'Cosmos' Returns In New Book And National Geographic Series

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"Cosmos: Possible Worlds" by Ann Druyan. (Allison Hagan/Here & Now)
"Cosmos: Possible Worlds" by Ann Druyan. (Allison Hagan/Here & Now)

The Peabody Award-winning series “Cosmos” returns next week for its third season on National Geographic.

Director, writer and executive producer Ann Druyan created “Cosmos” as a PBS documentary in 1980 along with her late husband, astronomer and cosmologist Carl Sagan. Her book “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” was recently published as a companion to the series.

Science can be used as a way for all citizens to be properly informed — and know when they are being lied to, Druyan says. She calls science the “great baloney detection machine.”

“It's more important than ever for us to begin taking the insights of science to heart,” she says.

Interview Highlights

On why science is important today

“[Science] is a way for every citizen to be an informed decision-maker and to know most of all, when we are being lied to. As a species, we are terrible liars. We lie to each other. We lie to ourselves and our leaders, most especially of late, lie to us chronically. And the only way that we can wrest back the future from disaster is for each of us to be able to see clearly what we have to do and to act.”

On thinking about the future

“We do not have a system of human social organization that thinks beyond the next balance sheet or the next election. But we need to think, as some of our Native American ancestors did, in terms of seven generations, in terms of our impact on the long future. Science is thinking in the timescale of 13.8 billion years. The history of cosmic evolution. The legacy of life on Earth is 4 billion years old. We hold that legacy in our hands. We are the links in the chain, this minute. And if you are alive now, then you are descended from generations of people who had their backs to the wall and somehow managed to rise to their challenges and to endure. Every one of us has that legacy.”

On the connection between space and the human body

“Well, that very true connection [of space and body] was made before me by Carl Sagan and others — that we are star stuff, that every fiber in your hair, your skin, your bones is made up of atoms that were essentially cooked in the fiery hearts of distant stars. So to see the cosmos is within you is not poetry. It's not hyperbole. It's just hard scientific fact. And so, of course, because we come of age in a cosmic quarantine, you know, nothing of ours was ever sent into space until 1957. So naturally, we think of this artificial separation between us and the cosmos. But it's inside us and it's everywhere around us.”

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Kathleen McKennaKatherine Simpson adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on March 4, 2020.


Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.



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