Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Case Study No. 1818: "The chief librarians of Alexandria"

The Library of Alexandria
The city of Alexandria once possessed the greatest library on earth! COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY AIRS MONDAYS at 9P.
Tags: Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey Unafraid of the Dark cosmos video library Alexandria knowledge books The Library of Alexandria
Added: 7 months ago
From: NationalGeographic
Views: 6,440

[scene opens with a CGI representation of what the Library of Alexandria might've looked like]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] The dream of becoming a citizen of the cosmos was born here, more than two millennia ago, in the city of Alexandria. Named after and conceived by its dead conqueror, Alexander the Great.
[cut to Tyson walking through the library, speaking directly to the camera]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: The Ptolemys, the Greek kings who inherited the Egyptian portion of Alexander's empire, built this library ...
[cut to an aerial view of the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] And its associated research institution.
[cut back to Tyson inside the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Rarely, if ever, before or since, has there been a government that was willing to spend so much of its gross national product on the acquisition of knowledge ... And it paid off. Big time.
[cut to another interior shot of the library, with walls of shelves containing papyrus scrolls]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] Every ship entering Alexandria's harbor was searched ... not for contraband, but for books that might be copied and stored here, in what was then the greatest library on Earth.
[cut to another shot of Tyson in the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Here, Eratosthenes, one of the chief librarians, accurately calculated the size of the Earth and invented geography.
[he walks towards one of the shelves, reading the names off of various scrolls]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Pythagoras ... Hypatia ... Euclid.
[he takes one of the scrolls off the shelf and opens it]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Euclid set forth the precepts of geometry in a textbook that remained in use for twenty three hundred years.
[he puts it back on the shelf]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: The Old Testament bible comes down to us mainly from the Greek translations made here.
[he sits down in a nearby chair]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: The original manuscripts of the masterpieces of Greek comedy and drama, poetry, science, engineering, medicine, and history ...
[cut to another interior shot of the library, then back to Tyson]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: The total work product of the awakening of ancient civilization ... was kept here.
[cut to a wide angle shot of Tyson sitting in the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Eastimates vary on the total number of scrolls ... they range from five hundred thousand to nearly a million. And all of it ...
[he turns and motions towards the shelves behind him]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: All of this, is but a tiny fraction of the information that you have at your fingertips at this very moment.
[cut to another interior shot of the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] The collective knowledge of our species ...
[cut to an exterior shot of the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] Our own electronic Library of Alexandria may be accessed by anyone who has a device and the interest and the freedom to do so.
[cut to an aerial view of the library]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] This was not true in Alexandria, where knowledge belonged to the elite. So, in the fourth century AD, when the mob came to destroy the library and the genius of classical civilization ...
[the camera pans up towards the sky]
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [in voice over] There were not enough people to defend it. What will happen the next time the mob comes?


From wikipedia.org:

"Unafraid of the Dark" is the thirteenth and last episode of the American documentary television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and its series finale. It premiered on June 8, 2014, on Fox and aired on June 9, 2014, on the National Geographic Channel. The episode was written by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, and directed by Ann Druyan, making this her series directorial debut. The episode explores the mystery of dark energy, as well as the contributions and theories of Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky, who furthered our understanding of "supernovae, neutron stars and 'standard candles.'" The finale reveals a recording of life on Earth - the final message on the golden record of the space probe, Voyager. The episode ends with Carl Sagan's (host of the original Cosmos) iconic speech on Earth as the "pale blue dot."

Episode Summary
This episode begins at the Library of Alexandria. In 1912 Victor Hess was ballooning in Austria. He detected that the radiation at an altitude of 5 km was twice as strong as at sea level. He discovered the cosmic radiation. Fritz Zwicky observed supernovae and named one type of remnant as neutron star, which was found 35 years later as pulsars. He also predicted gravitational lenses 40 years before they were observed. In the 1930s he observed galaxies in the Coma Cluster and discovered that they moved too fast because of a mysterious component he called dark matter. In the 1970s Vera Rubin observed 60 galaxies and their outer stars all moved faster than expected. Tyson compares the foam of the waves with visible matter, and the rest of the waves with the dark matter.

A certain type of supernova is five billion times brighter than our Sun, and is a standard candle. According to two independent surveys in 1998 the most distant supernovae observed appear dimmer than expected. The interpretation is that the expansion of the Universe is speeding up. This leads to one of the biggest mysteries of the universe: dark energy, the unknown force in the universe that overwhelms gravity on the grandest scale.

Tyson introduces the Voyager probes and their discoveries. 35 years after its launch Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause. Two million years ago the heliopause crossed the Earth due to a supernova explosion. The manganese nodules of the deep sea floor have tell-tale radioactive iron isotopes from a supernova. The people of antiquity's clay tablets and bronze monuments are compared to the Voyagers' golden records, with e.g. greetings in 59 languages. In 1990 Voyager 1 took the Portrait of the Planets where the Earth is a Pale Blue Dot. Carl Sagan reads aloud his reflections.

The series ends with the empty seated Ship of the Imagination leaving Earth and traveling through space as Tyson looks on on planet Earth. (This follows the "empty chair" sequence in which the Ship of the Imagination's interior is viewed with a driver)


From zap2it.com:

Tyson brings up a rather interesting subplot in his discussion of the dark forces of the universe: the angry mob. The episode begins in the semi-fabled Library of Alexandria, notoriously destroyed in later years by a "mob," as Tyson put it.

He doesn't say it explicitly, but the blame for the end of the Library has always been laid at the feet of religiously motivated groups (a controversial point in history). Thus, "What will happen the next time the mob comes?" is a question that totally hints at anti-science crusaders destroying our digital world of wonders.

"Cosmos" does stick to its themes, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment