TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 7

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 7, "The Clean Room"There may be some fields of science that have absolutely no political implications, but they're few and far between. Scientists stand on the front lines of humanity's advancing knowledge, and as such, they're often the first people to glimpse a looming danger, one that can only be … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 6

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 6, "Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still"After the last two strong episodes, there was bound to be a clunker sooner or later, and I'm sorry to say this was it. Although it elaborated on a theme of the microscopic, atomic and sub-atomic worlds, it lacked a central narrative thread to tie together all the … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 5

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 5, "Hiding in the Light"With computer graphics getting cheaper and better every year, every new TV show and movie has to grapple with the question of how much is too much. That's no less true for a hard-science series like Cosmos than it is for a sci-fi drama. There's always the temptation to put more … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 4

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 4, "A Sky Full of Ghosts"Any science show faced with time constraints has to strike a balance between breadth and depth. The process of science is always laborious and not always interesting; but if you don't show it at all, it leaves the impression that the results just dropped out of the sky like a … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 3

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 3, "When Knowledge Conquered Fear"I wrote that last week's episode felt overstuffed, trying to cover a vast amount of territory in just 45 minutes of TV. This one did much better in that regard. The writing was tightly focused, telling a central story that wove throughout the episode, and using that … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Cosmos and the Creationists

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Why Small-Minded Religious Fundamentalists Are Threatened by Wonders of Universe. It's about the new Cosmos TV series, and its reminder that those who advocate new ideas have always met fierce violent resistance from the credulous masses and the elite guardians of popular orthodoxy, from the persecutors of Galileo and Giordano Bruno in the medieval era to creationists, climate-change deniers and anti-vaxers today. Read the excerpt … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Particle Fever

ATLAS

Last weekend I saw Particle Fever, a movie about the Large Hadron Collider and the scientists who built it in their quest to resolve one of the greatest outstanding mysteries in physics. It's easily among the most enthralling science documentaries I've ever seen, so if you get the chance, see it!The LHC was built to fill in the last missing piece of the Standard Model, the wildly successful theory that's guided particle physicists for decades, but that fails to explain why some subatomic … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 2

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. I haven't reviewed the first episode yet, but I'll return to it later. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 2, "Some of the Things That Molecules Do"If I had to pick one word to describe this episode, it'd be "overstuffed". Granted, the series has a huge amount of territory to cover; and unlike the original Cosmos, which aired on PBS, … [Read more...]

The Twitter Report: Leave the Long Island Medium Alone!

Just before the new Cosmos premiere last week, I noticed that "#LongIslandMedium" was trending on Twitter, a reference to a woman named Theresa Caputo. She's just the latest in a long line of talking-to-the-dead hucksters who exploit the grief of the bereaved, using the same unsubtle cold-reading act that never fails to dazzle the gullible. I decided the hashtag could use an antidote to credulity:Like all people who falsely claim they can speak to the dead, the #LongIslandMedium is abusing … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Rewilding

UnderGreenLeaves

While I was doing research for this week's post on de-extinction, I came across an article by George Monbiot on the phenomenon of "accidental rewilding" that I thought was worth sharing.I loved the book The World Without Us, which describes how rapidly nature would move in and erase the artifacts of civilization if human beings weren't there to act as caretakers and groundskeepers. The author, Alan Weisman, cites a few places where this has happened, like the village of Pripyat near … [Read more...]


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