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Was Once Voted 'Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive'

Neil deGrasse Tyson and wife Alice Young attend the World Science Festival opening gala at Lincoln Center in New York City.

© LAN/Corbis

Tyson once described his high school persona as "a nerd who could kick your butt." That muscular physique -- plus his charisma and good looks -- caused People magazine to name him Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive (perhaps the only astrophysicist to win that distinction).

"As passionate about earthly pleasures as those celestial, the 6'2" Tyson indulges his love of wine and gourmet cooking while succumbing to the gravitational pull of his wife of 12 years, mathematical physics Ph.D. Alice Young," the magazine breathlessly wrote in 2000.

There were clues to Tyson's sexiness early on. He earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia, but it was a very popular course on astronomy for nonscientists he taught at Princeton that foreshadowed his penchant for the public eye. With a knack for helping create a scientifically literate population and a blooming career as an author, the Hayden Planetarium was compelled to offer him a job [source: Hayden Planetarium, Lemonick].

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