Cosmos is a science documentary series for people who aren’t into science. In fact, the person behind the show, by her admission, didn’t come from a science background. “I couldn’t do the math [either],” says Ann Druyan, the creator of Cosmos: Possible Worlds. Her initial fascination with science was limited to the scientific philosophies of Democritus and Aritstotle.
It was her late husband, the renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, who got her interested in science.
Druyan and Sagan, created the groundbreaking 1980 TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. A follow-up, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, came out in 2014 and won a few Emmys. The third season, Cosmos: Possible Worlds — which is also the title of Druyan’s book — is currently showing on National Geographic Channel (and streaming on Fox+).
You don’t need to be a science geek to enjoy Cosmos, just a degree in curiosity. That, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge about the way the universe works. On Cosmos, science and history aren’t presented like stuffy lectures, but more like absorbing campfire stories (aided by spiffy digital wizardry and Tyson’s hypnotic voice).
“These ideas are knowable for people like us,” Druyan, 70, tells 8days.sg over the phone from New York. “Because we are a story-driven species — we need stories, we love stories, I love them.” It’s through compelling storytelling that the viewer finds their way to those ideas. “The dream of Cosmos is to empower everyone to be an informed decision-maker and to be able to tell when they’re being deceived.”
Here, Druyan shares her experiences working on Cosmos: Possible Worlds, explains the decision behind casting her daughter in a pivotal role, and reflects on the influence of Contact, the Jodie Foster-starring movie based on Sagan’s 1985 book, have on young people. "When you make something that has a positive impact on people, it’s really a beautiful thing," she says.