Science has produced a vast array of important discoveries to make our life easier, better, and sometimes just plain more fun. It could be argued that to the average person the 1980 13 part series Cosmos was the most important scientific event since the moon landing. Carl Sagan wanted people to understand that while fairy tales, fantasy, and movies could produce wonderous ideas there was a universe surrounding us all with more wonder than any film could hope to capture. Cosmos explored how incredible reality is, and how the universe is possibly the most magical of places.
Thirty years after Cosmos began its inspiration of what would become nearly 500 million people, Fox has announced that they are updating Sagan’s work. Seth MacFarlane (yes, the Family Guy creator…we’ll get to that in a moment) has signed on to produce the new series with writer/producer Ann Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter. The new 13 part series, titled Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, will be hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. So you’ll be watching Dr. Tyson speak, rather than Brian or Stewie from Family Guy.
At first glance, seeing MacFarlane’s involvement, it makes you wonder how seriously they’re taking the project. MacFarlane has always struck me as intelligent and I'm sure he loved the original series. I know I did. Then you hear how Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, has been trying to get this redone for years. No networks were interested. They couldn’t see the upside financially. It took MacFarlane, who is at this point a big shot with Fox, to help finally get the series made.
Seth MacFarlane is helping to reinvigorate the public’s lust for scientific knowledge, and no matter how cynical you are that is just plain cool. The new Cosmos is being produced with the National Geographic Channel, which will reair episodes. For those who are into the fantastic, if often repetitive, series Universe on History Channel you’ll find that Cosmos is like a super concentrated (and more awesome) version of that show.
The genius of Cosmos, which you can get a taste of in the clip below, is that Sagan made convoluted scientific concepts accessible to everyone. Not just average guys like me who are already interested in science, but people who are insistent that they do not like science because they don’t understand what it all means. Sagan was able to take concepts like Kepler’s Law and present it so that it was comprehensible to the average person.
Cosmos: A Space-Time Oddyssey is slated for release in 2013 on Fox.