Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

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

  1. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Yes, please. Is there a program I can have as a souvenir? I tip generously.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Annnd... you've just proven that you have no clue what you're talking about. By 1980 standards, Cosmos was a special-effects extravaganza, a state-of-the-art production whose art staff included such names as Star Trek's Rick Sternbach. Sagan pioneered the use of science fiction ideas and visuals -- a spaceship, time travel, etc. -- as a way of conveying scientific concepts. This show is in the same spirit, just with greenscreen and CGI rather than Introvision, miniatures, and hand-rendered animation.



    Again, though, you're making a narrow set of assumptions about how God or divinity is defined. You're making the same mistake that Creationists make: assuming that religion is exclusively about explaining the origins of the universe. That's not true at all. Yes, that was one of the issues it attempted to address before science came along and provided a better approach to answering those questions. But religion and faith have always been about more than the physical origin of things. They're about the spiritual meaning of life, about morality and ethics, about philosophy and emotion and having a sense of one's place in the universe as an individual. Scientists who believe in religion aren't using it to explain the origins of the universe, because that's what science is for. They use religion to deal with the stuff that science isn't about.

    And plenty of religious people accept the same division of labor. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI himself, I believe, wrote a statement of the Vatican's policy on evolution declaring that science explained the physical nature of humanity while religion explained our spiritual nature. To many people, science and religion are complementary disciplines, not competing ones.


    That's a profound non sequitur -- and frankly quite ethnocentric, to equate religion with the Bible alone. People find many, many ways to give their lives meaning. A certain percentage of people find it in the Bible, others in the Torah, others in the Qur'an, others in Hindu Vedas, others in the teachings of the Buddha or the Guru Granth Sahib or the Book of Mormon, others in traditional animism, others in New Age Wicca or neopaganism or Vodoun, others in various heterodoxies, still others in deeply personal and individual perceptions of the divine.

    The attitude I think you're condemning is the one that people should be required to think a certain way rather than having the freedom to choose their own beliefs. But step back and take a look at yourself here: You're basically trying to require people not to think a certain way, and that's no better. The important thing is that people have the freedom to choose for themselves what to believe -- which means they have the freedom to disagree with your beliefs or mine without being judged for it.

    When I was young, I was taught Christian beliefs. When I got older and questioned them, I embraced scientific thought (and what I suppose you could call Saganism, since he was a major influence), and for a while I was contemptuous of religious belief. But then I had friends in college who were devoutly Christian, and I came to understand that they had sincere and intelligent reasons for their beliefs, that they weren't just blindly following some doctrine that had been fed to them but had arrived at their own individual beliefs through contemplation and choice. One of them had been raised in a fundamentalist family but had questioned her upbringing and had become a far more liberal Christian and was kind of into Wicca as well, as I recall. When people are free to formulate their own individual beliefs for their own reasons, the results can defy all conventional definitions and dogmas.
     
  3. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The combined numbers are in for the Cosmos premiere last night:

    Not too shabby. :techman:

    Does anyone know if the National Geographic Channel rebroadcast tonight includes the promised extra material? Or does that begin with next week's installment?
     
  4. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Don't worry about tip. Gets cold at night, so bring a blanket. Also at some point we will run out of booze so bring some of yours, I made some popcorn.

    No programs, just turn on or read any "news" or just print out the Fox News website.
     
  5. Timewalker

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

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    I wonder how many of those school kids realized at the time how incredibly fortunate they were.

    It was a lot cuter than the Paris/Janeway lizards in "Threshold." I almost expected him to reach down and pet the thing.

    This puts me in mind of my biggest criticism. There were times when I felt I watching a combination of a Star Trek: Voyager episode and Disney movie.

    Original Cosmos used live actors. I realize that's expensive, and there are things that are easier to show in a picture than live (ie. Giordano Bruno's execution). But I wasn't expecting a damn Disney cartoon - all it lacked was a dewy-eyed heroine and a syrupy love song.

    Anyone in the astronomy field (or related sciences) or in the space program who ended up there after watching Original Cosmos or reading Sagan's books would disagree with you.

    I rather suspect Carl Sagan would be displeased at the thought of "Saganism." I understand the appeal of using that term to describe a philosophy, but it just doesn't seem right to think of it in this way.


    My own opinion of this first episode: It does take me back, some 30+ years, to those wondrous Sunday nights when a documentary series made sense of the magic and other kinds of nonsense and turned it into understandable science. But as others have said - Tyson is no Sagan. It's obvious that he's passionate about this project, and teaching. However, every time I heard bits of dialogue that were from the original Cosmos, I couldn't help feeling a little cheated - yes, it's an homage, meant to honor Carl Sagan. But there was only one Carl Sagan - Tyson needs to find his own memorable quotes, gestures, etc.

    I did enjoy the show, and will watch it as much as I'm able. However, I sincerely doubt it will surpass - or even meet - the original as far as how fond I become of it.

    New knowledge is great, though. I have seen some of Tyson's other shows, and he is very enthusiastic about how he presents his material. If he doesn't try to be Sagan, it should be just fine.

    And please, let there not be so many Disney-type cartoons. I shudder to think how Brahe, Kepler, and Huygens will be depicted.
     
  6. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    I love context. When Cosmos originally hit in 1980, the world of space exploration was radically different.

    - Voyager 1 and 2 were the big rockstars, in the process of hitting up Jupiter and Saturn like their predecessors Pioneer 10 and 11 did, but with the promise of giving us our first views of Neptune and Uranus in a decade or so.

    - The Skylab space station had just re-entered the atmosphere the previous year, but this new-fangled Space Shuttle system held promise of launching really soon and lofting dozens of modules for new stations over the course of its projected five-year program span - giant space stations by 1986!

    - Those pesky Ruskies had their own space station program and were thinking of building ever larger manned outposts with the intention of spying on the Western world and possibly even bombarding us with nuclear weapons from space. Good thing we have lasers and such in planning to use from our fighter shuttles to shoot them down. Popular science fiction at this time is less Trek and more Wars, after all.

    - Viking 1 and 2 landed less than five years ago, and those color pictures are still fresh in everyone's minds. Surely a Mars mission will land a team of American astronauts within the next decade, launching from the space station on a mission of exploration and flag-raising. Good thing we're sending people, as this year "Empire Strikes Back" showed an entire generation that the nearby asteroid belt is so dense we'd need to have a firm hand in the cockpit.

    I had thoughts like these upon watching Cosmos on the Saturdays of the early 80s, before PBS would give us the real gift of Doctor Who later that night. Watching this new Cosmos updates plenty on how we now perceive the universe, based in no small part on what scientists have discovered after being inspired by this very program. This show is not only about science and making it cool, but showing how karma makes our lives even cooler.

    Mark
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Mark, I think you're overlooking the most important difference:

    At the time of the original Cosmos, it seemed profoundly unlikely to most of us that we'd be able to avoid nuclear annihilation. In Sagan's coverage of the Drake equation and the prospects for interstellar civilizations, his optimistic estimate was that one percent of technological civilizations might survive their nuclear eras. Cosmos was as much about pleading the case for humanity's survival, trying to get us to see reason before it was too late.

    The thrust of the new series seems less about whether we'll survive as a species and more about whether science can survive the forces of anti-intellectualism and political/religious dogmatism.
     
  8. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    Oh, certainly - I was not trying to get too much into the geopolitical state that would have shaped either show, but sticking more to the active space exploration programs at the time and what it meant to me watching it.

    Certainly 1980 was a world where the US had recently finished an unpopular overseas war (versus being stuck in more than one conflict now), was more popular on the world stage, and wasn't as globally conscious of people wanting to mass-murder their civilians over those geopolitical differences. Someone wouldn't attempt to assassinate the new President Reagan for a few months, though John Lennon would be killed in New York (obstensibly over his "We're bigger than Jesus" remarks et. al. years earlier) before the original run of Cosmos would finish. Also, you could smoke indoors, leaded gasoline was a preferable option to keep your engine quiet, and Times Square was a cesspool of peep shows and drugs you could see from the World Trade Center, the tallest building in the world. :)

    There are definitely different messages in both iterations of the show and I'd expect to find more as we continue to watch. In another thirty years time I'm sure whatever nerd is hosting the NEXT version of Cosmos will proselytize yet another message while updating the core facts being presented as well. ;)

    Mark
     
  9. Pondwater

    Pondwater Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I enjoyed it and look forward to the 12 remaining episodes. My favorite was the cosmic calendar too. And the space ship he used, the outside reminded me of Bobba Fett's ship.
     
  10. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    Say, does anyone know offhand where I can find a picture of the original Ship of the Imagination? I can't seem to find anything reliable by Google, just the interior set...

    Mark
     
  11. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't seen the show yet. (You know, Italy and stuff.)

    That said...

    It looks like some of them complain aplenty. Also, this comment doesn't make any sense. They didn't want to praise Arab science because that would "un-American" (and since when Cosmos is about misplaced jingoism?), but at the same time they "bashed" Catholics, because... uh... that's pro-American? What?

    That's nice of you. Of course, I hope you realize you didn't do any "science" at all. You looked at a pretty picture of an object of science.

    For a layperson watching pretty pictures of an object of science, you really seem to hate a show with pretty pictures of objects of science made for laypersons...
     
  12. 1001001

    1001001 Let the Good Times Roll!! Moderator

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    I did not have any problem with the "Catholic" issue (it's Seth MacFarlane, folks. Have you ever seen Family Guy?).

    :lol:

    Seriously, though I was thinking two things:

    First, if it's true, say it. If that's what the Church did, then let's have it out in the open.

    Second, I am very proud of how far the Church has come in regards to science. Great universities, they teach evolution, there's an observatory at the Vatican...

    Relative to some churches today who build "creationist museums" and claim dinosaur skeletons are a trick of the Devil, we look absolutely progressive. We've come a long way.

    I look forward to whatever else is coming our way, for good or for ill...

    :techman:
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Just to clarify, that abomination of a "Creation Museum" in Kentucky wasn't the work of a church, but of an evangelical organization called Answers in Genesis. Wikipedia calls it a "ministry," but that seems to mean just a private organization with religious goals. In this case, the organization was founded specifically to promote creationism.
     
  14. Hunter X

    Hunter X Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I haven't seen the episode, but a friend of mine linked to this discussion which (with updates) both praises the episode and corrects some of the ways church history is presented. All in all, though, the update after the blogger watched the episode himself showed he didn't find too much at fault with the episode. At least, that's how I read his take on it.
     
  15. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Will this do?

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, considering this blogger ultimately admitted, "the suggestion is that the Roman Catholic Church was a force of oppression, which at the time in this instance, was true. Killing people who disagree with us is indefensible, and the Church was wrong to do so," I'd say watching the episode is a key element in commenting on its historical veracity.
     
  16. Timewalker

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

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    It's not exactly the sort of ship you can build from a model kit. Most descriptions I've seen have mentioned the words "dandelion seed" and "snowflake." It's wispy and delicate, and not at all like we're used to thinking of ships.

    I did find a blog which may have a .gif of what you're looking for. It's been a long time since I last watched the original show, so I don't recall exactly what it looked like. The only actual pictures I've seen of it are of the interior set.
     
  17. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    ???

    EVERYONE knows that's what the church did. At least everyone outside the US that is.

    Watched the episode last night. Not necessarily dumbed down but the audience were definitely led by the hand. A lot of lazy lines of dialogue which should've been cut.

    Dr Brain Cox's Wonders of the Universe was better.
     
  18. Hunter X

    Hunter X Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Totally agree. I'm usually reluctant to even post in a thread about something I haven't seen, since I can't personally add to the discussion. But since the thread turned in the direction of discussing the Catholic Church's relationship with science throughout history in general, I thought the blog was an interesting read.
     
  19. Pingfah

    Pingfah Admiral Admiral

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    Hopefully the aside on religion will be dropped now as it is irrelevant to the nuts and bolts of the show. I didn't tune in for a lecture on religious history, and none of that is going to help me understand physics.

    I did enjoy imagining the apoplectic reactions surging across the USA though.
     
  20. 1001001

    1001001 Let the Good Times Roll!! Moderator

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    EVERYONE?? That's a pretty bold statement.

    Hopefully the show is attracting new, young viewers interested in science and space exploration, and they might benefit from learning this history.

    How many kids had even heard of Giordano Bruno?

    :shrug:
     

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