Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day Seventy-eight - Cosmos: Episode 10, or "Prepare for brain drain... in a good way."

Cosmos has done a pretty good job of explaining both the fundamental and the cutting edge of science while maintaining senses of wonder, entertainment, and connection to the length and breadth of human history. Thanks to Carl and his series, I've visited Japan, Brooklyn, Greece (sadly, only through my monitor... I really need to start traveling), and so very many other places where human civilization has thought and hypothesized about the world.

This episode, though, "The Edge of Forever" is a serious strain on one's conceptualization ability.

I say this because we take a brief trip to Flatland.

Now, Flatland has always confused me. The idea of having no depth but still being able to perceive length and width is just so far beyond me, but Sagan takes it a bit further, using it as a means to broach the idea of a fourth physical dimension, one that is beyond our current perceptual realm and the Tesseract (what is this, Marvel 2.0?), or Hypercube, whose shadow can be represented to us.

Pretty heavy stuff, no?

Luckily, the rest of the episode isn't as difficult as Carl takes us on a trip to India and talks about the Hindu legends of the universe and its cycles of creation and destruction that may be similar to what actually happens. He uses this bit of culture to springboard into discussion about whether our universe is expanding eternally or will eventually contract in on itself.

Some of the dangerous concepts are only mentioned here... the reversal of cause and effect observation, the possible reordering of cosmic laws, but he also tries to dampen any fears due to the supreme scale of chronology that any eventuality, be it expansion or contraction, will have in relation to the lifespan of the human race.

Perhaps a bit depressing, but what else is there to do but live and be happy?

It was also good to see the Very Large Array (or VLA), what with being a New Mexican, myself, for the past twenty years or so. It's a point of pride for us, after all, and even garnered our state a bit of press as a location for Jodie Foster's movie based on Sagan's novel, Contact.

A tiny point of pride, but still.

As always, I love Cosmos... and miss Carl (and Debbie) terribly. While this episode had it's moments of "wha-huh?" I still enjoyed it quite a bit... especially the Cosmos Update which was a nice five minute segment at the end of the episode where an elder Sagan reported on developments made in the years after he first recorded the episode (and, sadly, before his death in 1996).

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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