Cosmos: Carl Sagan
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Astronomer Carl Sagan's landmark 13-part science series takes you on an awe-inspiring cosmic journey to the edge of the Universe and back aboard the spaceship of the imagination. Topics covered include: the 15-billion year history of the Universe; the evolution of life on Earth and what forms life might take on other worlds; Johannes Kepler, the first modern astronomer; the hellish atmosphere of Venus and the threat of the Greenhouse Effect on Earth; the search for life on Mars; the 17th century exploration of the Earth; the Voyager missions to Jupiter and Saturn; the possibility of time travel; Einstein's theories; the life cycle of stars; determining the origin of the Universe; the brain and the evolution of intelligence; how we might communicate with alien civilizations; the continued survival of the human race versus the threat of nuclear destruction.
When Cosmos was first broadcast in 1980, our world--and the context of Carl Sagan's eloquent "personal journey"--was a different place. The late Dr. Sagan would be pleased to witness the cooling of the Cold War, the continued exploration of space, and ongoing efforts to curb our destructive dependence on fossil fuels. For Sagan's series is far more than a guided tour through "billions and billions" of stars and galaxies. It remains a profound plea for the unity of humankind, for the recognition that "we are a way for the universe to know itself," with an obligation to know our origin, our place in the universe, and our future potential.
In the course of 13 fascinating hours, Cosmos spans its own galaxy of topics to serve Sagan's theme, each segment deepening our understanding of how we got from there (simple microbes in the primordial mud) to here (space-faring civilization in the 21st century). In his "ship of the imagination," Sagan guides us to the farthest reaches of space and takes us back into the history of scientific inquiry, from the ancient library of Alexandria to the NASA probes of our neighboring planets. Upon this vast canvas Sagan presents the "cosmic calendar," placing the 15-billion-year history of the universe into an accessible one-year framework, then filling it with a stunning chronology of events, both interstellar and earthbound.
From the lives of the stars to creation theories, functions of the human brain, and the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, Cosmos asks big questions. When appropriate, Sagan offers big answers, or asks still bigger--and yes, even spiritual--questions at the boundaries of science and religion. What's most remarkable about Cosmos is that it remains almost entirely fresh, with few updates needed to the science that Sagan so passionately celebrates. It is no exaggeration to say that Cosmos--for all the debate it may continue to provoke--is a vital document for humanity at a pivotal crossroads of our history. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
As to "Cosmos" itself, like many people I could offer my testimony to it's quality. As a child (I think I was about 7 when I first saw it) "Cosmos" opened my mind to the possibilities of the Universe. I am glad that the information is still relevant today, and that the only thing dated about the production is Carl Sagan's turtlenecks.
Should I ever have children, "Cosmos" is the sort of thing I would like to share with them.
"Cosmos" was sheer inspiration as well as brilliant education, the perfect antidote to a bad day, the ultimate escapist television. As each episode closed and the poignant theme music played, it would inevitably bring me to tears. I was lucky enough to purchase the entire set before it went out of production. It was the first thing my son, now 28, wanted to borrow when he came home for a visit recently. I miss Carl Sagan's presence in the world more than I can say, ....
Within "Cosmos" is an assortment of discussions of the history of scientific ideas, as well as the personages who conceived and promoted those ideas. The collection includes such diverse fields as astronomy, theoretical physics, zoology / taxonomy, molecular biology, cosmology and chemistry.
Sagan takes his viewers on a tour of some of the most pivotal epochs in science history. Incorporated into the historical overview are such personages as Eratosthenes of Alexandria, Hypatia of Alexandria, Anaxagorous, Aristarchus of Samos, Archimedes, Democritus of Abderra, Aristotle, Johannes Kepler, Leonardo Davinci, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein (among others). Sagan does a wonderful job of recounting the intellectual milieu in which these pioneers lived, and also explains what inspired their revolutionary ideas.
There have been many scientific documentaries put out on video since the debut of "Cosmos." Virtually all of them, however, were influenced by Sagan. His vision was to make science more accessible to the general public, as opposed to being confined to the stuffy laboratories and lecture halls of academia. After all, the fruits and treasures of scientific discovery belong to all of us, not just a select educated few. It was not so long ago, however, that it was widely thought that laymen were not intelligent enough to follow the general principles of scientific polemics. Sagan disagreed with this premise and has taken tremendous efforts to dispel it. "Cosmos" is an example of those efforts.
This is a truly outstanding piece of work and is recommended for everyone who has so much as a peripheral interest in science. Yes, it is a bit on the expensive side, but it is also nearly 12 hours worth of intellectual fervor. This version on DVD also contains updated material in which Sagan introduces scientific revelations which have been made since the PBS series came out. It also contains commentary by his widow, Ann Druyan. So, buy this box set and enjoy all the cosmos has to offer.