Monday, March 10, 2014

A Review of the Great Cosmos: A New Journey Begins When Another Ended

            Wow!  WOW!  I know this is a highly verbose review, but I am typing this up as fast as possible so that all the knowledge and impression of the show doesn't fade away from my brain or attention span!  The theme for this blog post is Snow Park by Connect Ohm!

            On Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 9:00pm EDT on all the Fox and National Geographic networks, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, author and hilarious scientist, led us on our first steps on a journey that Dr. Carl Sagan started a generation ago, on the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (preceded by Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) with the (paraphrased) words, "It's time to get going again."  I've been treated to a perspective that the late loved Dr. Sagan has only introduced us to, to a thirst of knowledge that many scientists are trying to quench with new information about Life, the Universe and Everything (to which the Answer is 42!  HA!  Hitchhiker's Guide, people!  Come on, nerd out with me with that one shitty joke!).

            I have to say, the introduction was mind blowing!  I swear, all the visuals in the intro sequence gave my mind a blowjob!  I loved it so much, I think I was sort of drooling at the end of it, but only "sort of" because I was having dinner, my Soup of the Cosmos (which I will share the recipe to at the end of this post; it's perfect for people on the lower end of the income scale!).  Anyways, to have Dr. Tyson start the show at the edge of the very same sea cliff that Dr. Sagan stood on when he started his Personal Voyage is entirely poetic; it's like Dr. Sagan was still with us, continuing our journey through the universe that we dwell in.  I've been fortunate enough to be able to watch Cosmos: A Personal Voyage thanks to National Geographic airing it before the premiere of A Spacetime Odyssey.  We were taken on a journey of the mind, to the edge of our universe, being given our address in it, which I have to say is a little inaccurate: according to the Doctor of the Whoniverse, we live in the Sol system, on Sol-3!  Not just "the Solar System"!  So please, astronomers and astrophysicists, incorporate that into our universal address!  But I swear my brain was fried when we went a bit "Inception" with the Universe-inside-of-a-multiverse-that's-inside-of-another-Universe.  My nose didn't start bleeding, but at least my brain got a warm-up before the show: Journey to the Edge of the Universe, narrated by Alec Baldwin, describing our observation of the universe as we come across celestial bodies in the sky, such as "angry moons", dangerous hypernovas, etc, etc.; during that show, I managed to come across a realization of my own, Dr. Carl Sagan style:

If we were to travel across the Universe beyond our galaxy, we'd also be traveling back into time, as the universe is not only a bubble of a network, but also has a reverse sort of tree-ring effect to the point where the farther we travel from Earth to the edge of the Universe we live in, the more we travel into the older parts of the universe, and if we exited past the universe's threshold, we would've been able to witness the Big Bang, to which I ascribed the physical edge of our Universe, the Big Bang Threshold.

            Not only that, Dr. Tyson says that our Universe started out smaller than a subatomic particle; in a sense, it relatively still is if you're far enough past the Big Bang Threshold, outside of every Universe located within our multiverse; we're still smaller than sub-atomic particles in a universe before the Big Bang, like cells in the human body.  Yes, it's frustratingly confusing, but it really is Inception-like!  BWAHHHHH!!!

            I'm sorry, through that shared epiphany, if I made everyone's noses bleed and their brains hurt more than Chris Hardwick's and Matt Mira's did when Dr. Tyson described the Ascent of the Cubes in Nerdist Podcast episode number 139.  If you have to be redirected to it, I suggest you check out the bottom part of this ranty blog post.

            But I have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination" is pretty cool, despite the name!  I would've loved to have kept the retro look Dr. Sagan had in his spaceship, but Dr. Tyson's ship is a bit cooler, having the ability to not just travel across space but also peer through time, with its poetic floor-portal to the past in the floor (archaeology anyone?) and ceiling-portal to the future (STAR TREK IS OUR FUTURE!  If we have not destroyed ourselves with the thermonuclear World War III or disastrous climate change due to our self-inflicted global warming!), and has a sort of gyroscopic sort of bridge in that spaceship (in a realm beyond ours that has no "up"?  Really, Dr. Tyson?), which, to me, is in the shape of a dandelion seed.  You see, the dandelion seed is quite an integral part of the Cosmos program, and Dr. Sagan used it quite a bit when he was hosting Personal Voyage, and it only seems poetic to be traveling on that seed throughout the universe as we know it, as the dandelion seed in the organic sense is actually an organism traveling in its own spaceship to someplace new where it can colonize the ground it lands on.  But I also have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination," doesn't exactly have a good ring to it: I understand that it's, to put it in Dr. Tyson's words in Nerdist podcast episode #139, "a journey of the mind," but couldn't you just name it the "Tyson TARDIS"?  Or the A.S.S. Imagination?  Just saying.

            But the visuals were stunning, the inclusion of history in the science exploration, the addition of the multiverse inside of the lectures, the sharing of the perspective of our slice of time in the universe, how the birth of the universe and our existence would've looked liked spread over a Gregorian calendar year, how religion treated new ideas, all of it, to me, was pure GENIUS!  I was looking forward to this premiere, as my friend Jesse (who still needs to do that superhero blog post) also was, despite not having access to cable.  And I can't wait to continue on with our next steps in this journey of 13 episodes where we are enlightened over how scientifically accurate the theory of evolution is, and the whole Creationism issue may go back as far as the Big Bang, which I'm sure was not instigated by Stewie Griffin restarting his time machine.  Which is why during the show, I posted these tweets:

            And I hate to spoil it for everyone, but I have to describe the end bit: I saw all the old footage, and the Sagan seaside cliff bit, and I can't help it but I cried a little much like Matt Mira teared when he was watching the last shuttle launch of NASA, but for reasons a little bit different from what Dr. Tyson ascribed to him in that first episode of Nerdist podcast that he was on all that couple of years ago.  In fact, I tweeted this when it happened….

all because not only did Dr. Tyson talk about how much of a leader Dr. Sagan was, but he also suddenly pulled out Dr. Sagan's planner, and turned to the page where an appointment with a young Dr. Tyson was listed, and it was not only a tale of how a young man growing up in the Sky View apartments in the Bronx was influenced by his genius and his tutelage, but it was also, in Dr. Tyson's words, a sort of "passing of the torch," which made me think a little: Dr. Sagan would've been so proud of him, and he wouldn't have trusted anyone else to do the reboot of his show, because Dr. Tyson would've been the only one to do it right.  He influenced many scientists, much like Aristotle influenced many mathematicians.  He is the Aristotle of our time, and if he saw the show today, he would've approved, despite any flashiness.  RIP, Dr. Carl Sagan, wherever you are, whether you're in heaven, the great big observatory/laboratory in the sky or even in the fourth or fifth dimensions.  We miss you, even though I haven't watched your show before Saturday or Sunday, March 8/9th, 2014!

Our Universe Is One Giant Pot of Soup: A Recipe for the Soup of the Cosmos

            Because I was running a little low on food, I improvised my dinner, anxious to have it be done by the time Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (which shouldn't be "STO", because "STO" is already taken by Star Trek Online!  It should be ASTO, so as to not confuse people!  #addressingthiswiththehopethatIAmNotTooLate #longhastags #hashtaggingoutsideofTwitter) aired.  And I tweeted:

because I'm sure that it has not yet been done in detail!  Nerd-Chef Alton Brown might disagree, but goddammit, IT'S MY RECIPE AND I SHALL SHARE IT WITH Y'ALL FOR NEXT WEEK'S EPISODE!

Soup of the Cosmos (aka, Cosmic Soup)

Pasta In Potato Pot (aka, a saucepan that's the second to smallest you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1/2 cup small pasta shells

Broth In Vegetable Pot (aka, smallest pot you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried minced onion
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Fancy shredded Mexican blend cheese
Four packets of string cheese, unwrapped and chopped into 1/8-1/4 inch long pieces

  1.  Boil pasta according to directions.
  2. In small "Vegetable pot", boil water; crush and add chicken bouillon cube, stir.  Add basil, minced onion and panko breadcrumbs; stir, let sit.
  3.  Drain pasta when finished, return to "Potato pot" without heat.  Add broth to pasta, stir.  Stir in shredded cheese and chopped string cheese, making sure it melts.
  4.  Serve warm.  Makes two servings.
Isn't our Universe like this soup?  Isn't the basil like the asteroids and comets, the chopped string cheese like our planets, the pasta shells like our stars in the sky, the shredded cheese like the nebular clouds and the broth like the dark matter of space?  It's so poetic that I think it's appropriate for everyone to have.  Also, it's great for Lent because it doesn't have real meat!  It has chicken broth, but not REAL meat or poultry or pork!  Can't the bouillon be an exception to this, Church?  PLEASE?

           Anyways, I hope you enjoyed Cosmos ASTO just as I enjoyed my soup with it.  And I hope everyone gets to experience the enlightenment and pleasure of education in the hopes that we can all become smarter, we can all become nerds and continue to have intelligent discussions about science, the universe, the multiverse, and our place in the—SQUIRREL!  *scamper, chase, falls asleep and snores*

P.S. I have GOT to share this tweet!  This tweet won the Internets last night in my go Favorite and Retweet this, because it's HILARIOUSLY TRUE!