Cosmos Revisited

This weekend, Neil deGrasse Tyson is appearing in a reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, which will undoubtedly awaken a new generation to the wonders of our universe. In light of this, here are some of my favorite quotes from Carl Sagan.

Picture credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Picture credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The specks of light you can see are not stars, not even galaxies, they’re quasars, phenomenally energetic black holes at the center of large galaxies. They thin out toward the edges not because there’s less of them further away from us but because we are looking back billions of years to when they were less developed.

“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”

Picture credit: British Museum

Picture credit: British Museum. The Rosetta Stone was used to unlock the meaning of hieroglyphics, allowing us to understand an ancient culture and people otherwise lost to the mists of time.

“One glance at (a book) and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time.”

Picture credit: NASA.

Picture credit: NASA. New stars (out of sight at the top left) blow away dark molecular clouds within a stellar nursery. The dark blobs on the lower right are resisting these stellar winds, caught in a race to undergo gravitational collapse into another infant star before being dissolved. Every person that has ever lived, every blade of grass that has ever sprung forth, everything you see on Earth was once part of a molecular cloud like this.

“We inhabit a universe where atoms are made in the centers of stars; where each second a thousand suns are born; where life is sparked by sunlight and lightning in the airs and waters of youthful planets; where the raw material for biological evolution is sometimes made by the explosion of a star halfway across the Milky Way; where a thing as beautiful as a galaxy is formed a hundred billion times – a Cosmos of quasars and quarks, snowflakes and fireflies, where there may be black holes and other universe and extraterrestrial civilizations whose radio messages are at this moment reaching the Earth. How pallid by comparison are the pretensions of superstition and pseudoscience; how important it is for us to pursue and understand science, that characteristically human endeavor.”

Picture credit: Connect to your core

Picture credit: Connect. Life brings meaning to the universe, turning stardust into something wonderful beyond compare.

“We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.”

Picture credit:

Picture credit: Nus The mechanics of how you think are far more important than anything you know.

“Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgement, the manner in which information is coordinated and used.”

Picture credit: Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) by night, under the Magellanic Clouds

Picture credit: ALMA. Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) by night, under the Magellanic Clouds

“The total amount of energy from outside the solar system ever received by all the radio telescopes on the planet Earth is less than the energy of a single snowflake striking the ground.”

I’m looking forward to the new Cosmos series. With thinking like this… 

tyson quote


I’m confident Neil deGrasse Tyson is going to continue Carl Sagan’s legacy



7 thoughts on “Cosmos Revisited

  1. Pingback: Something Sad is About to Happen… | Erik Wecks

  2. Reblogged this on TJ's New Book Blog and commented:
    Can’t wait to see how the reboot is. I sometimes find myself watching old Cosmos episodes because I miss it. Loved the quotes from Sagan in Peter Cawdron’s post so I thought I would share it.

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