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If the revival of Cosmos turns out well, it will go a long way to offsetting any other perceived sins committed by producer Seth MacFarlane. Given free reign by Fox, the Family Guy creator has overseen an effects-heavy new edition of Carl Sagan’s pioneering science show. This 2014 edition is hosted by the most prominent current bridge between pop culture and science, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and features input from many of the scientists and thinkers who contribute to Sagan’s original series more than 30 years ago. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey appears to span the gulf between the smallest Earthly existence and the far reaches of the universe — simply put, this new trailer makes it look spectacular. Read More »

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Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity landed with a huge splash this weekend, earning near-unanimous critical praise and exceeding all box office predictions to become the biggest October opening in history. Much of the appeal lay in the film’s verisimilitude. As several reviewers put it, Gravity is the closest that most of us non-astronauts will ever get to space.

But wowing general audiences who don’t know the first thing about actual space travel is one thing. Passing muster with experts is quite another. While astronaut Buzz Aldrin wrote that he was “extravagantly impressed,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter to point out everything the movie got wrong. Hit the jump to see what they had to say.

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cosmos-reboot-title-screen

In 1980 Carl Sagan‘s 13-episode PBS series Cosmos became a defining televised document of scientific inquiry and conversation, thanks in part to its unique emphasis on the intersection of big scientific questions and personal experience. Now Fox is creating a new version of Cosmos, from a seemingly unlikely source.

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) wanted to reboot the show, and has worked with original Cosmos writer and producer Ann Druyan (also Sagan’s widow) on a new 13-episode series hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The first new Cosmos trailer was released at Comic Con — for the show which bears the full title Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey — and it looks fantastic. Check out the footage below. Read More »

Some of the science fiction in superhero tales really seems more like pure fantasy — the Hulk and Spider-Man’s origin stories come to mind — but then there are other aspects of the stories that seem more believably rooted in reality. That’s the idea, anyway.

After the jump, read about two attempts to introduce a little more science into the fiction: In an upcoming issue of Action Comics, real-life astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shows up to help Superman find his home planet Krypton, and in an episode of the webseries Fact or Fictional, Veronica Belmont discusses the plausibility of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers.

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It’s a given that movie science needs to be taken with a big fat grain of salt, but even by those standards, some films seem to push the limits of implausibility more than others. And I’m not just talking about obvious nonsense like superpower-bestowing radioactive spider bites here.

So some science-minded folks are fighting back, playfully, by investigating and possibly debunking some of the crazier claims made by Hollywood. On NPR, pop culture’s favorite astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the viability (or lack thereof) of 007′s coolest gadgets, while over on Mythbusters, the hosts cast doubt on James Cameron‘s insistence that Jack had to die at the end of Titanic.

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It’s easy to focus on all the aspects of the San Diego Comic Con that are frustrating or foolish, but every year there are moments that make it worthwhile. One of those at this past SDCC took place during the Starship Smackdown panel, when physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson took the mic, as an audience member, to argue that the original U.S.S. Enterprise design is “the most astonishing, awesome, beautiful, seductive…machinery that has ever graced the screen!”

Enjoy the video of Degrasse-Tyson’s impassioned argument below. Read More »

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