DC at Night

DC at Night

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Viewing the Cosmos @National Geographic

"The cosmos is all that there ever was and ever will be." --- Carl Sagan.

If you are a fan of the awe and mystery of man and the universe, then you should head to the National Geographic Museum where an engaging exhibition on the TV show Cosmos is now on display.

The exhibit examines both the original airing of the series with Carl Sagan and the new version with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which is now showing on the National Geographic channel.

Sagan's series, which debuted in 1980 and ran for 13 weeks, remains the most globally successful American public television series of all-time. It has been seen by more than 800 million viewers around the world. Sagan's accompanying book spent 70 weeks on the New York Times' best-seller list and was listed by the Library of Congress as one of the 88 books that shaped America.

Actually, there is a close personal tie between Sagan and Tyson, who is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, has become a favorite guest on both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report for his ability to explain scientific concepts, and is the first scientist with more than 1 million Twitter followers.

When Tyson was applying to college, he was accepted at Cornell University where Sagan was then a professor. Sagan wrote Tyson a personal letter, inviting him to tour his lab. Even though Tyson decided to attend Harvard University, Sagan's outreach made a deep impression on him.

"I learned the kind of person I wanted to become," Tyson says. "I have this duty to respond to students who are inquiring about the universe as a career path the way Carl Sagan responded to me."

Both men have been described as those rare scientists who can "bring the universe down to Earth like no others."

In their essence, both the original Cosmos and the new version, which began airing this month, present the world of our universe as explained by science.

"Cosmos is a saga of how wandering bands of hunters and gatherers found their way to the stars," says Ann Druyon, a writer who worked on both versions of the show.

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