Cosmos is back on television again, in a reincarnated form hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson in place of the late Carl Sagan (host of the original 1980 series). The original Cosmos is remembered as a minor television classic, ushering in a new era of science programming and bringing the wonders of cosmology to the public in an accessible and enchanting way. The hopes for the new Cosmos seem equally high…
“The film Gravity just opened to box-office success, telling a story about astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who are stranded in space after satellite debris destroys their space shuttle. Cut off from contact with Earth (voice of Ed Harris, in a nod to his roles in The Right Stuff and Apollo 13), the two must try to survive. Spoilers, be warned, ahead.”
“The world of science news, commentary, and blogging has recently been quite interested in a photo released by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), showing the Earth as seen from the Cassini probe, which is currently orbiting the gas giant planet Saturn”
“The universe is about 13.82 billion years old. Although it is well within the error range of earlier estimates, this new number means that the universe is slightly older than cosmologists previously thought. The new age comes as a result of data just released from the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope, which for the past 15 months has been taking the most precise images of the oldest light in the universe, the “cosmic microwave background radiation.” This microwave-wavelength light is the remnant of the universe’s earliest days, and is a key piece of evidence for the event we now call the Big Bang.”
“An ancient Chinese myth tells of ten Suns that existed in primordial times. Prideful and intemperate, as pagan gods are often wont to be, these Suns rode together over the surface of the Earth each day, their combined heat scorching it. Insensitive to the plight of the mortals, the Suns refused to take turns in the sky, and were eventually struck down until only one Sun remained.
I was reminded of this story when I read yet again another example of an atheist inviting religious believers to go “one god more” when critically evaluating their beliefs. For instance, here is noted skeptic Michael Shermer at a recent debate about science and belief in God: “Ten-thousand different religions, a thousand different gods. Our opponents agree with us that 999 of those gods are false gods. They are atheists like we are atheists. What I’m asking you to do is just go one God further with us.”
“I recently read yet another science writer lamenting the United States’ ostensible failure in science education, who sarcastically noted that the only thing America led the world in was “belief in angels.” This, together with the tired cliché about the medievals’ supposed obsession with the number of angels who can dance on a pinhead, runs the modern intellectual gamut about angels. The typical critical discussion of angels, as of God, usually betrays a complete misunderstanding of their natures.”
“Commenting on the study for Science, Emily Underwood writes, “Although humans have long attributed musical qualities to birdsong, cold, hard statistics show that’s all an illusion.” It might seem that we have here another instance of science disenchanting the world. Is reductionism at work yet again, erasing beauty, harmony, music, and art from the picture of the world in favor of the cold and abstract world of science?”