Archive of ‘Cosmos’ category

Carl Sagan is the Real Star of Cosmos Finale “Unafraid of the Dark”

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

“Unafraid of the Dark” is the season finale of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. My criticism towards the show has softened as I’ve started recommending it to random teenagers I know, but I still feel like Cosmos is more a show of “science-y feelings” than actual science. As always it’s visually stunning, but strangely hollow.

Scientific characters like Victor Hess, Fritz Zwicky, Vera Rubin, and Edward Hubble seem to be united in a single narrative of going against the grain than a scientific progression. With the exception of the Harvard Computers, Cosmos has singled out individual scientists far more than the more communal and collaborative aspect of research, teamwork, etc.… Read more »

Cosmos’s The Immortals: Fiasoces and Facism

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Perhaps it was the choice of music, but this episode of Cosmos seemed uncharacteristically silly. Not cheesy, mind you, but down right silly. Ravel’s Bolero which is heard early in the episode is also used in one of my favorite episodes of This American Life. The episode in question is called “Fiasco” and it is used during a story about a horrifically terrible production of Peter Pan. However, even without the association, the ballet music combined with the images of asteroids bombarding a nascent earth, is jarring enough to produce laughter or cringing.

Cosmos episode eleven’s thesis is that we as a species are also at the brink of a fiasco: self-destruction through climate change and fascism (cue black and white roll of Hitler and Mussolini).… Read more »

Cosmos’ The Electric Boy is Magnetic

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

At last a Cosmos episode I wholeheartedly like. Within the first few moments, Neil Degrasse Tyson poses a question, and forty minutes later he explains it. Incidentally, it follows a beloved hallmark that is reminiscent of This American Life. Each week, we bring you a theme and today’s theme is on the triumvirate of electricity, light, and magnetism.

Like a wave, Tyson narrates the highs and lows, details and overarching ideas. The cartoon is intercut with visual effects, and we actually go into details for several experiments. The montage of Christmas Lectures made my throat swell with emotion, and is probably the most effective and concrete way Cosmos has been able to link the past to the present in a continuum.… Read more »

Cosmos: The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth is a Tease

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

It has been brought to my attention that my vocal dislike of the Cosmos is at odds with the consistently high ratings. This is because I have to reconcile the facts that I like that Cosmos exists in the world and on TV, I think it’s a valuable resource for curious minds, and I like its visuals and its soundtrack, but I find it neither especially entertaining nor educational.

Admittedly, I’m quite stupid when it comes to TV and I watch it a lot more passively than other people. Youtuber and academic Derek of Veritasium studied that people retain more when they actively engage with the material, and that light turns off as soon as the screen turns on.… Read more »

Cosmos’ Sisters of the Sun: Women Can Be Scientists Too

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey comes out on DVD on June 10th!
I have written earlier about how Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey disinterests me, but I have always held onto the hope that if it was just a little more tightly written, I would become a convert. Well, the last two episodes of Cosmos have been strong, but I still don’t have a particular fondness of the show. It’s not Cosmos; it’s me.

“Sisters of the Sun” formed cohesively around the theme of women of the stars from myths of constellations to the actual female scientists (Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Cecilia Payne).… Read more »

Cosmos Episode 7: Action Heroes, Superheroes, and Big Oil

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey comes out on DVD on June 10th!
With is the mysterious black and red substance that our bespectacled hero is seeing? Is there an alien substance clinging to our surfaces or is he just paranoid? Instead of visual delights, this hook-style opening finally signals an episode with a narrative focus. Cosmos Episode Seven “The Clean Room” follows Clair Patterson’s (voiced by Richard Gere) heroic research that not only dated the universe but also reduced lead poisoning for like the entire world.

“The Clean Room” has all the notes of Hollywood docudrama. A humble scientist makes a groundbreaking discovery only to have his superiors try to sweep his findings under the rug.… Read more »

Cosmos Episode “Deeper Still” is Good But Still Pretty Shallow

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

This is by far my favorite episode of Cosmos, but I still believe that the show with its glitzy production values is packing too much information into a forty-four minute run time. There is never enough time to let any of the information soak in before the next marvelous visual effect.

In “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still,” Neil Tyson Degrasse and crew focused on the cosmos of a dew drop, an atom, and a particle. Bound by this somewhat vague theme, we follow Neil Tyson Degrasse as he travels through a dewdrop, infiltrates a chlorophyll factory, rowboats through an underground xenon detector in Japan, hurtles through space, and pontificates in a cathedral.… Read more »

Cosmos’ Hiding In the Light Leaves Me in the Dark

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Chronology is not enough to organize an episode. The latest Cosmos episode “Hiding in the Light” explores the history of light, starting from a caveman version of the camera obscura, going through an ancient Chinese philosopher Moze, 11th century Arabian scholar Ibn Al-Haytham (Alhazen) of Basra, Isaac Newton, William Herschel, and finishing with secret government scientist Joseph von Frauenhoefer. I will repeat it one more time: chronology is not enough to organize an episode.

I had several issues with the general format and pacing of the information. It introduced too many historical figures and then explained their scientific ideas with computer simulations.… Read more »

Marijuana, Coffee Houses, and the Cosmic Clockmaker: Why is Cosmos so Sensationalist?

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

In addition to sharing a few choice tidbits about science — Edmond Halley was once paid in Fish Books by the Royal Society — Cosmos continues to promote a liberal agenda. While ostensibly narrating from inside a watermill, Neil Degrasse Tyson purports that Newton’s laws of motion disproved a grand clockmaker. I think Cosmos would be a much more powerful tool if it didn’t try to alienate the Christians in the audience. Another needless jab is when Tyson states that more people know the names of mass murderers than Jan Oort. “What does that say about us,” Tyson says and pauses for me to squirm in my seat.… Read more »

‘Cosmos’ Review: Beautiful and Blah

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

There was much oohing and ahhing as we watched the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I can’t say much to the scientific and historic accuracy, but I didn’t find it as appealing as my friends. As an avid fan of popular science and history vlogs and podcasts, I’m used to dense nuggets of information and colorful anecdotes conveyed at a rapid pace.

The slow, repetitive format of Cosmos is kind of boring. The thesis of the episode can be summed up like this: we are a tiny part of the universe in terms of space and time. The vehicle of the spaceship traveling from Earth to the edge of the galaxy and the vehicle of a gigantic calender
hits that home.… Read more »