August 21, 2010

Cosmos Episode 10:The Edge of Forever

It was amazing to see Sagan touch upon such a vast array of topics and present it all with his exquisite and unique poetic touch.

This episode is all about the large scale structure of the universe. Sagan talks about the types of galaxies and the origin and fate of the universe.

Sagan tries to explain the possibility of the existence of a forth dimension. He wonders if there might be enough matter in the universe to stop the present expansion of the universe.

Oddly enough, he seamlessly weaves Hindu philosophical stuff into this story of modern scientific cosmology. He talks about how only the timescales mentioned in Hindu mythology come anywhere close to the timescales revealed by modern cosmology.

It was wonderful to see Sagan visit South India and talk about the Pongal harvest festival in the same episode that he talks about the Very Large Array in New Mexico. And he visits both South India as well as the VLA.

He gives eloquent voice to the speculations about whether our universe might be only one of an infinite number of universes and whether we are living in one cycle in an infinite cycle of expansions and contractions.

Sagan humbles by both the breadth of the science that he talks about as well as the breadth of his vision and knowledge and humility.

I liked the way he both pointed out that timescales in Hindu mythology roughly correspond to the timescales in modern cosmology and at the same time added that it was mere coincidence.

We are truly poised at the edge of forever as he concluded the episode by saying. That was true when he said it and that remains true today.

I wonder if we will ever reach definitive conclusions about these cosmic questions or if we will still be poised on the same edge a thousand years from now and a million years from now.

It was calming to see all this as we realize then that we are all so insignificant in the big scheme of things. Our individual human lives do not have much significance. That gives me some solace as I measure my own life with all its little triumphs and numerous defeats.

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