The universe has wonders that extend far beyond our wildest dreams. It is hard to conceptualize the actual size of the universe, let alone all of the stars, planets, and galaxies that exist within this massive space. There are two spectacular astronomers in particular who attempt to explain the extraordinary wonders of the cosmos in a way that is engaging for all. These astonishing scientific communicators have used television to pique our interest and expand our knowledge of the astronomical universe, about which most people know so little.
Cosmos is the platform that both Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson choose as their medium for educating others about the scientific wonders of space, otherwise known as astronomy. In 1980 Carl Sagan hosted a 13-episode series on PBS called Cosmos: A Personal Journey, while in 2014 Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted the the followup series – Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – from National Geographic and Fox. Both hosts make a sincere effort to spread scientific knowledge, specifically about astronomy, to the younger generation of our planet.
They both also follow the same storytelling approach throughout their respective television series’. They use teaching aids which cater to children, such as the “ship of imagination” and the “cosmic calendar,” to make their message accessible and help simplify the universe. In doing so, they allow children to use their imagination to understand the significance of each part of the universe and of the extremely small part we play within it.
Despite sharing an ultimate purpose, there are of course differences between the programs. Their teachings have the same sound science as their basis, but the presentation styles of Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson are at different ends of the spectrum. What are some of the noticeable differences between the old Cosmos and the new one?
Most of the differences are merely aesthetic. For instance, one key distinction between the programs is that the newer Cosmos features animations that were created by a team supervised by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy. MacFarlane is, incidentally, also a producer of the new Cosmos. There are other tonal differences, however, that can be attributed to their individual hosting styles. Sagan starts the journey of discovery in space and then moves inwards, coming back to us on earth, implying a personalized voyage that directly interpolates the viewer. Neil deGrasse Tyson does the exact opposite, making us feel small compared to the rest of the universe. The use of the cosmic calendar shows how truly insignificant we are, but Sagan is able to soften that blow through his delivery methods — particularly with his slow, deliberate speech pattern that feels almost like poetry. He pulls you in with a soft, hypnotic voice. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a bit more abrupt with his delivery. He does not give off the impression that he is speaking directly to you; rather, it feels more like attending a college lecture.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s delivery is more impersonal, making space travel and astronomy seem like a cold journey through a dark and quiet universe. The “ship of imagination” is depicted as a literal spacecraft that leaves little to the imagination. Carl Sagan believed that a trip through the universe needed to be framed as a very personal experience. He often took a metaphorical approach to delivering scientific information, which we can see in his version of the “ship of imagination.”
And for all the aesthetic differences between the two men and their approach to hosting the program, there are many ways that the two men themselves are refreshingly similar. Sagan was never entirely transparent about what his spiritual beliefs were, and never engaged in debate about theology in the way that Tyson has. Nevertheless, it’s safe to infer that the two men were on similar pages with respect to their skepticism. Tyson courts controversy in a way that Sagan never did, even suggesting that scientific literacy should inform political opinions. As Tyson said in an interview with Parade, there are contentious political issues which could be more easily “settled or informed if we [as a culture] became more scientifically literate.” This is the very sort of stance that could easily draw the ire of some creationism advocates.
Both men are also notable for their environmental advocacy. Sagan wrote about the potential harm of climate change as early as 1980, and Tyson has consistently advocated for the use of alternative energy sources. In this 1990 lecture, as well as in his work Pale Blue Dot, Sagan spoke of the Earth’s fragility and our role as stewards of its care. Tyson, speaking on the topic two decades later, has called out public figures who have openly denied the reality of climate change. Both men realized that the fate of the environment would not be determined by any one individual, but by large groups of individuals, dead set on voting out recalcitrant politicians.
Both scientific communicators excel in different aspects of their delivery. Neither is “better” or “worse,” it all comes down to which you prefer. Do the poetic words of Carl Sagan excite your imagination, or do the brash scientific teachings of Neil deGrasse Tyson tickle your fancy? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter – as long as you’re listening and paying attention to what they’d like to teach you, both of these men can make a profoundly positive impact on your life.
About the author:
Beth Kelly is a freelance blogger and writer based in Chicago, IL. With a lifelong passion for both science and literature, she holds a degree in Communications and Media from DePaul University. In her free time she loves training for triathlons and shooting film photography.
Follow her on Twitter @ bkelly_88
South African Doctor Cures Deafness With First-Ever Middle Ear Transplant
- The Facts:
The South African Department of Health has announced that a team of South African doctors have successfully completed the first ever middle ear transplant that restores hearing caused by certain types of deafness.
- Reflect On:
Does our current economic system truly support innovation? Does it value things that truly make humanity thrive? Or does it seem like there is always a need for us to convince someone to invest in something that is obviously important for society?
The South African Department of Health revealed earlier this year that a team of South African doctors have successfully performed the first-ever transplant of a patient’s middle ear, allowing them to once again hear. The surgery can be performed on people of any age and sets out to cure deafness caused by physical damage, infection in the middle ear as well as congenital birth defects and metabolic diseases.
Once again we see the value and innovation of 3D printing at work as this new invention helps to reconstruct the broken bones of a middle ear. Unlike other forms of transplants, this new innovation is seen as a long-term solution to conductive hearing loss.
It was 40-year-old Thabo Moshiliwa who lost his hearing in a car accident that underwent the first ever surgery dreamt up by the medical team at the University of Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital. This first ever surgery lasted about an hour and a half. The next patient to receive this treatment was 62-year-old Simon Bohale, who had an underdeveloped middle ear. His occupation as a welder also contributed to worsening his hearing loss. “I am excited. I have had two surgeries before but was not 100% okay. I cannot wait to hear people when they speak to me.” said Bohale.
The most influential person behind this new discovery was Professor Mashudu Tshifularo who had been studying conductive hearing loss over the past decade. When his interest turned to 3D printing technologies as a means for solving the intricate physical issues associated with certain types of hearing loss, he realized this highly useful discovery.
In the South African Department of Health press release, Tshifularo stated:
“By replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses and their associated surgical procedure.
We will use titanium for this procedure, which is biocompatible. We use an endoscope to do the replacement, so the transplant is expected to be quick, with minimal scarring.”
Tshifularo told local radio station Jacaranda FM:
“This was one of our patients we have been waiting for, for this reconstruction for almost three years now because they are not affordable … [but] we have done something new in the world and people will remember us for that.”
“Because we are doing it in the country and we are going to manufacture here, it has to be affordable for our people in state hospitals.
It will be very accessible because as long as we can train the young doctors to be able to do this operation, then it will be accessible for them as well.”
Now it comes down to funding and support to continue moving forward with making this treatment accessible. The university’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) requires government funding and private sponsors to ensure this innovation continues forth.
More good news, South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi pledged that the Department of Health will “do everything in our power to assist and mobilize resources to make sure that Prof. Tshifularo gets all the help he needs for this far-reaching innovation.”
There is no shortage of innovative people and incredible creativity on this planet, but does our current economic system truly support this innovation? Does it value things that truly make humanity thrive? Or does it seem like there is always a need for us to convince someone to invest in something that is obviously important for society?
The truth is, we hold back our own healing and thrivability as a species by accepting the belief that our current economic system is the way to go.
Female Sorcerer’s Fascinating Arsenal of Charms Discovered In Pompeii
- The Facts:
On August 12th archaeologists uncovered a trove of jewels in Pompeii that are thought to have been part of a 'sorcerer's treasure trove' used to bring fortune and fertility, and protect against bad luck.
- Reflect On:
As we dive into all of the magic that crystals, amulets, and similar tools have in this day & age, it's even more magical to see this latest finding & remember that we have been utilizing such tools for as long as we can look back all over the world.
My initial reaction to this story was, ‘WOAH. I love and have to share this!’
As someone who has gone on a very specific path in life, my journey has been filled with tools much like these. I am forever fascinated by all things magic (you can tune into my interview with Collective Evolution The Magic Within on CETV to understand this even further if you wish) and when news like this pops into my frequency, it solely reaffirms that there are so many of us out here and that energetic practices are, of course, nothing new.
On August 12th archaeologists in Pompeii discovered an array of amulets, gems, and lucky charms thought by researchers to have belonged to a female sorcerer who could have been a victim of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius more than 2,000 years ago.
More than 100 miniature objects were found in a wooden crate which had all but decomposed except for its bronze hinges. The findings include miniature dolls, phallic amulets, necklace beads, and a tiny skull among other objects made of bone, bronze, glass, and amber. The researchers have come to the hypothesis that they were likely used for adornment or protection by a woman in the years before Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, which later buried the city and its population in volcanic ash.
“They are objects of everyday life in the female world and are extraordinary because they tell micro-stories and biographies of the inhabitants of the city who tried to escape the eruption,” said Pompeii’s general director, Massimo Osanna, in a statement.
See items from the treasure trove below.
“The objects… were found at the Casa del Giardino, the same area where an inscription was recently uncovered that made historians change the date of when they think the Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii took place, shifting it from August 24 to October 24 79 AD.” – ANSA
At this very location, the researchers also discovered a room containing the bodies of ten victims, which included women and children. Archaeologists will use DNA analysis to determine if the victims were related. “Perhaps the precious box belonged to one of these victims,” Osanna suggested. “The iconography of the objects and amulets invoke fortune, fertility, and protection against bad luck,” Osanna said. He has suggested to the Italian news agency Ansa that it could have been a “sorcerer’s treasure trove.”
Since there was no gold found in the trove, it is likely these objects belonged to a servant or a slave, rather than the owner of the house, Osanna told Ansa.
The jewelry will go on display soon at Pompeii’s Palestra Grande in an exhibition set to be a follow-up to its recently closed show on Roman jewelry called “Vanity.”
Though the past potential usage for these items is stressed to be simply a hypothesis at this time, it is incredible to simply see and imagine the time they existed in through these images.
As humans in a material, physical, 3D world, we ourselves are continuously building our own treasure troves in a way. Every piece of jewelry or product we purchase, find, or create flows its way into our homes, cars, pockets, backpacks, etc. and in the end shall remain and live on well beyond us to share a glimpse into our story. What would you like to leave behind? A trunk filled with magical amulets, or a legendary story (or both)?
Though it is nearly impossible to always be thinking of this when adding more ‘stuff’ into our lives, I do believe it serves as a good reflection point that these things are simply that – things – and that the real magic lies within each and every one of us. Remember that the energy and intentions that we at times give to others, things, or tools, is always coming from & through US.
Now, this is not to say that treasures themselves can not be treasured. If you just so happen to love the look, feel, and energy that they give off or wish to utilize these physical objects as an extension of yourself, by all means (and I get it – I’m with you!). As a final note, however, from a real-life gem collector to the hearts of all of you, know that the answer, the love, the magic IS YOU.
Study Shows That Horses Understand Our Emotions & Remember Us Deeply
- The Facts:
In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth have discovered that horses can recognize and recall human expression.
- Reflect On:
We are all interconnected and it is beautiful to see more studies coming up that clearly showcase just how aware and in tune animals can be and are.
The more in tune with myself I strive to become, the more drawn I am to explore how connected we all are – not solely with one another, but with everything. This, like many other deeper concepts surrounding life, begs to answer the ever-present question of ‘are there other emotionally intelligent beings out there?’
One could argue that their dogs or other galactic beings (if real) could be emotionally intelligent, but as we look at all of the research, it is clear that most living organisms actually display a very obvious intelligence. From lobsters to plants, they have all been known to display some form of intelligence. This is precisely what was revealed when a recent study explored horses and their interaction with humans.
Let’s take a step back real quick. If you have ever owned or spent a lot of time riding with one particular horse, chances are good that you’ve felt some sort of special connection with them — and wondered if horses even like humans. Maybe you’ve felt like they were actually your friend, or a small part of your family, and wanted to know if the feeling was reciprocal. Research is now confirming that that connection isn’t all in your head — and anyone who has ever had a pet before, horse or not, definitely won’t be surprised at some of these recent findings.
In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth showed domestic horses photographs of humans with either a happy or angry expression on their faces. Then, later on, the horses were introduced to the same people they saw in the photographs, now with neutral expressions. This new study shows that horses can actually understand and remember human emotions, which is something that makes them seem even more magical than they already did.
“Researchers watched the eye movements of horses as they met the photograph subjects in real life. The horses perceived those who had been photographed with an angry face as more threatening.” – UPI
UPI reports that previous research showed horses tend to focus on negative or threatening objects and events with their left eye, as the right hemisphere of their brain is tasked with assessing risk. In the new experiment, researchers found horses stared at subjects who had been photographed with an angry expression using their left eye.
“What we’ve found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state when they meet them later that day — and, crucially, that they adapt their behavior accordingly,” Karen McComb, a professor at the University of Sussex, said in a news release. “Essentially horses have a memory for emotion.”
Scientists have previously shown horses can recognize expressions, but the latest findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, are the first to show the mammals can recall an expression linked with an individual’s face.
“We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability,” Portsmouth researcher Leanne Proops said. “What’s very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with the person.”
This is a beautiful discovery in and of itself as stated above, outside of ourselves there had not been any recording of other mammals showing this ability.
With more of us beginning to turn inward for growth, it is beautiful to see that more and more research is coming to the forefront revealing our fellow animal kingdom as being connected and in tune with us as much as their surroundings. At times when everything else seems to be chaotic, remember to be still. The real magic within us and our connectedness to everything is what oneness consciousness is all about. You are not alone in this world, let alone in the universe. It is in our awareness that we allow bonds that were seen as less than to blossom — it is in our remembrance of Self that we re-member as One with all.
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