for truth in an era of fake news, how scientists (and aliens) are depicted in pop culture, and finding ease in the cosmos.

Speaking of the cosmos, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive produced by Ann Druyan premieres on March 9th on National Geographic.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Is Reality TV Healthy For Any Of Us?

The death of Caroline Flack is a wake up call.

Content warning: This article deals with suicide and may be triggering for some.

Over the weekend, former Love Island UK host and TV personality Caroline Flack was found dead in her London home. A lawyer for Flack’s family confirmed that the 40-year-old had taken her own life.

Listen to the GOAT team breakdown the reality TV wake up call on the most recent ep of It’s Been A Big Day For…

At the end of last year, Flack was charged with assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton and as a result stood down from hosting season 6 of Love Island UK telling The Sun, “In order to not detract attention from the upcoming series I feel the best thing I can do is to stand down for series six.”

Following the assault charge, Caroline Flack’s boyfriend defended her on Instagram and slammed the “witch hunt” against her.

Credit: @mrlewisburton Instagram

Flack herself also took to Instagram telling her followers, “This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person…I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m not going to be silenced when I have a story to tell and a life to keep going with.”

The death of Caroline Flack is incredibly heartbreaking, but sadly, it’s not the first suicide of a Love Island star. In 2019, former contestant Mike Thalassitis took his own life and it was a similar story for season 2 contestant Sophie Gradon who committed suicide in 2018. Twenty days after her death, Gradon’s boyfriend Wayne Linekar also took his life. 

The multiple deaths of people associated with the show has spurred much debate around what kinds of support services are offered to reality TV contestants, cast and crew. 

According to The Independent, ITV announced it had “revamped” its aftercare package last year. The channel announced it would be offering contestants “a minimum of eight therapy sessions following their appearance on the show.” Islanders also have access to a “psychological consultant throughout the series.”

“Due to the success of the show our Islanders can find themselves in the public eye following their appearance,” ITV Creative Director Richard Cowles said in a statement. “We really want to make sure they have given real consideration to this and what appearing on TV entails. Discussing all of this with us forms a big part of the casting process and, ultimately, their decision to take part.”

While a lot of the responsibility to provide adequate mental health support services falls on the production companies behind these reality TV shows, it also falls on the media, how they treat former contestants of reality TV shows, and even the audience who tunes in to watch. 

And speaking of the audience, what effect does an increase in reality TV shows have on us – the consumers? In 2012, Mike Fleiss – who is a creator and executive producer of reality TV show The Bachelor US – told the Today show that “70 to 80% of the shows on TV are (bull).”

“They’re loosely scripted. Things are planted. Things are salted into the environment so things seem more shocking,” he revealed. This ‘dramatised’ reality could be particularly harmful for younger viewers.

Caroline Flack Reality TV

In an interview with Healthline, Nancy Molitor, PhD, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said, “There is this appeal to these shows that comes down to making people feel superior to others. You see contestants being laughed at, rejected, voted off, made fun of. And watching these shows makes kids feel superior as well.

“It’s reinforcing all kinds of negative behaviour that we don’t want to see in our kids, including relational aggression.”

Caroline Flack Reality TV

Reality TV also shine a light on a hunger for overnight fame and success. “It dovetails with society and the emphasis on self,” Molitor told Healthline. “Heavy viewers of reality television tend to have the most Facebook friends and the biggest Instagram followings. They’ve grown up with promoting themselves and their friends.

“They think nothing of being on camera. To them, reality shows are a natural extension. It’s just part of their culture. They don’t see it as weird at all.”

Caroline Flack Reality TV

That’s why it feels more important than ever to keep this conversation going, make the realities of reality TV common knowledge and take each show with a grain of salt. 

If you, or anyone you know is struggling with mental health issues contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue for support.

Valentine's Day Has Changed So Much Since Its Dark Origins

It's not all about flowers and chocolate.

Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. There’s a lot to love about day that’s all about love – but Valentine’s Day wasn’t always so swoon-worthy.

Listen to us break it all down on It’s Been A Big Day For…below:

In fact, Valentine’s Day has more than one dark backstory. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, one theory states that Valentine’s Day originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia held in mid-February where drunk men would sacrifice a goat and dog and then whip naked women with the hides of the slain animals.

Apparently, it was believed that whipping the women would make them more fertile. It’s scary stuff – and hard to believe that would have spurred on a day about love.

The other, slightly more believable backstory comes from a time when Roman Emperor Claudius II prohibited the marriage of young people because he thought unmarried soldiers would fight better than married ones. A man known as St. Valentine broke all the rules and started secretly marrying people. He was eventually caught, imprisoned, tortured and eventually executed on February 14th – hence Valentine’s Day falling on that day. 

If the story is true, it’s a pretty rough start for a day that now brings so many people joy. The good news is, Valentine’s Day has rapidly evolved over the years.

What was once criticised as a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make money off naive romantics has now become a day to celebrate all kinds of love – whether there are gifts involved or not.

Valentine’s Day in 2020 sees people celebrate romantic love, platonic relationships, family bonds and even self-love, which is encouraged across the board. I mean, have you ever listened to Lizzo?

For those who aren’t shacked up, Valentine’s Day has also become the perfect day to cherish your friendships. In 2010, the TV series Parks and Recreation coined the term ‘Galentine’s Day’ – the act of spending Valentine’s with your best girlfriends – which has since become part of pop culture vocabulary. 

Valentine’s Day may have a hateful past but it most definitely has a bright future – whoever you love.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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