Cosmos Series Just Beginning to Set Sail


The widely anticipated “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” premiered last night. The show aired on 10 different television networks and generated roughly 8.5 million viewers. The television sensation began with a short intro by President Barrack Obama, who emphasized the importance of scientific discovery. Although it is too soon to tell how the new “Cosmos” weighs in comparison to Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” that aired about 34 years ago, critics have been favorable to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s performance as host.

It is unclear whether the performance of Neil deGrasse Tyson will surpass his predecessor, the late Carl Sagan. The original “Cosmos” was the first of its kind, bringing popular science to the living rooms of millions of people across the globe. Indeed, Sagan’s emphasis to challenge religious authority and naturalistic undertone resonated throughout the entire series. In addition, Sagan articulated many memorable lines such as, “The cosmos is all that is, was or ever will be” and “We are star stuff.”

In contrast, Tyson exhibits a much more amiable persona. The teaching styles of each host vary considerably. It is unclear whether Tyson will deliver lines that are as memorable as the late Carl Sagan. Nevertheless, the new “Cosmos” series isn’t trying to merely repeat the former. It occupies a status of its own that preserves the original idea behind the “Cosmos” series coupled with its own unique style.

The premier did quite well, given that it faced competing television air time with popular shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “True Detective.” However, unlike these shows, “Cosmos” was promoted by multiple networks, including FX, National Geographic and even some sports channels.

The first episode of “Cosmos” covered a remarkable amount of science and history. The episode spent a considerable amount of time portraying the churches’ original opposition to the idea that the Earth was not the center of the universe. However, it is important to realize that history is much more complicated than a time slot within an hour-long television can cover. Viewers might be given the false impression that religious authorities were arrogant to believe the entire universe revealed around them.

Be that as it may, the best scientific data of the day was Aristotelian physics, which vindicated a geocentric model of the solar system. In addition, being at the center of the cosmos wasn’t necessarily regarded as a good thing by the church. Being at the center of the universe was equivalent to occupying the seven layers of hell by the church, as originally portrayed in Dante’s Inferno.

The original intent of “Cosmos” was to inform the public about the most up-to-date scientific understanding of the universe. Although much scientific advancement has been made in the last 34 years, the basic scientific picture of the universe remains the same. The big bang did happen, the origin of life remains a mystery, and humanity emerged through the process of evolution.

Apart from advanced special effects, the new “Cosmos’ has not revealed anything that the originally “Cosmos” lacked. This being the case, it will be interesting to see whether the new “Cosmos” will deliver any paradigm shifting, scientific data that was not already covered in the original “Cosmos.” Only time will tell. The cosmic voyage has just set sail.

By Nathan Cranford


LA Times

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