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Friday, October 5, 2018

Carl Sagan and the Universe


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, NASA


Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an American astronomer best known for his work on extraterrestrial life and his 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Television producer Seth MacFarlane said,


"The work of Carl Sagan has been a profound influence in my life, and the life of every individual who recognizes the importance of humanity's ongoing commitment to the exploration of our universe." (Quoted in Seth MacFarlane donates Carl Sagan's papers to Library of Congress in the Los Angeles Times, 2012)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Sagan.


Science and skepticism


"We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth - never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key." (Wonder and Skepticism, 1995)


"Science is... a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we're up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along." (Interview with Charlie Rose, 1996)


Outer space


"As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky." (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, 1980)


"We could not guess how different from us they (extraterrestrials) might be." (Contact, 1985)


Creation of the Universe


"Was the Universe devoid of all matter and then matter suddenly somehow created, how did that happen? In many cultures, the customary answer is that a God or Gods created the Universe out of nothing. But if we wish to pursue this question courageously, we must ask the next question: where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the Universe is an unanswerable question?" (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, 1980)


"In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is written small, the artist's signature." (Contact, 1985)