Down the Ballot

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cosmos Episode 2

Cosmos aired the second episode of thirteen planned tonight and it was pretty solid. There were some common elements from the previous series. I can see Carl Sagan sitting around the campfire in good company. The stories of natural selection and artificial selection were well done and brought back the animation we saw from the first episode.The wolves at the campfire added a great dramatic flair that set it apart from the original series.

The artificial selection of the dogs wasn't as interesting as the Heike Crab example Sagan used, but still on point. The polar bear example was also well used for natural selection.

The other part of the episode that I loved a lot was the Hall of Extinction. The grandness and weathered neglect of the setting seemed fitting. We often don't take the time to observe or recognize how lucky we truly are to not have our own place within the hall. As he is leaving, Tyson does note the wing of the hall that has of yet to be named. There is always the possibility that an event outside of our control could steal our future from us. If we were still in the Cold War, I'm sure Sagan would have reminded us that natural events are not the only causes of extinction.

It seems like they going to give a small nod to the original series towards the end of each episode, which I think is fitting. Hopefully it will spur others to check out the original series. Closing the episode with the 4 billion years of evolution into 40 seconds was just perfect to end, even if it ended the episode a bit abruptly.

I appreciated how Neil brought up, what to some might have been the most controversial part of the entire hour: the evolution discussion. It is sorta hard to talk about natural and unnatural selection without talking about evolution. Facing it head on and to acknowledge that there is no scientific controversy about evolution was good and to the point. Neil wasn't there to belittle anyone who disagrees evolution, just to state that that the scientific evidence in our DNA points to common ancestors. We're related to the apes, the trees, butterflies,and even sharks. The amazing tree of life has many branches and we're just a twig on a branch on the tree. As a species we occupy a unique twig. Never before has any one twig like ours had the ability to drastically affect the rest of the tree. We should be equally humbled and troubled by such an ability.

A good second episode, will wait now for episode 3. For those of us that enjoy science we need to be sure that we remember this series isn't for us. It's for folks that have never seen COSMOS, Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye, have a OMSI in their city, were dazed and confused in high school's to get more people asking questions and seeking answers.

Here is a special Q&A of the premiere episode with the producers, writers, and Neil.
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