The Western Lines

July 25, 2010

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – "Heaven and Hell"

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the fourth episode of Carl Sagan’s landmark television series Cosmos: “Heaven and Hell”. In fact, of all the thirteen episodes this has to rank as one of my most favourite . It was from this episode that I first learned about the eyewitness account of a lunar impact seen by Canterbury monks on June 18, 1178 which some researchers believe resulted in the formation of crater Giordano Bruno. This event was recorded in the chronicle of Gervase. Another topic covered in this episode was the Tunguska explosion of June 30, 1908. Some researches such as Bill Napier and Victor Clube have linked these two events together as being a by-product of the Beta Taurid meteor shower; both events coincided with a peak in that shower.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – “Heaven and Hell”

Siberian Apocalypse

Some researchers have linked the Beta Taurid meteor shower to the collapse of late Bronze Age civilizations and some feel that lurking in its wake are more potential disasters to come. Imagine a Tunguska sized fireball exploding over New York City. The video segment below outlines just such a scenario very vividly.


July 24, 2010

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Harmony of the Worlds

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the third episode of Carl Sagan’s highly acclaimed PBS documentary series – Cosmos.

Join us as we follow Carl Sagan in tracing the life of Johannes Kepler, the last scientific astrologer and the first modern astronomer.

Johannes Kepler was the author of one of the first science fiction novels ever written – Somnium (The Dream).

Kepler provided the insight into how the moon and the planets move in their orbits and formulated the three laws of planetary motion that bare his name. It’s also a story about the scientific process of discovery, and how the search for truth is never easy but always worthwhile.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Harmony of the Worlds

July 17, 2010

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