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Cosmos by Carl Sagan
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Cosmos (1980)

by Carl Sagan

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Cosmos by Carl Sagan is a masterpiece of Scientific Writing. By seamlessly blending Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anthropology, Astronomy, and countless other scientific pursuits, Sagan has crafted something more than the sum of its parts. With measured aplomb, Sagan discusses the history and influence of the Cosmos over the Millennia. From the findings of Ptolemy and Archimedes to The more recent discoveries of Johannes Kepler, Nicolas Copernicus, and Isaac Newton, Sagan talks about them all.

From that portion, Sagan moves on to talk about Comets and other astronomical bodies of interest. Many events in human history were precipitated by astronomical events such as the sight of Halley’s Comet and other seeming portends of fate.

From there, Sagan discusses the ideas of other worlds and places where life flourishes. For being written in 1980 or thereabouts, this book doesn’t seem all that dated. Since the science is sound, in this case, all we must do is wait for evidence to support our theories. For instance, there is almost no evidence that there is life on Mars or any other planet in our Solar System.

Carl Sagan even spends some time talking about the Special Theory of Relativity and Black Holes which I found interesting coming from his perspective.

I have no real issues or problems with this book. It even has beautiful illustrations of nebulae and other things. I only regret that I can not see the original series upon which this book is based. I know that PBS still exists, but television isn’t really one of my big things. Though for this series, I might make an exception. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Thoughtful, deep and poignant.

Began this with the print copy, then finished listening to Levar Burton read the audio book. It's a classic and worth reading. As a survey of science and speculation for the future, it's a valuable time capsule.

The poignancy came when listening to Sagan's speculation on Mars rovers, written when there were none (we'd only had fly by's and the Viking landers), as well as his speculations on finding extrasolar planets. At the time we'd really found almost none - and now we have hundreds!

( )
  mrklingon | Apr 22, 2019 |
Found it in a bus depot restroom many years ago, probably 1983 or 84. Took it with me, gave it a home, never read it. It features many gorgeous color photos, but they're all dated now. I keep it still because every book deserves a home. I do remember, though, when Carl Sagan was a yuppie pop superstar: 2001 -- A Space Odyssey, marijuana, psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, all of that stuff. Better days, eh?
  NathanielPoe | Feb 13, 2019 |
I was excited to revisit this through the audiobook that was released in 2017, some thirty plus years after Cosmos was first published. But at barely a quarter of the way through I'm having to take a break from LeVar Burton's less than stellar narration. He becomes breathless in wonder as he reads and drops his voice to a mere whisper at times. He even uses vocal fry when he quotes historical figures. I'm having to rewind complete passages because I'm missing key words. I know part of the problem is that I have some hearing loss but it usually isn't a problem with good headphones. Not sure I'll be picking this back up. ( )
  wandaly | Jan 29, 2019 |
An overview of what we know (or rather of what we knew back in 1979) about the universe. In each chapter, which supposedly correspond to episodes of the TV show, Carl Sagan explores an aspect of cosmos, usually coupled with a description of how humanity came to discover it, providing a nice overview of history of science and civilization along the way.

Learn about how chemical elements are formed, what are planets and how they move (including Kepler's laws), stars, comets, pulsars and quasars, human and cosmic evolution, but also about the possibilities of intergalactic travel and communication, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and Sagan's own informed speculation about our future.

Impassioned, informative and sometimes philosophical, this is one of the best popular science works I've ever read. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
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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.
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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]
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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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345331354, Mass Market Paperback)

Cosmos was the first science TV blockbuster, and Carl Sagan was its (human) star. By the time of Sagan's death in 1996, the series had been seen by half a billion people; Sagan was perhaps the best-known scientist on the planet. Explaining how the series came about, Sagan recalled:

I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics--the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with the universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most powerful communications medium, television.

Sagan's own interest and enthusiasm for the universe were so vivid and infectious, his screen presence so engaging, that viewers and readers couldn't help but be caught up in his vision. From stars in their "billions and billions" to the amino acids in the primordial ocean, Sagan communicated a feeling for science as a process of discovery. Inevitably, some of the science in Cosmos has been outdated in the years since 1980--but Sagan's sense of wonder is ageless. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:32 -0400)

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Carl Sagan discusses the cosmic relationship between man and the universe.

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