More than three decades after "Cosmos" first came to television, President Barack Obama kicked off the 21st-century version of the science show with a tribute to astronomer Carl Sagan and his successors.
"America has always been a nation of fearless explorers, who dream bigger and reach farther than others imagine," Obama said in a 30-second clip that led off Sunday's premiere. "That's the spirit of discovery that Carl Sagan captured in the original 'Cosmos.'
"Today we're doing everything we can to bring that same sense of possibility to a new generation - because there are new frontiers to explore, and we need Americans eager to explore them."
Sagan, arguably the best-known science communicator of his generation, was the host of the first "Cosmos" series back in 1980. He passed away in 1996, but the "Cosmos" torch has been passed to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for the new 13-episode series airing on Fox and National Geographic channels.
Tyson was one of the stars last month at a White House Film Festival — and got in on a widely distributed selfie with the president on his home turf in Washington. Sunday night's cameo served as another way to solidify the connections linking science, politics and pop culture.
"There are no limits, so open your eyes and open your imaginations," Obama told the TV audience. "The next great discovery could be yours."
If you missed Sunday's opener, you'll get another chance on Monday night when the new "Cosmos" airs on the National Geographic Channel. Full episodes will be available on mobile devices via the Fox Now mobile app, and there's a fancier "Cosmos" app in the works for Android and Apple devices.
First published March 9 2014, 8:43 PM
Alan Boyle is the science editor for NBC News Digital. He joined MSNBC.com at its inception in July 1996, and took on the science role in July 1997 with the landing of NASA's Mars Pathfinder probe. Boyle is responsible for coverage of science and space for NBCNews.com.
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Boyle joined NBCNews.com from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he was the foreign desk editor from 1987 to 1996. Boyle has won awards for science journalism from numerous organizations, including the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Science Writers. Boyle is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." He lives in Bellevue, Wash.