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Cosmos was the first science TV blockbuster, and Carl Sagan was its (human) star. By the time of Sagan's death in 1996,
the series had been seen by half a billion people; Sagan was perhaps the best-known scientist on the planet. Explaining
how the series came about, Sagan recalled:
I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in
many kindred scientific topics--the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial
intelligence, our connection with the universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most
powerful communications medium, television.
Sagan's own interest and enthusiasm for the universe were so vivid and infectious, his screen presence so engaging,
that viewers and readers couldn't help but be caught up in his vision. From stars in their "billions and billions" to
the amino acids in the primordial ocean, Sagan communicated a feeling for science as a process of discovery. Inevitably,
some of the science in Cosmos has been outdated in the years since 1980--but Sagan's sense of wonder is ageless. --Mary