The "Cosmos" television series took a different turn in its latest episode, reversing course from out into the far reaches of space to turn inward to the world of molecules and atoms that make up the world around -- and inside -- all of us.
In the episode "Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still," host Neil deGrasse Tyson took us from the very large arena of galaxies, black holes and the universe in all its extent to the very small, voyaging through a single drop of water to discover an entire ecosystem lurking within, then on to the subatomic particles flying around in the heart of a gargantuan exploding star.
In addition to taking the series' "Ship of the Imagination" through a dewdrop, Tyson -- and his audience -- visited the interior of plant cells to visit the molecular "factory" that is photosynthesis.
In that miracle process of, he explained, plants take in carbon dioxide to create energy, releasing oxygen as a "waste" product -- for which humans must be grateful, as we survive by doing the opposite, talking in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide.
The usual mindboggling facts were on display in the episode, including that there are as many atoms in a single atom of our DNA, there are stars in most galaxies and more atoms in a human eye than all the stars in the known universe.
Tyson, is as usual with most "Cosmos" subjects, started at the beginning with atoms, with the first man -- a Greek philosopher named Democritus -- to posit that the solid world all around us in fact not so solid, but made up of discrete particles he dubbed "atomos," meaning "cannot be cut."
For most of history his theory was beyond proof because it was beyond the ability of human to peer into a world so much smaller than what is observable. It took modern physics to prove Democritus correct, Tyson explained.
As in most "Cosmos" outings, Tyson quickly moved from subject to subject, although all linked to the episode's theme of the very small.
From the hydrogen and helium atoms swirling inside the nuclear furnaces we know as stars, to the neutrinos the largest stars seed the universe with when they explode after living hard and fast, Tyson had time -- and his usual interesting, graphic-powered explanations for them all.