Popularizing real science isn't easy, which is why Carl Sagan continues to be lauded for his work on the show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which, along with publications like Omni, helped to make science cool for the mainstream back in the 1980s. Now, decades after Sagan helped us all think more deeply about space, that incredibly popular thirteen-part television series is being reborn as Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a well-known astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, the new show will take a similarly epic look at the universe and the science that helps us understand it. Like the old Sagan show, the series will use special effects along with real world footage to enhance the scientific theories and exploration represented on the program.
In the run-up to the show's debut, which is set to occur in 2014, the producers have released a stunning trailer that would make Sagan proud. The trailer includes an ever-present spacecraft, which Tyson can be seen riding in at several points, as well as recreations of prehistoric man, technological advances (watch for the data visor), and various animations taking the viewer through important points in history.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend an event at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, hosted by Tyson, where a string orchestra flawlessly played the themes from Battlestar Galacta and Star Trek just before a discussion of the intersection of science and science fiction. What struck me most about the event is how popular Tyson was with the audience and how easily, through humor and insight, he was able to translate seemingly mundane science theories into exciting, easy to digest concepts for non-scientists.
Whether the show does well or not, picking Tyson as the new pitchman for mainstreaming science makes perfect sense. You can check out the full trailer in the video below.