I recently finished watching the documentary Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I really enjoyed the series, and found myself coming back to watch it more often than I expected at first. My opinion is more complex than that though, so, of course, my more long winded thoughts are after the jump.
The thing that I first noticed while watching Cosmos was the breadth of topics that it covers. That, in itself, is quite impressive, but I quickly found that the extraordinary breadth meant that there wasn’t going to be a lot of depth on any particular topic. At times, I found this frustrating because Neil would get just to the precipice of my knowledge in a topic… …Only to stop, and move on. I eventually settled in to this fact, that this show was more of an overview than a science discussion, but it still chafed.
One thing that I found I got a lot of value from, however, was the historical bits from the series. As he talked about the science, he also took the time to discuss the historical context of the science. Many of the scientists I knew about, some I didn’t, but for all of them I learned more about what was going on around them and who else was involved, which was quite interesting.
The last thing that really surprised me about the series was the fact that Neil addressed the science-political issues directly. Near the beginning of the series, it seemed like he was dodging these particular issues, but by the end of the series, he was addressing them more directly. While surprising, this was closer to what I would expect out of such a program – tell the science how it is, and have a call-to-action that calls out the political issue.
Overall, I would recommend the series to anyone who has an interest in a wide breadth of science. The coverage is great, and it seemed exceptionally accessible. I would rate this one four spiral galaxies… …That’s a lot of stars.