Danielle: That's an interesting point, and is in keeping with the show's openness to different approaches to science and learning. I don't think that the show is anti-religion at all, I think it's anti-bias and anti-closed-mindedness, and I wonder if an allusion to religious texts is intentional.
On an unrelated note, the graphics in this episode are amazing -- especially when it came to the black hole stuff. But also the more mundane things were pretty cool, like New York City in zero gravity and hyper-gravity, and that girl riding her motorbike at super-high speed. That scene was especially cool because of all the music.
Danielle: Okay no, the music was pretty silly. And I wasn’t crazy about the live-action science scenes. The cartoons can be a bit awkward but the “scientist-writing-science-things-with-a-quill” thing is definitely hackneyed and worse. I am happy, however, that the show seems to take great care to note when there’s no historical record of what someone actually looked like -- as with John Marshall, except for a description of him as “a short little man of black complexion and fat,” which is a pretty good detail.
Abby: Given our discussion last week about the show's limitations when it comes to the history of science, their adherence to not imagining the faces of those who left no record of them is kind of amusing to me. But at least Marshall was not, a la last week's Hooke, turned into a hunchbacked villain.
Danielle: Poor Hooke, that was unfair. Should we talk about Tyson on the bicycle? It’s this episode’s Tyson-with-a-baby, except I think it might be better because it’s in Italy and ends with a picnic and an old book. Clearly this show knows what it’s audience wants.
Abby: Yes. I would like a picnic with Tyson, and then he can explain to me how I go back in time to meet Carl Sagan. Good idea.
Danielle: That was basically the implication, right? Tyson ends the episode talking about our possible ability to travel back into time, which I assumed would mean more picnics with scientists like Tyson and Sagan.
But what does the Internet think?
Danielle: I really appreciated the academic tone of this episode, and I wasn’t the only one:
Everyone was very sensitive to the creationist jab:
And, as always, @NASA and @COSMOSonTV had some pretty great complementary info:
What we learned:
Danielle: This was a major connecting-the-dots episode for me. I knew what light-years are and what gravity is and how black holes work, mostly, but I couldn’t have explained to you how and why those are all connected. I probably couldn’t explain it now, either, but this episode presented the information in a way that really made it click for me. It was satisfying in the way that solving algebra problems is satisfying, you know?
Also, I did not know that Patrick Stewart was apparently a guest on this episode. I somehow totally missed that.
Abby: I knew I recognized that voice! He played William Herschel, in what I thought was the best use of animation so far in the Cosmos reboot.
Click through for our thoughts on episodes one, two, and three.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.