Over billions of years, planet Earth has become home to an amazing interdependent ecosystem, containing a dizzying variety of animals and plants. But how did life here begin? And does it exist anywhere outside of our solar system? We uncover the secrets of our world by tracking the evolution of the cosmos itself, from the Big Bang onwards. Follow scientists responsible for some of the major breakthroughs in understanding the origins of life and witness how their discoveries are fundamentally changing the way we perceive the universe.
Sagan reflects on the future of humanity and the question of "who speaks for Earth?" when meeting extraterrestrials. He discusses the very different meetings of the Tlingit people and explorer Jean-Francois de La Perouse with the destruction of the Aztecs by Spanish conquistadors, the looming threat of nuclear warfare, and the threats shown by destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. The episode ends with an overview of the beginning of the universe, the evolution of life, and the accomplishments of humanity and makes a plea to mankind to cherish life and continue its journey in the cosmos. The Cosmos Update notes the preliminary reconnaissance of planets with spacecraft, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and measures towards the reduction of nuclear weapons.