Carl Sagan is one of my personal heroes. His writings have influenced me greatly, and his iconic series Cosmos is a touchstone for me. However, like the universe, our scientific knowledge has expanded, and special effects have become fancier as well. While I’ll always love the old series, I’m very glad we’re getting a new Cosmos for younger generations. Okay, “glad” is an understatement. I have snacks. My space pajamas are clean. I am so ready for this.
Apparently, some folks with much more sway than I have been preparing for tonight’s debut as well. Folks like, say, the President of the United States.
Yes, President Barack Obama will be introducing the premiere of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. According to a White House press release, the President’s message “invites a new generation to embrace the spirit of discovery and inspires viewers to explore new frontiers and imagine limitless possibilities for the future.” All things I am very much for.
This isn’t the first time the White House has thrown their weight behind the series. On February 28, a special preview was hosted at the White House Student Film Festival. The series is also getting a massive global release, airing on 220 channels worldwide. US viewers can catch the premiere tonight at 9:00 PM EST/PST on FOX, National Geographic Channel, and multiple other Fox Networks channels.
I’m of two minds about this announcement. I believe that fostering scientific literacy is enormously important, so it’s heartening to see support coming from the top. Encouraging young people to get smart and think big is exactly the sort of thing I think a president should do. On the other hand, I wonder if the impossible-to-avoid political overtones will cloud the universal message of…well, the universe. I don’t think that would be the case for most people, but it still gives me pause. One of the key messages in Sagan’s works is that our planet belongs to us all, and that the cosmos is far bigger and more important than lines drawn in the sand. Given the current political climate stateside, I’m on the fence about this. What do you guys think?
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