The Ripple Effect is written by Jené Conrad as an homage to all the mediums that have affected not just the nerd part of her life, but all aspects. Join her musings monthly.
If you want to be inspired, watch The Cosmos hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson on Netflix; it will take your breath away. Now I know that it aired on TV early year, and a lot of people watched it, but I am convinced not enough of you did. Cosmos is the updated version of Carl Sagan’s original program of the same name. This show is a beautiful articulation of our position in the universe. The special effects and cinematic magnitude illustrates the breathtaking extent of our existence. The 1980’s show inspired a generation, and this version picks up without missing a beat. Cosmos aims to inspire us to take action and be a voice in our collective story by understanding our place in it.
The fandom on Tumblr has gone bananas over Neil deGrasse Tyson, famed astrophysicist, and shows the extent to which fans have responded to the scope of the show. In one popular moment on the show, deGrasse Tyson takes out one of Carl Sagan’s journals and shows an appointment with his name etched in it. Neil deGrasse Tyson goes on to talk about how Sagan took the time to talk to a kid from Brooklyn about the cosmos on a cold and snowy day. Sagan took the time to encourage this young burgeoning scientist to follow his dreams. This small moment reflects the theme of the cosmos; how insignificant and small we are, but how, in our smallness, we are significant in the vastness of our universe.
In a time when scientists propose we are in the throes of the sixth mass extinction, exploiting our natural resources to the extent of global collapse and climate change, Cosmos aims to speak to our collective humanity, our history of adaptation and the potential we have to orchestrate the course of our future. We are not doomed to blink out of existence; instead, we will be changed, but we will continue on as part of the universe. In the immensity of this reality, there is a haunting battle cry that worms its way in the pit of our stomachs as we extend our consciousness outward. We are forced to look at ourselves on the planet’s surface and look up at the stars that reflect the potential we have to change our realities.
This was Carl Sagan’s original intention – to connect poetry to knowledge and art to science. As a prominent astrophysicist and science-fiction writer, he was always looking to the stars for the answers of humanities many unanswered questions. He constantly wondered if we are alone in the universe. What is so striking about The Cosmos is, like Sagan and deGrasse Tyson, our history is a tapestry of the many scientists who came before them. They are part of the great link of intellectual skepticism. Scientists who constantly question the reality around them asking “What if?”, Cosmos articulates our collective humanity and how science is something that is built upon, idea after idea. It is a show about how science was birthed out of the spirit of rebellion. Rebellion to question authority and the control of power. The more we unlock the mysteries of science, the more alike we become. It was the spirit of rebellion that these scientific men and women of different races and class refused to be held back by their rules of society. It was their undying spirit and love of science to defy authority which has lead us to yet more discoveries.
Neil deGrasse Tyson asks “who will pick up the torch and take use on new undiscovered roads?” For the people watching, who will be the next inspired scientist? The next one to take us further into the mysteries that surround us? The next writer to inspire never thought of scientific breakthroughs and fight for the safety of our existence?
What if? What if? What if? What if?
All images belong to Cosmos Productions, Fuzzy Door Productions, National Geographic Channel, and FOX. Photos can be credited to Seth Reed.