Cosmic Awe

Neil deGrasse Tyson on his new Fox series

Cosmic Awe
Photo by Jana Birchum

Tonight, the first episode of the Cosmos reboot will premiere in the U.S. at prime time on Fox, and then afterwards in 170 countries in 45 languages.

According to its host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “It’s the largest rollout of a television series in the history of television.” During SXSW Interactive, Tyson sat down to discuss.

If Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey were a traditional science documentary, then Fox’s programming decision might seem odd. But it’s void of talking heads and tripod shots. Instead, the series creates a personal relationship between the viewer and the science. “[Cosmos] has managed to take the science that’s out there, put a thread from that science through you and onto elements of the universe that show you why that science matters to you, and how you might be compelled to respond in the face of that information,” says Tyson. “By the end of a show, especially by the end of the series, we’d like to think we’ve woven this tapestry with that thread, with you in the center of that tapestry, and you get to look around and say, ‘Now I know and understand my place in the universe.’”

In this way, the series provides a new avenue toward improved science literacy. “When I think of science literacy, I don’t think of a body of knowledge,” says Tyson. “My personal definition of science literacy is: How much do you still wonder about the world around you? What is your state of curiosity? When you pass something you don’t know or understand, do you pause and reflect on what the answer might be?”

At the core of this philosophy lies an honest degree of skepticism, which Tyson admits might burst a few bubbles. “There’s so much to actually be impressed with in the universe. I don’t want you to be distracted by things that are not that impressive.”

A Conversation With Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, March 8, 2pm

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South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW 2014, SXSW Interactive 2014, Episodic, COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson, science, Fox, universe

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