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Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

Episode 1 : The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

The size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home -- the Earth. For the first time, we have the power to decide the fate of our planet and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young and curious and brave, it shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the cosmos and our place within it. Our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

We're about to begin a journey through the cosmos. We'll encounter galaxies and suns and planets, life and consciousness, coming into being, evolving and perishing. Worlds of ice and stars of diamond, atoms as massive as suns, universes smaller than atoms. But it's also a story of our own planet, and the plants and animals that share it with us. And it's a story about us, how we achieved our present understanding of the cosmos, how the cosmos has shaped our evolution and our culture, and what our fate may be.

We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads, but to find the truth we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant troves of exquisite interrelationships, of the awesome machinery of nature.

The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. The journey for each of us begins here. We are going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies. It can take us anywhere in space and time. Perfect as a snowflake, organic as a dandelion seed, it will carry us to worlds of dreams, and worlds of facts. Come with me.

Before us is the cosmos on the grandest scale we know. We are far from the shores of Earth, in the uncharted reaches of the cosmic ocean, strewn like sea froth on the waves of space, our innumerable faint tendrils of light, some of them containing hundreds of billions of suns.

Episode 2 : One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

Welcome to the second episode of the acclaimed documentary series Cosmos, narrated by that great science popularizer and humanist we all miss, Carl Sagan.

In this episode, in an effort to understand the likelihood of the development of life on other planets, Sagan explores the process responsible for life on earth: evolution through natural selection. He starts with a delightful story about the Heike crab and Japanese samurai warriors, drawing the crucial distinction between artificial and natural selection, and further explains how the process of evolution, when you observe it carefully, is more elegant and coherent than the inference of an intelligent designer.

Then he walks us through the cosmic calendar showing how the molecular building blocks of life didn't appear until October, how simple multicellular organisms didn't appear until November, and how macroscopic, complex life didn't evolve until around December 15th. The apes from which we descend didn't come into existence until December 31st, at around 10:15am, and anatomically modern humans only came into being 6 minutes before the end of the year.

As if this wasn't enough, we get to visualize our genealogical lineage, and a few others, all the way back from the very first rudimentary forms of simple life to amphibians, reptiles and modern humans, beautifully and powerfully marking our genetic relatedness and cosmic connection. And then we go deep into the nucleus of a cell, discovering the processes by which DNA replicates itself and produces the new generation.

Episode 3 : The Harmony of the Worlds

Episode 4 : Heaven & Hell

Episode 5 : Blues for a Red Planet

Episode 6 : Travellers' Tales

Episode 7 : The Backbone of the Night

Episode 8 : Journeys in Space and Time

Episode 9 : The Lives of the Stars

Episode 10 : The Edge of Forever

Episode 11 : The Persistence of Memory

Episode 12 : Encyclopaedia Galactica

Episode 13 : Who Speaks for Earth?