Smirnoff in Space
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those rare scientists who also has the gift of explaining complex scientific phenomena in clear language. I’ve long been a fan of his Nova shows on PBS. Granted, it is a little strange that his new show is going to be broadcast on climate change denying-Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network, but maybe it will be informative despite that constriction. I’ll certainly watch it.
He also makes a good point about the trend of Christian Taliban slowly taking over our government, escaped 12th century residents like Rep Paul Broun, who we ignore at our peril…
These days, Dr. Tyson is less focused on the planetarium than on creating a new iteration of “Cosmos,” the hit PBS series featuring Carl Sagan, which was first broadcast in 1980. This sequel, for the Fox network, is planned for early next year.
One of its producers is Seth MacFarlane. Yup, that Seth MacFarlane, the “Family Guy” guy and (to some viewers) the cringe-inducing host of this year’s Academy Awards show. Whatever one may think of his brand of comedy, “Seth MacFarlane is deeply committed to science literacy in this country,” Dr. Tyson said, and the two of them share a goal: reinforcing the idea that “science needs to be taken to people’s hearts in a way that they become better citizens for it.”
Is he saying that we treat science and mathematics shabbily in this country, where many people are all too proud to admit to a fear of all sums? Actually, Dr. Tyson said, “I don’t think the country’s less literate in math and science than ever before.”
…Pop culture, too, is part of “a positive trend line,” given science-themed blockbuster films like “Avatar” and the durable “Star Wars” series, and popular television programs like the “C.S.I.” and “NCIS” franchises and “The Big Bang Theory.”
“There was a day when we didn’t have science at all in television programming,” Dr. Tyson said between sips of his soda. “Now it’s there, without having to stereotype the lab-coated, wire-haired character.”
Here’s the real problem, as he sees it: “You have people who are not scientifically literate who have risen to positions of power and control,” whether on local school boards or in Congress. He mentioned Representative Paul C. Broun, a Georgia Republican (and doctor) who sits on the House Science Committee and who says the world is 9,000 years old and was literally created in six days.
Voters, Dr. Tyson said, need to grasp the consequences of their electoral choices, especially if they produce officials who “undermine the source of creativity for tomorrow’s economy.” Meddle with the citizenry’s understanding of science and technology, he said, and people “will emerge on the other side incapable of making the discoveries and innovations that the nation requires in order to stay economically competitive.”
When it comes to the Creation, “if you use the Bible as your science textbook, you will go astray — there’s no question about it,” he said, adding: “Galileo understood this. He can be credited with drawing a line in the sand with his famous quote that the Bible tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”
(click here to continue reading To Planetarium Director, Siberia Meteor Showed Value of Science – NYTimes.com.)
Carl Sagan – US astronomer, hero
I’ve said often I’m a film school dropout, but the truth is, I’m also a physics student dropout1Footnotes:
- I was accepted at UT-Austin as a physics student, but was daunted by the lack of electives available to me, so eventually switched to the Liberal Arts college. I did continue to work for the Physics Lecture Demonstrations Office support staff for three years though – and would have continued working there if I could have. [↩]