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The man who killed Pluto doesn't DESERVE those sweaters!
August 5, 2011 12:06 PM   Subscribe

FOX has greenlit an update of Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (on Hulu, previously) co-produced by Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which will air in Fall 2013.

Says MacFarlane: "Never more than at this moment in the modern era have we needed a profound reminder of the colossally important and exciting role that science, space exploration and the human quest for knowledge must continue to play in our development as a species."
posted by Apropos of Something (95 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can we make 8/5, Druyan Day from here on out? Also, if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first... invent the universe.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2011


I was just telling a friend that an update of Cosmos was due - lots of new info.
posted by _paegan_ at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2011


Carl Sagan

Yay!

Cosmos

Yay!

Ann Druyan

Yay!

Seth MacFarlane

*record scratch* what
posted by kmz at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2011 [54 favorites]


I can see only good from this proposal.
posted by Think_Long at 12:11 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hrmm, my natural distrust of Fox and my dislike of Seth McFarlane mixed with my love of the original show is creating a weird ambivalence towards this announcement.

I guess I'll reserve judgement until I hear more details about the format and content of the new project.
posted by vuron at 12:11 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seth MacFarlane

*record scratch* what


Giggity..
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And oh, Neil deGrasse Tyson deserves a Yay! too, even after the MacFarlane bewilderment.
posted by kmz at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Neil deGrasse Tyson

*cringe*
posted by goethean at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


While mostly everyone else yawned and cracked wise through our 7th grade -- in the same junior high Sagan attended! -- astronomy teacher showing us Cosmos, I was absolutely rapt (and also cracking wise.)

...but I can't fucking stand Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Also, I wonder if this is the movie that MacFarlane references in the crawl in his Return of the Jedi parody. He mentione that Fox forced him to make it in order to get his (nameless) movie made.
posted by griphus at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2011


This space, it is outer?
posted by IvoShandor at 12:14 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with deGrasse Tyson?

Also, while MacFarlane certainly deserves a record scratch, so does the "FOX" there.
posted by curious nu at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


With regards to Pluto, as Bill Nye, the Science Guy says, "Instead of thinking of Pluto as the last of the planets, I like to think of it as the first in a line of new worlds: PLUTOIDS!" (quoted on Twitter).

And I bet there's actually a big chance that MacFarlane is the one person who's most responsible for this actually happening. Tyson's star is rising, but he's still not a big enough draw to get on Network (even Fox) TV. So who among the people involved in the production could possibly get FOX to air this? MacFarlane. Even though he's not great, every interview I've seen with him shows him as a guy that is genuinely pretty smart and curious about the world.

My guess is that he won't have too much to do with the subject matter other than being the money man/pushing it through the network. Although I may be wrong.
posted by skynxnex at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Christ, this means I have to move up my timeline for killing and replacing Neil deGrasse Tyson. And August is already a very busy month for me. Oh well, time to start growing my hair out *concentrates* >.< *FOOMF*

Booyah.
posted by Eideteker at 12:16 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Carl Sagan was the sh-t - I mean that in the best possible way.
posted by newdaddy at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2011


if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch crude jokes and 70's references, you must first... invent the universe.
posted by 445supermag at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2011


Hopefully they focus on the scientists and cultures that produced the revelations a little rather than just CG'ing out in space for 60 minutes. The real power of the original Cosmos is in juxtaposing the scientific achievements with the cultures that alternately encouraged or repressed them. I remember being so bummed when I realized that the concept of a heliocentric solar system was lost for 2,000 years.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


skynxnex: "With regards to Pluto"

Just to clarify, the Pluto crack in the post title was meant as satirical. Also, I love Carl Sagan's sweaters. Carry on.

posted by Apropos of Something at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2011


Like, by far the best episode of Cosmos is the one on the Dutch tying in the optics of seafaring with telescopes, and the concern with the culture's painters with light... creating a renaissance of culture and discover... so fucking cool.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:20 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I personally don't mind deGrasse Tyson but I think some of the complaints about him is his tendency to dumb science down.

I actually feel he's actually just following a path charted by Sagan himself where he's essentially a fanboy for science. The goal is to make science something that is cool to explore and part of that is expressing the wonder of the universe and part of that is making science accessible to people across a variety of age groups and scientific experience.

If the goal is to improve the number of people entering STEM careers promoting science exploration through any means (no matter how cheesy) seems like a good strategy.
posted by vuron at 12:20 PM on August 5, 2011


...but I can't fucking stand Neil deGrasse Tyson.

INTERNETS FISTICUFFS
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on August 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


Fox doing a show about science. Yeah, this'll go GREAT.

And add my voice to the chorus: exactly what's wrong with Neil deGrasse Tyson?
posted by deadmessenger at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2011


anybody who doesnt like Neil deGrasse Tyson is dead to me, Do You Hear Me? DEAD TO ME!
:D
posted by liza at 12:26 PM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Seth MacFarlane

*record scratch* what


NARRATOR
Then Galileo explained to the Cardinals that the heliocentric model was the only one that could fit known observations. They hadn't been so angry since that time they saw Jennifer Love Hewitt driving the wrong way down the Via Veneto.

CUT TO: CARDINAL STANDING IN THE VIA VENETO. A MINI COOPER DRIVES BY.

CARDINAL
HEY! YOU'A GOIN' THA WRONG WAY!
posted by PlusDistance at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2011 [24 favorites]


To be slightly more serious for a bit, if it wasn't for Cosmos (the book) I'd be a very different person today. I remember randomly discovering that book on a bookshelf in 5th grade and just devouring it. I was vaguely interested in science before, but after that I couldn't get enough of reading about science. I went through almost all of Sagan's back catalog, some particle physics primers, Hawking's books, etc. All of it was hugely formative.
posted by kmz at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2011


What concerns me is that the original (which I LOVE) was on PBS; this is going to be commercial TV, so what are they going to do to "sex it up" for ratings?
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2011


I like Science Fridays on MeFi.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't dislike Neil deGrasse Tyson at all, but there can be no other Carl.

Still: some attempt at Cosmos is better than none, I guess. We can always use more gobsmacked humanists.
posted by everichon at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2011


I used to dislike Tyson, and I think it was because he continually shows up as an "expert" talking head on topics totally outside of his field. I really don't need to hear an astrophysicist's thoughts on whether tyrannosaurs hunted in packs.

But he's grown on me. He does good work, he's a natural on camera, and I think he's the natural choice for a new version of Cosmos.

It's pretty weird that MacFarlane is involved, but as long as there aren't random pop culture jokes thrown in I'm fine.
posted by brundlefly at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011


This video of deGrasse Tyson is worth listening to (the video/audio is out of sync) if you're on the fence about him, particularly whether or not he can do Cosmos. He's not Sagan, but he's coming from the same place.
posted by curious nu at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


well, if it keeps McFarlane away from the Flintstones, it might be worth it.
posted by Billiken at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011


Apropos of Something: Yeah, I figured it was a joke, but I had just happened to see Nye say that earlier today connected to the JUNO launch.

Honestly, I'd be happy if it turns out better than the last major time I remember the FOX TV network attempt a science program: Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?...
posted by skynxnex at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2011


...but I can't fucking stand Neil deGrasse Tyson.

INTERNETS FISTICUFFS
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on August 5 [+] [!]


Fetch the Fighting Trousers!

But seriously, I trust Fox News to have scientific data integrity like I trusted the Bush Admin to handle climate change reports. Neil can put in all the good he wants, he's still trying to plant seeds of knowledge in a poisoned garden.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:36 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tyson can do what few can, and that is explain science to non-scientists and sound like he's enjoying doing so.
posted by tommasz at 12:36 PM on August 5, 2011


FatherDagon: "But seriously, I trust Fox News to have scientific data integrity like I trusted the Bush Admin to handle climate change reports. Neil can put in all the good he wants, he's still trying to plant seeds of knowledge in a poisoned garden."

It's not going to be on Fox News is it?
posted by brundlefly at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2011


No, it's going to be on Fox network TV.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:46 PM on August 5, 2011


Um, are you guys sure you really want to be down on Seth MacFarlane? I mean, this profile of him on Fast Company pretty much says that he's got to be not only smart and savvy, but damn good at what he is doing.

Also, Fox Television is not Fox News. And all the DeGrasse Tyson hate is from people who think they are smarter than they actually are. I just hope I can still one day go to hear him speak on astronomy at a planetarium one day. That's something that is seriously on my bucket list.
posted by daq at 12:49 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Named after the mythical Greek goddess and wife of Jupiter, Juno..."

ARGGGH, No no no nO NO NO NO NO NO!
posted by Eideteker at 12:53 PM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fox Television is not Fox News

It's still strange. Wouldn't have thought there was much potential for tits or potty humor in a Cosmos remake. I mean, I can't even imagine a place for Simon Cowell.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:54 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not so surprising once you think about it. MacFarlane is a humanist who's got FOX by the balls. He can probably only write so many damn animated shows per week, so why not try something like this?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, that was a typo - I meant Network, not News. Different branch, same tree.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2011


Wow, I am all over the place today. Commenting in the wrong thread? Can it be there's TOO MUCH SCIENCE THREADS on MeFi?


(No.)
posted by Eideteker at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


On Fox? Expect it to be cancelled after 3 episodes.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's the point if it's on Fox? Just send a local news crew down to the creationist theme park to shoot cave men with dinosaurs.
posted by Naberius at 1:09 PM on August 5, 2011


I really like Neil Tyson, but in my professional opinion* he's wrong about Pluto, the 2 pillars of his argument (as I understand it to be), ultimately come down to:

1. Pluto having so much ice in its composition wouldn't survive in its current form close to the Sun (he says it's basically a huge comet).
2. There are satellites in the solar system bigger than Pluto.
3. If we included Pluto, we'd have to include all these other new KBOs (Eris, in particular), as well as Ceres. There would just be too many planets.

I'm willing to concede that #1 has some validity, but #2 and #3 are just excuses and argumentum ad populum in the form of "Kids won't want to learn the names of 30 planets!"

But still, all that being said, I look forward to this, and despite that point of contention, Tyson is the closest person we have nowadays to someone bearing Sagan's mantle.

*Not actually a practicing astrophysics professional, but I do have some formal education as well as work experience in astronomy.
posted by chimaera at 1:11 PM on August 5, 2011


"Named after the mythical Greek goddess and wife of Jupiter, Juno..."

ARGGGH, No no no nO NO NO NO NO NO!


I was having trouble deciding whether to complain about the dumb mistake about which mythology she was part of, or make the "my wife, my sister, my wife, my sister" slapping-one's-own-face Chinatown-y joke.
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tyson's argument about Pluto isn't really "there would be too many planets." It's that Pluto doesn't have as much in common with the other planets as it has with other bodies.

This is a self-pimp, yes, but I am not a genius, and I got the opportunity to have him explain this to me, and he managed to get me to understand what his argument was, so I'm going to link you to his explanation; forgive me.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:22 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


MANNNNNN I was so excited reading about this and then...Seth MacFarlane. Maybe it will not be too awful? Perhaps just a 5 on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the most awful thing?

Oh I'd really like for this to not be awful.
posted by sc114 at 1:24 PM on August 5, 2011


Is it going to have a soundtrack by Vangelis? 'cause that seems pretty key.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:31 PM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tyson. . . continually shows up as an "expert" talking head on topics totally outside of his field. I really don't need to hear an astrophysicist's thoughts on whether tyrannosaurs hunted in packs.

I think one of the reasons we see so much of Tyson on TV -- besides the fact that he's a natural -- is that he lives and works in NYC, where TV is made.

He's good on TV, a 'really real' scientist, and he's a cab ride away from the studio most of the time.

Consider the number of times he's appeared on The Colbert Report just to chat about science, with no book, movie, TV program, exhibit, or event to promote. I'll bet at least half the time, he's depping for a guest who cancelled at the last minute.

He may have little influence on what questions he'll be asked in these situations.
posted by Herodios at 1:32 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


On Fox? Expect it to be cancelled after 3 episodes.

Just like they cancelled The Simpsons, right? (insert joke here about when they should have cancelled it).

I hate on the Murdoch Machine, too, but I suspect this will be a demonstrably good thing. Please stop conflating the Fox network and Fox News channel. There are distinct reasons to detest both.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:35 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many people can you think of who could get this greenlit? I can think of 6. In the world.
MacFarlane obviously doesn't need the money, and if his intentions are even close to the pull-quote above, dude deserves a lot of credit.
It's easy to take shots at someone that successful, and it seems that hating Family Guy is pretty fashionable right now, but anything that promotes science and thought right now should definitely be commended. It's not an easy sell these days.
posted by FeralHat at 1:37 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, count me among the confused about the hate for Neil deGrasse Tyson. Watching him a few times on the Colbert Report, his passion and enthusiasm for science shines through, and it's contagious. He seems like a natural successor to Sagan.

I tried getting tickets to his talk at UW in Seattle a few months ago, but it was impossible. He's incredibly popular. And that sounds like a good thing for scientific education in the US.
posted by formless at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2011


How many people can you think of who could get this greenlit? I can think of 6. In the world.

1) Seth MacFarlane
2) James Cameron
3) ???
4) ???
5) ???
6) ???
posted by nathancaswell at 1:46 PM on August 5, 2011


Is this something I'd have to live on a pale blue dot to understand?
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 2:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


3) Michael Bay

I can just picture him producing this. "Okay, we start with a BIG BANG. My kind of show! Whoo!"
posted by I am the Walrus at 2:00 PM on August 5, 2011


This sounds like a very good thing, and skynxnex's example shows what a huge departure a straight-up scientific series is for Fox. If MacFarlane is the man who can make this happen, then he's got my respect.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:05 PM on August 5, 2011


Spielberg
Tom Hanks

Or just the BBC on it's own, like it did with Planet Earth.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:07 PM on August 5, 2011


I didn't think of Tom Hanks, that's a good one.
posted by FeralHat at 2:08 PM on August 5, 2011


"I tried getting tickets to his talk at UW in Seattle a few months ago, but it was impossible. He's incredibly popular. And that sounds like a good thing for scientific education in the US."

'Cept Sagan (despite all the jokes about "millions and millions") was a mutherfucking POET! I watched Comos alone on public television in the 80's. Cosmos literally blew my mind and I too, would not be the same without that show! Sagan was brilliant at showing how everything is connected. He approached his subject with a sense of wonder. I probably shed more tears on hearing of Sagan death than the death of my own father.

I like Tyson, he too has that sense of wonder and really seems to enjoy talking about science, but does not possess the soul of a poet, like Sagan.
posted by black8 at 2:10 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, given Tom Hank's work with 'From the Earth to the Moon,' I'm surprised he hadn't gotten around to making something like this.

Actually, Spielberg, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks: did you guys just get distracted after doing all those awesome series about important events in america history (and in a way, science) that you decided to not tackle Cosmos?

Granted, if they did it, it would have ended up on HBO instead. This is one thing that I don't mind being on FOX, it's going to have the broadest audience, and hopefully, get folks who would otherwise not know or care about science excited about it.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:14 PM on August 5, 2011


Now if they can update Connections as well, I'd be really happy.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:17 PM on August 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I will fistfight people who speak ill of Neil deGrasse Tyson. WHO WANTS A PIECE?
posted by eoden at 2:23 PM on August 5, 2011


Holy crap this is good news. I love Tyson. I will watch the hell out of this.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:24 PM on August 5, 2011


I think McFarlane could work. You can tell through his character Brian that he has a profound respect for a rationalist, scientific perspective on the universe.

And I'm really, really glad Druyan is involved.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has made some good stuff, too, although I don't feel like obsessively watching it like I did every episode of Cosmos.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:27 PM on August 5, 2011


What's the source of all the Tyson hate? I honestly had no idea he's polarizing figure.
posted by treepour at 2:44 PM on August 5, 2011


Basically, everyone wants to be king of Pluto.

And that sounds really crappy if Pluto isn't a planet. You're just king of some asteroid, like in The Little Prince, when people instead want to say "I'M KING OF THE WORLD!"

Course, the joke's on them. Pluto is going to be taken over by the first country that develops a proper space force that can send a standing army to Pluto. Then it will become a tourist trap where everything is highly taxed.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2011


I'm not fond of this clip for the whole us vs them vibe, but it's relevant so meh.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:54 PM on August 5, 2011


What's the source of all the Tyson hate? I honestly had no idea he's polarizing figure.

He ended up in the middle of the reclassification of Pluto as not being a regular planet. See this comment for more info and his side of the story. I'm not sure if he's behind it being reclassified as a dwarf planet.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:59 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I'm not fond of this clip for the whole us vs them vibe, but it's relevant so meh.

Thanks to that, I found this clip, which someone is using to accuse Seth MacFarlane of being Illuminati.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:02 PM on August 5, 2011


I think the story, at least that I heard from his perspective in a documentary on the renaming, was that a commision of astronomers decided to reclassify Pluto in response to all the new pluto-like planetoids being found.

Tyson agreed with their perspective, and was involved in designing a huge solar system display in a new science museum. He decided to show Pluto out on its own like a piece of debris without a drawn orbit and big display like the other planets.

The New York Times, which didn't really report much on the commission, then blamed Tyson for deciding Pluto should not be shown alongside planets. As it trickled through the media, some people began to interpret it as Pluto not being a planet being Tyson's personal vendetta, when it was really just Tyson agreeing with a group of scientists who had some logic behind their decision (IE Pluto can't clear its own orbit, and there appear to be many objects just like Pluto out there.)

So, the reality is that Tyson is not really the guy to blame. He's just the face of Pluto not being a planet due to the media.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is it going to have a soundtrack by Vangelis? 'cause that seems pretty key.

The "Cosmos theme" may have been by Vangelis (it is actually part of the end of the first side of Heaven And Hell), but the Cosmos Soundtrack had a LOT of artists on it.

I fell into this soundtrack in 1980 when Cosmos was originally on the air. I was, um.. 12? And was listening to Vangelis, Synergy, and all these other odd instrumental artists / albums which were basically unclassifiable at the time yet lumped into "New Age". It kind of pushed me into a musical cul-de-sac for quite a long while. Everyone else was doing Styx and Foreigner, I was doing Mannheim Steamroller (before they became a Christmas music cliche).
posted by hippybear at 3:21 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good grief. Someone has actually put together a list of ALL the music used during the original 1980 Cosmos television series. (Warning: horrible background). That's quite a track listing.
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you're wondering, like I was, Neil deGrasse Tyson autotunes well.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:32 PM on August 5, 2011


This is wonderful, wonderful news (I hope). The fact that Ann Druyan is co-producer is extremely encouraging. After first reading that the new series was greenlit, I Googled seeking more details about it and instead stumbled upon this wonderful essay Druyan wrote nearly a decade ago for The Skeptical Inquirer. It still makes for timely and inspiring reading, and I'm optimistic this new series will enlighten -- and entertain -- a new generation of viewers ... even viewers habituated to Mr. Murdoch's Fox network. :)
posted by NetizenKen at 3:39 PM on August 5, 2011


Everyone else was doing Styx and Foreigner, I was doing Mannheim Steamroller (before they became a Christmas music cliche).

Oh yeah? Well I was into Mannheim Steamroller when they were still playing Convoy, good buddy.

It doesn't sync up well with the motions of the planets, though.
 
posted by Herodios at 3:42 PM on August 5, 2011


I was going to post a correction, but I've enjoyed listening to these over again, so:
  • We Are All Connected, with autotuned Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Bill Nye, previously.
  • A Glorious Dawn, with Sagan and Stephen Hawking, previously.

  • posted by Pronoiac at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2011


    Oh yeah? Well I was into Mannheim Steamroller when they were still playing Convoy, good buddy.

    Well, in all fairness, Styx's "Lady" was a hit the same year as "Convoy", and Foreigner came along only two years after that....

    But yeah, I didn't actually fall into MS until Fresh Aire IV was released and the Head Counselor at Hummingbird Music Camp used the albums as fall-asleep music in the Green House (boys' dorm) during that year. MS isn't actually on the Cosmos soundtrack, but certainly my exposure to that album and seeking out a lot of the artists on it opened me to MS when I finally discovered them.

    I still have my 1 piano 4 hands arrangement of Fresh Aire II. I miss having people casually around who could sit down and sight-read that with me.
    posted by hippybear at 4:01 PM on August 5, 2011


    1: Pluto having so much ice in its composition wouldn't survive in its current form close to the Sun (he says it's basically a huge comet).

    That makes no sense to me, because none of the planets would have their current form if they were moved to a different orbit. (Not that I have many objections to the "demotion" of Pluto, since it's just a socially-constructed and arbitrary category.)
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2011


    I'll just repeat for emphasis what tim.mccarthy mentioned above:

    Pluto is not a planet because it has not cleared its orbit.
    posted by Anything at 4:05 PM on August 5, 2011


    hippybear:

    My eyes! The disable styles do nothing!

    Actually, they just make it worse.
    posted by mccarty.tim at 4:05 PM on August 5, 2011


    My eyes! The disable styles do nothing!

    A brief mouseover should have told you it is a tripod link. That alone...
    posted by hippybear at 4:17 PM on August 5, 2011


    I'm glad this is happening. Cosmos engaged me as a kid and I really liked Tyson on Nova ScienceNow.
    posted by dragonplayer at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2011


    It's not going to be on Fox News is it?

    No, but that could have been hilarious. Here's Bill Nye on Fox News. Imagine Tyson trying to explain anything to O'Reilly.

    I'm not a hater, but I'm not a big fan of Tyson either. His style gets on my nerves after a while. Still, I can't think of any better choice for this, so we'll see.
    posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2011


    Hm, I'd imagine that Druyan would be doing a fair share of the writing, and if anyone could bring the Sagan poetry to this thing, it'd be Sagan's wife and co-author. So long as she's got a hand in the scripts, I'm not worried about Tyson bringing the poetry.
    posted by Peevish at 6:54 PM on August 5, 2011


    I like Tyson, he too has that sense of wonder and really seems to enjoy talking about science, but does not possess the soul of a poet, like Sagan.

    Yeah, I know what you mean. He brought a spirituality and greater meaning to our understanding of the universe that I haven't really seen from Tyson. I just re-watched the first episode of Cosmos a little while ago, and the introduction is amazing, his encouragement of global thinking are really striking and missing from so much of our current environment.
    posted by formless at 7:10 PM on August 5, 2011


    Look, maybe it's just because I was recently unceremoniously dumped from a relationship, but I find this to be wonderful, wonderful news, regardless of who's attached to the project.

    Perhaps it is MacFarlane who had to clout to make this happen. We may fear that his contributions may be disappointing, but perhaps he is a sekrit outerspace nerd who just wants to help this thing get off the ground. We may expect a very different feeling of things with Tyson, but I do not think one can question is passion. With Druyan, however, I think that things will work out.

    I've watched Cosmos in its entirety several times over the past couple of decades. When I was a kid, I developed a small appreciation for outer space when my mom n pop would buy me these thin Charlie Brown space books from the grocery store. In school, we watched a couple of episodes. I searched for more, and found them in the local public libraries, where I would either watch episodes in their entirety there, or check them out to watch at home. This developed into a habit of hanging out at libraries, and finding other video series, like Connections, or learning to be comfortable reading in public places (except for the time I was caught reading the novelization of Star Trek V by kids my age, and was made fun of, but that's a story for another time).

    In the reissue of Cosmos, Druyan gives a wonderful introduction which got me weeping the first time I heard it. It frames things in the context of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation, and our incredible explorations of things so distant. And watching the series over the years makes me realize so many things that make life grand, how small we are as humans, and our problems even more so, in comparison to the vastness of the universe.

    I think Sagan's purpose was also to draw attention to ourselves-- our inner space. What are we doing here, on Earth, as a species? Further, what are we doing here, as individuals? With our problems big and small?

    There is a strange economy when it comes to exploring inner space, whose currency is so different than that involved with building rockets and satellites for outer space. I think Sagan wanted us to explore both.

    And this is where I find beauty in Cosmos. Even today, as I deal with the speciously impossible depths of the loneliness, I can see that what seems infinite is at least qualifiable and, perhaps, those qualities are quantifiable. They can be and are worth exploring.

    It's as if we're all part of some great, invisible constellation, where the stars in space align with the Earth and go within us all, and deeply. Where, at least for me, for this moment, I am at one end, and she at another. That I can see this string of stars, and still not know which impossible, infinite end to start from.

    "The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be. Our contemplations of the cosmos stir us. There is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation-- as if a distant memory of falling from a great height: we know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries."

    And I'm ok without finding the answer, or even having no answer. Just to have been afforded such insight to conjure up some hokey imagery in an attempt to make myself feel better makes me grateful.

    And if this proposed update to Cosmos does anything to impress upon anyone the beautiful and truly awesome vastness of all that's around us and within us, it would've been worth it.
    posted by herrdoktor at 7:59 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


    people who could get a new Cosmos greenlit and where:

    Seth MacFarlane at FOX (and I hear this is tied into his deal to do The Flintstones)

    Jerry Bruckheimer (for CSI and its 37 spin-offs) at CBS

    Lorne Michaels at NBC

    Steve Jobs at ABC (using his Pixar-based influence on Disney, and wouldn't Pixar doing the CGI be awesome? Probably a CGI Carl Sagan hosting)

    Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg or James Cameron but only at HBO, no broadcast network

    Alton Brown at Food Network (but with the same budget as Thirty Minute Meals)

    Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick at Adult Swim (with Dr. Rusty Venture narrating, of course)

    Kim Kardashian at MTV
    posted by oneswellfoop at 9:17 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Perhaps it is MacFarlane who had to clout to make this happen. We may fear that his contributions may be disappointing, but perhaps he is a sekrit outerspace nerd who just wants to help this thing get off the ground.

    Sekrit? Dude guested repeatedly on Star Trek: Enterprise because he's such a huge Trekkie. He's been very public about his science fiction nerddom. I didn't bat an eye at this; I just assumed it meant he was a science fiction nerd who was also into outer space (as so many of my other science fiction nerd friends are).
    posted by rednikki at 10:14 PM on August 5, 2011


    The man who killed Pluto ... is only a half-astrophysicist. I'm afraid he'll end every segment saying "Make it so!"
    posted by Twang at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2011


    God, so much hate for the diminishment of a planet thats famous for a goddamn cartoon dog. If Walt Disney hadn't had Mickey's dog named the same, we wouldn't care. I also suppose that because the discovery was American, we must go "USA!USA!" to save Pluto from the callous disregard of astronomers.

    For fuck's sake people.

    Honestly, just read (MeFi's own!) Scalzi's take on everything. Then laugh. Then get over yourselves.
    posted by Hactar at 2:37 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


    I have billions and billions of questions about how this is going to work out.
    posted by JMOZ at 5:20 AM on August 7, 2011


    I fell into this soundtrack in 1980 when Cosmos was originally on the air. I was, um.. 12? And was listening to Vangelis, Synergy, and all these other odd instrumental artists / albums which were basically unclassifiable at the time yet lumped into "New Age". It kind of pushed me into a musical cul-de-sac for quite a long while. Everyone else was doing Styx and Foreigner, I was doing Mannheim Steamroller (before they became a Christmas music cliche).

    You and me both, hippybear! I loved the Cosmos soundtrack album so much.
    posted by dnash at 8:06 AM on August 7, 2011


    Perhaps it is MacFarlane who had to clout to make this happen. We may fear that his contributions may be disappointing, but perhaps he is a sekrit outerspace nerd who just wants to help this thing get off the ground.

    Perhaps? This shouldn't seem like some kind of mystery. MacFarlane's a co-producer because that makes it a financial investment for him. He'll profit greatly off the show. He's clearly a science fan/enthusiast, as his statement seems to be one of the most clear and concise a producer has ever made about why they're backing a show.

    And of course he's the one with the clout to make it happen. The man has made literally billions for Fox and will be in charge of four different shows in their primetime lineup- offering him a fifth is a bargain if it keeps him happy.

    Not much of a sekrit here. One of the most powerful people in television wants to make a television show. Networks tend not to say no to those people.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Neil deGrasse Tyson’s inspirational rant on NASA cutbacks
    posted by homunculus at 7:42 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


    This is late because the site link was borked and it took awhile for them to get back to me. Hopefully someone will still see this!

    Here is a talk + Q&A that Tyson gave at the Bagdad Theater Science Pub back in July 2009. Unfortunately it appears to be monaural, but a couple of fun bits to listen to are at ~20:25 minutes (Newton turns 26) and ~108 minutes (what a difference 4% might make).
    posted by curious nu at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2011


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