April 19, 2014 1:36 pm

Worlds Collide this Sunday when Neil deGrasse Tyson Has a COSMOS Conversation

Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of both StarTalk Radio and the new COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey on FOX. Credit: FOX.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of both StarTalk Radio and COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey on FOX. Credit: FOX.

Have you been watching the new COSMOS series on FOX and wondered why the show seems to focus so much on the history of science?

Or maybe you want to know why the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey utilizes so much more animation than the original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage did?

You’re in luck, because this Sunday astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who hosts both StarTalk Radio and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, sits down for a chat with astrophysicist Dr. Steven Soter… and they’re not talking about the universe, they’re talking about the Cosmos! Both of them, in fact, because Steven was the co-writer on both the original series on PBS and the new reboot on FOX. (He’s also a colleague of Neil’s at the American Museum of Natural History who was a guest scientist on a previous episode of StarTalk Radio, A Violent Earth.)

Steven shares stories about working with Carl and Anne Druyan on the first series, and let’s face it, who among us doesn’t like a good Carl Sagan story? For instance, if you watched the original series, you probably remember the now classic final episode on nuclear war and the threat it posed to the survival of the human race. But did you know that Carl Sagan originally envisioned a different episode? Even better, you’ll get to find out who actually came up with the phrase “billions and billions.”

But for me, the more interesting discussions revolve around the new COSMOS. Steven gives us a glimpse into the COSMOS writer’s room. We get an honest, candid discussion about the challenges that come with writing for commercial-heavy broadcast TV as opposed to commercial-free public television. He talks about why the history of science is so important to the show, and how scientists should be more humble about what we “know” today which future discoveries may prove wrong. It turns out that this is actually an important aspect of COSMOS, both old and new: Carl had to consider which science to feature in the show and which to leave out based on what would survive the upheaval of future discovery.

And of course, what conversation about the new COSMOS would be complete without discussing the controversial response by creationists and others to the show’s presentation of evolution?

So this Sunday, before you tune in to COSMOS at 9 PM ET, go behind the scenes with Neil, Steven and comic co-host Chuck Nice in “A COSMOS Conversation with Steven Soter.” Listen on our website and on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher Sunday night, April 20th, at 7:00 PM ET.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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