Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Cosmos

And now a few words from guest-poster (and big science nerd) Chris!

When I asked to write a guest post for Cosmos, it turns out I inadvertently snatched it away from the likes of Jays. So now the pressure is on! And why was I so excited for this show that I wanted to post about it?* Because I’m an astronomy geek? A simple nerd? Of course! But also because science is cool. No, really! This isn’t a show hidden away on PBS or a cable-only science channel. There it is, on Fox, broadcast in prime time for all the world to see.

Cosmos is a reboot of the 1980 series hosted by the late Carl Sagan (I vaguely remember watching a few of these in science class growing up). It's not a simple retelling of Sagan’s series with fancy new graphics, however. Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, a rockstar astrophysicist of late, hosts our voyage across the Universe on the Spaceship of the Imagination.

The first episode is dedicated to how small, and young, we are when compared to all of space and time. We board our Spaceship for an amazingly graphical search for our cosmic address, and go on a tour of the solar system, the Milky Way, etc. And, what?!? Our Universe may be one of many universes in the Multi-verse?

Cosmos spent a good part of the episode in a Deathly Hallowsish animated (thanks Maggie!)** history lesson on the story of Giordano Bruno, who theorized that the stars were suns, that other planets existed, and that life existed everywhere. He saw this as an obvious extension to the glory of God, but of course the Catholic Church took a dimmer view, convicted him of heresy, and burned him at the stake. I wasn’t a huge fan of this section. Yes, I learned a lot, admittedly having no prior knowledge of Bruno. But I’ll admit it, I’m in this show for the awesome voyages we have planned, not a deep science vs. church history lesson (yes, I know it was deeper than this, but still).

Next, we bring on the amazing graphics again, and Tyson introduces us to the cosmic calendar, where the Big Bang occurred at midnight, January 1. And you know what, we humans ain’t nothing. On this scale, the Sun itself wasn’t formed until late August, the dinosaurs were wiped out on December 30, and all of human written history took place in the last 14 seconds before midnight on New Year’s Eve. 14 SECONDS! Again, no matter how grandiose we think we humans are, we’re rather insignificant in the grandness of the Universe.

Next week, we change course completely, going from examining the vastness of our Universe, to the inner workings of molecules. There’s nowhere our imagination can’t take us. Will I be watching? Of course! Because science is cool.

Cosmos airs Sunday nights at 9:00 EST on FOX. You can also watch the episodes online!

*It is, after all, one of the very few posts I’ve written that wasn’t an obituary for someone my grandmother’s age that I completely identified with.

**Actually, I was wrong! It's not the same animator, though the style was similar, but here's some info about the animation in Cosmos--so cool! --MaggieCats

No comments: