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There is no Next Episode of Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey planned.
The Ship of the Imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies, can take us anywhere in space and time. It has been idling for more than three decades, and yet it has never been overtaken. Its global legacy remains vibrant. Now, it's time once again to set sail for the stars.
Life is transformation. Artificial selection turned the wolf into the shepherd and all the other canine breeds we love today. And over the eons, natural selection has sculpted the exquisitely complex human eye out of a microscopic patch of pigment.
There was a time, not so long ago, when natural events could only be understood as gestures of divine displeasure. We will witness the moment that all changed, but first--The Ship of the Imagination is in the brooding, frigid realm of the Oort Cloud, where a trillion comets wait. Our Ship takes us on a hair-raising ride, chasing a single comet through its million-year plunge towards the Sun.
An exploration of how light, time and gravity combine to distort our perceptions of the universe. We eavesdrop on a series of walks along a beach in the year 1809. William Herschel, whose many discoveries include the insight that telescopes are time machines, tells bedtime stories to his son, who will grow up to make some rather profound discoveries of his own. A stranger lurks nearby. All three of them figure into the fun house reality of tricks that light plays with time and gravity.
The keys to the cosmos have been lying around for us to find all along. Light, itself, holds so many of them, but we never realized they were there until we learned the basic rules of science.
Science casts its Cloak of Visibility over everything, including Neil, himself, to see him as a man composed of his constituent atoms. The Ship of the Imagination takes us on an epic voyage to the bottom of a dewdrop to discover the exotic life forms and violent conflict that's unfolding there. We return to the surface to encounter life's ingenious strategies for sending its ancient message into the future.
The little known but heroic story of a guy from Iowa that can't really be told without going all the way back to the time long before the Earth was formed - to the origin of the elements in the hearts of stars. The tempestuous youth of the Earth effectively erased all traces of its beginnings. How did we ever learn its true age?
The constellation of the Pleiades provides a vehicle for us to explore a series of paradoxes and epochal discoveries for humanity. The untold story of the modern "sisters of the sun," the early 20th century female astronomers, led by two deaf women, at Harvard who catalogued the stars. It's also the story of the young British woman who joined forces with them, her defiance of the world's leading expert, and how she taught the world what the stars are really made of.
The past is another planet - many, actually - and we will bring several of them back to life and ride the Ship of the Imagination to a vision of the Earth a quarter of a billion years into the future. Join us on a journey through space and time to grasp how the autobiography of the Earth is written in its atoms, its oceans, its continents, and all living things.
Our world of high technology and instantaneous electronic communication with each other and with our robotic emissaries at the solar system's frontier is demystified through the inspiring life story of the man whose genius Albert Einstein revered. Michael Faraday, a child of 19th century poverty, someone from whom nothing much was expected, inventor of the motor and the generator, a lifelong fundamentalist Christian, he is the bridge to the world of smartphones, tablets and so much else.
Life itself sends its own messages across billions of years. It is written within us, in our DNA. But will we survive the damage caused by our global civilization? Neil shares a hopeful vision of what our future could be if we take our scientific knowledge to heart.
Our journey begins with a trip to another world and time, an idyllic beach during the last perfect day on the planet Venus, right before a runaway greenhouse effect wreaks havoc on the planet, boiling the oceans and turning the skies a sickening yellow. We then trace the surprisingly lengthy history of our awareness of global warming and alternative energy sources, taking the Ship of the Imagination to intervene at some critical points in time.
We know less now about the universe than educated Europeans did before the discovery of the Americas. All those billions of galaxies, all those stars, planets and moons--they amount to a meager 4 per cent of what really awaits out there. This awareness is the humility that distinguishes science from other human activities. It savors the fact that even bigger mysteries, mysteries like dark energy, await us.