A new, updated and revised, Cosmos series (based and modeled after Carl Sagan’s 1980 show of the same name), featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson as host, is now underway.
The first episode aired last Sunday (March 9), and became accessible on other media outlets the following day (which was when I finally got to see it).
Overall, as an introductory overview episode for the full series, I enjoyed it immensely.
As luck would have it, I’m currently reading a hermeticism-focused biography of Giordano Bruno1 and had just read, days before I got to see Cosmos, a short first hand reference to Bruno’s Oxford lecture.
Now the retelling of Bruno’s Oxford lecture in Cosmos is done via cartoon (which I enjoyed) and it shows Bruno walking into the lecture hall towards the podium, he pushes up his sleeves as he approaches, the “camera” shifts to the audience who begin laughing at him, back to Bruno stepping up to the podium (you can hear/see the audience laughing at his sides), and then he starts to speak. This all takes place from about 21:28 to 21:40, just about 12 seconds long.
The audience, in the re-enactment, starts laughing at Bruno as he’s walking to the podium, immediately after he pushes up his sleeves, and before he starts talking.
One of the few first-hand accounts of Bruno’s speech comes from a man named George Abbot, who didn’t seem to care much for Bruno as he wrote; “[When Bruno had] seen our University in the year 1583, his heart was on fire, to make himself by some worthy exploit, to become famous in that celebrious place. Not long after returning again, when he had more boldly then wisely, got up into the highest place of our best and most renowned school, stripping up his sleeves like some juggler…he undertook among very many other matters to set on foot the opinion of Copernicus, that the earth did go round, and the heaves did stand still; where as in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still.”2
Emphasis there is mine. The important take away is that if you ever find yourself in late 16th Century England, specifically Oxford, don’t push up your sleeves when giving a lecture…unless its for your comedy routine.
I found this little bit of attention to detail in Cosmos to be quite wonderful (while still grumbling at making the Big Bang look like an explosion, and worse, and explosion into a space beyond itself) and look forward to the rest of the series.
For more articles on the new Cosmos check out;
Phil Plait’s Slate Article
Rebecca Watson’s Skepchick Article
And of course, check out the show (HuluPlus has it, and I hear it’s doing well on the pirate sites ).
1Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno: And the Hermetic Tradition, 1964, University of Chicago Press.
2ibid. From George Abbot’s The Reasons Which Doctour Hill Hath Brought, for the Upholding of Papistry, Which is Falselie Termed the Catholike Religion; Unmasked, and Shewed to Be Very Weake, and Upon Examination Most Insufficient for That Purpose, 1604, published by Joseph Barnes. I did minor ‘translating’ of the quoted text from the 1600′s English to modern spelling.