Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a 13-part television series with a purpose to introduce science as an engaging and entertaining topic. It is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and produced by Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan,who is renowned scientist Carl Sagan’s widow.
Carl Sagan was the original host of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 1980 television show that covered a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. The 1980 original was the most widely watched series in the history of American Public Television until 1990 when it was surpassed by “The Civil War(1990).” The original Cosmos has been seen by over 500 million people in more than 60 countries.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey recently premiered on March 9th, 2014 with the first episode titled “Standing Up in the Milky Way.” The first episode features a tour of the solar system and the known universe before sharing the birth of Renaissance Italian Giordano Bruno’s vision of the universe as a limitless expanse of space and time. It then makes an exploration into the Cosmic Calendar, which dates back to the dawn of the Big Bang. The episode appropriately ends with deGrasse Tyson narrating how he met his mentor Carl Sagan, the host of the original Cosmos series. And just to add a little more bang to this already star-studded affair, the first episode was introduced by none other than President Barack Obama.
Family Guy fans are quick to ask, why is Seth MacFarlane producing a science series? The truth is that MacFarlane has been a huge fan of Cosmos since the beginning. He has truly been an integral part of the team and has been a strong advocate for the series since the idea to remake the show was spawned in 2008 following an introduction the Druyan. As child, MacFarlane loved Sagan’s show. MacFarlane sees both series as a gap between the academic community and the general public. MacFarlane also believes that “the universe is hilarious! Like, Venus is 900 degrees. I could tell you it melts lead. But that’s not as fun as saying, ‘You can cook a pizza on the windowsill in 9 seconds.’ And next time my fans eat pizza, they’re thinking of Venus!”
When recently interviewed about the show, deGrasse Tyson stated that “the goal is to convey why science matters to the person, to our society, to us as shepherds of this planet. It involves presenting science in ways that connect to you, so Cosmos can influence you not only intellectually but emotionally, with a celebration of wonder and awe,” says Tyson. “Science should be part of everybody’s life. The prerequisite is not that you become a scientist. It’s that at the end of the series, you will embrace science and recognize its role in who and what you are.”
The new Cosmos draws inspiration, and even some content, from the original series but also takes advantage of newer scientific concepts and major advances in production quality to combine rigorous scientific skepticism with a sense of romance in the cosmos. Drawing from the original Cosmos, the new production brings back the Cosmic Calendar, which tries to put the unfathomable 13.8-billion-year history of the universe in the context of a year, with all of recorded history taking up just the last 14 seconds of Dec. 31. It is facts like these that highlight the unfathomable majesty of Cosmos.
If you missed the first episode, it can be viewed online at http://www.cosmosontv.com
(Episodes will air weekly on Fox, followed by a repeat broadcast with bonus material Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic.)
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