When the popular science television program “Cosmos” relaunched Sunday night to national acclaim, those tuning in to Fox were met by a familiar face at the show’s opening: President Barack Obama. Taking advantage of the landmark nature of the show’s reboot, Obama introduced “Cosmos” with a shoutout to its original host, Carl Sagan, all the while promoting his administration’s STEM education efforts that align very closely with the show’s themes of exploration and discovery.
“America has always been a nation of fearless explorers, who dream bigger and reach farther than others imagine,” Obama said in a 30-second clip that led off Sunday’s premiere. “That’s the spirit of discovery that Carl Sagan captured in the original ‘Cosmos.’ Today we’re doing everything we can to bring that same sense of possibility to a new generation – because there are new frontiers to explore, and we need Americans eager to explore them.”
Sagan may no longer be around, but his protege Neil deGrasse Tyson is the perfect successor for the job. Typically, getting America to tune in for a primetime, Sunday-night program about science when they could more easily be entertained by “The Walking Dead” would seem difficult. But Tyson’s ability to mesh pop culture and science into one explosive, entertaining package makes “Cosmos” different. It also doesn’t hurt to have Seth MacFarlane as executive producer to up the cool factor of the 13-part miniseries.
“The goal is to convey why science matters to the person, to our society, to us as shepherds of this planet. It involves presenting science in ways that connect to you, so ‘Cosmos’ can influence you not only intellectually but emotionally, with a celebration of wonder and awe,” Tyson told USA Today. “Science should be part of everybody’s life. The prerequisite is not that you become a scientist. It’s that at the end of the series, you will embrace science and recognize its role in who and what you are.”
Obama’s message before the premier – much like that of Tyson’s and of the show – was a call to action for the next generation. And because Tyson was able to bring popularity to a show rooted in scientific exploration, something often thought of as dull or uncool, there’s a good chance the president’s message was delivered with success.
“There are no limits, so open your eyes and open your imaginations,” Obama finished. “The next great discovery could be yours.”
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