Monday, April 15, 2013

Day One Hundred and Five - Cosmos: The Persistence of Memory, "Yeah, where's a Bird of Prey when you need one?"

To be honest, I've watched this episode twice in the last twenty-four hours. 

The first time was last night while I was arranging perler beads for a crafting project with friends. There was much in the way of half-listening and little in the way of actual watching. 
The second time, however, hours later, I was able to give Carl the full-attention that he deserves and felt almost the same amount of awe that I've recalled from previous episodes.
I say "almost" because, well, I wasn't too impressed with his "Dandelions" monologue on the complexity of life. 

He does have a nice bit on whales, their songs, and the effect that man has had both on isolating our mammalian cousins from each other thanks to muddying the oceans with noise pollution and hunting them so close to extinction. So much so that I think one of the writers of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home started writing the treatment for their script the moment they finished watching the segment.

Also, I was particularly enthralled with his comparisons between the sheer amount of information it takes to begin to understand life, our brains, and our need as a species to compile additional information in large memory banks outside our brains... in libraries.

He also goes into a little bit about the Voyager space program and the golden discs that are aboard both soon to be extra-solar vehicles. I find this additionally amusing due to the fact that a Voyager spacecraft was the main villain of the original Star Trek movie.

I think it's pretty fair to say that this wasn't the most thrilling of the Cosmos episodes, but it's still a certainty that I always learn something (or am reminded of a fact that I've long since forgotten since the first time I saw Cosmos is Debbie Prell's Physics classes). I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with delight when he spent a good ten minutes equating the knowledge of the human race in its various forms with stacks of books, but it was interesting how quickly he introduced the viewer to the concept of the bit... a simple yes or no that matters immensely to computer programers and logicians, but very little to the laymen.

Heck I still don't know the specific reason video game system generations operated using the bit as a measure of processing power. It was just something I always accepted with more meaning better, but hearing Carl talk about the bit as a logic gate, it makes me want to research it on my own.

And that's something I dearly love about Cosmos... even in its weaker episodes, it manages to pique my curiosity in some manner and goad me into learning something new outside the show. Sure, it's a silly little thing like what 8-bit versus 16-bit really means, but still.

As ever, I think Cosmos should be on everyone's queue and I look forward to hearing its soothing new age soundtrack and the sonorous lilt of Carl's voice again in the near future.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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