Cosmos 2014: The Clean Room

Mid-century Cosmos Noir is not what I was expecting.  When I realized, from the opening animation, that this episode would tell the story of Clair Patterson, I felt a rush.  This man was an unsung lifesaver of the twentieth century, the Norman Borlaug of environmentalism.  This is the kind of story that belongs on Cosmos – the world of the infinitely small as inextricably meshed with our day-to-day lives.

My only complaint is that Thomas Midgley, Jr., the inventor of tetraethyl lead, was not cast as an animated villain.  This man was almost hilariously nefarious.  According to Wikipedia:

On October 30, 1924, Midgley participated in a press conference to demonstrate the apparent safety of TEL. In this demonstration, he poured TEL over his hands, then placed a bottle of the chemical under his nose and inhaled its vapor for sixty seconds, declaring that he could do this every day without succumbing to any problems whatsoever. . . Midgley sought treatment for lead poisoning in Europe a few months after his demonstration at the press conference.


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