March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014


Years ago, rock star astronomer Carl Sagan presented a TV series called Cosmos. Originally broadcast on PBS, the series covered many bits and bobs of science with a focus on origins and order. (The Mensan in me would remind you that kosmos in Greek literally means “order.” The non-Mensan in me wonders whether the collective noun for a group of Cosmopolitan magazines is a “cosmos.”) Now that we’re living in the age of Astounding! Visual! Effects!, Seth McFarlane (yes, the Family Guy guy) has rebooted the series with Duly Noted favorite Neil Degrasse Tyson* as host and—if previews are any indication—hella good visuals:

See, I’m a sucker for science presented with analogies and effects. Abstracts just screw me up, which is why I had such a hard time with physics and its pages of Greek letters. No wonder Newton had to wait for that apple situation to discover gravity, is all I’m saying. So when someone presents science well, as Duly Noted favorites Bill Nye* and Brian Greene* did, it’s a huge deal. Sadly, it’s usually a huge deal on PBS, which entire generations of Americans forgot about during the years when they were too old for Sesame Street and too young for Downton Abbey. Trust me: The Elegant Universe was an effing work of art.

(I was able to see Brian Greene speak in person at the Smithsonian last week. It was an interesting crowd. I was probably in the top quartile of “social adjustment” but in the bottom quartile of “understanding the subject matter.” Every time Greene fired up an animation, I was like, OOH SO SHINY! Then I got super pissed off at a couple of people who had apparently come along for shits and giggles rather than to pay attention. Hundreds of actual fans were seated remotely in an overflow room while your disrespecting and uncultured selves took selfies. But that's a whole separate blog post. Possibly a whole separate blog.)

The new series drops Sunday on both the FOX and NatGeo families of channels. 9/8 central. Whether you believe the universe was created suddenly by a big bang, or in six days by an Omnipotent Being, watch and be dazzled.

* Bonk/Marry/Kill: Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Brian Greene. DIFFICULT, right?

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