I continue to be awed by Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Each episode just gets better and better, and the third episode, “When Knowledge Conquered Fear” is no exception. Even though I already know most of the information it’s covering, I continue to be entranced by its presentation. And that’s not to say I haven’t learned anything. This episode, in particular, taught me a lot about Edmund Halley and Robert Hooke that I didn’t previously know. What’s more, it continues to be a great introduction to all there is about science and a perfect spiritual successor to Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos.
In “When Knowledge Conquered Fear”, Tyson takes a look at the human ability of pattern recognition, both in the ways that it has helped us and hindered us. The episode starts with a discussion of comets and how early civilizations interpreted them as omens of disaster, then moves into the reality of what we know about comets today, taking us on a journey out to the Oort Cloud and introducing us to the not-well-known Jan Oort, whom the Oort Cloud is named after.