09 January 2008

Carl Sagans Cosmos

Science channel started showing some Cosmos episodes and I was immediately drawn to them. When first presented on PBS, I was too young to appreciate it. Today I find the straight-forward, easily understandable use of segway in his scripts delightful. The dimensional jumps are more physical science yet just as entertaining as the quirks of discovery and social history presented in James Burkes TV series, "Connections." I think Sagan was trying to single handedly create a "New Age" of science thinking in a world of metaphysics and psuedoscience growing up around him in a religious manner. He was trying to make science itself cool. Over the years I think I had declined a gift of one of his books to me based purely on his overwrought magnanimous personality and the running joke of , "Billions and Billions."

Sagan was not without ego issues and openly aware of his marketing worth. He defended his name with a humorous 21st century copyright vigor (from his Wikipedia entry):

In 1994, Apple Computer began developing the Power Macintosh 7100. They chose the internal code name "Carl Sagan", the in-joke being that the mid-range PowerMac 7100 would make Apple "billions and billions." Though the project name was strictly internal and never used in public marketing, when Sagan learned of this internal usage he sued Apple Computer to force the use of a different project name. Other models released conjointly had code names such as "Cold fusion" and "Piltdown Man", and he was displeased at being associated with what he considered pseudoscience. (He was at the time writing a book debunking pseudoscience.) Though Sagan lost the suit, Apple engineers complied with his demands anyway, renaming the project "BHA" (for Butt-Head Astronomer). Sagan promptly sued Apple for libel over the new name, claiming that it subjected him to contempt and ridicule, but he lost this lawsuit as well. Still, the 7100 saw another name change: it was finally referred to internally as "LAW" (Lawyers Are Wimps).[15][16]

In his own mind being a warrior of truth, and smoking pot, he succeeded in making a very interesting body of video work. Today, the physicists and astronomers are seen as the most enlightened science thinkers of the time. Why not the biologists? Why not the botanists? Why not material engineers? Surely their intense study of the universe might also bring them to a point of seeing things in large interlocking concepts and relationships of how everything falls together. Perhaps the sciences with the most questions and religious concepts breed the best television personalities. To me, the smallest details, the largest picture, and the infinite complexity is enough of a mystery to keep me from making up stories. Make your own conclusions.

Still trying to find that really good deal on ebay for the entire dvd set, obviously avoiding cracking an actual book, there are some gems in the public interwebs. Here's one if you have 9 minutes:

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