Friday, October 08, 2010

30th Anniversary (+ 1 week) of Cosmos

OK, so apparently the official 30th anniversary of Cosmos was last week. But think of it...thirty years! I am re-watching the whole series to celebrate.

To my mind there has never been another series like this, weaving all branches of science together with history, culture, beautiful scenery, and great writing, all orchestrated by an intellectual/charismatic/goofball host in a red turtleneck. To think that back then, Sagan was already warning us about global warming (more often called "the greenhouse effect")--in fact, his studies of the atmosphere of Venus helped lay the groundwork for understanding the whole concept. Of course the more immediate worry was nuclear war and the possibly resulting nuclear winter, another idea drawn from studies of Venus. The series's ultimate purpose really was to SAVE THE WORLD by showing us everything we had to lose.

For me, the show continues to inspire a form of secular awe that I imagine other people get when attending church or reading sacred texts. Who are the scientists, artists, and intellectuals who can inspire us this way today? Will pseudo-intellectual religious demagogues continue to fill this vacuum?

Yes, I know Sagan was a jerk in his off-hours. I know the set of Cosmos was an unpleasant place to be much of the time (sparkling ocean/Mediterranean Sea notwithstanding). The book below tells some of those stories. Such are the contradictions we must often hold in our minds in the presence of masterpieces.

Anyway, you can watch it on Hulu.

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