Y’all, I think the nerds are winning. As evidence, I present the March 9 premiere of the series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” which broke TV broadcast records by appearing in 181 countries and 45 languages (comparable to Superbowl levels of coverage). It’s surprising given that “Cosmos” is a science documentary where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about stuff like evolution, climate change and the Big Bang. “I wake up every morning saying, ‘How did I get 1.7 million Twitter followers?’” Tyson said in a recent Mother Jones piece about “science’s newfound popularity.”
I’d argue that this is stuff people have always been interested in. Science is cool, it just needs the right packaging, sometimes. Who among us doesn’t have fond childhood memories of “Bill Nye” or the original 1980 “Cosmos” with Carl Sagan? Mary Roach is a New York Times bestselling author, and she writes about stuff like decaying corpses and digestion. Science memes on the internet have a lot to do with it, too; science textbooks can be dense and obtuse, but a pithy Carl Sagan quote captioning a photo or the Facebook page “I fucking love science”? That’s easy enough to like and understand.
Here in Missoula, local “Cosmos” enthusiasts are hosting get-togethers to watch the show, including informal gatherings at the VFW. The Missoula Area Secular Society is hosting a regular party at the Iron Horse’s second-floor lounge while the show airs on Sunday nights through June. And by party, I mean quietly sitting around in awe—so get there before show time to order food and drinks and shush up.
You don’t even need a fancy cable TV package to watch “Cosmos,” either—the hip, intellectual network showing it here in the U.S. is, um, FOX. Cheers to a better-informed world.—Kate Whittle