We live in fascinating but troubling times when it comes to science. Each new month seems to bring more fantastical ways in which the science fiction of yesteryear is becoming the science reality of today. Unfortunately, those hopeful stories are constantly interspersed with tales of yahoos treating science, at best, like an elective they don’t want to participate in, and at worst, like a conspiracy designed solely to undermine their personal religious beliefs. Perhaps more than ever before, we need people like Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. We need passionate defenders of science, people who can make the younger generation excited for and enthusiastic about science. We need…well, Cosmos.
The late Carl Sagan’s iconic 1980 series Cosmos did wonders instilling enthusiasm and wonder about space in a generation too young to have lived through the most productive years of the space race. Now Cosmos is finding new life, courtesy of two well-known figures, one you’d expect to be involved with a project like this (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) and one likely to make you do a double-take (Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane). Now Fox has announced that a new, 13-episode run of Cosmos will indeed hit the air sometime in 2014.
Word that MacFarlane was spearheading a new incarnation of Cosmos first broke in 2011, and there haven’t been any major updates in the time since. MacFarlane is serving as the program’s producer, along with astrophysicist Steven Soter and writer/producer Ann Druyan (who wrote the big-screen adaptation of Sagan’s Contact in the mid ‘90s). Tyson will serve as the show’s host, following in the footsteps of the late Sagan himself. Hopefully, if the series is a hit, we might get more episodes after the first 13 are aired.
Between NASA milestones like the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover, and private companies like SpaceX and Planetary Resources pushing the boundaries of the final frontier, it seems like the perfect time for Cosmos to return. Who knows, maybe one the show’s young viewers will someday live on a colonized Mars, or — if NASA can get that whole warp drive thing working — take a scenic vacation to Alpha Centauri. We can but hope.
In the meantime, here’s Sagan at his most brilliant, poetical best.