On (Coming Back to) the Cosmos

I’ve been watching the Cosmos miniseries on Hulu. Had it not been for the Bad Astronomer, I probably would never have given Cosmos a second look, but after Phil posted that it was available, I started watching.  It’s not that I dislike Carl Sagan (actually, every single thing I see or hear or read, by or about him makes me like him more and more), its just that I didn’t realize how incredibly relevant the series still is, almost 30 years later.  If you haven’t seen Cosmos, I highly recommend it.

The funniest part is that in sitting down to watch an entire miniseries devoted to science, I’m learning more about something that I pretended to not be interested in for a very long time – science. When I was a kid, I liked science pretty ok — though I was much more interested in the technology side of it – like trying to teach myself BASIC – than I was in the sciencey sciences. My parents were very much into educating me about science, but it backfired a little bit because I tended to see science as the antithesis of everything else I was interested in – history and writing and art, etc.

My attitude got worse in middle school, when a) I had a string of really atrocious teachers and b) my mom got a job as a science teacher at another school – and she was DARN good at it. So I? Tried really hard not to be.

Before you ask why, let me just ask anyone in our reading audience who has ever been an 11-14 year old girl that did not immediatly try to do the opposite of what her parents did – especially her mom – did, please raise your hand. Not only did I not benefit from my mom’s in-class enthusiasm for the subject, but I gave a ton of pushback when I did get that benefit at home.

Things changed a bit when I was homeschooled for part of my senior year thanks to a bad bout of mono – my tutor was very enthusiastic and did all sorts of fun experiments. However, the minute I got to college and found out I only had to take 2 science classes for my major (art history) and I ignored all that fun I had. I backslid. Read art and poetry and took all the humanities classes I could, and pretended like science didn’t exist. (Because science is not ABOUT AHHHHHT and LIIIIIFFFEEEEE and EXISTING!)*

Over the last ten years, I started to read more and more science related books, in part because I’m a huge SF nerd, and sometimes, science books seem almost science fictiony, and in part because nonfiction is one of my favorite types of reading and two of the most appealing types of nonfiction (espcially as I hate biographies) are either science or history. I then started listening to podcasts like Skeptoid and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe as I heard about them on SF podcasts and wanted to become more science literate.

Now I find myself at home, on a Sunday evening, choosing to sit down and watch a few episodes of Cosmos.  It feels like I’m picking up where I left off around middle school and started on a trajectory.  I feel a little behind the curve when I talk about science topics, because I really am playing “catch up” from the 15(ish) years I pretended science was passe, but I figure the more I talk about it, the less stupid I’ll feel.

*I was 18. Let’s try not to chortle too much at my pretentiousness.


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