Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Today I started watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I started it with the caveat that I would not be able to take any notes with it on except for when I watched a particular episode. Though given that they were so short (under 44 minutes each), I figured I would probably exhaust them one or two days while doing other things (13 episodes at under 44 minutes each is about 9.5 hours).

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Today I watched the first three episodes.

In the first episode, I liked how they created the timescale of the universe on a year.

In the second episode, I liked the portrayal of natural selection, especially following "artificial selection." It's a concept I understood well, but it's explained in a way that seems accessible to more people.

In the third episode, I found it interesting how the episode essentially makes a point to say that comets were universally bad omens, but all of it got stripped away as soon as the laws of physics were laid out.

On that note, the show is fairly aggressive about science (vs. religion). While I appreciate the show for illustrating many concepts that render aspects of religion outdated, it's important to note that aspects of science still remain mysteries. First, the big bang theory was mentioned in the first episode, but there was a lack of emphasis on its status as a theory. Second, while Newton's laws of physics do help predict movement, it still doesn't explain what gravity is (see my post Wait, What is Gravity?).

In the fourth episode, I enjoyed hearing the theoretical thought experiment of a black hole. I particularly liked the idea that a black hole may contain it's own universe (and it's own black holes, and as such perhaps we ourselves are inside a black hole). This episode also covered the edge of the observable universe; a concept that seems to conflict with those who believe the universe was created a couple thousand years ago.

In the fifth episode, I found the various discoveries around light, in particular, the scientific origin of spectroscopy, to be neat. More generally, I enjoy learning about the origin of a subject, which is distinct from learning about the subject itself. As an example, learning the definition of a word is different from learning about its etymology. One mystery mentioned in this episode was how the electron jumps from one orbit to the next.

I paused the sixth episode at 9 minutes 28 seconds - in the middle of plant creating food.

Today I finished the sixth episode. It made an interesting connection between Darwin knowing there must be an insect with a long proboscis and neutrinos. One thing I wondered, however, is that the show seems to accept The Big Bang Theory as fact. Is this reasonable? Also, we might know what parts of the universe looked like billions of years ago, but how does that relate to knowing how it started? The fourth episode said our universe could be in a black hole.*

*This article talks about this idea: There Might Be a Universe Inside Every Black Hole. I then tried to do some reading about the dimensions of various objects, but it was confusing. There was some talk about our universe being part of the event horizon of a black hole in a higher dimension. Though it didn't seem clear to me why there needed to be more dimensions going up and less dimensions going down. Then there's some complication regarding spacetime (four dimensions) and what that has to do with black holes. This was partially reassuring: Space-time theory may reconcile black hole conundrum.

Today I watched the seventh episode. It told the story of determining the age of the Earth using lead, and also about the environmental battle on lead - both due to the same person!

Side Remark: It's strange. I've been watching these episodes, but Netflix keeps the series at a low rating.

Today I watched the eight episode, but couldn't hear every part of it.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Relevant Links:
Cosmos (

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