Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Ancient Mariner, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, and honestly, I think they've done a great job between balancing out some of the basic topics and the more obscure, like with this episode for instance, and the one about the light.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, that was the point--this was really about AGW denialism, even though the folks at http://wattsupwiththat.com/ aren't to be thought of in the same way as dullards like Ham...

    If Neil were caught in sub-zero weather on a location shoot, he would probably accept that plane ride on even a WWII plane. Freezing will kill you faster than lead--except from a bullet of course. Aviation saves lives, what with lifeflights, relief, organ transport, etc.

    Besides, I don't think my lead star trek miniatures will kill me unless I gnaw on them...

    That is a very fair point. The biggest gripe in this episode (I'm late to the discussion, true) is that folks shouldn't be believed when they defend their products. I'm a leftie on a lot of things--for example, the prices big pharma demands. But if I did a double blind study on why vaccines are perfectly safe, and some yahoo said. "Sure you say, but you work for their company, so you are just lying."

    I know I wouldn't appreciate that.

    Neil should be careful. I'm sure many Ecofeminists and deep ecologists might refer to space expoloration both he and Bill Nye support as a "penetrative act." So Neil might be careful as to who his friends really are.

    For example, Bush 43, to his credit, supported a hydrogen fuel initiative the sitting president killed http://www.treehugger.com/cars/obama-kills-hydrogen-car-funding.html
    There are always folks who want to push the goal posts back:
    http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=4813

    Then too, according to the book Terraforming, were Venus' CO2 atmosphere were replaced with a similar concentration of water vapor, it would actually get hotter, since water vapor is a more severe greenhouse gas than CO2. The idea is that the hydrologic cycle would rain out excess H2) faster than plants could re-uptake the carbon--and yet we are seeing plant growth in deserts, so go figure...
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Oh, you are a bit late for that comment, but then nobody else even showed up. :techman:

    Anyway, by EPA exposure limits, unleaded gasoline is over a hundred times more toxic than leaded gasoline. Any type of mixture containing over 0.1% benzene is considered carcinogenic by the EPA (gasoline can be up to 2% benzene), and is linked to things like acute myeloid leukemia, chromosome damage, liver damage, heart damage, brain damage, bone marrow damage, lung damage, spina bifida, anencephaly (babies born missing a big hunk of their brain).

    Perhaps a better solution would've been to switch to triaryl bismuth compounds at about 5 times higher concentration than tetra-ethyl lead, which was listed as a possibility back in the 1920's. Aryl bismuth compounds are so safe you can drink them prior to getting an X-ray, and if bismuth builds up in the environment we can just use it to make Pepto-Bismol.

    Side note: an aryl is an aromatic hydrocarbon with a hydrogen stripped off.

    1926 study of anti-knock compounds.

    New way to make aryl bismuth compounds
     
  4. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Now, see, I loved the spectrum episode, because I didn't know that we could see the composition of stars just by the light spectrum itself. That really did surprise me, so I am ever thankful for that episode.
     
  5. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The new show doesn't quite hit me the way it did when I was like 10 (my oldest daughter is name Alexandria, 3 guesses why.) But I d like it.

    I think some of the problems are...well, Neil deGrasse Tyson, as much as I *love* him, he's no Carl Sagan - but the video some fame made of "The Most Astounding Fact" did convince me that he could do "Cosmos" very well...he's just not Sagan (though it could be worse - this could be "Cosmos: Hosted by Michio Kaku" *shudder*.)

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU[/yt]

    ^That is what turned me from a skeptic, into a believer, that Neil *could indeed* do "Cosmos".)

    (I think the one scientific popularizer who has Carl's similar poetic speaking style is Timothy Ferris - see "The Creation of the Universe" DVD from Netflix (clip bellow) - it's a wee bit dated, but worth it. So is "Life Beyond Earth." But Timothy, Ann, and Sagan have a...rocky history. Ann was engaged to Ferris - and I believe friends with Sagan - when he was asked to work on the Voyager Interstellar Record - which he did (though Carl often get's most the credit!) - but Ann Druyan left Timothy Ferris for Sagan (and Sagan left his *second* wife for Ann)...and Timothy and Sagan tried to reconcile as Sagan was just about to die...but never really could successfully. So I could understand why he wouldn't be chosen as a narrator for a new "Cosmos"!!!)

    (Plus Timothy isn't as well known by the public - nor is he an actual scientist, but a science popularizer who originally write for Rolling Stone magazine.)

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euRZwo0PBHU[/yt]

    And also, Carl's widow, Ann Druyan, *did* co-write most of Carl's books...but it's clear to me now that a lot of the poetic style came from Sagan, not Druyan....she just doesn't have *quite* the same poetic way of writing. (And when she does in the new series, she and Tyson are almost quoting verbatim something Carl himself said/wrote in the original.

    The animation threw me at first - but after hearing Ann explain why they chose that style instead of all live-action historical shots (which they *do* used a very few of) I understand why they chose it - not *just* because Seth MacFarlane was involved, as I first thought - but because it appeals to today's audience better - especially the kids. Still part of me misses the like action.

    But I think one of the biggest issues for me it, well - the decision to go with airing on Fox may have meant more money for production - and the show will now reach a MUCH greater audience (though didn't over *billion* people see the original!?) - BUT - it also now means sacrificing time that could be devoted to talking about science - and without constant interruptions - to *commercials*. And for me that is not only a bi distracting....but it makes the show *obviously* shorter...and seem rushed and pressed for time! (I keep hoping that we will find out that the DVD release will contain longer, uncut, full 60min episodes! But part of me doubts that...but who knows, maybe there WILL at least be deleted scenes...?)

    But the last thing is - and I think this decision may be part of the same thinking style tat chose animation over live action (though like I said, I'm now used to - and even *liking* - the animated segments)...is that "Cosmos" not ONLY taught me to love science (well, I think I already LOVED it - but didn't really know what it *was*, on the whole) - is that "Cosmos" also taught me to love *CLASSICAL MUSIC*. I STILL OWN the vinyl copy of the original "Music of Cosmos" (and am looking for the rare, foreign re-printed extended CD version of it!) "Cosmos" used a *LOT* of music in the show (and it had 60 minutes, not 50 0r 45, so it had the *time* - and people then had longer attention spans!) But "Cosmos" not only introduced me to classical music, but to "New Age" (the main theme for the original series was Vangelis "Heaven & Hell pt. 2") and to what we might call "World Music" or tribal music" - from Indian (India) music to sheepherders to traditional Japanese flute music....and to some Jazz and oldies. AND EVEN _PINK FLOYD_ WAS USED ON THE SHOW (but sadly, permission couldn't be secured for the record.) But especially to *Classical*!!! The Four Seasons... (A lot of it the same pieces form the Voyager Record.)

    I was *enraptured* - and at age *10* - by the soundtrack music. Once I remember putting the record on, and putting on my dad's headphones - which where huge and blocked out all other sound, laying across a chair, closing my eyes, and all I remember next is...darkness...and the music. It was like a hypnotic or even "spiritual" experience...I didn't think...I just *was* the music. I think I *dreamed* it. It was amazing.

    But few kids today have the patience for just...scenes of music.

    Though I you go back above, a re-watch Neil Tyson's "The Most Astounding Fact" - which my 16 year-old son *loves* - and *loves* the MUSIC of...I think that music *could* have been successfully used, given enough time to. Sadly it's...missing. IMHO. It added a *great* emotional effect. (And I wish kids today would have been re-introduced to some of this kind of music!)

    Though I *do admit* - I DO like the Main Theme of the new series:

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkoJaJPbzbU[/yt]

    But here is a Youtube version of the original music, if you wan to listen to it:

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R3aWKhwWpM[/yt]

    (Vangelis also wrote a *special* theme for the 1986 Haley's comet return "Cosmos" A Special Edition":

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vio25xHryTQ[/yt]

    (Timothy Ferris also used music to great emotional effects effect...in "The Creation of the Universe" he used Brian Eno's "Ascent: An Ending" from "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks")

    [yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFVRrpSE0Gs[/yt]

    And one last thing...WHAT, NO BOOK!? I guess there would be title issues...you couldn't call it just "Cosmos" without being confusion. But perhaps they could release both books together or something...called on by it's full original title "Cosmos" A Personal Voyage" by Carl Sagan and the other "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey"...

    (Btw, Sagan got the idea for the 13-part PBS "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" from his idol "Jacob Bronowski's 13-part PBS "The Ascent of Man: A Personal View" - another show WELL WORTH DIGGING US AND WATCHING!!!!

    But *PLEASE* don't get me wrong - as flawed in *some areas* as I think the new series is - I do *LOVE IT* - and I watch it every week - and I am glad it's back...and, according to some parents and teachers I know, apparently inspiring a whole new generation of kids. (And I am hoping my 5 kids today...)

    And I LOVE that the they brought back "The Spaceship of the Imagination" (a brilliant "vehicle", so to speak) - Imagination is *literally* a kind of Spaceship!!! AND SAGAN MADE IT "LITERAL".

    And I *LOVE* Tyson's little tributes to Sagan (I was afraid they would ignore the original series and pretend it didn't exist, and that this was all now - and Tyson's idea!) I too all to very briefly met Carl Sagan myself, back in 1992, just out of my teens, and a few years before his death - and when I didn't know he was dying - back at a University of Arizona SEDS < http://seds.org/ > chapter trip to the SETI HRMS launch in Goldstone (simultaneous with the targeted search in Arecibo - and Proximired just a year later, but Proximire himself, and a failure of the imagination - and a lack of the understanding on the importance of pure science that Sagan tried to combat with the original "Cosmos". I don't have a great story...I sucked up my guts at the last minute as I saw him waling away alone to an outbuilding - he looked a little surprised and a little scared like "This guy is gonna shoot me - and I am all alone!" I had a speech all practiced - but I just blurted out some dumb-assed sounding thing about how he "turned me on to science at a young age"...and "thanks you for that"...and how me - and all my fellow astronomy, physics and engineering students" - which I pointed over too - ALL say that they are here because of seeing "Cosmos" as kids! I am sure I sounded like an idiot, and he just waved and said thanks and walked on because he had somewhere he needed to be asap. But I hope...I just *hope*...that somehow, later on if he remembered it, it meant something to him.

    (We also ran up on stage and stole his paper cup - after he died, we wrote "Carls' Cup" on it and put it in a place of honor in out office - and joked about cloning a new Carl from the DNA on the cup! Sadly, since then, in a few moves, UofA SEDS has misplaced the cup - someone with took it home - or a later, newer student threw it it, not knowing what it was...*sigh*.)

    (A few years later I took an Honor's Colloquium in part designed by Carl - based on his books "The Demon Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark" - and Dawkin's "The Selfish Gene" (which was NOT what I had prejudicially mistaken it as...) Wee were supposed to write a letter to carl *directly* after the course because he wanted student feedback. I wish I had finished mine (but I got busy - and also met a girl who LIKED me for the first time) - but I wish I HAD written it - because that course was the *second8 time in my life that Sagan had TOTALLY changed the way that I fundamentally saw the universe, and our place in it. (Part do to Carl and Dawkins, and part do to the Teacher, the then head of the LPL/Kuiper Building Eugine Levey - NOT to comet Levey - but I saw him in his office a lot as I passed by - but a friend of Carl's - who called him "Carl" to his face - not "Professor Sagan" - and was a GENIUS who also blew my mind!)

    But Carl Sagan truly changed my life and my thoughts - *twice* in my life.

    When I heard he died (shortly after the Antarctic Martial meteorite was found, which what some think are "microfossils") I was shocked - I knew he was sick - but not dying, per see...and I cried. I cried a lot. (I *still* Cry when the "For Carl..." comes up on the end of the screen at the close of the move "Contact" (Which I am proud to say is my oldest Daughter Alexandria's movie - and she's a HUGE books lover who participated is Banned Book Week every year!) Shortly after his death I went to the Tucson version of his memorial (on of several at places that he visited a lot.)

    I like to think that he's not really dead...I don't believe in a spiritual afterlife...I just like to Imagine that he's setting at a table at "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" next to people like Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Jacob Brownski, Douglas Adams, and Iain M. Banks and a bunch of others - from Newton to Galileo to Lucretius to Thales to Hypatia to Democritus...Tycho Brahe, Giordano Bruno, Copernicus, Edmund Halley, Loren Eiseley, and many more - including all the *neglected women* who have contributed to science - all having rounds of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and discussing the secrets of the universe...and...when necessary..."fighting evil in another dimension"!!!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm fine with the use of animation -- I just wish it were better animation. One of the many, many things I dislike about MacFarlane's work is that he favors an oddly stiff and non-expressive animation style. I remember reading quotes from animators on Family Guy who were frustrated because every attempt they made to add expression or individuality to the characters' performances was quashed because it didn't fit the house style. The animation on Cosmos -- which is from the same animation producer and studio that does MacFarlane's sitcoms -- isn't nearly as limited, but it's still stiff and jerky compared to a lot of what's out there, and the characters' faces and body language aren't that expressive.


    Don't the Monday rebroadcasts on cable have additional scenes? (I really should be watching those instead...)


    I still have that too. And yes, I got curious about a number of the classical cues Cosmos used. I was already familiar with the world of classical music, since my father was the senior programmer and an on-air host at Cincinnati's classical radio station WGUC-FM, but it was Cosmos that got me interested in things like Shostakovich's 5th Symphony and The Planets (and fortunately my father already had those in his record collection at home -- though unfortunately I now only have my old cassette copies rather than the original LPs, and I can't remember which editions they were and who conducted them, so I'd have a hard time tracking down replacements on CD).

    And yes, I see what you mean. The original series showcased the diversity of human music across many cultures, much like the Voyager golden record did/does/will. This series doesn't even attempt the same thing. That is a disappointment.


    Isn't that what music videos are? Or don't people watch those anymore?


    It's not bad, but the pace is a little slow.


    Yup. It can't be the original, but nothing ever can. Everything can only be itself. If it achieves what it set out to do, then that's a success. And hopefully it will inspire the networks to put on more shows featuring real science to counter all the pseudoscience and anti-science stuff that's out there now.
     
  7. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd like to believe that too. It would be fun to look forward to.

    "Oh look, here's that jerk publius going on and on about heavy lift rockets. No room at this table, you eat in the corner..."

    simps
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Some interesting stuff in this one, but it really felt at times like there were some major edits -- like the way it just skipped right over the age of dinosaurs. I mean, at one moment he says the extinction that started the Triassic (i.e. the Permian extinction discussed earlier) paved the way for a new type of life to emerge (which means the dinosaurs, but he doesn't say so), but then in the very next sentence, he says the end of the age of dinosaurs let mammals come to the fore. That could confuse the listeners into conflating both sentences and thinking they refer to one event.

    Also, when he suddenly jumped from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to the Marianas Trench, he didn't specify that the setting had moved to the Pacific, so the kids watching might end up thinking the Marianas Trench is in the Atlantic. There were lot of sloppy and rushed transitions like that in this one.

    Still, in the parts that were clearer, it gave a very nice sense of the interconnections of things, and the way so many different factors shaped Earth's prehistory and our evolution. We owe our existence as hominids to the Isthmus of Panama. Who knew? Thanks, Panama!
     
  9. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Yeah, I'm going to appreciate Panama just a little more, now. :lol:

    I loved this episode (surprise!), and I love the clear message towards the end, where Neil pretty much said that we have a clear road ahead for a (relatively) very long time, if we don't fuck it up.
     
  10. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ That was one of the more powerful moments of the series ... Neil wasn't just narrating, he was talking directly to the audience, about one of the most pressing issues of our time. I loved his "baton" analogy. All of it was clear and powerful, and poetic. There were some odd transitions in the episode (as Christopher noted), but this (along with last week's Sisters of the Sun) was one of my favorite episodes thus far.

    On the topic of Cosmos music ... I just purchased Vol. 3 of the new series "When Knowledge Conquered Fear". And it's really a fantastic score. There is some repetition from the first two volumes ... but not much.

    I loved the original Cosmos score, too (listening to it now, as a matter of fact) - especially how the New Age pieces tended to accompany explorations of space (outer and inner), while the classical pieces tended to go accompany Sagan's real-world segments. It was a nice contrast.

    I do prefer that approach, but Silvestri has done a great job of mixing a symphonic score with New Age-ish sounds. And having just one composer gives a consistency to the score that is quite enjoyable.

    Oh! And the "Special Haley's Comet Edition" music is present on the Cosmos DVDs menu music. Good stuff, for sure.
     
  11. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    The montage of humans from the different parts of the world was based on the original Cosmos one that took place in Greece, with wonderful bouzouki music and people dancing. The new scene... was bland as cardboard.

    I remember back in 1971, when my Grade 4 teacher said, "Isn't it interesting how you could fit South America and Africa together, like a jigsaw puzzle?"

    It wasn't until many years later when I learned how continental drift works. It's a melancholy thought that everything we find so familiar and "natural" actually doesn't last that long in the grand scheme.
     
  12. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    On the other hand, Tyson's Big Think video on atheism doesn't do him any favors. He engages in some extreme semantic parsing to avoid labeling himself as an atheist even though he describes himself as an atheist without using the word, then slams the existence of the word "atheist."

    I was not aware of some of that.

    Ferris, by the way, wrote Coming of Age in the Milky Way, which is a book I heartily recommend.
     
  13. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I thought this was definitely one of the better episodes so far. As interesting as the exploration of the microscopic and subatomic world can sometimes be, I think the show and Tyson are a lot better with the grand scale, "big picture" stuff, and dealing with the evolution of the planets and life on earth.

    This one I thought did a great job exploring all the different ways the Earth changed, from plate tectonics to the level of oxygen in the air (I confess I had never given much thought to what caused the large size of prehistoric insects before, but the explanation was fascinating).

    And I also thought this ep was much more effective at conveying the harm being done to the environment-- and the long-term consequences that may result-- than the previous one about the lead levels.
     
  14. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I find moments like those inspiring. If it manages to convey facts and get people to learn new things, then mission accomplished. :)
     
  15. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So you find dull, moptopped school teachers with weird speech patterns and no camera sense exciting? More power to you. I'll stick with NDT.
     
  16. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You're entitled to your opinions, of course. But there wasn't anything about Sagan or his series that I found to be "dull." And, as for "camera sense" (whatever that is supposed to mean), the fact that Sagan moved so many people because of his series demonstrates that he was an effective, compelling, and inspiring "on-screen" communicator.
     
  17. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    I love Silvestri's work, and will likely buy the soundtrack...eventually. ;)

    Exactly. I love the feeling of my brain being surprised by new information. Um, pleasantly surprised by new information.

    Hey, guys, we can have our crushes on both of these beautiful, intelligent men of science. It's okay! Let's just enjoy listening to their sexy brains. :adore:
     
  18. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ I concur. Variety is, of course, the spice of life. ;)
     
  19. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  20. Yanks

    Yanks Commodore Commodore

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    :lol: That's exactly what Tyson gives us...

    ...and of course the humans are causing global warming bull crap...

    That's as bad a the lead in gasoline mis-direct...