With not so subtle jabs at industrially bought science and religious conceptions of time, last night’s episode of ‘Cosmos’ is likely to have some controversy surrounding it. However, the title itself “The Clean Room” is a metaphor for how the creator’s of the show are going to push back.
“The Clean Room” refers to the environment Clair Patterson had to create in order to reliably test the amount of lead in an object. When not in a ultra-clean room, his samples would be continuously be contaminated, making it impossible for him to discover the age of the Earth as he was charged to do. It was through this, and later discoveries, that he found that the amount lead contaminating our world through leaded gasoline was detrimental to public health.
The problem? Well, the gas companies were paying scientists to disagree.
That’s why the idea of a clean room is so important. Science is supposed to be free of bias. Just as Patterson could not weigh the lead in an object without his results being tampered with high lead content in his environment, it was an uphill battle to ban the substance because of the bias of the gas companies.
Without really saying it, this episode is clearly about how pure science is important and can change the world, but can be hobbled by the inconsistencies of man’s character.
While still heavy in science, “The Clean Room” was slightly less invested in the wonders of the world as its preceding episodes, and more focused on inspiring a future scientist to change how we think about the world and stand up against future human bias.