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Series: Cosmos

 

Cosmos Carl Sagan: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

   1980    Science
Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and the Spaceship of the Imagination. The ship journeys through the universe's hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' successful calculation of the circumference of Earth leads to a description of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Finally, the Ages of Science are described, before pulling back to the full span of the Cosmic Calendar.

One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

   1980    Science
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).

Journeys in Space and Time

   1980    Science
Ideas about time and space are explored in the changes that constellations undergo over time, the redshift and blue shift measured in interstellar objects, time dilation in Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, the designs of both Leonardo da Vinci and spacecraft that could travel near light speed, time travel and its hypothetical effects on human history, the origins of the Solar System, the history of life, and the immensity of space. In Cosmos Update, the idea of faster-than-light travel by wormholes (researched by Kip Thorne and shown in Sagan’s novel Contact) is discussed.

Who Speaks for Earth

   1980    Culture
Sagan reflects on the future of humanity and the question of 'who speaks for Earth?' when meeting extraterrestrials. He discusses the very different meetings of the Tlingit people and explorer Jean-François de La Perouse with the destruction of the Aztecs by Spanish conquistadors, the looming threat of nuclear warfare, and the threats shown by destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. The episode ends with an overview of the beginning of the universe, the evolution of life, and the accomplishments of humanity and makes a plea to mankind to cherish life and continue its journey in the cosmos. The Cosmos Update notes the preliminary reconnaissance of planets with spacecraft, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and measures towards the reduction of nuclear weapons.

Harmony of the Worlds

   1980    Science
Beginning with the separation of the fuzzy thinking and pious fraud of astrology from the careful observations of astronomy, Sagan follows the development of astronomical observation. Beginning with constellations and ceremonial calendars (such as those of the Anasazi), the story moves to the debate between Earth and Sun-centered models: Ptolemy and the geocentric worldview, Copernicus' theory, the data-gathering of Tycho Brahe, and the achievements of Johannes Kepler (Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the first science-fiction novel).
History of the World
History of the World

   2012    History
Africa with David Attenborough
Africa with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature
How the Universe Works Season 6
How the Universe Works Season 6

   2018    Science
The Life of Birds
The Life of Birds

   1998    Nature
Motivation
Motivation

   2017    Culture
Ice Age Giants
Ice Age Giants

   2013    Science
Planet Dinosaur
Planet Dinosaur

   2011    Science
Africa with David Attenborough
Africa with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature