Who Speaks for Earth?

The thirteenth and final episode of the Cosmos television series was primarily a reminder of how fragile our world is. The episode essentially revolved around contrasts in what we as humans can do. In the opening vignette we seen the Tligit encounter with the La Perusse expedition - a very peaceful affair, and this was contrasted with the Spanish invasion of Central America and the willful destruction of the Aztec peoples by the conquistadors in their greedy search for gold.

Dr. Sagan drew parallel between this and the nuclear arms arc, and posed the open-ended question of how we would explain out stewardship of the planet to an alien if asked.

He then took us back to the Library of Alexandria and recapped some of the fascinating discoveries that were made during its tenure such as Eratosthenes who successfully calculated the size of the earth, mapped it, and said it could be circumnavigated. Hipparcos who wrote about star birth, movement, and death; as catalogued the stars. Euclid and his geometry, Galen and his contributions to medicine. He concluded this by saying that even with all these discoveries Science never captured the imagination of the people as it was primarily used for such things as weapons, and for the amusement of kings.

He then went on to talk about Hypatia (370 to 415 CE) and how she was hated by Cyril the Bishop of Rome because she was a symbol of science and learning, and this was considered a pagan virtue. He then went on to describe how in 415 on her way to work on day at the Library she was dragged from her carriage, stripped, and flayed alive by supporters of Cyril.

Hypatia was forgotten, and Cyril became a saint!

The remainder of the show primarily focused on a review of what we had seen in previous episodes, and conclude with information on the current state of the world's nuclear arsenals and the damage they could wreak on humanity.

I assume it is obvious to anybody who is reading this that I am an admirer of both Dr. Sagan, and this series. I would heartily recommend any of the books written by him to anybody who is interested in reading about science in general in an easily digestible format that should enable you to see things in a new light if you take what he says to heart.

His books:

- Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
- The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
- Pale Blue Dot
- Billions and Billions: Thoughts of Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
- Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
- The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Person View of the Search for God
- A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race
- Broca's Brain
- Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
- Intelligent Life in the Universe
- Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record
- Organic Matter and the Moon
- Contact
- Comet

Comments

Popular Posts