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carl sagan [Archive]

A Glorious Dawn

The PBS series Cosmos, aired on PBS in 1980, launched billions and billions (well, millions) of science fiction dreams, and did so with hardly an appeal to fictional conceits. Fueled by Carl Sagan’s enthusiasm for the infinite, a soundtrack by Vangelis, and an extremely large budget to pay for tons of late-seventies era special effects, Cosmos was the most widely watched PBS show of that era, and its record was only broken a decade later with The Civil War.

Time is the great enemy though; we’ve learned much more about the solar system, the universe, subatomic particles, evolution, and everything else covered in the show over the last thirty years. Somehow, despite all the evidence of environmental degradation, Sagan’s construction of a fork in the road—we as a species can make it into space, if only we do not destroy ourselves—seems a little less current now that the Cold War is history. The youngest military volunteers weren’t even alive during that era. The effects haven’t always aged well, and Sagan’s haircut sure hasn’t.

But this morning, I found a music video on YouTube, half tribute and half détournement, that pretty much captures the experience of watching the show through the magic of montage and backbeats. Also, it has a verse by Stephen Hawking, or at least someone using a vocoder with a dial set to “Stephen Hawking” a la a hip-hop song with a guest rapper who breaks off a little something. Check it out!

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