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Saturday, March 8, 2014


COSMOS returns tomorrow night on all ten FOX networks:  Fox, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 National Geographic Chanel, Nat Geo WILD and Fox Life.  I was a young staff member of the U.S. Senate more than a third of a century ago, in 1980, when your educational television station featured a 13-part series presented by Carl Sagan entitled Cosmos:  A Personal Voyage, winning an Emmy and Peabody Award.  Click on that for the full one-hour original Episode 1.    This program remains as the most watched Public Broadcasting Service series in the world.

The moderator for Cosmos:  A Spacetime Odyssey, is Neil deGrasse Tyson, and executive producers are Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow.  There will again be 13 episodes beginning with the then impertinent vision on Giordano Bruno around 1600.  Fox will air week 2, rebroadcasted the next day by National Geographic, with extra content.

I had an initial encounter with Sagan when we watched the first photo of Mar's surface at the NASA Ames Research center courtesy of Viking 1:

Many of us are intrigued by the Universe.  I even once worked for NASA on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and on 20July1976, 35 years ago, was in a group that first saw the image of Mars, line by line, at the Ames Research Center, before it was released to the public. 

Carl Sagan was with us and I quote from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

Who knows, maybe fuzzy Green Ladies could have shown up. I still remember Sagan pontificating as to why the color of Mars had a salmon-tinge, and commented so in fine scientific detail…except, well into his elocution, a technician sheepishly commented, “Dr. Sagan, we haven’t yet applied the correction filters.” That’s the only time I saw Sagan visibly embarrassed. It turned out that the addition of the filters did not change the salmon hue.

I had a second opportunity to work with Sagan in 1981, when his reputation following Cosmos was now legendary (October 1980 TIME), such that he was able to convince Senator William Proxmire to allow funding for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.  In 1979 Proxmire had given a Golden Fleece Award to SETI.

COSMOS showed that science can be both educational and enjoyable on television.  I look forward to this next version.


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