* Spacecraft missions to nearby planets
* The Library of ancient Alexandria
* The human brain
* Egyptian hieroglyphics
* The origin of life
* The death of the sun
* The evolution of galaxies
* The origins of matter, suns and worlds
The story of fifteen billion years of…
Why read it?
4 authors picked Cosmos as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
Astronomer Carl Sagan can be said to have launched the ecospiritual/religious naturalist trajectory with this book, upon which the TV series was based, later writing: “A religion 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. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.”
Two seminal quotes: “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…
I read Cosmos when I was young and it inspired the love of science I still carry today. I found Sagan’s musings about the pale blue dot mesmerizing, and the science was thrilling. I ended up going to Space Camp when I was 14 and Governor’s School for Physics when I was 16 to further my scientific knowledge. When I wrote A Paradox of Fates, I used some of the science I learned in Governor’s School to explain time travel, which has always been a fascinating subject to me.
Carl Sagan was my advisor and mentor at Cornell (where I got my PhD), and everything good about him shines through in this book: his scientific rigor and honesty, his skill at making complex subjects and ideas clear, and his excitement for discovery and exploration. Cosmos is an overview of where we came from, where we are going, how we are all “star stuff”, and of course, possible life outside the Earth.
This book was one of the first to give an almost poetic description of the solar system, our Galaxy, the universe, space science, and the search for extraterrestrial life. Carl Sagan’s legendary ability to make astrophysics attractive to the lay person shines through, and it illuminates our place in the cosmos.
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