This was always my favorite episode in the original ‘Cosmos’, and the third episode in the remake it may be safe to say that this one is as well.
So, the highlight of the original ‘Cosmos’ episode was comets and how humans used to see them as bad omens. It also focused on astrology versus science, and told it through the lens of the life and times of Ptolmy Claudius, Copernicus, and Kepler, three men who were ridiculed or forgotten despite their work being scientific and prescient of the laws of physics.
This time, Neil Degrasse Tyson decided to tell the story of fear and knowlege through that of Isaac Newton, where he pays homage to the theories that evolved or way or thinking in the universe, and inspired other scientists to discover new and amazing things about our universe (for instance, that Halley’s Comet comes ever 76 years and is not a bad omen at all).
While more autobiographical, and descriptive of important people (why do we not know Jan Oort’s name, Neil Degrasse Tyson laments, but remember the names of mass murderers?), this episode is less scientific. While it describes theories, and gives overarching ideas to how theories came to be, this episode is more about never taking anything we see for granted. It’s about giving a new generation role models like Halley, Newton and Oort, and it does so with cool graphics and an interesting story.
It continues on the theme of reaching out to those who may not realize they will love science, and encourage them to be curious about their surroundings. As Newton inspired Halley, maybe NDT will inspire the person who will crack faster than light travel. Who knows? In the meantime, it’s a still a great show to watch, and the highlight of my Sunday evenings.