Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiered at a special event today, and on television on Sunday.
The show aims to popularize science, and I think it will do a better job than the original did. Regardless your opinion on the host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, he is a great choice. He gives a face to the traditionally underrepresented minorities in the sciences. He isn’t just another white guy telling you what’s up. Here is a black man that everyone listens to and everyone respects.
Perhaps a year ago, I attended a seminar at the American Museum of Natural History where the speaker talked about underrepresented minority participation in astronomy. Early in the talk, she presented the following graph, which shows the number of Ph.D.s granted to underrepresented minorities year by year:
From this paper concerned with the underrepresented minorities in astronomy.
Tyson gets up and points to the screen, “This one was me!” He pointed at the blue blip at 1991 (check his CV). That data point was him. No other black person in the entire country received their Ph.D. in astronomy that year. Talk about lonely.
I hope this series will do more than promote that science is as natural as breathing and that our world contains plenty of wonder. I hope that people become inspired to think clearly. Perhaps having Tyson as a host will show that being black or hispanic is not a bad thing, that you can do astronomy too. I hope that the established majority in astronomy (the white people) will start to actively encourage diversity rather than turning a blind eye to it. I hope it is time for a change.