“Journey-Work of the Stars”: Story of the Universe in 8 Minutes!


By Henry Reich, in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s video, ‘The Genesis of the Universe’

Check out what must be the most ambitious digital graphic movie ever! Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of the universe’s evolution in a mere 8 minutes.

Tyson’s accessible narration comes to life alongside Henry Reich’s hand-drawn, time-compressed illustrations. On some level the information is utterly incomprehensible in scope and scale. Yet this short video makes it slightly more possible to imagine how the universe emerged and took shape over 13.7 billion years.

The poet Walt Whitman comes to mind as I watch. Whitman “sang” the wonders of a dynamic universe long before massive telescopes and intensive scientific inquiry shed light on the universe’s birth and expansion:

Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I and this mystery here we stand.

All truths wait in all things.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.

That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.

(from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’)

Orion_Nebula_NASA_Pic_smCenter of the Orion Nebula. Source: NASA

The origins and scale of the universe are unimaginable—yet this video has helped me imagine it. The next time I see the stars splashed across the night sky, I’ll be looking with different eyes.



1.  The link is to the YouTube video, The Genesis of the Universe, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and illustrated by Henry Reich. The video is a project of http://www.audible.com/minutephysics.

2.  The Walt Whitman quotes are excerpted from his poetic masterpiece, Song of Myself. Background information about the poem is here.

3.  “A digital graphic movie (also known as ‘graphic recording movie’) features rapid hand drawings in video format. These are in growing use as a way to communicate key messages and draw attention to new visions, plans, and concepts.” This definition is from the FAQs on the website of The Grove Consultants International, where I work.

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