Carl Sagan who planted the seed of science in many young minds was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, and astrobiologist. If you are a science junkie or someone who is interested in learning about life’s mysterious ways. Then you must have come across many of Sagan’s videos, where he talks about the mystery that is life, coupling it with science and philosophy.
About Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934- December 20, 19960):
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Sagan was indeed a science popularizer and a science communicator. His most talked-about work was his research on extraterrestrial life. He was also the one to assemble the first physical message that was sent into space: The Pioneer Plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that can be deciphered by any extraterrestrial intelligence.
Career milestones of Carl Sagan:
In his lifetime Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was the author, co-author, and editor of more than 20 books. He penned many popular science books such as– The Dragons of Eden, Broca’s Brain, and Pale Blue Dot.
Sagan even narrated and co-wrote the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which is the most widely watched TV series in the history of American Public Television. It has been watched by at least 500 million people across 60 different countries. He even took home two Emmy Awards for it.
In the field of Science and Research, Sagan received numerous awards and honours including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book “The Dragons of Eden” and many others.
Without further ado let’s read Carl Sagan’s quotes from his book ‘Pale Blue Dot’ and ‘Shadows of Forgotten Strangers’:
“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.”
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
“Fireflies out on a warm summer’s night, seeing the urgent, flashing, yellow-white phosphorescence below them, go crazy with desire; moths cast to the winds an enchantment potion that draws the opposite sex, wings beating hurriedly, from kilometers away; peacocks display a devastating corona of blue and green and the peahens are all aflutter; competing pollen grains extrude tiny tubes that race each other down the female flower’s orifice to the waiting egg below; luminescent squid present rhapsodic light shows, altering the pattern, brightness and color radiated from their heads, tentacles, and eyeballs; a tapeworm diligently lays a hundred thousand fertilized eggs in a single day; a great whale rumbles through the ocean depths uttering plaintive cries that are understood hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, where another lonely behemoth is attentively listening; bacteria sidle up to one another and merge; cicadas chorus in a collective serenade of love; honeybee couples soar on matrimonial flights from which only one partner returns; male fish spray their spunk over a slimy clutch of eggs laid by God-knows-who; dogs, out cruising, sniff each other’s nether parts, seeking erotic stimuli; flowers exude sultry perfumes and decorate their petals with garish ultraviolet advertisements for passing insects, birds, and bats; and men and women sing, dance, dress, adorn, paint, posture, self-mutilate, demand, coerce, dissemble, plead, succumb, and risk their lives.
To say that love makes the world go around is to go too far. The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since. But the nearly maniacal devotion to sex and love by most of the plants, animals, and microbes with which we are familiar is a pervasive and striking aspect of life on Earth. It cries out for explanation. What is all this in aid of? What is the torrent of passion and obsession about? Why will organisms go without sleep, without food, gladly put themselves in mortal danger for sex? … For more than half the history of life on Earth organisms seem to have done perfectly well without it.
What good is sex?… Through 4 billion years of natural selection, instructions have been honed and fine-tuned…sequences of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, manuals written out in the alphabet of life in competition with other similar manuals published by other firms. The organisms become the means through which the instructions flow and copy themselves, by which new instructions are tried out, on which selection operates.
‘The hen,’ said Samuel Butler, ‘is the egg’s way of making another egg.’ It is on this level that we must understand what sex is for. … The sockeye salmon exhaust themselves swimming up the mighty Columbia River to spawn, heroically hurdling cataracts, in a single-minded effort that works to propagate their DNA sequences into future generation. The moment their work is done, they fall to pieces. Scales flake off, fins drop, and soon–often within hours of spawning–they are dead and becoming distinctly aromatic.
They’ve served their purpose.
Nature is unsentimental.
Death is built in.”
― Carl Sagan, Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search For Who We Are
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