Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Sagan , Carl (2000-10-23), Carl Sagan's cosmic connection, Cambridge Univ Pr, Retrieved on 2012-01-01
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  • Folksonomies: science

    Memes

    01 JAN 2012

     Carl Sagan's Summary of the Selfish Gene

    In a very real sense human beings are machines constructed by the nucleic acids to arrange for the efficient replication of more nucleic acids. In a sense our strongest urges, noblest enterprises, most compelling necessities, and apparent free wills are all an expression of the information coded in the genetic material: We are, in a way, temporary ambulatory repositories for our nucleic acids. This does not deny our humanity; it does not prevent us from pursuing the good, the true, and the be...
      1  notes

    We are machines constructed by nucleic acids to construct more nucleic acids... sounds a lot like Dawkins.

    01 JAN 2012

     Overcoming Inherited Bias to Live In Peace

    In our earliest history, so far as we can tell, individuals held an allegiance toward their immediate tribal group, which may have numbered no more than ten or twenty individuals, all of whom were related by consanguinity. As time went on, the need for cooperative behavior – in the hunting of large animals or large herds, in agriculture, and in the development of cities – forced human beings into larger and larger groups. The group that was identified with, the tribal unit, enlarged at ea...
    Folksonomies: evolution peace diversity
    Folksonomies: evolution peace diversity
     1  1  notes

    Humans evolved to trust a small select group of individual, but as we live in a world community, a biologically diverse community, and eventually an outer space community, we must evolve culturally to see appreciate our differences.

    01 JAN 2012

     Letters to the Editor About the Pioneer 10 Plaque and Con...

    What sexuality there is in the message also drew epistolary fire. The Los Angeles Times published a letter from an irate reader that went: I must say I was shocked by the blatant display of both male and female sex organs on the front page of the Times. Surely this type of sexual exploitation is below the standards our community has come to expect from the Times. Isn't it enough that we must tolerate the bombardment of pornography through the media of film and smut magazines? Isn't it bad en...
      1  notes

    One letter complained about sending pornography into space, a follow up letter made fun of the ignorance. Carl Sagan laments the failure of the plaque designers to make the two figures ethnically ambiguous.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Pioneer 10 Plaque

    On the title page of this chapter is shown the message. It is etched on a 6-inch by 9-inch gold-anodized aluminum plate, attached to the antenna support struts of Pioneer 10. The expected erosion rate in interstellar space is sufficiently small that this message should remain intact for hundreds of millions of years, and probably for a much longer period of time. It is, thus, the artifact of mankind with the longest expected lifetime. The message itself intends to communicate the locale, ep...
      1  notes

    Carl Sagan describes everything that went into the symbolism of this message sent to the stars.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Message Aboard Pioneer 10 as a "Cosmic Rorschach Test"

    The message aboard Pioneer 10 has been good fun. But it has been more than that. It is a kind of cosmic Rorschach test, in which many people see reflected their hopes and fears, their aspirations and defeats – the darkest and the most luminous aspects of the human spirit.
    Folksonomies: science art pioneer 10
    Folksonomies: science art pioneer 10
      1  notes

    In which people see what they want to see, hopes and fears.

    01 JAN 2012

     We Need Experimental Societies

    Our instincts and emotions are those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors of a million years ago. But our society is astonishingly different from that of a million years ago. In times of slow change, the insights and skills learned by one generation are useful, tried, and adaptive, and are gladly received when passed down to the next generation. But in times like today, when the society changes significantly in less than a human lifetime, the parental insights no longer have unquestioned validity...
      1  notes

    Sociology is too complex to accurately predict how we should manage our society; we need to conduct experiments in order to determine the best path forward. In America, the States could serve as such laboratories.

    01 JAN 2012

     Thinking About Aliens Stretches the Imagination

    The virtue of thinking about life elsewhere is that it forces us to stretch our imaginations. Can we think of alternative solutions to biological problems already solved in one particular way on Earth? For example, the wheel is a comparatively recent invention on the planet Earth. It seems to have been invented in the ancient Near East less than ten thousand years ago. In fact, the high civilizations of Meso- America, the Aztecs and the Mayas, never employed the wheel, except for children's t...
      1  notes

    The possible life that could evolve in other environments is an imaginative treasure chest.

    (TODO: The wheeled organisms described here appear in the Amber Spyglass by Pullman)

    01 JAN 2012

     We are Part of the Cosmos

    Charles Darwin's insights into natural selection have shown that there are no evolutionary pathways leading unerringly from simple forms to Man; rather, evolution proceeds by fits and starts, and most life forms lead to evolutionary dead-ends. We are the products of a long series of biological accidents. In the cosmic perspective there is no reason to think that we are the first or the last or the best. These realizations of the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are profound – and, to s...
    Folksonomies: science religion wonder
    Folksonomies: science religion wonder
      1  notes

    As it is, not as we wish it to be.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Military is Good For Space Exploration

    The experience of space exploration gives no unique philosophy; to some extent, each group tends to see its own philosophical view reflected, and not always by the soundest logic: Nikita Khrushchev stressed that in the space flight of Yuri Gagarin no angels or other supernatural beings were detected; and, in almost perfect counterpoint, the Apollo 8 astronauts read from lunar orbit the Babylonian cosmogony enshrined in Genesis, Chapter 1, as if to reassure their American audience that the exp...
      1  notes

    The competition against other militaries unites them against the public. Space flight would move them into a peacetime occupation.

    01 JAN 2012

     Space Flight May Mature Us as a Civilization

    In all the history of mankind, there will be only one generation that will be first to explore the Solar System, one generation for which, in childhood, the planets are distant and indistinct discs moving through the night sky, and for which, in old age, the planets are places, diverse new worlds in the course of exploration. There will be a time in our future history when the Solar System will be explored and inhabited. To them, and to all who come after us, the present moment will be a piv...
      1  notes

    It's the first step in realizing our place in the bigger picture.

    01 JAN 2012

     Venus is Hell

    Venus thus seems to be a place quite different from the Earth, and alarmingly unappealing: Broiling temperatures, crushing pressures, noxious and corrosive gases, sulfurous smells, and a landscape immersed in a ruddy gloom. Curiously enough, there is a place astonishingly like this in the superstition, folklore and legends of men. We call it Hell. In the older belief – that of the Greeks, for example – it was the place where all human souls journeyed after death. In Christian times it ha...
    Folksonomies: venus hell
    Folksonomies: venus hell
      1  notes

    Very similar to it as Carl Sagan describes the planet.

    01 JAN 2012

     Sports on Phobos

    Because of their small sizes, Phobos and Deimos have very low gravitational accelerations. Their gravities do not pull very hard. The pull on Phobos is only about one one-thousandth of that on Earth. If you can perform a standing high jump of two or three feet on Earth, you could perform a standing high jump of half a mile on Phobos. It would not take many such jumps to circumnavigate Phobos. They would be graceful, slow, arcing leaps, taking many minutes to reach the high point of the self-p...
      1  notes

    How the low gravity and tiny size of Mars' moon would affect the game.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Century When the Dreams of Man are Realized

    At the very beginning of the twentieth century competent scientific and lay opinion held that airplanes were impossible. The end of the century, barring the dark specter of nuclear or ecological catastrophes, will probably see joint Soviet and American manned space expeditions to the nearer planets. This is the century in which some of the oldest dreams of Man have been realized, in which mankind has sprouted wings and realized the aspirations of Daedalus and da Vinci. Air-breathing, man-car...
    Folksonomies: culture space exploration
    Folksonomies: culture space exploration
      1  notes

    Space Exploration only happens to one generation, and when it did, there were people alive for whom the planets were only distant untouchable points.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Earth is Overcrowded Psychologically

    The Earth is overcrowded. Not yet in a literal sense: Our technology is adequate to maintain comfortably a population significantly larger than our present 3.6 billion. The Earth is overcrowded in a psychological sense. For that restless and ambition-driven fraction of mankind that has blazed new paths for our species, there are no new places to go. There are places inside of ourselves, but this is not the forte of such individuals. There are the ocean basins, but we are not yet committed to ...
      1  notes

    Every frontier is explored, there is only one place to go for adventure and that is outward.

    01 JAN 2012

     Space Exploration Costs the Same as Exploring the World

    The Solar System is much vaster than the Earth, but the speeds of our spacecraft are, of course, much greater than the speeds of the sailing ships of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The spacecraft trip from the Earth to the Moon is faster than was the galleon trip from Spain to the Canary Islands. The voyage from Earth to Mars will take as long as did the sailing time from England to North America; the journey from Earth to the moons of Jupiter will require about the same time as did t...
     1  1  notes

    Europe spent as much money proportionally to discover America as it would cost us to venture to Mars.

    01 JAN 2012

     We Will Retrieve Pioneer 10

    Pioneer 10 is the first interstellar spacecraft launched by mankind. It was also the fastest spacecraft launched, to the date of its departure. But it will take eighty thousand years for Pioneer 10 to reach the distance of the nearest star. Because space is so empty, it will never enter another Solar System. The little golden message aboard Pioneer 10 will be read, but only if there are interstellar voyagers able to detect and intercept Pioneer 10. I believe that such an interception may occ...
      1  notes

    As it has 80,000 years until it reaches the nearest star, we will overtake it, which will be like Columbus being overtaken by an aircraft carrier.

    01 JAN 2012

     Sagan's Positive View of Advance Alien Civilizations

    It is at this point that the ultimate significance of dolphins in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence emerges. It is not a question of whether we are emotionally prepared in the long run to confront a message from the stars. It is whether we can develop a sense that beings with quite different evolutionary histories, beings who may look far different from us, even "monstrous," may, nevertheless, be worthy of friendship and reverence, brotherhood and trust. We have far to go; while th...
      1  notes

    We need to understand animal minds as practice for understanding alien ones.

    01 JAN 2012

     Stanley Kubrick Sought Insurance Against the Discovery of...

    During the filming of 2001, Kubrick, who obviously has a grasp for detail, became concerned that extraterrestrial intelligence might be discovered before the $10.5 million film was released, rendering the plot line obsolete, if not erroneous. Lloyd's of London was approached to underwrite an insurance policy protecting against losses should extraterrestrial intelligence be discovered. Lloyd's of London, which insures against the most implausible contingencies, declined to write such a policy....
      1  notes

    Because it would ruin the premise of his film 2001.

    01 JAN 2012

     We Are Made of Star Stuff

    The fate of individual human beings may not now be connected in a deep way with the rest of the universe, but the matter out of which each of us is made is intimately tied to processes that occurred immense intervals of time and enormous distances in space away from us. Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of...
      1  notes

    This might be the original source of this quote.

    01 JAN 2012

     We Have Announced Our Presence to the Stars

    There are those who predict a dire catastrophe if we broadcast our presence to another star. The extraterrestrials will come and – eat us, or something equally unpleasant. (Actually, if we are especially tasty, they need only sample one of us, determine what sequence of our amino acids makes us appetizing, and then reconstruct the relevant proteins on their own planet. The high freightage makes us economically, if not gastronomically, unappetizing.) The message aboard Pioneer 10 was critici...
      1  notes

    Jazz-band radio broadcasts are our first emissaries into space, now nearly 100 light years out.

    01 JAN 2012

     Our Radio Broadcasts into Space are a Monologue

    Some individuals find the absence of a dialogue distressing – as if meaningful dialogues were commonplace on this planet. Philip Morrison, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has pointed out that such cultural monologues are entirely common in the history of mankind; that, for example, the entire cultural patrimony of classical Greece, which has influenced our civilization in a profound way, has traveled in only one direction in time. We have not sent our wisdom to the Greeks. The...
    Folksonomies: culture communication
    Folksonomies: culture communication
      1  notes

    Distressing some that it is not a dialogue, but the wisdom of the ancient Greeks is a monologue as well.

    01 JAN 2012

     Measuring Cultural Information

    But there may be more significant ways to characterize civilizations than by the energy they use for communications purposes. An important criterion of a civilization is the total amount of information that it stores. This information can be described in terms of bits, the number of yes-no statements concerning itself and the universe that such a civilization knows. An example of this concept is the popular game of "Twenty Questions," as played on Earth. One player imagines an object or conc...
      1  notes

    The number of bits communicated in our radio broadcasts is quite enormous, conveying a great deal of information about our culture.

    01 JAN 2012

     Homogenization of the Milky Way

    It is possible to speculate on the very distant future of advanced civilizations. We can imagine such societies in excellent harmony with their environments, their biology, and the vagaries of their politics, so that they enjoy extraordinarily long lifetimes. Communications would long have been established with many other such civilizations. The diffusion of knowledge, techniques, and points of view would occur at the velocity of light. In time, the diverse cultures of the Galaxy, involving a...
    Folksonomies: culture homogenization
    Folksonomies: culture homogenization
      1  notes

    Just as human culture is undergoing a process of homogenization, culture of the Milky Way will eventually undergo the same.

    01 JAN 2012

     Universal Intelligence Cannot Exist

    We conclude that there cannot be a strongly cohesive network of communicating, unifying intelligences through the whole universe if (1) such galactic civilizations evolve upward from individual planetary societies and if (2) the velocity of light is indeed a fixed limit on the speed of information transmission, as special relativity requires (i.e., if we ignore such possibilities as using black holes for fast transport: See Chapter 39). Such a universal intelligence is a kind of god that cann...
      1  notes

    At best, aliens advanced enough to be gods could only exist at a galactic level.

    01 JAN 2012

     Black Holes are Separate Universes

    In fact, our own universe is very likely itself a vast black hole. We have no knowledge of what lies outside our universe. This is true by definition, but also because of the properties of black holes. Objects that reside in them cannot ordinarily leave them. In a strange sense, our universe may be filled with objects that are not here. They are not separate universes. They do not have the mass of our universe. But in their separateness and their isolation they are autonomous universes.
    Folksonomies: universe cosmos black holes
    Folksonomies: universe cosmos black holes
      1  notes

    A strange conceptual idea, that implies our own Universe is a Black Hole as well.

    01 JAN 2012

     Big History as a Fable

    Once upon a time, about ten or fifteen billion years ago, the universe was without form. There were no galaxies. There were no stars. There were no planets. And there was no life. Darkness was upon the face of the deep. The universe was hydrogen and helium. The explosion of the Big Bang had passed, and the fires of that titanic event – either the creation of the universe or the ashes of a previous incarnation of the universe – were rumbling feebly down the corridors of space. But the gas...
    Folksonomies: wonder big history
    Folksonomies: wonder big history
     1  1  notes

    Carl Sagan tells the story of our Universe's history as a fairy tale.

    01 JAN 2012

     Big History as a Fable Part II

    Sex and death evolved – processes that vastly increased the rate of natural selection. Some organisms evolved hard parts, climbed onto, and survived on the land. The pace of production of more complex forms accelerated. Flight evolved. Enormous four-legged beasts thundered across the steaming jungles. Small beasts emerged, born live, instead of in hard-shelled containers filled with replicas of the early oceans. They survived through swiftness and cunning – and increasingly long periods i...
    Folksonomies: wonder big history
    Folksonomies: wonder big history
     1  1  notes

    Carl Sagan's account of the history of our Universe continued.

    01 JAN 2012

     Carl Sagan Summarizes Evolution of Life On Earth

    Eventually, many billions of years ago, a molecule was formed that had a remarkable capability. It was able to produce, out of the molecular building blocks of the surrounding waters, a fairly accurate copy of itself. In such a molecular system there is a set of instructions, a molecular code, containing the sequence of building blocks from which the larger molecule is constructed. When, by accident, there is a change in the sequence, the copy is likewise changed. Such a molecular system – ...
    Folksonomies: evolution big history
    Folksonomies: evolution big history
      1  notes

    From molecules competing for materials, to life, all the way up to humans.

    01 JAN 2012

     The Wonders of the Universe

    There is a place with four suns in the sky – red, white, blue, and yellow; two of them are so close together that they touch, and star-stuff flows between them. I know of a world with a million moons. I know of a sun the size of the Earth – and made of diamond. There are atomic nuclei a mile across that rotate thirty times a second. There are tiny grains between the stars, with the size and atomic composition of bacteria. There are stars leaving the Milky Way. There are immense gas c...
    Folksonomies: astronomy universe wonders
    Folksonomies: astronomy universe wonders
      1  notes

    Carl Sagan describes some of the amazing things science and astronomy have discovered in our universe.

    01 JAN 2012

     Dyson Spheres

    The mathematician Freeman Dyson, of the Institute for Advanced Study, offers a scheme in which the planet Jupiter is broken down piece by piece, transported to the distance of the Earth from the Sun, and reconstructed into a spherical shell – a swarm of individual fragments revolving about the Sun. The advantage of Dyson's proposal is that all of the sunlight now wasted by not falling upon an inhabited planet could then be gainfully employed; and a population greatly in excess of that which...
     1  1  notes

    A hypothetical sphere surrounding a star, harnessing all of its power.

    01 JAN 2012

     Carl Sagan's Encounter With a Dolphin's Theory of Mind

    I was swimming in a large indoor pool with Peter. When I threw the pool's rubber ball to Peter (as was natural for me to have done), he dove under the ball as it hit the water and batted it with his snout accurately into my hands. After a few throws and precision returns, Peter's returns became increasingly inaccurate – forcing me to swim first to one side of the pool and then to the other in order to retrieve the ball. Eventually, it became clear that Peter chose not to place the ball with...
      1  notes

    The dolphin began to experiment with him during a game of catch.

    01 JAN 2012

     Disproving Santa Claus with a Back of the Napkin Calculation

    There is another approach to the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO origins. This assessment depends on a large number of factors about which we know little, and a few about which we know literally nothing. I want to make some crude numerical estimate of the probability that we are frequently visited by extraterrestrial beings. Now, there is a range of hypotheses that can be examined in such a way. Let me give a simple example: Consider the Santa Claus hypothesis, which maintains that, in a ...
     1  1  notes

    At one house a second, it would take Santa three years to visit all the houses in America alone.

    01 JAN 2012

     Pioneer 10 Poetry

    For me, some of the most moving responses to the message are the works of art and poetry that it evoked. Mr. 'Aim Morhardt is a painter of water colors of the desert and sierras who lives in Bishop, California, where, perhaps not coincidentally, the giant Goldstone tracking station, which commands Pioneer 10, is located. Mr. Morhardt's poem follows: Pioneer 10: The Golden Messenger. The dragon prows that cruised the northern seas, Questing adventure with the fighting clan; The gallant merma...
    Folksonomies: science poetry pioneer 10
    Folksonomies: science poetry pioneer 10
      1  notes

    Two poems inspired by the Pioneer 10 probe. Surely the first of many.