Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Response to Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Recently I finished watching the series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.  Back in February of 2013 I read an article about the then yet to be released series in which the author discussed the purpose and aim of the show.  The idea was to recreate the explosion of the interest in science in the same way that Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage did in the '80's.  Though I think Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey was visually stunning, very educational and highly interesting, I don't think it achieved its purpose.

The most appealing aspects of Carl Sagan's Cosmos were the real images of the cosmos and the discussions of the amazing discoveries recently made in the universe.  Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey discusses many historical figures and many of the impacts made in science throughout history, but it does not invoke the level of curiosity about our place in the universe by sharing recent discoveries that have impacted the science community, in the way Carl Sagan's Cosmos does.  Many amazing aspects of our universe, like Magnetars, were not even mentioned! Personally, I find crazy things that can rip the iron out of your bodies from thousands of miles away way more likely to motivate me to discover more about the universe than the many episodes that were devoted to historical biographies. Don't get me wrong, those were very interesting and I learned many things I did not know, but it did not have the feel of wonder Carl Sagan's Cosmos achieved. Also, what about the Hubble Deep Field?  Or the baby picture of the Universe?  What makes those things so wonderful is the craziness of what you are seeing.  With the hubble deep field you are able to look back at galaxies that formed near the beginning of the universe!  I honestly feel those things should have been discussed more.

Many of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episodes are full of wonder and beautiful imagery but I found myself always feeling a little disappointed.  All in all, though, the show was definitely worth watching as it does discuss many pressing issues that humanity is facing this very moment, and teaches about the history of science and earth.  Seth Macfarlane and Neil DeGrasse Tyson create a visually striking and fascinating educational biology program, but sadly did not accomplish the goal of recreating a new Cosmos.

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