By Nancy Elias
Who said television has to be mindless? If you love to learn and be inspired by all that the worlds here on Earth and beyond have to offer, you should be tuning into Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Cosmos is a follow up to the original series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage which aired on the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) in 1980. The series was presented by Carl Sagan, an astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist. Among his many titles, Sagan was a lover of learning and science—a love he wished to inspire others with in his scientific documentary. The 2014 version of this show is presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who not only knew Sagan but was personally inspired by him in his college years.
Following Sagan’s death in 1996, Ann Druyan, his widow and co-creator of the original series, hoped to revive the original series and present it in a way that would appeal to a wide audience and not just to those who loved science. She aimed to make science a house-hold name and expand the learning experience beyond the classroom and into everyday life. Druyan alongside co-creator Steven Soter and director Brannon Bragga have taken many aspects of the original Cosmos such as the 13 episodes to the series and the “ship of the imagination” and have digitally re-imagined and updated the show in a way that is visually and artistically pleasing. The show comes complete with extensive use of animation and an original score composed by Alan Silvestri.
With the human eye as the center of the show’s title in its title screen, Cosmos makes science and the wonder of the Earth and universe a personal and relatable experience. The show stresses that humans are their own cosmos, with their own history intertwined with the history of the world and the universe as a whole. Humans, the show stresses, are everything and nothing: with the power to contribute to and change the world, but at the same time, only making up the last second of the last minute on December 31st in the Cosmic Calendar that encompasses the scope of time.
The series premiered on March 9, 2014 across ten U.S. networks and airs weekly on FOX on Sunday nights at 9pm EST and is rebroadcasted on the National Geographic Channel the following night. Three episodes have aired so far, part of a 13 episode series, so it is not too late to catch up and tune in. Each episode is not only informative and educational but visually stunning, making science more than words on a page or charts in a textbook but a living and breathing part of our everyday world around us and beyond us. It is a reminder that the world we live in is truly an awe-inspiring one, a wonder that we have the power to contribute to.