‘Origins’ takes on life, the universe and everything

Alan Boyle reports for MSNBC:

Darwin_1 You’d think explaining the beginnings of the universe would be enough for astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. But no: In “Origins,” a new book and public-TV miniseries, the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium goes beyond the Big Bang to take on the rise of the solar system, life and intelligence as well. Any one of those subjects is worthy of being covered in a documentary series at least as ambitious as “Origins,” which premieres Tuesday and Wednesday on PBS. And indeed they have been, in productions ranging from “Evolution” to “Life Beyond Earth” to the granddaddy of them all, Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos.”

So why is Tyson tying all these cosmic subjects together in a four-hour package? He says that’s the very point he’s trying to bring home. “Only in the last five years have there been the right kinds of advances in the right kinds of fields to be able to do a miniseries on origins,” he told MSNBC.com. “This is ‘Origins’ with a big O, so it’s not just origins of human beings. This is origins of the whole shebang.” Tyson shows how scientists are blending astrophysics, geology, chemistry, biology and even paleontology to knit together insights about the structure of the universe, the creation of planets and the foundations of life itself.

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