Some are regarding this as a momentous rebirth and others as horrible blasphemy. Neil deGrasse Tyson, famous for his animated and vociferous explanations of science, especially the various aspects of cosmology, to the general public will be hosting a sequel to the famous ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’ series by Carl Sagan.
The path-breaking, awe-inspiring 13-part series by the late Carl Sagan, an American astronomer and science populariser, is a benchmark for documentaries made for popularizing science. This represents the pinnacle of Sagan’s tireless effort in teaching science to the public in a palatable form, trying to get the beauty and awe of the subject across rather than the complexity and mathematics of it. And he was damn good at it.
Evergreen Sagan : Remembering the Unforgettable
No matter how good Sagan’s original series was, it is still three decades old. This means that the special effects used in it are infantile compared to today’s effects and, since science has grown as usual, many facts also need to be revised. In fact it is a testament to Sagan’s foresight and understanding of science that, even today, the series will not seem old. Many predictions that Sagan made in the series are active research areas of today.
Among the many unforgettable parts of the series, was the spine-tingling Pale Blue Dot. In 1991, Voyager had turned its camera around and focussed on the inner planets, and, lo and behold, there was Earth, a pale blue pixel of light, suspended in a sunbeam. Carl Sagan’s lyrical presentation of the emotional content of that one pixel of light is immortal.
Then, there was the famous phrase: Billions and Billions, with extra stress on the B’s, a signature of Sagan. This phrase famously never occurs even once in the series and has been taken up by the media due to its sonorous qualities.
Immortal lines include In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe’, Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known’, The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it. But the way those atoms are put together‘ and The Universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent’.
The New Show: Big Shoes to Fill
The 13-part sequel series will be made by Seth MacFarlane (yes, that Family Guy writer) in collaboration with Ann Druyan (also Sagan’s widow) and Steven Soter. It will be aired in 2013.
Carl Sagan, in his element, is irreplaceable. Neil deGrasse Tyson will have his work cut out for him, as inevitable comparisons will be drawn between him and Sagan. Replacing Sagan might be impossible, but if there is anyone who can come close to sharing that infectious enthusiasm, while delivering passion-laced explanations of science that sound poetic, it has to be Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has proved his mettle as the host of NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS for the last five years. Watch him in a short video here:
Here’s the bad news: it won’t be aired on Discovery or PBS, but rather on Fox. Fox has a rather poor track record with science shows and shows with dropping ratings, unlike Discovery. Let’s leave you with a musical presentation from the Symphony of Science series, having both Sagan and Tyson (and Feynman!):
For evermore shall those stressed b’s in billions’, a trademark of Sagan, ring in our ears…