It isn’t possible to overstate how excited I am for the premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey tonight.
One of my fondest memories of my lifetime is from when I was 18 and tried psilocybin mushrooms for the first time. I was in my bedroom and I decided to fire up an episode of the original Cosmos to enjoy. I chose the series’ first episode, “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean”.
It was a profound experience. Listening to Sagan’s soothing voice guide me through some of the billions of galaxies in our universe gave me a much greater understanding and appreciation for the scale of our universe. It humbled me as I realized the insignificance of humanity when compared to the creation and destruction of entire galaxies occurring at all times around us. It opened my eyes to the reality that there are billions of potentially life-supporting planets out there, and that alien life is nearly guaranteed to exist - billions of light years away. I was in awe, fully and completely.
Following this experience, I watched the other episodes of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage stone sober and felt all the same emotions, the same sense of awe.
I’ve suffered from severe bouts of depression in my life, and reflecting upon these things helps to inspire me in times of hardship to continue the fight. For all of human history, we knew almost nothing of what existed beyond of our planet, but thanks to the work of agencies such as NASA, we learn more every day. Never before has it been such an exciting time to be alive.
It also isn’t possible to overstate the value of nearly a dozen channels across North America broadcasting a science program at prime time. I believe that science literacy is of paramount importance in the continued development of human civilization. When taken into consideration that over 40% of Americans and over 20% of Canadians reject evolution in favour of religious creation myths, it is clear that we are in need of more effective science education. And while one television series can’t change these statistics single-handedly, it has the potential to inspire the same deep love and appreciation of science in people all over the continent.