I’ve been watching Cosmos, the science miniseries series that originally aired on PBS back in 1980. You can see them all for free on hulu. Some of the science is old news now, the graphics and the hairstyles and the clothing are definitely dated. But it still holds up as an enjoyable way to spend your time.

The stagings of historical events hold up and help bring to mind some idea of what the progress of science must have been like to the people of the periods when it happened. The soundtrack by Vangelis remains beautiful, even if electronic music has advanced considerably since the Eighties.

Most of all, there is the writing and narration of Carl Sagan. Sagan was a remarkably effective ambassador for science to the popular world. Cosmos stands as a brilliant paean to the joy of knowledge, learning, clear thought, and most of all the power of science. If the science is old news now, it makes no bones about that — the science was new when the series was made but Sagan was clear that he fully expected the work of future generations to surpass what he was describing. At the end of the day, he describes science as a process, as an attitude. And it is an attitude full of awe, wonder, hope, and joy.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.