“I don’t like Sputnik moments,” says the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. After all, if you experience a “Sputnik moment,” it means you are playing catch-up. That’s the situation the U.S. faced after the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space in 1957. NASA was created in response. The U.S. is facing a similar situation today, trailing China in the 21st century race not only to space, but to create energy independence.
And yet, Tyson takes issue with President Obama evoking the notion of a “Sputnik moment” when it comes to energy. “That’s not a Sputnik moment,” he says. “We should have those things anyway. Sputnik moments, you reserve those for grand visions that take your mind, body and soul to places that no one had previously dreamed.”
In the video below, we asked Tyson how we might apply the notion of a “Sputnik moment” to our own lives, as we look for those occasions that compel us to invent for tomorrow.