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Carl Sagan vs. Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Battle For The Cosmos

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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.

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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?

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Carl Sagan

 

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.

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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.”

Neil Degrasse Tyson

Neil Degrasse Tyson

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.

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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

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

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Scientists Discover A New & Efficient Way To Turn Sunlight Into Fuel

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new process is able to effectively turn sunlight into fuel by combining natural processes and human made technologies.

  • Reflect On:

    With all of the emerging alternative energy sources that are becoming available to us, do we really need to be burning fossil fuels any longer?

The sun is a big burning ball of fire and thus, energy. Really, everything is energy. We already know that it is the light and warmth of the sun that gives life to every living thing on this planet. We have already seen an example of how the sun’s energy can be utilized to create power with the rapidly increasing use of solar panels, but researchers from St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, have now discovered a new way to utilize energy from the sun and turn it into fuel. Yes fuel — the type of fuel that could directly compete with fossil fuels.

The researchers used semi-artificial photosynthesis to explore new ways to produce and store solar energy. Using natural sunlight to separate hydrogen and oxygen including the use of a combination of biological components and human made technologies.

This research could revolutionize the way we are currently utilizing the sun for renewable energy production. Their method was able to absorb even more solar light than the natural process of photosynthesis. A paper, published in the journal Nature Energy described how the researchers were able to develop this process of unassisted, solar driven water splitting.

One of the authors of the study and PhD student at St. John’s college, Katarzyna Sokól said, “Natural photosynthesis is not efficient because it has evolved merely to survive so it makes the bare minimum amount of energy needed — around 1-2 percent of what it could potentially convert and store. “

One of the keys to this process is an ancient enzyme known as hydrogenase.

“Hydrogenase is an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen,” Sokól added.

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“During evolution this process has been deactivated because it was necessary for survival but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to achieve the reaction we wanted — splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.”

The process of mimicking photosynthesis in order to collect and store energy is something that scientists have been experimenting with for years. However, according to Sokól, the earlier technologies are not capable of scaling up to industrial models for a myriad of different reasons — either they are too expensive, or inefficient of use materials could also pose a risk to the environment.

The team took the approach to create an electrochemical cell, similar to a traditional battery, but based on the light-collecting biochemistry of a process called photosystem II. This was able to provide the necessary voltage that is required for the hydrogenase enzyme to do do it’s job and reduce the amount of hydrogen in water so that it can separate from oxygen and become the gas it was born to be.

Although this process may sound simple, connecting artificial systems with natural and organic processes has proved to be quite challenging.

“This work overcomes many difficult challenges associated with the integration of biological and organic components into inorganic materials for the assembly of semi-artificial devices and opens up a toolbox for developing future systems for solar energy conversion,” says, Erwin Resner, author and laboratory head.

There is much more research that needs to be done, but this is a huge and important step towards being able to fully utilize this method for an alternate fuel source.

“This could be a great platform for developing solar technologies. The approach could be used to couple other reactions together to see what can be done, learn from these reactions and then build synthetic, more robust pieces of solar energy technology,” says Sokól.

“It’s exciting that we can selectively choose the processes we want, and achieve the reaction we want which is inaccessible in nature. This could be a great platform for developing solar technologies. The approach could be used to couple other reactions together to see what can be done, learn from these reactions and then build synthetic, more robust pieces of solar energy technology,” she added.

Final Note

While this is certainly a plus in the direction of moving toward new energy systems, these technologies have advanced counterparts in the realm of zero-point energy that can make an even greater impact on humanity, without the need for sunlight.

The challenge? It has often been said that if ‘free energy’ like technologies come out prior to humanity shifting their consciousness enough to truly handle these technologies, we will in essence use them in the exact same way we do now: patent them, limit them and then charge people extensively for energy. This does not help to free the population, but only keeps it enslaved, and abundance limited.

Much Love

 

 

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Wi-Fi Security – Measures to Prevent Technology Enabled Crimes

Every Wi-Fi user must know how to adopt security measures that will prevent them from becoming victims of wireless technology crimes.

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Considered as one of the greatest advancement since the Internet, Wi-Fi wireless networking technology has given mobility to computers. People use wireless technology in the office, at home, and in public places. Unless Wi-Fi users adopt some sort of security, various problems can result when computers transmit unsecured information to one another.

Bandwidth theft, exposed e-mail messages, password or user name theft, and hijacked online identity rank among the top problems brought about by unsecured Wi-Fi transmissions. Every Wi-Fi user must know how to secure their computer.

Use WPA Instead of WEP Encryption

Encryption protocols are used to make network traffic more secure by encoding data packets that are transmitted thereon. Unfortunately, some wireless routers don’t have encryption enable or use the weaker WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) security protocol.

It is well known that WEP security keys are easy to break and therefore network administrators should use the WPA or WPA2 protocols. Even if a router doesn’t support the more secure WPA or WPA2 protocols, WEP should be used; it is better than nothing.

Install a Firewall on Every Computer and Server

A firewall is the most basic and fundamental network security measure there is to secure wireless networks. While Wi-Fi routers can be used to extend the range of networks, they also make the network more vulnerable. A firewall will need to be installed on every computer to ward off security threats. This should be done even if the wireless router has a firewall installed on it.

Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)

B­asically, VPNs form a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. VPNs use authenticated links to make sure that only authorized users can connect to a network. It also uses encryption to make sure that others can’t intercept and can’t use data that travels over the Internet. Numerous websites offer both free and paid VPN versions. VPNbase is one of them.

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Reduce the Transmitter Power of Network Access Points

Part of the convenience of using wireless networks is the ability to access services remotely. This strength also becomes a weakness, because others can see, and potentially use the network as well, especially when a powerful transmitter/antenna is being used.

To limit how far outside the premises the wireless signal travels, reduce the power output of wireless antennas. This requires some tweaking to find the right setting, because reducing the signal output of antennas also reduces the network’s service delivery and quality.

Disable Remote Administration

WLAN (wireless local area network) routers often come with the ability for a network administrator to remotely configure the router. By default, this feature is usually turned off and should stay that way if remote administration is not absolutely necessary. While network administrators can usually set passwords, to secure access to the router’s control panel, leaving the feature enabled could leave the network vulnerable as well.

Remove or Disable Weak Passwords and Access Codes

Ensure that all default passwords and access codes that come preset on network equipment are changed or disabled. Access the router’s web interface and update all settings that have a bearing on network security. Be sure the use strong passwords as well.

Physically Secure your Wireless Network Equipment

Hardware devices typically come with a hard reset button. Making network equipment readily available to be physically handled by anyone who wishes to do so puts the network at risk. Secure all critical and sensitive equipment in rooms or equipment racks.

Don’t Broadcast the Network’s SSID

To allow for the easy setup of wireless clients, most wireless access points will broadcast the SSID (Service Set IDentifier), or network name. While broadcasting the SSID makes setting up wireless clients easier, it also makes WLANs visible to wireless devices that are within range, including those that are malicious. Turn off SSID broadcast to make the network invisible and more secure.

Simple Wireless Network Security

Ensuring that a wireless network is secure is an ongoing responsibility. Wireless network threats, such as those posed by hackers and viruses can be thwarted by some common sense approaches such as physically securing network equipment and using strong encryption methods and technologies. However, the most effective security measures are those that seek to cover all the known security vulnerabilities.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Germline Genome Editing: Scientists Consider Altering The Genes In Babies Before They’re Born

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Soon we could be able to edit the DNA of unborn fetuses to prevent them from developing certain diseases.

  • Reflect On:

    Just because we can do something does it mean we should do it? At what point have we gone too far, should we just let nature take care of these things?

What was once something coming directly from sci-fi movies depicting the future, is now soon to be a reality — editing the genes in babies before they are born could help them live decades longer and reduce the risk of developing cancer, according to some controversial new research. This process is known as germline genome editing.

These DNA-editing tools, known as CRSIPR-CAS9, could be used to ‘make us more resistant to diseases of old age’ when used on egg and sperm cells, according to Dr. Roman Teo Olyink from the University of Auckland.

By altering just a few or even a hundred of the genes that typically code the conditions for heart disease, Alzheimer’s or arthritis, those unborn babies who would otherwise be at risk because of a family history of such disorders may be able to live longer and have more years being healthy, according to the research.

The greatest benefit of the gene-altering would be in the realm of developing cancer. An at-risk fetus would be half as likely to develop the disease and could live up to two decades longer if cancer was still to develop, the scientists claim.

Other scientists who are skeptical of this procedure feel that by editing a person’s risk of one disease, it could end up making them more susceptible to another. The gene editing also doesn’t account for the fact that poor health is often brought on by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Cancer Risk Could Be Significantly Reduced

Researchers looked at a collection of genes that affect a person’s risk level of developing certain conditions. By looking at which genes an individual has, their risk of developing certain diseases can be assessed. Then, they were able to determine whether or not someone who has a higher than average risk of developing a specific disease would have been less susceptible had they undergone the gene editing procedure before birth.

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Dr. Olinyk claims that the results would be dramatic and these people who had undergone this procedure would live healthier for longer and have a significantly lower risk of even becoming ill at all. “This research shows that we could potentially use gene editing to make us all resistant to diseases of old age. Cancers on the model show a very significant and lasting improvement,” he said.

How Much Is Really Genetic?

For something like Alzheimer’s disease where the gene is literally passed on to the next family members, this procedure could be hugely beneficial. But for other diseases that are only genetic if something triggers or awakens the genes to cause disease or illness, shouldn’t we be educating people on the role that environmental factors play in the development of disease?

In a way, this procedure could be taking away an opportunity to empower ourselves and get to the root cause of our illnesses, be they emotional or physical. The environments we live in, the food we eat, and our lifestyles all play a role in the development of disease, even if that disease is one that tends to run in our families.

I have heard before that most diseases that are considered genetic are only developed if we live a similar lifestyle as our parents and follow in their footsteps in regards to our diets. It’s only genetic if we eat like our parents. By just assuming that we will get sick or contract a disease because our parents did and their parents did is giving away our power to heal and stop the genetic cycle of disease from our families.

Other Issues Of Concern

If this technology can indeed be used to alter genes by removing ones that may cause disease or illness, then later down the road it can certainly be used to add genes with certain characteristics as well. Parents could choose what eye and hair color their children will have or how tall they will be. How many parents would strive to build the genetically perfect basketball player?

Is the ability to alter these genes taking things too far? Should we just let nature do it’s thing? Or is this technology becoming available to us now because we are advanced enough to handle it? What are your thoughts? We want to hear from you, comment on this post below and let us know what you think about gene-altering technology.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading
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