Cosmos Reboot: Geek TV at Its Very Best

Neil deGrasse Tyson's reinvention of the Carl Sagan blockbuster honors—and updates—the original

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Neil deGrasse Tyson

There can’t be many people left who doubt that Neil deGrasse Tyson is science’s greatest celebrity. His day job as director of New York’s spectacular Hayden Planetarium made him prominent enough, but he’s parlayed that position into frequent appearances on the Colbert Report, the Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher and plenty of other high-profile programs. He hosted NOVA Science Now on PBS for half a decade. He has 1.67 million followers on Twitter. He attracts crowds wherever he goes: tickets for a talk he’ll be giving in Toronto later this month reportedly sold out in well under a minute.

Tyson is so well known, in fact, that he’s routinely compared with Carl Sagan, the great astronomer-communicator of the previous generation. And now, Tyson is actually turning into Sagan—albeit a hipper, less geeky version. This coming Sunday, he debuts on Fox and the National Geographic Channel as the host of the 13-part Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, co-produced by Fox and National Geographic. It’s a re-imagining of the 1980’s series that made the original Sagan famous. “I can’t imitate Carl,” says Tyson. “I would fail. But I’m a really good version of myself. I have myself down perfectly.”

Despite the name, Cosmos is about far more than astronomy. “One of the hallmarks of the original series,” says Tyson, “is that Carl drew no lines between sciences that are traditionally separated.” The same goes this time around. “When you’re drinking in the entire universe, you realize that the boundaries we create are a little artificial. I talk about chemistry, biology, evolution, physics—it’s all there.”

(MORE: 715 New Planets Found)

One crucial difference between the old and the new, of course, is that the science has come a long way in three decades. Carl Sagan couldn’t tell us about dark energy, or the discovery of exoplanets, or the sequencing of the human genome or string theory or the discovery of the Higgs boson because they hadn’t happened yet. If you want to experience the greatest hits of 21st century science, this is the place.

What made the original series so compelling wasn’t the science alone, however. Sagan, along with his wife, Ann Druyan and their collaborator, astrophysicist Steven Soter, also helped viewers gain a perspective on humanity’s place in the universe, in both space and time—something Tyson does as well.

The new version puts an especially big emphasis on storytelling, using a graphic-novel style of animation to introduce viewers to some of the most important scientists you’ve probably never heard of. “We talk about the normal cast of characters,” says Tyson. “You know, Newton, Einstein, Galileo. But the people we profile are ones who have been overlooked.”

(MORE: Caught on Camera: Supernova Spits Out Pulsar)

There’s Giordano Bruno, for example, a contemporary of Galileo’s who was burned at the stake, in part because he insisted the universe is full of habitable planets. There’s C.C. Patterson, the 20th century chemists whose experiments on determining the age of the Earth led ultimately to the banning of leaded gasoline (you’ll have to watch to find out how). “There’s science,” says Tyson, “and then there’s why science matters.” The latter is a big part of what Tyson sought to achieve with this reboot of the series—as did Druyan and Soter, who served as Tyson’s collaborators just as they did as Sagan’s. The animations in some of these sections seemed a bit cheesy, but the alternative, Tyson says, “was to recreate historical scenes using actors with British accents and glued-on muttonchops.”

It’s hard to argue with his reasoning on that score, although Tyson’s own commanding yet quirky personality could have carried Cosmos almost on its own. At one point, he takes us via some sort of magic spaceship to witness the Big Bang, the moment when our entire universe was born in an unimaginably bright burst of energy. Just before it happens, he coolly slips on a pair of shades.

No way Carl Sagan could have been that suave. In another scene in Sunday’s opening episode, though, Tyson tells a story that makes it clear just how extraordinary the late Cornell astrophysicist actually was. While still in high school, a young Neil Tyson wrote to Sagan, telling of his ambition to study the universe. Sagan invited him up to Cornell. “He met me at the bus stop,” Tyson recalls, “and showed me his laboratory.” They spent the day together and when it was time to leave, Sagan was worried about the snow that was falling. “If the bus can’t get through,” he told the teenager, “call me. You can spend the night at my house, with my family.”

(MORE: Galileo’s Planetary Puzzle Has Finally Been Solved)

Before they parted, Sagan gave him a copy of one of his books, inscribing it “For Neil, a future astronomer. Carl.” For all Tyson knows, Sagan did that sort of thing for lots of young people. “Nonetheless,” he says, “I’ve emerged as someone who finds myself in some of the same public platforms as he did. I feel like there’s a kind of genetic link.”

Take a look at Cosmos this weekend, and you’ll see that it’s true. Sagan’s Cosmos was hugely popular in its time, thanks largely to its low-keyed host’s genius for communication. Tyson isn’t exactly low-key—but one way or another, he’s inherited Sagan’s genius.

(MORE: Curiosity Rover Takes its First Picture of Earth From Mars)


Largest ever Space camera is ready to map a billion stars

After its succesul  launch is December European Space Agency Gaia has now taken up its position in space and is ready to survey the skies.With the help of its two telescopews focussed onto the largest ever Space Camewra,Gaia is estimated to  to catalogue nearly one billion stars in its 5 year mission.

Gaia was launched on 19 December 2013, and is orbiting around a virtual point in space called L2, 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

Gaia's goal is to create the most accurate map yet of the Milky Way. It will make precise measurements of the positions and motions of about 1per cent of the total population of roughly 100 billion stars in our home Galaxy to help answer questions about its origin and evolution.

Repeatedly scanning the sky, Gaia will observe each of its billion stars an average of 70 times each over five years. In addition to positions and motions, Gaia will also measure key physical properties of each star, including its brightness, temperature and chemical composition.

To achieve its goal, Gaia will spin slowly, sweeping its two telescopes across the entire sky and focusing the light from their separate fields simultaneously onto a single digital camera – the largest ever flown in space, with nearly a billion pixels.

But first, the telescopes must be aligned and focused, along with precise calibration of the instruments, a painstaking procedure that will take several months before Gaia is ready to enter its five-year operational phase.

As part of that process, the Gaia team have been using a test mode to download sections of data from the camera, including this image of NGC1818, a young star cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image covers an area less than 1per cent of the full Gaia field of view.

The team is making good progress, but there is still work to be done to understand the full behaviour and performance of the instruments.

While all one billion of Gaia’s target stars will have been observed during the first six months of operations, repeated observations over five years will be needed to measure their tiny movements to allow astronomers to determine their distances and motions through space.

As a result, Gaia’s final catalogue will not be released until three years after the end of the nominal five-year mission. Intermediate data releases will be made, however, and if rapidly changing objects such as supernovae are detected, alerts will be released within hours of data processing.

Eventually, the Gaia data archive will exceed a million Gigabytes, equivalent to about 200 000 DVDs of data. The task of producing this colossal treasure trove of data for the scientific community lies with the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, comprising more than 400 individuals at institutes across Europe.

On 12th February,2014,its tilt was watched from Earth. ESA says:

Astronomers Peter Veres and Bryce Bolin, who were following a call for Earth-bound observations to improve the prediction of Gaia’s brightness under different viewing conditions, used the 2.24m  telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to capture Gaia’s tilt from 0 to 45 degrees on 27 February.

The resulting movie nicely illustrates the change in brightness of the spacecraft over a period of around half an hour (12:14:52 UT to 12:42:06 UT), as Gaia’s sunshield tilted away from the Earth. Gaia is the bright object in the centre of the movie and moves downwards.

Dave Tholen, who processed the images, said: “We started with 10 second exposures for the first 30 exposures, then increased the exposure time to 20 seconds to get images 31 to 35, then increased again to 40 seconds for images 36 to 40. The last three exposures were 80 seconds each.”

The observations also captured a main belt asteroid (2002 RS34) moving from top centre to the right of the field of view in the movie.

As for the issue of stray light, the data are still being analysed. The tilting process will be repeated again, at a much slower rate, in order to gather more information from on-board systems during the transition period.

Source: Friends from


              Markus Bauer

              ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
              Tel: +31 71 565 6799
              Mob: +31 61 594 3 954

              Giuseppe Sarri
              Gaia Project Manager


SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing net energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

The law of entropy doesn't allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time (which modern science has shown is as physical as mass and space), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn't happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That's not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.
EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn't mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn't mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

Some things don’t need experiment or scientific proof. In law there is a dictum called prima facie evidence. It means “evidence that speaks for itself.” Of course, in the complexities of human society and relationships, prima facie may not always be what it seems.

An example of a true prima facie would be if you discovered an elaborate sand castle on the beach. You don’t have to experiment to know that it came by design and not by the chance forces of wind and water.

If you discovered a romantic letter or message written in the sand, you don’t have to experiment to know that it was by design and not because a stick randomly carried by wind put it there. You naturally assume that an intelligent and rational being was responsible.

I encourage all to read my popular Internet articles: NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION and HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan*
(B.A. Bible/Biology)


*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.


Is it true that this series will be soon on fox T.V.  This is gonna push the creationists "over the edge."  The "simple-folk" who watch fox won't be able understand this, they hate fact's and reality!!!!!  BATTA-BING!!


I just re-watched Carl Sagan's "Cosmos."  It holds up well, even after all these years.  Neil deGrasse Tyson will have to go some to better the old "Cosmos," but I'm glad he's making the attempt, and am looking forward to this new production.