Television’s new ‘Carl Sagan’

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Neil deGrasse Tyson

This photo released by Fox shows Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who hosts the television show, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” premiering Sunday, March 9, 2014, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT on Fox and simultaneously across multiple U.S. Fox networks. (AP Photo/Fox, Patrick Eccelsine)

One of the most unusual features of the series is to note which station is broadcasting it:  Fox, on Sunday evenings (and National Geographic on Mondays).

The messages coming across from Cosmos are antithetical to most of what one associates with the Fox network.

Tyson is prepared, for example, to openly and respectfully challenge those religious fundamentalists who claim that the Earth is between 5,000-6,000 years old, whereas the actual age is around 4.5 billion years.

He also helped the viewer understand that in the process of studying the age of the Earth, scientists were also able to uncover the danger of lead in the environment which ultimately led to its removal from fuels.

These are not tidbits that one would expect on a Fox series and I keep wondering how long the series will air.

Tyson was quite open in acknowledging his deep admiration of the late Carl Sagan.

In fact, as a teenager, Tyson met Sagan and spent time with him on one day in Ithaca, N.Y. Tyson understands, as did Sagan, that science is too important to leave with the scientists.

In fact, science can be explained in a way that is comprehensible to the larger public. In making it comprehensible, Tyson—like Sagan before him—have placed a mighty instrument into the hands of the public.

It is through that instrument that the everyday person can not only grasp many of the challenges facing humanity, but they can also be part of creating the answers in order to save the planet.

(Bill Fletcher Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice activist and writer.  He is the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us”—And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.  Follow him on Facebook and at http://www.billfletcherjr.com.)

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