Dear Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson,

First of all, I love your work.  I love science.  I have watched your show Cosmos at least three times and I eagerly await the second season. Is that happening soon?  After the Gilmore Girls reunion, it’s hard to imagine that season two of Cosmos could be far behind.  Anyway, I am currently traveling in Zagreb, Croatia.  I wanted to note that you should really check out Zagreb – it’s a city for serious science fans like me.

I’m learning many new things about Zagreb and its rich contribution to science.  On a recent planet hop along a model solar system that is built into the Zagreb cityscape (yes, Zagreb has a model solar system – see below), I pondered some of the deeper questions about the cosmos that still linger even after a close viewing of your show (e.g., Why is Newton so amazing? What’s up with quantum mechanics?). I also thought: astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson would really enjoy the Zagreb city-sized model solar system, as well as other features of this city relevant to the history and study of science.

Perhaps when you visit Zagreb you can host a Star Talk podcast from here.  I mean, people need more science!

In no particular order, here are a few questions, as well as a few notes of scientific interest about Zagreb that should convince you and any other science lover to visit Zagreb: 

1. Quantum Mechanics

Seriously, what is up with quantum mechanics?  (Not necessarily particular to Zagreb, but had to make sure I asked.) 

2. Science in Zagreb – The Solar System

 As I mentioned above, walking the solar system is a great way to get to know the city. It’s also a fun reminder of the relative distances of the planets from each other and from the sun, a topic covered several times in your series Cosmos. You can start at the model sun, a big bronze orb sitting near the city center.  It’s about two meters in diameter.  And, while not part of the official model of the solar system, there happen to be a couple of good coffee shops near the sun to stop in before heading out to the terrestrial planets.

A bronze sculpture of the Sun right in the midst of pedestrian traffic in Zagreb.

The Sun. Tagged by many of its admirers, this huge orb is the focal point of the “Nine Views” exhibit in Zagreb.

From the sun, I recommend heading to Mercury first and then hitting the planets in order of increasing distance from the sun. The planets are spaced throughout the city as if in a snapshot (or, a space-time-slice, if you prefer) of their actual orbits, so they are not in a straight line leading out from the sun. Going in order will take you on a pleasant winding path around the city during which you’ll “orbit” the sun several times as you bounce from planet to planet.  I was surprised again by how close the terrestrial planets are to the sun compared to the gas giants. I also note: the Zagreb model solar system does not include the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, so it’s actually a lot safer and less of a hassle to the get to the gas giants than in the actual solar system.

The walk to Pluto is freaking far.  I know that Pluto is not a planet. The Zagreb model solar system, completed in 2004, reflects an earlier time when we were less enlightened about the facts of our solar system. I find it to be a pleasant reminder that the scientific method continues to propel us ever closer to the light of illumination as we barrel through the four-dimensional space-time worm we call life. Go ahead, make the long walk from Neptune to Pluto and contemplate the brave and tortuous path of science that got us where we are now.  Or be a purist and skip it (lazy). 

Nikola Tesla was Croatian and there is a museum dedicated to him in Zagreb.

Tesla in his studio.  Photo credit: Wikipedia

3. Science in Zagreb – Nikola Tesla 

I will note that Nikola Tesla wasn’t covered in Cosmos.  Maybe he will appear in season two?  Anyhow, the technical museum in Zagreb is named after Nikola Tesla and hosts an exhibit of his studies. The Nikola Tesla Technical Museum is a place oozing with pure mad scientist genius.  The museum also has a planetarium if you need to commune with the solar system some more.  Did you know that Tesla was Croatian?  Truth. Totally a BFD.

4. Science in Zagreb – Penkala’s Pen

Zagreb has long been a haven for scientists and inventors like Slavoljub Penkala, a well-known inventor and naturalized Croat who lived in Zagreb in the 1900s. In 1910 he built the first airplane to fly in Croatia. While most famous for his invention of the mechanical pencil, the ball point pen, and the thermos flask, he spent most of his adult life in Zagreb creating over 80 other patented inventions.  Surely, mathematicians and astrophysicists alike owe a debt of gratitude to the man who gave them the tools to write down their equations easily, while sipping on a hot beverage.  (Especially those scientists that work on quantum mechanics, I mean, wth.)

5. Science in Zagreb – Neanderthals

You know how primitive humans didn’t start walking around the earth until around 10:30 pm or so on the last day of the year on the cosmic calendar?  (I LOVE that cosmic calendar, btw.)  Well, Croatia has the largest collection of some of their remains.  How’s that for a contribution to science?  In the town of Krapina, which is just a short day trip from Zagreb, you can visit the archeological site where over 70 Neanderthal skeletons were unearthed making it the largest such find to date.  The Natural History Museum in Zagreb hosts many of the finds from the Krapina site.  Star Talk would kill if you podcasted amidst 125,000 year old remains! 

A statue of Nikola Tesla in Zagreb, Croatia.

A representation of Nikola Tesla, deep in thought. Simulation or not a simulation?

6. Question on Simulations

Is this all a simulation?  You and others addressed this question in a recent Star Talk podcast, and I think we all came away with something like: yeah, we’re probably all in a simulation.  But if we are in a simulation, that may be even more reason for you to visit Zagreb.  Even in a simulation, we still get to have all the great experiences that the sim provides, don’t we?  Nothing about the simulation hypothesis changes the fact that in the Zagreb portion of the sim, you can enjoy a great, walkable city with a burgeoning wine culture and great coffee.  Which brings me to a final question:

7. Science in Zagreb – Engery Consumption

Do you like coffee?  If so, then you have to go to Zagreb.  The coffee is strong here.  It’s similar to Turkish coffee so a little will go a long way!  The coffee shop density of Zagreb is greater than anywhere I have been, including Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Once you approach the event horizon, you will be caffeinated.

By now, I hope you’re already looking at Sky Scanner to book your ticket to Zagreb. Or you can take the Ship of the Imagination, or whatever. (Obviously take the Ship, if available.)

I can’t wait to give the Zagreb tour to my favorite astrophysicist, and you might want to pass the word along to any other science fans looking for a cool place to visit. 


– 65 Liter Life

Zagreb is for science lovers. Why NDT and all astrophysicists should consider a visit to Croatia's capital. Travel.

This post contains affiliate links.  That means if you purchase something through one of the links, I will get a small commission.  Bonus it's at no greater cost to you! Thanks!

This post contains affiliate links.  That means if you purchase something through one of the links, I will get a small commission.  Bonus it's at no greater cost to you! Thanks!

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