Neil deGrasse Tyson Looks Back at Cosmos

3 minute read

Sure, the galaxy is still here, but Cosmos is over. The 13-episode reboot of the classic science docu-series came to a close on June 8, and the home video version is already available today, June 10. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stopped by TIME’s studios to look back on what the show accomplished — and it was immediately clear that, even when the show’s cameras aren’t rolling, he’s still very much “on.” Asked to count to ten to check his microphone, he counted down instead, noting that, “In ‘the universe’ we count down, because that’s how you launch rockets. Counting up to a number is pointless.”

Though the show had received a fair amount of attention for its head-on approach to hot-button scientific topics like evolution and climate change, Tyson shrugged off any notion that those issues were “controversial.” They’re just science, he said, and there’s nothing controversial about them.

“If you want to have a controversial conversation with people of different philosophical stripe from you, start with the science and then take it from there,” Tyson said. “Abraham Lincoln founded the National Academy of Sciences, tasked with advising the executive branch — the White House — and Congress on all the ways in which the discoveries of science may influence the running of the state, in an attempt to improve the health, the wealth and the security of all its residents. Lincoln was a Republican, last I checked. His brethren are not behaving consistent with his intent.”

Instead, what viewers should be focusing on is the growing popularity of science. In the show’s finale, Tyson made the point that it’s important to expand the group of people who are involved in the sciences, and he says he’s optimistic about that happening.

But don’t count on another Cosmos to help it along any time soon. The original Cosmos was 13 episodes, as is the more recent version, and Tyson says that it should be seen as more of a documentary than a normal TV show that comes in multiple seasons. Because the show tries to present a unified vision of our place within the universe, it’s not so easy to just create episodes that focus on different scientific topics — and that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing anyway, since the content needs to be “digested” more than the average TV content does.

“We’re all flattered that people are thinking [about a Season 2] but it’s not clear that this was the kind of content you want to rattle off one year after the next,” he says. “If some years down the line after my life has recovered, maybe. But I’d like science to be shared by all. If someone else came up and wanted to host it, I don’t have any ego invested in the visibility that hosting Cosmos brought to me.”

In the mean time, Tyson is looking forward to a vacation, and to returning to the academic and family roles that got “bulldozed” to make way for TV. Asking him whether he’d be up for another TV gig is, he says, like asking someone who just gave birth when she wants to have another kid. “I’ve never been female, but I’m imagining,” he says, “that that’s when you get punched in the face.”

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