There’s a series on Netflix called “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” narrated by astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson (NDT), and it will blow your freakin’ mind. Or possibly you’ll try watching and give up, because the show has cheesy, outdated “Dr. Who-”style graphics and the whole thing is basically just Degrasse Tyson talking ceaselessly about science. But if you’re stoned and you have any interest in the universe, the evolution of our species, black holes, the Big Bang, stars or NDT’s smooth and sassy baritone, then you’ll enjoy. The show is a sequel to “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” a series that was hosted by celebrated scientist Carl Sagan in the early ’80s.
Picture a scientist. What does he look like? Probably a wizened, white, frail guy like Albert Einstein, right? Well, NDT isn’t wizened, frail or white. He is Cool. He was a frequent guest on “The Colbert Report.” In response to those who debate the merits of scientific discovery (the evidence of climate change, for example), NDT has responded, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
“Cosmos” presents the foundations of our universe with a healthy blend of wonder and practicality. It’s kind of like, “Damn, isn’t all of this incredible? But here’s a detailed explanation of how it actually went down.” The show uses a narrative device vividly titled “Ship of the Imagination” (it’s a little CGI spaceship) to explore the past, present and future of the universe; NDT simply climbs aboard and cruises through time. Christian fundamentalists weren’t happy with the series’ opposition of the creation myth and dismissal of the Bible.
Don’t worry about the science jargon going over your head. NDT breaks it all down in layman’s terms, using pop culture references like Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life.” If you’re the kind of stoner who likes to puzzle over intellectual pursuits while blazed, you’ve found your new thing. One of NDT’s favorite pastimes is correcting misrepresentations of science in popular culture; at one point he took to Twitter to explain the mistakes made by the director of “Gravity” starring Sandra Bullock. He’s doing hero’s work. But most of all, he is attempting to encourage interest in space exploration and education. NASA needs more funding and we’ve barely just begun to explore outer space. Vast technological and scientific advances could be on the near horizon, and NDT doesn’t want to miss a moment of it. Neither should you.
— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold