OKJ at "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" press conference
I was at the ArtScience Museum for the press conference of the global launch of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
Singapore was the only Asian stop in the global promotion tour, with other stops in London, Sydney and Mexico City. And so you can imagine how I felt when I got the invitation for the press conference.
More than three decades after Carl Sagan's original series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage had inspired a generation to pursue, teach, and do science, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aims to inspire yet another generation with new modes of scientific storytelling.
Cosmos is hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the many who was inspired by Carl Sagan.
He was here with Ann Druyan, wife of the late Carl Sagan and one of the collaborators of the original series, to answer some of our burning questions.
To me, this was a dream come true. I started this blog with one of its ambitions being to enter the world of documentaries.
The fact that I was in the same room as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a man whom before I could only see on a flat screen as he explained (sometimes humorously) science, was incredible.
After a fantastic screening of the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which you can catch on 15 March 2014, 10:00pm (SIN/HK), on the National Geographic Channel, it was finally time for the long awaited Q&A session.
I sat in the front row and while waiting for my turn, I couldn't help but shiver in excitement.
I rehearsed, in my head, the words I would say -
Firstly thank you for coming to Singapore and for your continuous efforts in reminding this generation, or more specifically my generation (those 20 years old and younger), that space and science are both awesome and interesting.
To that point, this generation is much more distracted than any other. With the internet and social media constantly fighting for their attention, how would Cosmos fare as it tries to achieve the same as the original series did 30 years ago?
Soon I was able to ask my question. I stood up as a small humble blogger amongst a crowd of seasoned journalist representing reputable organisations.
Between Dr. Neil Tyson and I were a mere 5 steps. He nods as I asked my question, and during that moment, it truly seemed that I was having a one-on-one conversation with the man.
He digested my question for awhile, then looked back and responded -
Some people blame social media for people not having other ambitions. They just focus on their devices all day long and never look up or out - and the urge is to blame the social media.
I look at it a little differently. I don't think you should blame the social media. You should blame the absence of other forces that are strong enough to take their attention and I'd like to believe that Cosmos might be one of those forces where they are thinking about space - all kinds of space. As Ann just said one of the spaces that we enter (in the series) is a dew drop. So that's not the rest of the universe, its a different aspect of the same universe.
And (with) the visual splendours and storytelling, I'd like to think that people can take their dreams from who did they just friend on Facebook to what is before us and our future and how can we make a difference in that future - empowered and enlightened by the methods and tools of science and technology.
So yes it will surely be talked about in the social media but I'd like to think it has an uplifting force to get people to think big.
Ann Druyan then added that there will be a companion app for the series and that Cosmos' presence will surely be felt on the many social media platforms.
She described a scene in the series, where Dr Neil Tyson looks into the camera and asks, "Can you hear me? Can you see me? How?". It is a simple question that the majority of us who uses social media no longer ask, but one that holds great knowledge as the underlying science that makes it all possible.
Cosmos will answer such questions through vivid storytelling and animation, explaining complex science in layman terms, all while maintaining the mystifying nature that is our universe.
I look forward to the première of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which will be the largest global launch ever for a TV series. The series airs internationally on Fox outlets in 125 countries and National Geographic outlets in 180 countries within a week of the series' US debut on 9 March 2014 in 44 different languages - and hope that it does inspire our generation to gaze upon the universe on the final frontier.
You can find Cosmos on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on the series. And check out the trailer below as you prepare to be taken on the ride of your life in the "Spaceship of the Imagination"