COSMOS Cliffs Notes - Episode 1

The first episode of the COSMOS was a fun visual experience that laid the foundation for the rest of the series.  While it was a little light on the science, it helped viewers understand where we, Earthlings, fit within the space and time of the history of the entire universe.  And in case you don't have 60 minutes to watch it FOR FREE on Hulu (you should make time), here is a CliffsNotes version of all the fun things we learned on the first episode.

 

1. We are infinitesimally small in comparison to the universe

 Screenshot of our Cosmic Address from COSMOS Episode 1

Screenshot of our Cosmic Address from COSMOS Episode 1

  • If Earth had a postal address it would be:
    • Earth
    • Solar System
    • Milky Way Galaxy
    • Local Group (a small group of galaxies)
    • Virgo Supercluster (a group of thousands of galaxies)
    • Observable Universe (a group of the billions of galaxies  - which may even be part of a multi-universe)

 

2. The Catholic Church did not like hearing we were not the center of the universe

 Screen shot from the scene in COSMOS Episode 1 where they burn Bruno at the stake for supporting the heliocentric view of the universe and the idea that our sun is one of many suns, and our Earth is one of many.

Screen shot from the scene in COSMOS Episode 1 where they burn Bruno at the stake for supporting the heliocentric view of the universe and the idea that our sun is one of many suns, and our Earth is one of many.

  • Giordano Bruno, an astronomer from the 1500s, was sentenced to death because he believed that we are not unique in the universe: He believed that our sun was one of many suns, that our Earth was one of many habitable planets. How did we repay him for his (mostly philosophical) contribution? We burned him at the stake.  
  • But did COSMOS pick the wrong story to tell here?  Turns out Bruno was burned for many anti-religious reasons, including his passion for magic.  Read more about this complex individual and why COSMOS may have taken a little creative liberty in portraying him: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/outthere/2014/03/10/cosmos-pick-wrong-hero/#.UyEayvldVXt

 

3. If all of time were condensed to a theoretical 12-month period - we only showed up within the last hour on Dec 31st 

 Screenshot of the "Cosmic Calendar" in COSMOS Episode 1

Screenshot of the "Cosmic Calendar" in COSMOS Episode 1

  • January 1st - The Big Bang
  • August 31st – The birth of our own Sun
  • December 17th – Life in the sea began
  • December 28th – The first flower and other plant life
  • December 30th 6:24am – Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs
  • December 31st, 11:00pm – The evolution of Humans began
    • Moses – born “7 seconds ago”
    • Buddha – born “6 seconds ago”
    • Jesus – born “5 seconds ago”
    • Mohammed – born “3 seconds ago”

 

Other really cool facts:

  1. The Moon was created because of an asteroid impact when the Earth was first forming
  2. We are all made of Star stuff
  3. All of recorded history only occupies that last 14 seconds of the universe.  And it was only in the very last second of the theoretical 12-month cosmic universe that we began to use science and learn about nature's laws
  4. Jupiter’s great red spot is actually a HUGE hurricane that is THREE TIMES the size of Earth
  5. Saturn’s “rings” are made of rock and ice
  6. We say “observable” universe because the light from the edge of the universe simply hasn’t reached us yet – so we can’t see an edge yet.
  7. Neil deGrasse Tyson spent a Saturday with Carl Sagan when he was 17 years old (video below)


Emily CalandrelliComment