PBS (ended 2005)




Episode Guide


  • Season 1
    • Who Speaks for Earth?
      In this final episode, Dr. Carl Sagan reviews the previous episodes and how they relate to each other. What has history taught us? How did we get to the level of understanding we're at now? What's the best way to increase our knowledge of the Cosmos in the future? There have been big mistakes made by mankind in the past and as our knowledge increases our mistakes could lead to our destruction. How can we avoid that? He discusses the murder of Hypatia, the female scientist of ancient Alexandria, and the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, which was once the largest in the world. Dr. Sagan points out how vulnerable the Earth is to the toxic substances mankind churns out on a regular basis. The greenhouse effect, pollution, and nuclear weapons affect the earth, and have the capacity to damage the ecobalance, perhaps forever. He then brings up the subject of time travel, and winds up with his favorite topic, searching for life elsewhere in the universe.moreless
    • Encyclopedia Galactica
      Are we alone in the cosmos or are there other technological civilizations out there? How can we search for them? How would we "decode" a message from them? Is there real evidence that we've already been visited? Are UFOs real? Dr. Sagan asks and answers such questions as "What is the life span of a planetary civilization?" and "Will we one day hook up with a network of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy?"moreless
    • The Persistence of Memory
      How does a brain work? When does the structure of a brain produce true intelligence? What is the relationship between brain size and behavior. How are libraries an extension of our brains? In this installment, Dr. Sagan discusses the human brain, guiding the viewer through a maze of a brain model to demonstrate the intricacies of thought. He compares the intelligence of a whale to that of a human, and offers an explanation of how all the information needed for survival is stored in human genetic material and brains, and in books.moreless
    • The Edge of Forever
      How did the universe come to be? What is the "big bang"? How did we arrive at such an unbelievable explanation for the creation of the Cosmos? Will the universe last forever or disappear back into nowhere? Where does intelligence begin? Dr. Sagan goes to India to check the Hindu cycles of cosmology. Then, thanks to computer simulation and other special effects, he falls into a black hole, only to emerge in New Mexico as he demonstrates The Very Large Array, a radio astronomy observatory consisting of 27 radio telescopes listening to outer space.moreless
    • The Lives of the Stars
      This episode covers the birth, evolution and death of stars. In fact, everything around us, even the atoms in our bodies is made of 'star stuff'. Special effects depict the collapse of stars which precede the formation of neutron stars and black holes. Dr. Sagan guides the viewer five billion years into the future, when the Sun will flare out, encompassing the Earth in its explosive death.moreless
    • Travels in Space and Time
      What is a "Light Year"? Will we ever be able to tour the universe in spaceships, and if so, how will we do it? Is time travel possible and what would be its effects? Einstein's theory says that as a space ship moves faster, time onboard would slow down and the mass of the ship would become greater. Dr. Sagan also travels to Italy and introduces the young Einstein as he ponders beams of light and their speed.moreless
    • The Backbone of Night
      Many people are upset that we stopped going to the Moon. There was another time on the ancient island of Samos when Science flourished for a while, but then faded away. Carl Sagan explains how science almost took off centuries before its rediscovery in Europe. The stars were thought to be campfires in the heavens, and the great expanse of stars known as the Milky Way was the "backbone of the night." Dr. Sagan goes back to his childhood elementary school where the question "What are stars?" is the subject of discussion.moreless
    • Travelers' Tales
      Travelers' Tales
      Episode 6
      Examines Voyager II's tour of Jupiter and its moons. Many photos of both and learn how the data we received was processed and transmitted. Compares the Voyager missions to Jupiter and Saturn to the excitement to the adventuring spirit of the early Dutch explorers who traveled unknown seas for the first time. Their discoveries led to further knowledge of previously unheard of wonders and riches, comparable to the invaluable data retrieved by the spacecraft.moreless
    • Blues for a Red Planet
      This episode examines both the planet Mars and humanity's perception of the planet, beginning with the science-fiction author H.G. Wells and Percival Lowell's sighting of the "canals." Carl Sagan explores how we progressed from fantasy to fact through science. What is the future for Mars? Could it be transformed into an Earth-like planet? The viewers see actual photos from the Mariner and Viking probes. Dr. Sagan uses special effects to travel to Mars, as seen by authors of science fiction novels. He then contrasts this with pictures of the surface of Mars taken by the Viking spacecraft.moreless
    • Heaven and Hell
      Heaven and Hell
      Episode 4
      For generations mankind wondered whether the universe came into existence quickly or over a long period of time. Actually, some of the evolutionary processes of creation occurred in a fraction of a billionth of a second and some others took billions of years! This episode takes a look at the Voyager missions to Jupiter and Saturn, and compares the excitement to the adventuring spirit of the early Dutch explorers who traveled unknown seas for the first time. Their discoveries led to further knowledge of previously unheard of wonders and riches, comparable to the invaluable data retrieved by the spacecraft.moreless
    • The Harmony of the Worlds
      A tour back in time exploring how pre-scientific mankind viewed the universe and then comparing that with how the first scientists saw it. Carl Sagan explains how Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton developed their theories. Johannes Kepler, the first modern astronomer (who also wrote the first science fiction novel), is profiled. His influence on today's views on planetary motion is explored.moreless
    • One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
      How did life begin and evolve? What is DNA and how does it work? Dr. Sagan makes these complex subjects accessible to the average viewer. His cosmic calendar outlines the history of the universe and highlights Earth's origins and the evolution of life. Dr. Sagan speculates about life on other worlds and what form it may take.moreless
    • The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
      How large is the Earth compared to the universe as a whole? How long have life and humans existed on Earth compared to the age of the universe? How did humans figure out that the Earth is round and how big it is? This episode contains the "Cosmic Calendar" segment. Dr. Sagan goes deep into space with the help of special effects to visit star clusters, supernovas, pulsars, quasars, and exploding galaxies. At the conclusion, he takes viewers to a re-creation of the 2,000-year-old Alexandrian Library.moreless