Carl Sagan’s 1980 13-part TV series, “Cosmos”, bears barely a wrinkle after all those years. He knew that much of what he was saying would be out of date very quickly. The additions he made in an updated version ten years later and the re-edition of 2000 (he died in 1996), have already been overtaken by more recent discoveries, notably of exoplanets, the BEH boson and the exploits of NASA’s Voyager now hurtling through space outside our solar system, but the “Personal Journey” of this astrophysicist of such rare pedagogical talent will remain a permanently precious presentation of the wonders of the Universe.
Of the many memorable features of this primer for primates like me, I was struck once again, in my recent reviewing of the series, by his famous compression of the Universe’s history of 13.8 billion years into a single year. In that scenario we appeared in the last few seconds of December 31. I was struck too by the reminder that whatever about the multiverse, an hypothesis Sagan found credible, and the multitude of galaxies beside our own Milky Way, there are in our galaxy alone up to 400,000,000,000 stars or suns, the vast majority of which are invisible to the naked eye. Put those facts together and you have to wonder, if God is supposed to have created the Universe so that people could admire the heavens as an expression of His power and glory, where the hell were the spectators all that time before we took our seats in the theatre ? Not much point in staging “Aïda” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the middle of the Sahara when there were not even camels there to see the show.