Coming soon: a remade Cosmos and Life on Earth

By Grant Jacobs 06/02/2014

A remade Cosmos

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos—both the book and the documentary series—were inspirational for many.

Well-known American astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson* is hosting a new take of Sagan’s tour and paean of the cosmos, titled Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. It’s showing in early March in the USA; hopefully it will make it’s way to New Zealand in time.

The writing team for the series includes members of the original series team of scientists and writers, such as Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan and astronomer Steven Soter.

Here’s a short (1:03) promotional video for the series,

You can view and read more at the series website, Facebook page or follow them on twitter.

If there’s one bone I’d like to pick, it’s: why use cartoon DNA molecules? There are excellent molecular graphics representations of DNA, and the other ‘molecules of life’, that reflect how they really are.

Life on Earth

Speaking of excellent animations of molecules, Life on Earth should have many as it features Drew Berry’s work. Readers can see some examples in a post I wrote two years ago that features some of Drew’s work along with some thoughts on molecular animations. You can glimpse examples of his work in the video blurb for Life on Earth below.

I briefly mentioned E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth almost three years ago now; I understand the first ‘full’ version is slated to be released early next month (March, 2014). This has been written in an on-going series of versions – as I write version 7 is available for download.

We’re told the ‘book’ will comprise –

Forty-one chapters in nine sections will provide a complete, original, standards-based curriculum to give high school students a deep understanding of all of the central topics of introductory biology.

(I presume the curriculum is for the USA.)

Funded by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, the book aims to create a digital textbook for high school students. It, of course, includes multimedia** elements (video, animation, sound) as well as text and still images.

Every comment I’ve read has praised the presentation of the material. A preview of of screenshots of some pages of the contents is available on the iTunes site and on the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation website.

What’s offered there certainly looks gorgeous and will no doubt help kids want to explore what Life on Earth has to offer. Praise from the attendees of the Australian Science Communicator’s Nation Conference 2014*** for what Drew Berry showed of the book at the meeting was emphatic.

The book is available via iTunes for $US2.


News of any other up-coming books or documentaries are welcome in the comments!

Neil Tyson is already something of a science media superstar, with over 1.6 million followers on twitter. (I’d be surprised if any other scientist has more than a hundred thousand followers, let alone a million.)

* I prefer hyphenated form myself: space-time.

** The term ‘multi-media’ feels antiquated, but I’m letting it stand. Certainly multi-media has moved on a long way since I first read the term.

*** I didn’t attend, but followed the meeting via twitter.

Related articles on Code for life:

From dying stars to dust clouds to us – star stuff, all

Our pale blue dot 

Friday “movie” (An excerpt from Triumph of modern science of over medieval superstars, part of the Cosmos series hosted by Carl Sagan.)

What books do you think geeks should read?

0 Responses to “Coming soon: a remade Cosmos and Life on Earth”

  • I love shows like these – but I will always prefer to associate Cosmos with Carl Sagan, and Life on Earth with David Attenborough!

    • Hi Violet –

      In this case Life on Earth is not a show, but a digital book. It’s full title is E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. (I abbreviated it in the title as titles want to short, the full title is given in the article.)

      I think most older people will associate Cosmos with Sagan, but I say let’s see what the remake offers too!

  • Chris,

    If it’s any consolation, that’s not worse that the many books I’ve yet to get to reading. (To make matters worse, the annual library book sale is coming up in a couple of weeks…)

  • Ross,

    “Billions and billions” Ha.

    I’m sure older people associate Carl with Cosmos, but the younger audience may not even know of either of those two!

  • Carls cosmos series is fantastic, the younger people can still find it with low level hacking (the authour of this post is not urging younger people to violate copyright laws, but instead asking that information be freely shared with youth for the betterment of humanity)

  • Derek,

    Just for future reference, “the authour of this post” will read as referring to me. I think you mean to refer to yourself.

    A ‘post’ is the article, the blog post. The things that follow are comments.

    It’s an error a lot of people make, saying they are writing posts when they are writing comments in reply to a post, but it can cause confusion. There’s a reason people distinguish between the post and comments, eh? 😉