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Cosmos: The Story of Cosmic Evolution, Science and Civilisation (1980)

by Carl Sagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7,697771,016 (4.37)88
The best-selling science book ever published in the English language, COSMOS is a magnificent overview of the past, present, and future of science. Brilliant and provocative, it traces today's knowledge and scientific methods to their historical roots, blending science and philosophy in a wholly energetic and irresistible way.… (more)

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English (75)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
What AN AMAZING BOOK. In a clear language, it describes the laws behind the Cosmos, and presents it´s most intricate objects and phenomena. It tells the search of humankind in unraveling the Cosmos, from the Ionian scholars to the the modern scientists. Essentially, this fantastic books is something to expand your vision on the gratefulness of the world and the pettiness of human beings. A final conclusion we can drawn from it, is the importance of spatial explorations, that is a sense is the same as going back home. ( )
  Rodrigo-Ruscheinski | Jan 26, 2023 |
A very hard read for me! The first 6 chapters were reasonable and I actually did learn a few interesting things about our universe. After that, I found it to be such a brutally dry read full of science facts way over my head that I could barely understand. It is full of Sagan’s endless dreamy, ‘what if’ situations. I gave it a 2 star simply for the fact that I did learn something from it.

One thing I learned from this book is that when scientists speak of finding "aliens" or "Martians" in space, it can actually mean living microbes that they could possibly study and work with...not necessarily other intelligent creatures with intelligent minds like us, living in outer space. (eBook loc 2472) This I can accept! Although, after finishing this book, I do believe that Sagan truly believed that there definitely could exist intelligent creatures in outer space, and that it’s just a matter of time before future generations discover it. I also got the hint that he wasn’t really a firm believer of a divine creator before the universe was created.

I love Sagan's explanation of the meaning and truth of Cosmos: "...there are regularities in Nature that permit its secrets to be uncovered. Nature is not entirely unpredictable; there are rules even she must obey. This ordered and admirable character of the universe was called Cosmos." (eBook loc 3187)...but...my opinion, not his...it was all created by God.

Without imagination, curiosity and, I will add skepticism, we might still be stuck in the stone ages. And without changes on earth and elsewhere in our universe, we would have no need or desire to ask questions and to search for any truth. But, great scientists who have come before us have paved the way for each new generation, allowing even further progress. When I read that a thousand earths could fit inside Jupiter (eBook loc 1594), it really opened my eyes to the enormity of our universe. ..."this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky." (eBook loc 173). Isn’t that an amazing and beautiful quote! I definitely view the sky and the night stars with a new pair of eyes.

The author has a nice theory on the evolution of the beginning of human life, but that's all it is...a theory. He presents proven facts, more recently discovered, on how molecules themselves evolve and change over time. In fact, as a scientist, he concludes that trees and humans share a common ancestry if you go far enough back. We are both made of the same atoms and molecules that work exactly the same, just put together differently, but depend greatly on each other. Trees and plants thrive on the carbon dioxide we humans release, and we humans and animals thrive on the fresh oxygen the trees and plants release. I love Sagan's way of wording it: "What a marvelous cooperative arrangement, plants and animals each inhaling the other's exhalations." This is synergy! Without one or the other, we would all cease to exist. Period!

This book is a mix of personal speculations, theories and hypotheses and few facts that have been proven, or disproven, by science over many years. They have NOT proven evolution. There is not one instance or proof that humans were once apes, like an orange was never an apple. But, specific traits (cells, DNA) of each can change to adapt in life. Sagan includes the earlier beliefs in the Greek gods of the universe, as well as the beliefs of atheist scientists and religious scientists throughout time. I believe now, more than ever, that it has to be a Divine being, God, who created such an intricate system that works so perfectly in every single aspect of the human life and of our magnificent universe.

For those who want to rate this book on religious merits, Sagan has perfectly summed up his life’s work, and the works of other scientists here: "Many hypotheses proposed by scientist as well as by non-scientists turn out to be wrong. But science is a self-correcting enterprise. To be accepted, all new ideas must survive rigorous standards of evidence...Science is generated by and devoted to free inquiry: the idea that any hypothesis, no matter how strange, deserves to be considered on its merits. The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science." (eBook loc 1697)

Originally published in 1980.

Evidence today is proving that random evolution doesn't hold together. They have discovered, and can't explain, certain things in life that were designed to perform, very specifically, certain jobs in this universe of life. My next read will be on proof that evolution remains to be unproven and based on pure speculations: "Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God's Design" (2003) by Grant R. Jeffrey. ( )
  MissyIvey | Sep 19, 2022 |
Brilliant. 37 years later, this book still holds true. A fantastic summary of scientific progress: astronomy, medicine, biology, chemistry... from the beginning of the Universe to the point of self-destruction where we balance at present. So much and not much has changed in the last 4 decades; Carl Sagan would be amazed and horrified. ( )
  tarsel | Sep 4, 2022 |
  laplantelibrary | Jul 8, 2022 |
To me, Cosmos by Carl Sagan is more like an introduction to astrophysics for the layperson. I say that with the caveat that it still requires close attention while listening because the subject matter is so complex that one can easily get lost in its scope. While some of the examples and possibilities mentioned within the book are out-of-date, I feel Cosmos will still resound with today’s listener because it serves as an ever-important reminder of the miracle of life on Earth.
  jmchshannon | May 22, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sagan, CarlAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aulicino, RobertDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dr. Vivek PoonthiyilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Druyan, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tyson, Neil deGrasseForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ann Druyan; In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie.
First words
In ancient times, in everyday speech and custom, the most mundane happenings were connected with the grandest cosmic events. [Introduction p. xi]
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. [Main Text, p. 4]
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.
We have heard so far the voice of life on one small world only. But we have at last begun to listen for other voices in the cosmic fugue.
We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish among:
  • Carl Sagan's original television series, Cosmos (1980);
  • this similarly titled companion book, (1980);
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson's similarly titled television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014); and
  • Anne Druyan's sequel to Sagan's works, Cosmos: Possible Worlds (2019).
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The best-selling science book ever published in the English language, COSMOS is a magnificent overview of the past, present, and future of science. Brilliant and provocative, it traces today's knowledge and scientific methods to their historical roots, blending science and philosophy in a wholly energetic and irresistible way.

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