Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ – I: We have always been space travellers

‘The Earth has made more than 4 billion circuits around the Sun since its origin (…) we have always been space travelers.’ – C. Sagan

Today I watched the last episode of ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’, a thirteen-part epic series in which Carl Sagan (one of my heroes) explains –over 13 hours- the birth of the universe; the life cycle of the stars; the rise of life; the evolution process; and a brief history of science and scientific endeavors from Eratosthenes to Kepler. It is simply breathtaking, but it made me somehow sad: sadness for the empty space that this man left in our world, sadness for seeing that humanity has not learned the lessons of the past, and sadness because they do not teach this kind of knowledge at school!

Carl Sagan is a world-renowned cosmologist and prominent scientist famous for pioneering the SETI program (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). His scientific knowledge and track record aside, he is also a brilliant storyteller and a true humanist, something that you can clearly spot while watching ‘Cosmos’ (bearing in mind it was produced in the 80s). Vangelis music is a nice touch there as well.

I will be posting some excerpts from ‘Cosmos’, and I here I start with these:

“As long as there have been humans, we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet, of a humdrum star, lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

“We’re interested in communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, wouldn’t a good beginning be better communication with terrestrial intelligence? With other human beings of different cultures and languages? With the great apes? With the dolphins?”

“We accepted the products of science, we rejected its methods (…) Perhaps, one day; there will be civilizations again on Earth, there will be life, there will be intelligence…”

“We see that space and time are intertwined: we can not look out into space without looking back into time.”

“The cosmos was originally all hydrogen and helium. Heavier elements were made in red giants, and in supernovas, and then blown off to space, where they were available for subsequent generations of stars and planets. Our Sun is probably a third-generation star. Except for hydrogen and helium, every atom in the Sun and the Earth was synthesized in other stars. The silicon in the rocks, the oxygen in the air, the carbon in our DNA, the gold in our banks, the uranium in our arsenals were all made thousands of light years away and billions of years ago. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff.”

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