Can Neil deGrasse Tyson top Carl Sagan?
Carl Sagan was the most successful and inspirational promoter of science ever. He had an amazing talent for explaining grand scientific ideas in plain, but poetic, language. Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye, Brian Greene and the MythBusters, though all good, are nothing compared to Professor Sagan. His public television program Cosmos first aired in 1980, and is still the most popular PBS series in the world.
I never would have thought that anyone would come along to challenge the legendary Carl Sagan . . . until now.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has joined forces with Seth MacFarlane (voice actor and creator of Family Guy and American Dad) to begin a new production of Cosmos. The show is scheduled to begin airing on the Fox Network in 2013.
Based on the Science Now videos Tyson stars in, I don't think he's quite as poetic as Sagan. On the other hand, he seems to me to be very good at interacting with people in a straightforward and friendly way.
The difference in style between the two of them may have more to do with changes in the medium - Sagan starred in highly-produced segments with top-of-the-line (for the time) special effects, while the Tyson spots I've caught lately seem to be mostly shaky-cam, YouTube-quality bits. Even this relatively high-production piece is too cheesy for me.
I blame the style more on Tyson's production team than on Tyson. His writing seems a lot better on paper than in the videos. So there's hope, once he gets away from the Science Now crew and joins up with MacFarlane in the studio, that popular science magic may happen once again.
Will Tyson have the chops to rival Sagan? I think he just might.