COSMOS: it’s time to get going again

9 Mar

“The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be. Our contemplations of the Cosmos stir us. We know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries.”

– Carl Sagan, in COSMOS

Those words are how the legendary Carl Sagan began the first episode of the first COSMOS series back in 1980. It was a time when humans were proud of their scientific accomplishments, dreamed of what else might be discovered, and were excited by the unknown.

Now, it’s 2014.

Carl has long since passed.

Science is (in some corners anyway) considered an ‘opinion’.

And in spite of living in a world that is very much driven by technology, and scientific discovery, we have in some ways slipped backwards. The significance of science has been forgotten. The passion for discovery has taken a backseat – particularly amongst political leaders. The notion that we as a species can improve our lives here on Earth by looking to the Cosmos has been forgotten.

“It’s time to get going again.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tonight on FOX (and National Geographic Channel) the rebooted version of COSMOS begins. It’s a 13-part series, written in large part by Carl Sagan’s compadre Ann Druyan.

The 2014 COSMOS revival is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He, like Carl before him, not only is an utterly brilliant man, but he also has a way with words. Tyson can turn potentially dry science talk into poetry.

He can excite the imagination.

And that is perhaps what I hope to see most from COSMOS tonight, and in the days, months, and years to come. I want to live in a time where people are excited by their imaginations, and the possibilities of what might be.

Whether we’re talking (now seriously) about potential human flights to Mars within the next decade, voyaging to asteroids, finding an Earth 2.0, or perhaps ultimately discovering life elsewhere in the Cosmos (either nearby or distant) – the exploration of space excites and unites humanity in a way unparalleled by other endeavours.

A show like COSMOS has the potential to sew the cultural seeds in a new generation that are necessary for all this to happen.

featcosmos

No pressure though, Neil.

It’s also going to be interesting to explore how full-circle the new series will come, with the original:


I expect veterans of the original series will enjoy those sorts of nods, and it will add a pleasant undertone to the reboot.

It’s also worth mentioning a kudos to an unlikely man in all this: Seth MacFarlane.

The man behind such shows as Family Guy and American Dad.

By all accounts, a reboot to COSMOS was already in the works for PBS by Tyson and Druyan. Then MacFarlane got wind of this, called Tyson, had a chat about becoming involved, and then took it to FOX.

With MacFarlane’s involvement brought a different, and I would argue valuable, perspective to the project. He thought COSMOS should be a spectacle, to such an extent that even non-science minded folks will tune in.

This is important, since ultimately those are the folks that need to be ‘won over’ by the significance and potential of science.

Related: Intuition gives way to data in exploration of the Cosmos

MacFarlane and Fox’ involvement also likely upped the production budget handsomely, and so the new series will be able to deliver visually and experientially in a way that a PBS series wouldn’t have been able to.

“There has never been a more important time for COSMOS to re-emerge than right now because of the fact that we have, in too many ways, roundly ignored and rejected science when it used to be a source of pride for the country and the species.”

– Seth MacFarlane

It goes without saying that I plan on spending my next 13 Sunday evenings in front of my television, and I expect others will also be parked in front of the TVs.

More significantly though, I hope people will wake up Monday morning re-energized about science and the potential for humanity’s real-life exploration of the Cosmos.

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

– Carl Sagan, in COSMOS

I look forward to continuing the journey.

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