2014: A spacetime odyssey

I’m sure I’m not the first one to make that joke. I really hope I’m not.

At any rate, we’re four episodes into the reboot of Cosmos, the program that Carl Sagan created to bring science to the public in the ’80s. Now hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey employs lively animation, special effects, and everyone’s favorite astrophysicist to bring science to life for the next generation.

There are a lot of things that I enjoy about the show. I mean, it’s science made epic, and it’s hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is one of the most iconic scientists of today. While I haven’t seen much of the original series, I know that it inspired kids at the time, and I feel that the reboot has that capability too through its storytelling and imagery. I consider myself decently well versed in the topics covered, such as evolution and the history of astronomy, but I’ve learned new things from the show, especially the handful “most important scientists you’ve never heard of” we meet in each episode. And of course there’s the occasional nod to Ithaca because that’s where Sagan lived.

I only have one quibble regarding the show, and it’s both small and significant: the viewership. I see my science journalist- and scientist-filled Twitter feed light up when the show comes on, but this shows that the people who are watching it are already into science. As such, I think it’s also fair to assume that the people who could benefit from such a show are not watching it, with the exception of the creationists who insist fair and equal representation on the show. This includes kids: that’s where the interest has to start, and a show that’s on at 9pm on Sundays isn’t going to get to many (they’re lucky the site has full episodes).

Take my fellow show-watchers for example. I don’t have cable, so I watch in the community laundry room lounge. The other people there only watch it because I’m there, so I know they don’t care enough to watch it on their own, and while no one has expressed disinterest when I ask, many times they give me a weird look when I turn it on, so I know they harbor that distaste for science that this show is aiming to resolve. Yes, I’m making a weekly pilgrimage to the laundry room to voluntarily watch science. Yes, I know you’re doing homework while you’re waiting for your laundry to finish. And yes, your distaste in what I’m watching is more incentive for me to keep it on.

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