So today I got all geeked up for the big NASA announcement, wondering what exciting revelation was in store for us Earthlings. The big news? The Hubble Space Telescope picked up a light source which is believed to be emanating from a galaxy formed 13.2 billion years ago. That’s a long time ago — 13.2 billion (with a “b,” folks) years ago.
Sadly, I suspect that many don’t care. Sadder still, kids are oblivious to any news pertaining to our universe. Much of the buzz that centers around the cosmos has dissipated, if not disappeared altogether. So what happened? Did our interest get swallowed up by a black hole?
Well, regardless of what happened, I have a two-word answer that could possibly bring our interest back to life.
Carl Sagan. One tiny problem, though.
He’s dead. So unless we can channel his essence from the faraway galaxy of Heaven, I’m afraid we’re out of luck.
Before you cast me off as writing facetiously, hear me out. No one did more to popularize our universe than the legendary astronomer and astrophysicist. Remember his show, “Cosmos”? I sure do. My parents were “Cosmos” junkies. And their interest was contagious. My siblings and I all caught on to the buzz. In fact, we used to watch the show with another family in our neighborhood each and every Sunday night.
Sure, Carl came off a bit geeky, at least to kids. But there was no denying that the stuff he talked about was cool. He made me want to learn more about it. Consider these four facts I dug up on Wikipedia:
Cosmos was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television when it originally aired in 1980. It wasn’t surpassed until “The Civil War” aired ten years later.
As of 2009, it remained the most widely watched PBS show ever.
Since its original airing, it’s been broadcasted in over 60 countries and viewed by over 500 million people.
During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books.
Still don’t believe me? Carl Sagan was a space-interest-generating machine. Things always come back, right? I mean, there’s a reason why I listened to the Grateful Dead in college, right? As well as a reason why the 70s and 80s were so big in the late 90s and early 2000s, right? And why “Hawaii Five-0″ is back on. “90210,” people?
Can’t space make a comeback, too, then? Isn’t there someone out there who has the perfect mix of scientific mo-jo and charisma to make us all marvel once again at the last frontier? Someone who can remind us of Earth’s relative insignificance compared to the limitless universe?
Because if such a person reintroduced us on a regular basis to all things universe in language we could all understand, I’d be there watching. With bells on. And, like my parents, I’d encourage my kids to watch, too. And I’d love it if my daughter had a role model who taught her more about the world than, say, Hannah Montana. (No offense, Miley.)
I truly believe that the stage is set for such a person. But until he or she arrives, I suppose the only stars that will appeal to my daughter are the many dim-witted ones that populate her pop-culture sky.
But I’m not giving up hope. Because what this world needs in my humble opinion is a good ol’ blast of brain power. Let’s give some thought to thinking again. And what better venue to expand our mind than the limitless expanse that is our universe?