Carl Edward Sagan (1934 – 1996) astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. His contributions were central to the discovery of the high surface temperatures of Venus. However, he is best known for his contributions to the scientific research of extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages that were sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them.
Sagan is known for many of his popular science books, such as The Dragons of Eden, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science and Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. The most widely watched series in the history of American public television, Cosmos has been seen by at least 500 million people across 60 different countries. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. He also wrote the science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name.
Don't forget to read some of his most memorable quotes:
1) “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” (Cosmos)
2) “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” (Cosmos)
3) “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” (Cosmos)
4) “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.” (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
5) “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
6) “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
7) “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
8) “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” (Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science)
9) “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
10) “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” (Contact)
11) “The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” (Contact)
12) “You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.” (Contact)
13) “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.” (Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium)
14) “I don't want to believe. I want to know.
15) “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
16) “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.”
17) “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
18) “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
19) “Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
20) “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
21) “Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?”
22) “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
23) “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
Carl Sagan's Books:
- Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
- The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
- Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science
- Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
- A Science Icon Died 17 Years Ago. In His Last Interview, He Made A Warning That Gives Me Goosebumps.
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