I’m sure you’ve seen felt the zeitgeist shift, but suddenly science is cool again. Capitalizing on that, funnyman Seth MacFarlane, Fox, and National Geographic have brought the phenomenal Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey to television sets nationwide. Cosmos is a re-boot of 1980’s hugely popular Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was hosted by scientist Carl Sagan. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts the new series, which premiered on March 9, and the show’s gorgeous presentations and visuals promise an exciting remaining 11 episodes.
Of course, with its popularity growing, Cosmos is taking a beating from Christian conservatives. Creationists are questioning the show’s topics that detail the scientific proof in The Big Bang theory, natural and artificial selection, and evolution. But with the reach of the show going to more than 170 television stations in 45 languages around the world–and attracting 40 million viewers in the U.S. and Canada–this Creationist opposition seems like static noise.
Naturally, the Sinclair family will be watching, as you don’t have to hold a graduate degree to follow along. Here are five things I think you will find fascinating that Cosmos has explained so far.
Watch past Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey online here. The show airs on FOX on Sunday nights at 9 EST and National Geographic on Mondays at 10 p.m. EST.
1. All dogs evolved from the grey wolf
Domesticated dogs have only been Man’s best friend for a few thousand years, which is remarkable. When man domesticated the grey wolf, they found a way to breed the mammals to be more attractive and fit the needs of man, causing an artificial evolution. Tyson has expressed how this domestication is unique by stating, “if artificial selection can accomplish that much in just a few thousand years, what can natural selection accomplish given billions of years?”
2. The Big Bang happened in a split second
As the show aired this segment, more news came out that further helped The Big Bang’s case as an incredibly sound scientific theory. Basically, 13.8 billion years ago, when the universe started, there was a large, violent explosion that released matter. These tremors became the “gravitational waves” that Einstein had predicted and scientists found this week.
3. Tardigrades are the bad-asses of the universe
This microscopic animal is pretty awesome. Not only can it survive floating through space, but it can survive extreme cold, boiling water, and even ten years without water or food.
4. The eye as we know it originally evolved in underwater climates
The eye is one of the most complex physiological systems humans have examined. And we still don’t fully understand it. Cosmos showed how it evolved underwater to the point of perfect eyesight. However, this topic is controversial because Creationists believe the eye is too perfect to have evolved from a more primitive form, resulting in some sympathetic TV stations’ censoring it.
5. All living things are built from the same gene makeup…after a mutation
The fact that we all came from the same single-celled organism is astonishing. But Cosmos showed how a mutated single-cell organism grew an advantage over others, resulting in life as we know it. Although the segment didn’t explicitly speak on human evolution, its production was probably meant to get people asking questions, both believers and non-believers.