Monday, April 14, 2014

Got cable, started watching Cosmos...

It's pretty basic, but then it's supposed to be. First episode annoyed me with a couple of inaccuracies (its depiction of the asteroid belt is VASTLY too crowded, and it's not true that the Sun powers all life on Earth--there's a handful of organisms that ultimately derive their energy from geothermal sources), but on the other hand I really liked the animated segment on Giordano Bruno. It could have been slightly clearer on this, but it still got across that he was a mystic and a fanatic, who by coincidence happened to be right. The early history of science is littered with such; it's as close as I've seen a popular science work come to admitting that there's a reason so many of the founders of science were monks, alchemists, and astrologers.


  1. I was pleasantly surprised when they started talking about Newton. Instead of lionizing him, as most popular science outlets are wont to do, they freely admitted that he spent a lot of time on... shall we say "discredited" ideas like alchemy and numerology, and spent most of his later years looking for messages from God hidden in the Bible.

    As for the inaccuracies, it is meant to be basic. Would a high-school general science textbook spend paragraphs explaining a small exception to the general rule of "The sun is pretty important guys"? Admittedly, though, the problem could have been fixed by saying "The sun powers nearly all life on Earth".

  2. A friend of mine is an antiques dealer, and one of the prizes of his personal collection is a 17th-century text reprinting some books of the Christian Bible (I forgot which ones), with a long section at the end giving instructions on how to construct and use your own telescope, so that readers interested in the controversy over Galileo could see his findings for themselves.

    If you'll pardon an only tangentially related question: do you, by chance, listen to The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast?


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