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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Sagan’

Once intelligent beings achieve technology and the capacity for self-destruction of their species, the selective advantage of intelligence becomes more uncertain.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Two Loves
A Short Count
2019 Don’t Forget: Fire Burns
2018 Especially In The Middle East
2017 A Good Local
2016 Life Unlimited
2015 Still Trying
2014 Destiny, n.
2013 No Apologies
2012 Utterly Convinced
2011 A Key To Effectiveness

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I stress that the universe is made mostly of nothing, that something is the exception.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 #45: Time Is Ticking Away
#45 Claims COVID-19 Defeated To Open The Economy
2019 Belief Buffet
2018 Change Is Law
2017 A Dog Day Of Summer
2016 Chances Are
2015 Truer Spoken
2014 Not Quite There Yet (Either)
Many Colors
2013 Distance, n.
Less Can Be More
2012 Rise Up!
The Gift
2011 Artful Courage
2010 A Handful of Lessons…

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If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It…  prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing?  Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy?
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Insensitive To Silence
Weaker, Sicker And Poorer
2019 Don’t Be Small
2018 Persistence
2017 Are You A Loser?
2016 Constitution And Conscience
2015 Separate, Fearful And Imprisoned
2014 Something Worth Making
2013 Absolutely
2012 Can Do
2011 Wise Criticism

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Both borderline science and many religions are motivated in part by a serious concern about the nature of the universe and our role in it, and for this reason merit our consideration and regard.  In addition, I think it possible that many religions involve at their cores an attempt to come to grips with profound mysteries of our individual life histories, as described in the last chapter.  But both in borderline science and in organized religion there is much that is specious or dangerous.  While the practitioners of such doctrines often wish there were no criticisms to which they are expected to reply, skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Early Knowledge
Seen Any Messages Lately?
2019 I Don’t Think We’ll Be Serving Them Cake
2018 New And Old
2017 Ever
2016 At The Center
2015 True Value In Life
2014 A Potential To Be Concerned
2013 Fine No More
2012 Have You Checked Your Height Lately?
2011 Are You Convinced?

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We have found that scientific laws pervade all of nature, that the same rules apply on Earth as in the skies, that we can find a resonance, a harmony, between the way we think and the way the world works…
As a boy Kepler had been captured by a vision of cosmic splendor, a harmony of the worlds which he sought so tirelessly all his life.  Harmony in this world eluded him.  His three laws of planetary motion represent, we now know, a real harmony of the worlds, but to Kepler they were only incidental to his quest for a cosmic system based on the Perfect Solids, a system which, it turns out, existed only in his mind.  Yet from his work, we have found that scientific laws pervade all of nature, that the same rules apply on Earth as in the skies, that we can find a resonance, a harmony, between the way we think and the way the world works.
When he found that his long cherished beliefs did not agree with the most precise observations, he accepted the uncomfortable facts, he preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions.  That is the heart of science.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Up Again
2019 Advice From #1 To #45
2018 How Much I Will Miss The Trump Administration
2017 We Need To Continue Experimenting
2016 Consistently
2015 We Must Dissent
2014 Now What?
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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But we don’t yet know whether the Universe is open or closed.  More than that, there are a few astronomers who doubt that the redshift of distant galaxies is due to the doppler effect, who are skeptical of the expanding Universe and the Big Bang.  Perhaps our descendants will regard our present ignorance with as much sympathy as we feel to the ancients for not knowing the Earth went around the Sun.  If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding Universe is correct, what happened before that?  Was the Universe devoid of all matter and then the 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 of course 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?  Or, if we say that God always existed, why not save a step, and conclude that the Universe always existed?  That there’s no need for a creation, it was always here.  These are not easy questions.  Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Increasing Importance
And Now Joe
2019 But Yours
2018 And Smile More Often
2017 He’s Keeping The Light On For Us
2016 The Results Of Trying Too Hard
2015 Make Me Look
2014 Fresh Drink
2013 Good Business
2012 Unsure Spirit
2011 A Lost Valuable

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There can be an infinite number of polygons, but only five regular solids.  Four of the solids were associated with earth, fire, air and water.  The cube for example represented earth.  These four elements, they thought, make up terrestrial matter.  So the fifth solid they mystically associated with the Cosmos.  Perhaps it was the substance of the heavens.  This fifth solid was called the dodecahedron.  Its faces are pentagons, twelve of them.  Knowledge of the dodecahedron was considered too dangerous for the public.  Ordinary people were to be kept ignorant of the dodecahedron.  In love with whole numbers, the Pythagoreans believed that all things could be derived from them.  Certainly all other numbers.
So a crisis in doctrine occurred when they discovered that the square root of two was irrational.  That is: the square root of two could not be represented as the ratio of two whole numbers, no matter how big they were.  “Irrational” originally meant only that.  That you can’t express a number as a ratio.  But for the Pythagoreans it came to mean something else, something threatening, a hint that their world view might not make sense, the other meaning of “irrational”.
   —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 The Butterflies Are In Trouble
2019 The Deep Center
2018 Oh, Heaven (Too)
2017 Now Pausing Makes Sense
2016 Just Spicy
Only One Part
2015 Positive Acts Of Creation
2014 One Thing Is Clear
2013 Corrections
See Greatness
2012 Gemutlichkeit
2011 Back On The Asphalt

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In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.  It is up to us.
   —    Carl Sagan
[An Inauguration and rejoining the Paris Climate Accords are just a start.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Hoping For #46 In January 2021
2019 Interesting, But Not Fascinating
But Try To Eat The Low-Hanging First
2018 Me, Too
2017 Apt Enough?
2016 Now Or Ever
21, Pause, Restart
2015 I Am Shocked, Sir, Shocked…
Lucy & FSND-2
2014 Less Difficult
2013 The Spirit Of Liberty
2012 The Essential Freedom Of Aloneness
2011 A Problem Of Scale
Fred Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
2010 Another Book, Another Jog…

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I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
   —    Carl Sagan
[Perhaps, having seen the corruption and malevolence of the Trump Administration, the next four years can see the beginning of an American renaissance…  I hope so.  As I prayed four years ago:  “I may not agree with all (or any) of this President’s policies, but I pray he makes America a better place.”  Hopefully #45 was the “just” the darkness before the new day’s dawn.   KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Posting As A Continual Exercise
2019 Border Security – Yes, Border Wall – No
2018 Supporting Survival Values
2017 Inauguration Day 2017 [Sometimes, I hate it when I’m right! — KMAB]
2016 Or A Pot Of Gold After The Storm
2015 One, Two, Three…
2014 Lend Your Hand
2013 Amnesty, n.
2012 Best Resolv’d
The Clock Is Running
2011 Magic

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Since this series’ maiden voyage, the impossible has come to pass:  Mighty walls that maintained insuperable ideological differences have come tumbling down; deadly enemies have embraced and begun to work together.  The imperative to cherish the Earth and protect the global environment that sustains all of us has become widely accepted, and we’ve begun, finally, the process of reducing the obscene number of weapons of mass destruction.  Perhaps we have, after all, decided to choose life.  But we still have light years to go to ensure that choice.  Even after the summits and the ceremonies and the treaties, there are still some 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world — and it would require the detonation of only a tiny fraction of them to produce a nuclear winter, the predicted global climatic catastrophe that would result from the smoke and the dust lifted into the atmosphere by burning cities and petroleum facilities.
The world scientific community has begun to sound the alarm about the grave dangers posed by depleting the protective ozone shield and by greenhouse warming, and again we’re taking some mitigating steps, but again those steps are too small and too slow.  The discovery that such a thing as nuclear winter was really possible evolved out of the studies of Martian dust storms.  The surface of Mars, fried by ultraviolet light, is also a reminder of why it’s important to keep our ozone layer intact.  The runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is a valuable reminder that we must take the increasing greenhouse effect on Earth seriously.
Important lessons about our environment have come from spacecraft missions to the planets.  By exploring other worlds we safeguard this one.  By itself, I think this fact more than justifies the money our species has spent in sending ships to other worlds.  It is our fate to live during one of the most perilous and, at the same time, one of the most hopeful chapters in human history.
Our science and our technology have posed us a profound question.  Will we learn to use these tools with wisdom and foresight before it’s too late?  Will we see our species safely through this difficult passage so that our children and grandchildren will continue the great journey of discovery still deeper into the mysteries of the Cosmos?  That same rocket and nuclear and computer technology that sends our ships past the farthest known planet can also be used to destroy our global civilization.  Exactly the same technology can be used for good and for evil.  It is as if there were a God who said to us, “I set before you two ways:  You can use your technology to destroy yourselves or to carry you to the planets and the stars.  It’s up to you.”
   —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Still Willing
2019 Another Prayer
2018 After Silence
2017 Are You Looking Forward To A Trump Presidency?
2016 Three Errors From Eureka
2015 Limiting Choices
2014 Praise The Lord And Pass The Hypocrisy
That Sound
2013 Still Waiting For Answers
2012 Informal Leadership
2011 A Little More Progress
2010 Bec’s Gone Again…

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Many scientists deeply involved in the exploration of the solar system (myself among them) were first turned in that direction by science fiction.  And the fact that some of that science fiction was not of the highest quality is irrelevant.  Ten-year-olds do not read the scientific literature.
    —   Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 Happy Thanksgiving (2019)
2018 And Smiles…
2017 Or Savor A Little Longer…
2016 Sometimes I Just Want To Smell The Flowers
2015 One Truth – Done Well
2014 Now In Imagination, On The Other Hand…
2013 No Plan, No Map
2012 Singing About Love
2011 The Awesome Power Of Truth

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“Are you a socialist?” Ted Turner asked Carl Sagan.  “I’m not sure what a socialist is,” Sagan replied.
But I believe the government has a responsibility to care for the people,” Sagan said.
“I’m talking about making people self-reliant, people able to take care of themselves,” he continued.  “There are countries which are perfectly able to do that.  The United States is an extremely rich country, it’s perfectly able to do that.  It chooses not to.  It chooses to have homeless people.”
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On This Day In:
2019 He Claims It’s Fake News And Spies
2018 Mine, Too
2017 Who’s Turn Is It Now?
2016 Before You Vote In November…
2015 Two Faithful Thoughts
2014 Love Light
Orange October (III) – Giants Advance To National League Championship Series (NLCS)
2013 Nothing Ridiculous
2012 Keeping Faith
2011 Summon Us, Don’t Criticize Us
2010 Obama’s Wars – Book Review
Game Two – Hearbreaking Loss

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There are many hypotheses in science that are wrong.  That’s perfectly alright; it’s the aperture to finding out what’s right.  Science is a self-correcting process.  To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.  The worst aspect of the Velikovsky affair is not that many of his ideas were wrong or silly or in gross contradiction to the facts; rather, the worst aspect is that some scientists attempted to suppress Velikovsky’s ideas.  The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.  We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system, and the history of our study of the solar system shows clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources.
   —   Carl Sagan
[Accidents happen…  As the saying goes:  “Even the blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.”  And, so it appears President Trump has (purely by stupid chance) stated a truth…
A few days ago, while visiting California to view the destruction being caused by wildfires, the President was advised one of the reasons for the massive fires is “Climate Change”.  Trump replied:  “It’ll start getting cooler.  You just watch.
I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot (Wade Crowfoot is California’s secretary for natural resources) countered.
Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump said.
As bizarre as it sounds, President Trump is correct (for all the wrong reasons).  To start off, in less than a week Autumn starts.  Followed by Winter!  So, yes, the daily temperature will start getting cooler.  The second part is the “squirrel finding the nut“.  No, “science” doesn’t KNOW if the climate will stay hot or get hotter.  Just as science doesn’t KNOW the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.  Science does, however, have a pretty good certainty that IF the sun does rise tomorrow, it will be in the East.  President Trump’s BASELESS claims “Climate Change” is a “hoax” and / or invented by the Chinese to cripple our economy are both as unscientific as they are silly, but that doesn’t make his “uncomfortable idea” wrong (from a scientific perspective).  His claim also erroneously conflates two issues:  1) is climate change real; and, 2) if it is real, what is causing it?
And, this is the problem (for science and all rational humanity):  we have overwhelming data supporting the theory of climate change; we don’t have overwhelming evidence of causation – just a LOT of data of correlation.  Our little blind squirrel is denying both the substantial data of change AND the substantial data of correlation.
True science requires that we admit the possibility “Climate Change” is not happening – despite the multiple decades of data which support the scientific conclusion “Climate Change” 1) is real, 2) has already happened, and 3) is getting worse.  More precisely, we must admit the possibility that our current understanding of why “Climate Change” appears to be happening is not valid, i.e., it’s not being caused by human production of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The policy question is:  What if our little squirrel is correct?   Well, if he is correct and there is no climate change, then “eventually” the consistent rise in temperature which the planet has been experiencing with revert back to the norm.  If humanity is lucky, this will happen soon (and quickly) and life will go on pretty much as it has for the last 10,000 years (or at least since the last major ice age).  Policy decision:  do nothing and hope for the best.
Alternatively, if he is correct the climate change (which has been accelerating for the last 50 years) is not caused by humans, what IS the cause and how do we slow, stop or reverse it?  If we don’t discover the “real” cause, humanity (and most of life as we know it) on Earth will become extinct.  Unfortunately, because the data has been so one sided (climate change is real and is happening NOW), we don’t have any good / reasonable alternative theories to human caused CO2 emissions.  Policy decision: we need to pore tons of money into research to come up with an alternative root cause which we can then pore TONS more money into correcting / fixing.   (All the while hoping and praying we’re not too late to fix the problem.)
And if our little squirrel is wrong about Climate Change and its cause?  Well, despite what we’ve seen over the last 20 years (droughts and wildfires / hurricanes and typhoons), you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Forty(40%) percent of humanity lives within 60 miles of an ocean.  What happens when the ocean levels rise and large swathes of that coastal area becomes uninhabitable due to flooding, storm surges and salination of coastal water supplies?  What happens to sea life when the salination in the oceans changes due to the increased ice melts dumping fresh water into their environment?  What happens to the rest of the life on Earth when there is a vast die-off of life in the world’s oceans?  Policy decision:  we better get busy because our window of opportunity to save the habitable planet we’ve known for the last 10,000 years is closing fast!!!
Our little squirrel is in his 70’s and probably won’t live to experience the full results of his blindness.  Somehow, I don’t find that comforting.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 Future Tools
Three Swedish Girls
2018 Four Loves
Favorite Westerns
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

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Our intelligence and our technology have given us the power to affect the climate.  How will we use this power?  Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family?  Do we value short-term advantages above the welfare of the Earth?  Or will we think on longer time scales, with concern for our children and our grandchildren, to understand and protect the complex life-support systems of our planet?  The Earth is a tiny and fragile world.  It needs to be cherished.
Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred.
  —   Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 Day 1: Done
#IncompetentDonald Fails On All Three
2018 I Put It Down To Bad Teachers
Day 34: In And Out
2017 And The Future Is Now
2016 I Am
2015 Positively Aiming Higher
2014 Suspicious Minds
2013 We Are Not Alone
2012 Lawyer, n.
2011 Each Day Remember…
2010 Impossible Dreams of Camelot

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When we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders.  They were well educated.  Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history.  They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility.  They were fluent in the English language.  They wrote their own speeches.  They were realistic and practical, and at the same time motivated by high principles.  They were not checking the pollsters on what to think this week.  They knew what to think.  They were comfortable with long-term thinking, planning even further ahead than the next election.  They were self-sufficient, not requiring careers as politicians or lobbyists to make a living.  They were able to bring out the best in us.  They were interested in and, at least two of them, fluent in science.  They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far future — not so much by establishing laws as by setting limits on what kinds of laws could be passed.  The Constitution and its Bill of Rights have done remarkably well, constituting, despite human weaknesses, a machine able, more often than not, to correct its own trajectory.  At that time, there were only about two and a half million citizens of the United States.  Today there are about a hundred times more.  So if there were ten people of the caliber of Thomas Jefferson then, there ought to be 10 x 100 = 1,000 Thomas Jefferson’s today.  Where are they?
  —   Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 My Last Must Be My Best
2018 Making Friends
Day 28: A Normal Loss And A Headache
2017 Sea Worthy
2016 Rising Integration
2015 No Worries
2014 Devouring The Present
2013 But So Far…
Twice Moved
2012 Just Like Bubbles
2011 Caring and Driving
Achieve Greatly
2010 Unwise To Trust
Attitude
If The Mind Is Not Tired
Irrationally Crazy
2nd Pair – Shoe Review
Ahnu – Gesundheit!
2009 As for me…
Health Care Reform Now!!

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