Cosmos, the classic science documentary, is back on television with 13 new episodes. This re-boot has taken 34 years to get back on the air. Many aspects of the old show will carry through in the latest incarnation, and there are some major updates to the series.
Like the original, the wonders of science will be presented in a friendly manner, meant to excite people about astronomy, biology and other fields of study. In the original, viewers were guided around the universe in a "Ship of the Imagination" traveling through the Cosmos without any barriers of time or velocity. That ship will return in the new series, albeit with an updated look.
The biggest difference between the two versions of the show, of course, is the host. Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 series, passed away in 1996. Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the reigns of the show this time around. He has been a popular guest on science documentaries for years, and is well-loved among many fans of the shows. Historical re-enactments are replaced by animated skits.
In the first episode, Tyson tells viewers the story of Giordano Bruno, a 16th Century monk who was burned at the stake for his ideas. The Italian declared the Sun is a star, and that multiple planets exist, spread throughout the universe. In many ways, Bruno is an unusual character in the history of science to use for a first profile. He did not test his theories, which is essential to science. His revelations came to him in a "vision," which was not supported by evidence.
In the original series, Sagan talked about the chance of, one day, finding planets around other stars. Today, astronomers know of well over 1,000 worlds beyond our own solar system. The late astronomer speculated that humans were on the verge of a global communication network. Since that time, the Internet has changed the world in ways Sagan could not have foreseen.
Tyson worked with Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, in producing the new show, which seems a natural fit. Less obvious is executive producer Seth McFarlane, the creator of the animated series Family Guy. Listen to the voice of Bruno in the first episode. That's MacFarlane, who voices Peter Griffin on the popular series.
At 17 years old, Tyson watched the original Cosmos, and Sagan invited the young man to spend a day with him. The world's most famous science host gave the teenager an autographed book, signed "For Neil, a future astronomer."
Neil deGrasse Tyson's version of Cosmos premieres Sunday, 9 March on all Fox Networks.
If Tyson has his way, this will not be the last of the groundbreaking series.
"There's gotta be at least one 'Cosmos' a generation. Otherwise, we're not doing justice to sharing with the public the role of science and bringing the universe down to Earth," Tyson said to Space.com