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Television Science

The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series 183

StartsWithABang writes "So unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that it's only a few short weeks until the premiere of the new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey starring Neil de Grasse Tyson. Many have hopes (and fears) concerning what the series will (and won't) be, but this perspective — on what a 'successful' Cosmos series could mean for the future of humanity — is worth a read for anyone who hasn't given up on dreaming big."
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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series

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  • If (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:15AM (#46264825)

    If it restores America's manned spaceflight program, then it will be worth it.

    Almost every cultural intersection between science and the human spirit since the early 1920s originated in man's mission to reach space and other planets. One could argue conclusively that America's peak was July 20th, 1969.

    It is true that since then we have lost our way. But that, like many other things, is a fixable problem, provided America rediscovers its soul and remembers what it means to be an American.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:16AM (#46264831)
    Like there was no Big Bang, rather, some powerful beings forgot to turn off their 3D printer before going on vacation in another dimension. Next thing you know, it's 3D printers everywhere and here we are!
  • by mendax ( 114116 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:31AM (#46264877)

    I like the idea of a remade Cosmos series. It's long overdue. However, it will be difficult for the series to be anywhere near as good as the original. The original was a mix of great writing, great music, especially the classical numbers, and the love of the subject that Carl Sagan had. Dr. Sagan wasn't just host and co-writer of the series, he was THE high priest of popular science as that time and when he spoke, he was preaching like a Bible-thumping evangelist, only without the southern drawl. While Neil de Grasse Tyson has done a lot of work to fill that role, he's not Carl Sagan. Still, I look forward to seeing this series. Since I don't usually watch TV, I'll have to get a digital TV antenna.

  • Re:If (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yoje ( 140707 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:54AM (#46264925)

    I believe the hope here is not that it will bring forward some new revelation, but that it will simply get the general public excited about science again.

    The original Cosmos series helped get a lot of the public talking about science, and probably grew some careers out of the kids that watched it as well. Whether Tyson and the rest of the new Cosmos staff will be able to do this remains to be seen, but I think the primary goal is not necessarily to give new insight into the mysteries of the universe, but to make thinking about these questions interesting again to the general public.

    In today's television world of History being taught by Pawn Stars, and The Learning Channel showing us insights of child beauty pageants, reality shows are now the bread and butter for almost every network. It has seriously diluted the education that is occurring from television (and let's be honest, whether it should be or not, there is no escape that a lot of people do substitute television watching for actual learning). While PBS and a few other stray networks help a bit, this new series of Cosmos offers some hope. If NatGeo was the only one doing it, it would gain some attention, but the fact that a major over-the-air network like Fox (especially with its reputation) is teaming up with this is encouraging.

    If the new Cosmos can actually succeed, not necessarily in explaining complex scientific theories about our world and the universe, but if it can succeed in what the original Cosmos did in just getting everyday people excited in science again, it would do a lot of long term good for this country. Perhaps, just perhaps, a few other networks could follow suit and knock out one or two hours a week of their reality programs to put more science into their programming. Perhaps it can get more people, especially young people, into looking at science as a viable career option instead of trying to figure out how to get their 15 mins of fame on another reality show. Lofty dreams to be sure, but we have to start somewhere, and hopefully this new series will either help be that spark to get others excited, or confirm once and for all that no one in this country really gives a damn about science and watch as our scientific knowledge plummets compared to the rest of the world.

  • Re:If (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:11AM (#46265181)

    It changes lives. Literally. It raises awareness.

    My decision to come and work in the Netherlands is entirely based on Cosmos. "travelers in time ans space" was the episode - it talks exclusively about the Dutch golden age. Saw it behind the Iron Curtain at an age of 12 or something. When I realized that this is a society where you could say "The world is my country, science is my religion" [quote Christian Huygens] in the times when Galileo was prosecuted in South Europe and threaten with death I though "this is it, I'm going there".

    Of course, this famous Dutch spirit has been under attack recently as "non-profitable" - exactly the same decline in rational thought that we see much more pronounced in the US. So the Dutch also need new Cosmos, to remind them that it is because of that spirit they had the golden age. The moment they loose it, they've lost everything, since this country has nothing else [no resources, nor territory].

  • by lemur3 ( 997863 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:40AM (#46265263)

    About 3-4 years ago I got into the habit of watching most of the documentaries that come out of the UK.. whether it be bbc/channel4 or whatever else. ... Having grown up with PBS/discovery channel I have to say that american documentaries have started to turn to crap.

    Most of the American docs these days seem to be stock footage with a voice over.. very low quality and not very interesting.. The bigger trend in american docs is a lot of 3-D animations and cheesy recreations.

    In comparison the UK docs usually have a personality on-screen who is generally an expert going through the topic, sometimes interviewing people.. with less reliance on 3D animations and recreations, and in general, more respect for the viewers intelligence they end up being much more enjoyable.

    NOVA in particular has tended towards lower quality in the past few years.. in stark comparison to HORIZON, which continues to be quite good.

    as I've seen the hype over this COSMOS series come about I can't help but think it will be a big let down... as the budgets just don't seem to be there, along with a different view of the intelligence of the viewer.

  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:34AM (#46266011)
    That's the thing about Tyson and just about every public scientist out there today, they're not inclusive like Sagan was. That's what made Sagan great and even gave the naysayers a reason to lend an ear. He opened himself up to the "what ifs" of the world and didn't shout people down for their own way of being as long as it wasn't harmful to others.

    We need a feeling of unity more than anything else at this place in time for humanity's sake. I just don't see Tyson doing that although he may be the most qualified to do so. We really do need another Sagan.
  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @10:26AM (#46266299) Homepage Journal
    ohhh, typical /. neckbeard!

    movie wasn't as good as the book, it didn't have enough Pi in it!

    Geeze you must hate every other movie except for that weird little thing Aronofsky made.

    Plus, it was better in the book by that Polish author Sagan ripped off, where the guy gets sued for his random number tables not being sufficiently random.

    And I'll never forgive Tyson shooting Pluto in the back like a damn dirty bushwhacker.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:39AM (#46266995)

    I often watch the original series for background entertainment. Sure, there is some really informative information in there such as how acolytes of people like Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato basically impede real science from moving forward. But then the guy spouts off on the theory of nuclear winter which turned out to be totally bogus and a fabrication of the KGB to deter NATO from placing nukes in western Europe. He just can't resist the opportunity to inject opinion knowing full well that he's A) got a captive audience by that point and B) there is no way opposing facts can be presented.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court