Episode Seven of Cosmos is another of my very favorites. Sagan starts with a question I remember asking as a boy: what are the stars?
He goes to his old elementary school and shares his sense of wonder with a group of ten-year-olds. He hands out photographs from the Voyager probes to Jupiter. He answers their questions with depth and passion and gentleness. He really is a teacher in these scenes. I don’t know how much these teaching moments meant to me back in 1980, when I was an enraptured 12-year-old, but they certainly mean a lot to me now.
We are each on a personal journey. We start in a place – “What are the stars? Where did the world come from? Is there any such thing as a piece of water, or a piece of air?” – and the answers we find lead us along new paths. That’s why I’m not so interested in teaching cutting edge science. All science is cutting edge for someone. It’s all a journey. It’s all going from one place to another, and every discovery, when you make it yourself for the first time, is wondrous. I’m after that moment.