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Science Made Me Cry

I finally got around to watching the first episode of the new series of Cosmos this afternoon.

I was a geek before anyone had heard the word. In the first grade I was reading Asimov non-fiction novels at the rate of one or two each week[1].

I was restricted in the amount of TV I could watch, but the whole family gathered around the TV to watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. And when Carl Sagan came out with Cosmos, my parents happily let me watch it.


This may not seem like a big deal to kids today, but back then... it was. We had 1 television in the house. And only 4 channels. With 2 parents and 3 kids, choosing a TV program was a major decision. And choosing PBS instead of one of the big 3? Best not talk about that.

Cosmos was a dear friend to me growing up, and when I heard it was being revived, I had severely mixed feelings. On the one hand, I support any program that popularizes and encourages science. On the other hand, I have seen how "science programs" have been turned into "bubblegum bullshit". On the gripping hand, Sagan was one of the "Saints of Science" that helped me to understand and question the universe.

So... I watched the pilot episode of the new Cosmos with trepidation. I feared that it would be a watered-down bubble-gum version written to ensure that nobody was offended.

I was wrong.

And then I heard the phrase that broke down the walls and brought tears to my eyes.


"You... me.... we are all [just] star stuff."

Thank you, Mr. Tyson, for reminding me of all the people who taught me to love the wonder and mystery of science. It is my sincerest hope that you can inspire a new generation the way that Dr. Sagan did for mine.


Now... if you will all excuse me, I'm going to pour another glass of scotch, grab a new box of Kleenex, and watch the next episode.


[1] My mother actually went down to our small-town library and told them that I would be given an "adult" library card, and allowed to read any book I wanted to. Among the restrictions of the "children's card" was not being allowed to use the paperback exchange. The library had a couple paperback racks that were outside the normal check-out process. Anyone could take from or donate to these racks. That's where I found all the best non-fiction science books.

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