Neil Tyson explores the surprising connection between the age of the Earth and the dangers of lead.
Today's audiences are not accustomed to this sort of fare, and the show certainly hasn't been a runaway success when judged by the most traditional metric: ratings. Last night, though,Cosmos powerfully demonstrated that those who haven't watched it yet really ought to give it a shot (watch here). Simply put, Cosmos told a magnificent scientific story that drew together (yes, really) the tale of how we determined the age of the Earth (about 4.5 billion years old) and of how one courageous scientist showed, in the face of intense challenges, the dangers of leaded gasoline.
The story centers on on Clair Patterson, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology whose personal research trajectory explains this surprising overlap. Who knew that environmental-health insights would emerge from an inquiry in geology and physics? But that's the thing about science: It leads you in surprising directions, and sometimes, vested interests don't like where you end up.