Cosmos, 2014 Edition, starring the multiverse and Neil deGrasse Tyson

chairkicker wrote:

I'll confess that at least half of the fun of the new Cosmos, for me, is watching the christianists/cryptonauts try to respond to it: http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.c... (warning: myopic trash)

My hope and expectation is that, as the series continues, it leaves less and less wiggle room for that kind of reaction. I wonder if a similar thing happened with the original series. Cosmos is a slow burn.

While I may not agree with your view or reason for sharing that link, I thank you for sharing it. I found it a good read.

At the very least this means that the new Cosmos is encouraging discussion, opening people up to new ways of thinking, giving a new target to aim for, even if it is just to try to prove or disapprove something. That individuals will Question Everything enough to go on a personal journey and discover for themselves, instead of just simply believing what they read online, watch on TV, are told by peers/others and taught in centers of education and religion. From this alone, Cosmos would have already achieved what they set out to do.

Falchion wrote:

discover for themselves

Some of the best fun I've ever had was re-creating science experiments as a kid.

I really enjoyed it. The cosmic calendar idea is a genius way to describe how new we are to the entire universe.

The cartoons were just alright to me. I get that they will hold I but better but they felt a little drawn out. I may warm up to the. In the future.

Can't wait for next week.

I really liked the cartoons. That style of graphics will be just as watchable in 30 years as it is today. The rest of the graphics will probably look dated long before the animations will.

The thought occurs that maybe they're a little over-reliant on special effects, and that this might make the series look old before its content is superseded.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/RwwZ1eE.jpg)

Malor wrote:

I really liked the cartoons. That style of graphics will be just as watchable in 30 years as it is today. The rest of the graphics will probably look dated long before the animations will.

The thought occurs that maybe they're a little over-reliant on special effects, and that this might make the series look old before its content is superseded.

The part of the original Cosmos series that seems most hokey and dated now are, to my mind:

* the historical reenactments, where they often shot at historically interesting locations but got some really boring footage, and
* the spaceship interior set, about which the less said the better.

I can't help but think that a goal of the new series was to avoid stuff like that. More direct visuals -- even if they look mundane to a kid one generation from now -- will still seem relevant.

It might be a little out of scope for the series, but it'd be awesome if there was a callback to the original in a subsequent episode explaining how thinking has changed since then, and why. Sort of like the pre-roll things Ann Druyan eventually recorded for the original Cosmos, but integrated into the new show.

Katy wrote:

We all enjoyed the show here. I'm sorry that Fox is showing it at 9pm, which makes it too late to watch 'live' with the kids on a school night. So we'll be watching it later in the week.

JC wrote:

Out of curiosity. Has there been any reaction to this by religious conservatives?

I certainly don't want to turn this into a P&C conversation but I'm curious.

One FOX station in Oklahoma cut out the bit about human evolution near the end.

In what appeared to be an editing error, a Fox affiliate in Oklahoma managed to remove the only mention of evolution from Sunday night’s Cosmos science documentary by cutting only 15 seconds from the broadcast.
[...]
“Three and a half million years ago, our ancestors — your[s] and mine left these traces,” Tyson said, pointing to footprints. “We stood up and parted ways from them. Once we were standing on two feet, our eyes were no longer fixated on the ground. Now, we were free to look up and wonder.”

But for viewers of KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, that 15 second paragraph was replaced by an awkwardly-inserted commercial for the evening news.

I'm going to go with assuming that was just a mistake. The alternative is just too much for my brain to deal with and would definitely move this to P&C.

We all enjoyed the show here. I'm sorry that Fox is showing it at 9pm, which makes it too late to watch 'live' with the kids on a school night. So we'll be watching it later in the week.

JC wrote:

Out of curiosity. Has there been any reaction to this by religious conservatives?

I certainly don't want to turn this into a P&C conversation but I'm curious.

One FOX station in Oklahoma cut out the bit about human evolution near the end.

In what appeared to be an editing error, a Fox affiliate in Oklahoma managed to remove the only mention of evolution from Sunday night’s Cosmos science documentary by cutting only 15 seconds from the broadcast.
[...]
“Three and a half million years ago, our ancestors — your[s] and mine left these traces,” Tyson said, pointing to footprints. “We stood up and parted ways from them. Once we were standing on two feet, our eyes were no longer fixated on the ground. Now, we were free to look up and wonder.”

But for viewers of KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, that 15 second paragraph was replaced by an awkwardly-inserted commercial for the evening news.

And there's a review of the episode on the Answers in Genesis website, should you care to look at that.

Tonight's episode was almost entirely about evolution and included a strong debunking of a popular creationist argument (the 'irreducible complexity' of the eye). There was also a very subtle dig at religion at the end of the natural selection segment.

If last week's show didn't ruffle some feathers I imagine this one will.

Honestly, I've been kind of let down by Cosmos. I expected great science stuff, but instead I got a lot of condescension to the religious right. I agree with the show in principle, but I'm not really interested in a weekly discussion of how naive other people are.

Jayhawker wrote:

Honestly, I've been kind of let down by Cosmos. I expected great science stuff, but instead I got a lot of condescension to the religious right. I agree with the show in principle, but I'm not really interested in a weekly discussion of how naive other people are.

Considering how hard the Right is working to undermine science education, I think it's quite deserving. Besides, I felt it contained plenty of actual science "stuff". Cosmos - to me, at least - is about awakening the curiosity and wonderment found in scientific exploration, while providing an overview of current scientific models. So basically, "Science is awesome, and here's why (with a cursory explanation of how)".

I'll grant that the original series may have had more depth of information, but with only two episodes in, the new series has plenty of time to dive deeper into the science.

So, anyway, I watched the first two episodes on Hulu. Loved it. The cartoons have a great style to them, and unlike most cartoons (to me), it's entirely watchable. Tyson is awesome and charismatic, as always. Now excuse me while I go marathon the original while I wait for the next episode...

I've loved the series so far and while I agree that religion is certainly part of what is being discussed it is only a tiny part and is being addressed in the context of the fact that so many people who seem to want to debate the facts of science can not separate their counter arguments from their religious beliefs.

But it's a small part of the show and the other mind blowing parts are where I hope the emphasis is.

It's impossible for a credible program like Cosmos 2014 to discuss the history of science and not bring up a lot of very messy and bloody religious history. To do otherwise would do a disservice to their audience not to mention undermine the very mission of the Cosmos series. Anyone having a problem with this, well, I'd kindly suggest it's their problem.

So far I've had zero problem with the facts presented by NDT and the show's producers. It's good science. It's good instruction. It's factual human history.

I want a imagination ship to fly around in. I'll cruise around in space and visit Mars.

Katy wrote:

And there's a review of the episode on the Answers in Genesis website, should you care to look at that.

The amount of butthurt and passive aggressiveness in that article is really, really funny.

The amount of butthurt and passive aggressiveness in that article is really, really funny.

High level of ignorance, too, like claiming that abiogenesis 'violates the natural laws that govern everything known to chemical and biological science'. What laws would that be, exactly?

I can't link it anymore, because it's gone behind a paywall, but there was a hypothesis about abiogenesis a few years ago that made a lot of sense; cells might have evolved inside porous rocks in an iron-rich sea; the rocks would serve the same purpose as cell walls, and the high iron content of the early seas would allow for chemical and electrical reactions to take place that can't happen in the modern ocean. (The free iron that was once in the ocean settled out long ago, bound to the oxygen emitted by life.) That's why we don't see it happening anymore. And, even if it somehow DID, the simple/primitive lifeforms that resulted would most likely be outcompeted by things with four billion years of practice at finding and eating them. Hell, it could be happening all the time, and it's just a little more lunch for something more evolved.

There's no doubt that abiogenesis is a mystery. We don't understand it yet. So little evidence is left, from four billion years ago, that we may never be certain about what actually happened. We do know that it took a really long time, something like a billion years, to work out the basic mechanics of cells, and then another billion or so to work out multicellularity. The vast explosion of complex life since has happened in a remarkably short time, comparatively speaking.

You can be certain that creatures change, over long periods of time, into new species. You can be as sure about this as you are that the Moon exists or that we have oceans. There's that much evidence. It is probably the single best-supported theory in science. We argue about details of why and how, but the broad outline is as certain as anything can ever be for a system based on evidence.

[quote=Malor]

You can be certain that creatures change, over long periods of time, into new species. You can be as sure about this as you are that the Moon exists or that we have oceans. There's that much evidence. It is probably the single best-supported theory in science. We argue about details of why and how, but the broad outline is as certain as anything can ever be for a system based on evidence.

I think it was Stephen Jay Gould (I'm too lazy to Google it) that said the DNA record alone was enough to confirm evolution by natural selection as a real, demonstrable thing. The fossil records (which creationists love to harp regarding the gaps) is excellent, and does much to bolster the theory, but is actually not even necessary. The fact that things fossilize at all and give us records of ancient species is amazing enough, let alone that we have so many. So of course there's going to be some gaps here and there.

Nicholaas wrote:

I'll grant that the original series may have had more depth of information, but with only two episodes in, the new series has plenty of time to dive deeper into the science.

I haven't seen the original version (for shame!) but I imagine that since it was being broadcast on PBS they probably didn't have nearly as many commercial breaks and it wasn't aimed at as general an audience. It could probably indulge in diving deeper into some topics because they had more time and they weren't trying to keep people watching the TV after "Animation Domination" was over.

I thought one of the best statements they made in the 2nd episode was almost in passing. I believe it was as they were wrapping up the polar bear explanation and Tyson stated something along the lines of, "Evolution is not based on changes in a single creature but changes to a population over a long period of time."

And that link that Katy posted... Ugh.

I love that Ann Druyan has multiple credits. I love that they're not pulling any punches. I love NDT's infectious love of nature.

Had a chance to watch the second episode - I'm glad to see such a direct response to some of the toxic crap in our culture.

I really enjoyed the "Hall of Extinction" bit, in particular the spatial depiction of a larger timescales and the creepy unmarked hallway. It's a touch of the Long Now: showing objects marking huge timespans, and then showing where we fit. Pretty subtle, but I hope the sets continue to be that interesting.

JC wrote:

I thought one of the best statements they made in the 2nd episode was almost in passing. I believe it was as they were wrapping up the polar bear explanation and Tyson stated something along the lines of, "Evolution is not based on changes in a single creature but changes to a population over a long period of time."

See, this is one of the details of why and how that are getting argued about. We model evolution in terms of populations, but it actually happens one individual at a time, because bear cub A and bear cub B are a little bit different. And there's starting to be, maybe, a little evidence of epigenetics.

That is, say you're an animal that had to transition into a new environment that rewards a new behavior. You were outcompeted in the forests, and were shoved onto the plains out of pure necessity. Running faster, out on the plains, is important, so you, the first plains generation, will push your running to the limit, trying to survive... and then, apparently, there's now some evidence that your children will be better at running than you were, that some of your life experience is transmitted genetically. And then your children will transmit their experience to theirs, so your grandchildren will be faster still. The big open question right now is this: does that mean that experience can cause actual changes in genes, causing new traits to arise based on events in a creature's life, rather than the simple random transcription errors that we have believed are central to the evolutionary process?

We don't know that, yet. Ten years ago, people thought epigenetic change was total nonsense. And ten years from now, they might think it's nonsense again, because maybe the evidence won't prove out. But right now, scientists are definitely thinking it might be possible.

The broad structure is certain... more certain than anything else we've ever discovered. But we'll probably be arguing about details for as long as we have scientists working in the field, no matter how long they keep studying.

I still think epigenetics is pure nonsense.

But then, I'm not an evolutionary biologist.

This could get into P&C territory so quickly it's not even funny. It's a great show.

Also, there's a NDT thread? Where has it been all my life? O.o

Malor wrote:
JC wrote:

I thought one of the best statements they made in the 2nd episode was almost in passing. I believe it was as they were wrapping up the polar bear explanation and Tyson stated something along the lines of, "Evolution is not based on changes in a single creature but changes to a population over a long period of time."

See, this is one of the details of why and how that are getting argued about. We model evolution in terms of populations, but it actually happens one individual at a time, because bear cub A and bear cub B are a little bit different. And there's starting to be, maybe, a little evidence of epigenetics.

Sure, but I still think the point they were trying to convey was that the changes in evolution aren't easily perceptible on an individual basis. I guess pigmentation changes (as the example of brown -> white bear) is an obvious one, but I imagine that most changes are going to happen in many individuals of a population over a long period of time. Which is how the population of a species evolves into a new species. It doesn't matter if you can observe the change on an individual level, what matters is the amount of time and the size of the population.

Although now that I think about it more, we've observed evolution with bacteria on a much smaller time scale than larger organisms, so maybe time scale isn't really that big a factor?

BadKen wrote:

I still think epigenetics is pure nonsense.

But then, I'm not an evolutionary biologist.

This is the first time I've heard the term. Sounds like something out of Dune.

Maybe we need a separate thread in the P&C.

I'm simply suggesting that the statement made, evolution isn't a singular event and it takes a lot of time over a large base; is exactly what I think a lot of creationismists? creationists? get stuck on and can't seem to fathom. There is an expectation that evolution is like a light switch by some folks and it most certainly isn't, which leads to "that can't possibly be true it's all bunk."

I hear the pitter-patter of the tiny feet of the P&C thread moving fairy....

I still think epigenetics is pure nonsense.

Oh, it absolutely might be. But the processes involved in inheritance may be more complex than we realize, and your life experience may have a direct impact on your offspring. This is, however, very much at early hypothesis stage.

It doesn't change the big picture at all; the who, what, where and why all remain the same. But when and how may be more complex than we originally thought. Maybe genes are the center, but maybe they aren't. Genes are an instruction sequence for an extraordinarily advanced computer, in essence, and by no means do they have to be the only adaptation mechanism. There could easily be others that we don't yet know about; each individual cell is a machine several orders of magnitude more complex than anything ever created by humans. There's a lot down there we haven't seen yet.

Maybe we need a separate thread in the P&C.

I dunno, this doesn't seem especially controversial in any real sense. But if you guys would rather, I can just put a sock in it. I don't want the thread dragged off to Cleveland.

I thought the "take it to P&C" was more about evolution vs. religion, not epigenetics.

shoptroll wrote:

I thought the "take it to P&C" was more about evolution vs. religion, not epigenetics.

Agreed.

Watching this online I was suprised it's been generating such an incredible buzz until I realised that this show is as political as it is scientific. I sometimes forget how aggressively reactionary huge factions in the US are when it comes to science.