Cosmos by Carl Sagan




I rate this High 5/5

Riding on the back of Sapiens brought this book into my hands.

The strangest sensation to read a book published in 1980 which perplexes over questions of which we now have more experience.  For example global warming, or pondering on the cause of dinosaur extinction.  It is like a little time machine.  Sagan is an author who has courted controversy.  I came across him via ‘The little blue dot’ (a photo taken by Voyager space probe looking back towards Earth). Quotes from him profound and poetical, littered my ‘keep notes’.  For instance “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” A scientist who clearly had the capacity to write poetically and philosophically.

Sometimes a book is worth reading even though some of the science has been surpassed by more recent discoveries.  Sometimes it is worth hopping back into that little time machine and revisiting a different era when humankind still wondered about mysteries we have now conquered…or have further explored.  Much of this book however is written about the great scientists who lived centuries ago and so much has not changed there.   The writing style is easy-going, sweet in places, and never pretentious.  I found myself rather liking the author.  I liked his humbleness looking at a world that emanated enormous wonderment and awe.  I liked that he saw that, and could convert his scientific knowledge into a poetic leaning.

This book can be read today and still be relevant as much of the book consists of historical figures and ancient civilisations.  This combination of history along with what was known about the Cosmos in 1980 does make it an interesting read.

How did I come to this book?

Enjoyed ‘Sapiens’ book so continued to look for similar material.

Favourite quote from book

“Compared to a star, we are like mayflies, fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out their whole lives in the course of a single day. From the point of view of a mayfly, human beings are stolid, boring, almost entirely immovable, offering hardly a hint that they ever do anything. From the point of view of a star, a human being is a tiny flash, one of billions of brief lives flickering tenuously on the surface of a strangely cold, anomalously solid, exotically remote sphere of silicate and iron.”
Carl Sagan

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