Years ago the music world was blessed with the gathering of the Big 3. Of course, I speak of the Three Tenors, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. Even folks who were not fans of opera were impressed by this gathering of three of the best known singers in the business. It was, perhaps the perfect storm of operatic talent. These three men, each a star in his own right, became part of something much bigger and showed the world that when giants converge, amazing things can happen.
Now I sit and wait… and wonder. Will there be a new gathering of the Big 3? I’m not speaking of opera now. I’m talking about the rock stars of modern popular science. The three men who are in the spotlight everywhere whenever science is discussed. The ambassadors of physics, the kings of quantum mechanics, the men that collectively make up the fifth universal force… none other than Drs. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking.
From Cosmos to a Brief History of Time, the Big 3 have done what so many high school science teachers have tried and failed to do: Make science fun and interesting. Women love them. Men want to be them. Creationists want to stone them. These men are “absolute zero” cool. They are “nuclear fusion inside a star” hot. In popular culture they are bigger than the Milky Way (Not literally of course. That would be a physics quandary if ever there was one).
So I wait now. I want to see them come together in public and do something amazing. Host a television show, embark on a worldwide tour, get the band back together… err… sorry, I got carried away. I don’t really care what the medium is, I just want to see them all in the same place performing their magic. And by magic I mean they way they use their imaginations to capture our own. These men are more than just brilliant scientists. They are human beings that have not forgotten how to be human beings. They are bridges between the fantastic world of science and the average person.
Yes, they have given us much already. Dr. Tyson hosted the popular show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey recently (a show made popular years ago by Dr. Carl Sagan, another scientific man of the people). Dr. Kaku, like Dr. Tyson is all over the media and has graced us with another book, The Future of the Mind. Dr. Hawking has guest starred on Futurama, The Big Bang Theory, co-authored a children’s book with his daughter Lucy, George’s Secret Key to the Universe and even had an award-winning biographical film of him recently released (The Theory of Everything).
Considering how much each man has done and what each continues to do in public, is it asking too much to have them collaborate on a project? Should the world be content to let them each do their own thing? Perhaps. But we, or maybe I should say I, can wish for more, can’t I? I suspect that the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts and all the world would benefit. How many kids today might elect to take a walk down the path of science if properly excited and motivated? How might the world become a greater place if more people chose to truly examine our world with a critical and logical eye instead of relying on dogma? With the Big 3 leading the way, intelligence becomes cool and for a while, our collective thoughts are on understanding the universe, considering ways in which technology can be used for good and examining the very fabric of reality in an attempt to understand who and what we really are and how our existence fits in with the rest of the cosmos. Certainly, those are intellectual endeavors that are more worthwhile than spending an hour watching an episode of “Real Housewives”.
So am I reduced to waiting for Godot or will the planets align in such a way as to bring about this singularity? I know my voice is but a weak force, but perhaps the gravity of my idea is strong enough to cause a reaction that will lead to this fusion of personalities. Is my unified theory worth exploration? I hope so. I suppose only linear time will tell.
In the meantime, enjoy watching and listening to two of the three “sing” in this very catchy tune about Quantum Mechanics.
[Author’s note: I deliberately left out any scientific achievements by these men because my focus was on the power of their celebrity. By no means am I trying to diminish their true contributions to the world by ignoring their actual work in the field. However, celebrity has power and these three men wield a great deal of it and I wanted to both celebrate that and expand upon it. I also excluded from this article mention of Bill Nye, The Science Guy. Bill is great and another fantastic ambassador of science. I just thought the title Big 3 sounded better than Big 4.]