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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey 
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Post Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Did anyone catch the premiere of this last night? I don't currently own a TV, so I've only been able to read some of the mixed reactions to it. From what I know so far, I wish they would just release Sagan on bluray.


Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:42 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
DVR'd, but not yet watched. If anyone missed it, I think it is being re-run on cable channels tonight/this week.


Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:41 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
It was excellent. Not 100% airtight, but I can't imagine a better way to spend a Sunday night of TV viewing.

Highlights: the cosmic address sequence, the presentation of galaxy clusters as a sort of gaseous latticework, and the poignant moment about Carl Sagan. But the best part overall was its running theme of the importance of the human imagination, and the way the whole show seems to be constructed to bear that theme out. I don't want to spoil it, but my favorite image from the show involves prison walls falling away.

And big respect to the show for not hedging on the potentially divisive issues. It's important to remember the balls it takes for a big-budget network TV show to utterly ignore the political dimension that has occasionally fixed itself like a barnacle to issues of history and scientific consensus.

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Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:54 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
I enjoyed this a good deal as well. My favorite part so far involved the cosmic calendar and changing of scales, and how our recorded human history really only occurred in the final minute of "December 31."

Obviously we've seen and heard this theme before, especially in movies like 2001 and Contact, but it really is nice from time to time to take a step back from petty personal problems and realize the vastness of the universe and our tiny, near-insignificant place in it.

Everybody on Facebook that night was going apeshit over The Walking Dead and True Detective. Even Richard Roeper called Sundays of 2013-14 "the best night in TV history." I'm sure those shows are entertaining, but for some reason I've never gotten into TV dramas. Maybe its the sheer size/catch-up factor of it all that makes it look like climbing Mt. Everest.

I've always preferred movies a lot more because you get the story done in one sitting (exceptions of course being multiple-chapter efforts like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc). As for Cosmos, I'll keep watching. 8-)

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Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:38 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
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Maybe its the sheer size/catch-up factor of it all that makes it look like climbing Mt. Everest.


Yeah, that's what it is for me. I prefer movies for basically the same reason you do. It's not simply the art of storytelling, it's the art of succinct storytelling.


Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:15 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
Maybe its the sheer size/catch-up factor of it all that makes it look like climbing Mt. Everest.


Yeah, that's what it is for me. I prefer movies for basically the same reason you do. It's not simply the art of storytelling, it's the art of succinct storytelling.

I'm not big on TV dramas that much either, especially not shows like LOST which require you to memorize every single minor detail and line of dialogue in every single episode just to understand WTF is going on.

The only dramas I ever really got into were Jack And Bobby and One Tree Hill.


Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:46 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Vexer wrote:
MGamesCook wrote:

Yeah, that's what it is for me. I prefer movies for basically the same reason you do. It's not simply the art of storytelling, it's the art of succinct storytelling.

I'm not big on TV dramas that much either, especially not shows like LOST which require you to memorize every single minor detail and line of dialogue in every single episode just to understand WTF is going on.

The only dramas I ever really got into were Jack And Bobby and One Tree Hill.


I think we stand in stark contrast to the rest of the world, guys. So many people I talk to (co-workers, real-life friends, FB friends, etc) have no problem binge-watching TV shows night after night, but they're not anywhere close to that way with movies. I read stuff all the time like "OMG (insert show here) IS THE MOST AMAZING THING ON TV" and "If you're not watching (fill in the blank) you need to rethink your life." For the most part, I laugh and roll my eyes at it, but I also wonder something else: where is that same passion for movies? Maybe it's just early in the year and it'll pick up when the blockbusters start arriving, but I wonder sometimes.... are movies on their way out?

Fuck. I need to create a separate thread for this question alone.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:12 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
TV may not be succinct, but it is fast becoming the greener pasture for storytellers who've finally lost patience with the constraints of feature filmmaking. I don't watch as much TV as what most people do, but what's happening in TV right now--mainly in its narrative fiction--is a lot more interesting than what's happening in movies.

Cosmos is a case in point. The production values alone are astounding, but what they're being used in service of is even more astounding yet.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:14 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
KWRoss wrote:
Vexer wrote:
MGamesCook wrote:

Yeah, that's what it is for me. I prefer movies for basically the same reason you do. It's not simply the art of storytelling, it's the art of succinct storytelling.

I'm not big on TV dramas that much either, especially not shows like LOST which require you to memorize every single minor detail and line of dialogue in every single episode just to understand WTF is going on.

The only dramas I ever really got into were Jack And Bobby and One Tree Hill.


I think we stand in stark contrast to the rest of the world, guys. So many people I talk to (co-workers, real-life friends, FB friends, etc) have no problem binge-watching TV shows night after night, but they're not anywhere close to that way with movies. I read stuff all the time like "OMG (insert show here) IS THE MOST AMAZING THING ON TV" and "If you're not watching (fill in the blank) you need to rethink your life." For the most part, I laugh and roll my eyes at it, but I also wonder something else: where is that same passion for movies? Maybe it's just early in the year and it'll pick up when the blockbusters start arriving, but I wonder sometimes.... are movies on their way out?

Fuck. I need to create a separate thread for this question alone.
I don't think movies are on their way out at all.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:35 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Vexer wrote:
I don't think movies are on their way out at all.


Cool. I just started a brand new thread where you can elaborate. I'd love to read more. We'll keep this one strictly Cosmos.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:11 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
I tried watching "Cosmos" the other night and while I enjoyed it's presentation style, I felt it was a bit scientifically dishonest, presenting "theory" as "fact".

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Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Last night's episode was pretty terrific, particularly the segment about the eye. A valentine to biologists everywhere, I'm sure.

Awf Hand wrote:
I tried watching "Cosmos" the other night and while I enjoyed it's presentation style, I felt it was a bit scientifically dishonest, presenting "theory" as "fact".

Given that the scientific definition of theory is closer to our colloquial definition of fact than to our colloquial definition of theory, what about it did you find objectionable?

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Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:50 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Awf Hand wrote:
I tried watching "Cosmos" the other night and while I enjoyed it's presentation style, I felt it was a bit scientifically dishonest, presenting "theory" as "fact".

I hope this isn't another 'desperately trying to validate one's religious indoctrination' comment. :?


Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:56 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Ken wrote:
Last night's episode was pretty terrific, particularly the segment about the eye. A valentine to biologists everywhere, I'm sure.

Awf Hand wrote:
I tried watching "Cosmos" the other night and while I enjoyed it's presentation style, I felt it was a bit scientifically dishonest, presenting "theory" as "fact".

Given that the scientific definition of theory is closer to our colloquial definition of fact than to our colloquial definition of theory, what about it did you find objectionable?


You know Ken, I would have wagered that someone would ask for specific examples of what I didn’t like. I don’t recall a huge amount of specifics, but I remember them ‘stating’ how big and how old the universe is; not a range, but a number. I watched for about 20 minutes or so and just felt that I was being spoon-fed refutable figures and assumptions, barely even theory, but guesses and we-think level “science”.
I work in geodesy and I can state or publish very little of my information as fact. I can DIRECTLY MEASURE things with equipment that I’ve calibrated and I still have to show my error ellipses, range of confidence, standard deviation, parts-per-million or whatever fits the realm in which my figures are used. I do find science shows entertaining, but just kept asking myself “How do you know that?!” almost every time the word “is” was used in a sentence.
The show just didn’t appeal to me, I guess. I felt like I had to employ a bit too much suspension of disbelief to enjoy it. If it was constructed and presented in a way that I would enjoy it, I’d be on a damn short list of people who’d actually watch it. As it is, it feels like dumbed-down, fabricated tripe proffered to the masses to help them feel smarter than they are. There’s a reason we (USA) lag in science and I feel like “Cosmos” adds to our knowledge of science as much as (insert least favorite political talk-show host here) adds to our knowledge of current issues and events.

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Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:56 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Awf Hand wrote:
I tried watching "Cosmos" the other night and while I enjoyed it's presentation style, I felt it was a bit scientifically dishonest, presenting "theory" as "fact".

I hope this isn't another 'desperately trying to validate one's religious indoctrination' comment. :?


A person's religion is their own business (and should be kept that way IMO), but I still find it laughable that there are people out there who feel we've amassed so much knowledge that we've disproved higher powers. It seems Athiest's have ultimate faith in nothing, which seems strange to me. Since we can't be confident in that which we can't prove, how does one prove there is nothing any more than proving there is something.

I honestly don't know what is out there. I don't know what started it all and I don't know what will end it all. I don't know how big it is or what's beyond its edges. I can't say if it is random or organized. No clue.
If that bothers anybody it's on them, not me.

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Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:07 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Awf Hand wrote:
You know Ken, I would have wagered that someone would ask for specific examples of what I didn’t like. I don’t recall a huge amount of specifics, but I remember them ‘stating’ how big and how old the universe is; not a range, but a number. I watched for about 20 minutes or so and just felt that I was being spoon-fed refutable figures and assumptions, barely even theory, but guesses and we-think level “science”.
I work in geodesy and I can state or publish very little of my information as fact. I can DIRECTLY MEASURE things with equipment that I’ve calibrated and I still have to show my error ellipses, range of confidence, standard deviation, parts-per-million or whatever fits the realm in which my figures are used. I do find science shows entertaining, but just kept asking myself “How do you know that?!” almost every time the word “is” was used in a sentence.
The show just didn’t appeal to me, I guess. I felt like I had to employ a bit too much suspension of disbelief to enjoy it. If it was constructed and presented in a way that I would enjoy it, I’d be on a damn short list of people who’d actually watch it. As it is, it feels like dumbed-down, fabricated tripe proffered to the masses to help them feel smarter than they are. There’s a reason we (USA) lag in science and I feel like “Cosmos” adds to our knowledge of science as much as (insert least favorite political talk-show host here) adds to our knowledge of current issues and events.

For one thing, that's a cynical and elitist position to take. The starting position of a show like Cosmos, or a podcast like Startalk Radio, or a book like A Brief History Of Time, is that science is for everybody. Not everybody's going to have a deep theoretical understanding of the subject, but they can understand the basics if they're related calmly and clearly. The comparison to talk show pundits is absurd, frankly--they're telling you how to feel, and that's it. Furthermore, the purpose of political talk shows is angry, while the purpose of Cosmos is to touch people's imaginations and get them to appreciate the beauty of the universe that they live in.

Consider this: how much science education has the average adult had? You can start with compulsory ed, and the science ed at that level is usually very lacking. After high school, unless they're going into the STEM fields--and Cosmos is not really intended for those people--how much science ed are they getting? Maybe a couple basic classes to fill out their requirements, but that's remedial for the stuff that high school didn't cover. The reason our science literacy level is so abysmal is because our science education requirements are abysmal. Very little about our science ed is geared toward getting us appreciative and enthusiastic about this material. The problem is NOT that we have too many shows like Cosmos... in fact, I'm baffled that anybody thinks that it could be.

For another thing, when you're dealing with things at the extreme ends of the scale--whether at the smallest of the small or the largest of the large--you have to take into account who you're talking to when you're deciding how precise you need to be. It has nothing to do with dumbing things down or making dumb people feel smart. It has everything to do with what you're trying to accomplish. If you're explaining a concept to someone who is unfamiliar with that concept, you need to calibrate the learning curve. If you don't, and your audience doesn't get it, you are the one who is dumb. Not they.

Is the speed of light precisely 180,000 miles per second? No. Of course it isn't. But, when discussing the matter outside of a laboratory setting, is it entirely sufficient to say that the speed of light is 180,000 miles per second, as opposed to "we think it is 180,000 miles per second" or "it is, within a certain margin of error, 180,000 miles per second"? Unless you're the most pedantic person on Earth, the answer is obviously yes, of course it's entirely sufficient. There is no point in qualifying it except to add more words where less is fine.

Your argument kind of reminds me of people who spend time calculating pi out to as many decimal places as they can. Beyond a certain point, there is no practical purpose to it. And how many places is practical is entirely dependent on what your purpose is. How precise your measurements need to be is entirely dependent on what your purpose is.

Awf Hand wrote:
A person's religion is their own business (and should be kept that way IMO), but I still find it laughable that there are people out there who feel we've amassed so much knowledge that we've disproved higher powers. It seems Athiest's have ultimate faith in nothing, which seems strange to me.

Most atheists do not believe we've disproved higher powers. Most atheists simply believe that because we've never successfully proved higher powers, that it's okay to live under the assumption that there is no higher power until someone brings some kind of independently confirmable evidence.

Some atheists, on this basis, think it's bad for people to be religious. That's not all atheists, and I'd even cast doubt that it's a majority of atheists who think that. But they do tend to be the loudest. Atheists, like all humans, like to have a club to belong to.

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Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:12 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
I'm glad you enjoy the show Ken. As for me, I'll keep watching "Rick Steves Europe" which is broadcast at the same time on our local PBS provider.

-and the speed of light is calculated to be 186,000 miles per second. ( I have to use this figure in my distance-from-satellite comps. :P

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Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:21 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Ken wrote:
Most atheists do not believe we've disproved higher powers. Most atheists simply believe that because we've never successfully proved higher powers, that it's okay to live under the assumption that there is no higher power until someone brings some kind of independently confirmable evidence.

Some atheists, on this basis, think it's bad for people to be religious. That's not all atheists, and I'd even cast doubt that it's a majority of atheists who think that. But they do tend to be the loudest. Atheists, like all humans, like to have a club to belong to.

Indeed, the burden of proof remains on those making the claim that a deity exists to prove such a point... though theists can continue to offer nothing but thousands of years' worth of hearsay as evidence, which, of course, would never hold up in a court of law. But let's face it: most people who are religious are so because they had it tattooed into their brains from a young age. Religion largely exists as a means of people in power controlling the masses, and as a means of offering people certainty in areas of life where there is none. And, as I've mentioned in another thread, the existence of a deity raises far more questions than a universe without one. :|


Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:14 am
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Ken wrote:
Most atheists do not believe we've disproved higher powers. Most atheists simply believe that because we've never successfully proved higher powers, that it's okay to live under the assumption that there is no higher power until someone brings some kind of independently confirmable evidence.


I thought that was agonist's thinking


Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
If you want to be precise in the definitions, atheism is the lack of a belief in a deity. Agnosticism is the belief that something can't be known. They're not quite the same thing, but there's understandably some overlap in the two categories.

So the distinction between atheism and agnosticism can get fuzzy. I think that for most practical purposes, it's down to which label the person is comfortable with.

My personal choice of label is atheism. It's more specific to the subject of deities, and it carries the additional connotation that I'm not on the fence. It says I don't assume there is a supreme being. Not that agnostics do, but the label of agnosticism doesn't carry a connotation either way.

One interesting point is that atheism specifically concerns deities, but agnosticism is technically a general term. You can't know for sure that there is or isn't an undetectable floating taco hovering just past the corner of your eye. Therefore you are agnostic about undetectable floating tacos. People usually use the term agnostic in reference to deities, but it can be used in other contexts.

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Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:39 pm
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