Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the first episode of Carl Sagan’s land mark PBS documentary series – Cosmos.

Join us today on Discovery Enterprise as we follow Carl Sagan on a voyage through space and time in a “spaceship of the imagination”.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers and David Oyster, Richard Wells, Tom Weidlinger, and others. It covered a wide range of scientific subjects including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe.

The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980, and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until The Civil War (1990). As of 2009, it is still the most widely watched PBS series in the world. It won an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has since been broadcast in more than sixty countries and seen by over five hundred million people. A book to accompany the series was also published.

Cosmos presented the whole of the scientific enterprise as a very human pursuit. For a very long time we have looked at science as something outside the realm of everyday human concern. We glorify art, literature, and music. But, look at science as a separate endeavour outside the human norm. In fact we should expand the definition of the humanities to encompass science. Science can trace its origins to its metaphysical beginnings in ancient Ionia. The wellsprings of some of our deepest existential questions were once the chief concerns of religion and philosophy. Yet, science, with a capital “S” is a human endeavour that resonates with our deepest yearnings to understand the reason and purpose of our existence. To quote Carl Sagan “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality”. Science has its own poetry and psalms that glorify the wonders of the cosmos. Science uses its own language to write sonatas of praise to the numinous, the language of discovery known as mathematics.

We need to inject that sense of wonder and awe back into science teaching. The discoveries of science and the language of discovery mathematics should be presented with the same spirit as Cosmos presented the wonders of creation to the general public. Our classrooms must become the spaceships of the imagination that inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers to take us on new voyages of discovery.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean


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