Dear Wonderfest friend,
At our June event, atop Mt. Tamalpais, I got to tell the hundreds of assembled astronomy buffs about Wonderfest’s July-31st event in San Francisco. I began by making a request: “Please raise your hand if Carl Sagan helped to inspire your love of science.”
Virtually every person in that audience—young and old—had a hand in the air.
We are told that Sagan’s COSMOS television series is the most watched PBS program of all time—viewed by over half a billion people. I still remember blinking back tears of awe inspired by the beautiful revelations made in that show. Since 1997, Wonderfest has been dedicated to the memory of Carl Sagan, and COSMOS is much of the reason for that rather public display of affection.
On Tuesday evening, July 31, a modern heir to the Sagan legacy of scientific enchantment will present COSMOS Reconsidered. Alex Filippenko, UC Berkeley professor of astronomy, will show key scenes from the original COSMOS series, and then offer new commentary informed by 32 years of scientific advance.
For example: Do you remember Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar? It compresses the entire history of the universe into twelve months—and all of recorded human history occupies the last ten seconds of December 31st?! Prof. Filippenko will update this glorious time machine.
Do you recall an Italian boy on a motor scooter who taught the COSMOS audience about relativity by zipping around the Tuscan countryside at nearly the speed of light?! The good Berkeley professor will deepen our understanding of relativistic spaceflight, too.
How about when Sagan walked barefoot on the grounds of an ancient Hindu temple describing two possible fates of the universe? As far as I was concerned, the death (of EVERYTHING) by fire or by ice could not have been described more movingly or more thoughtfully.
… Not more thoughtfully, perhaps, until now: Alex Filippenko is not only a Saganesque astronomy teacher (voted “Best Professor” at UC Berkeley a record nine times!), he is also a world authority on cosmic evolution. Alex was a member of the High-Z Supernova Search Team whose leaders shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Their detection of the accelerating expansion of the universe led to the realization that utterly mysterious “dark energy” rules the cosmos at large.
Indeed: “COSMOS at large“—and in exquisite scientific detail—will be the subject of our July-31st presentation. Please don’t miss it!
P.S. (This shouldn’t be just a postscript, it’s far too important…) Wonderfest survives on donations and involvement. If you enjoy Wonderfest events, and if you want others to learn about the Bay Area Beacon of Science, please donate to our nonprofit cause. BTW, that cause is nothing less than ENLARGING THE CONCEPT OF “SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.” Please tell your friends about our website; “like” our Facebook page; and follow us on Twitter. Social media make it so easy to share your enthusiasm for science. Please invite your friends to Wonderfest events!