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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Sagan’

Consider again that dot.  That’s here.  That’s home.  That’s us.  On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.  The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.  Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.  Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life.  There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.  Visit, yes.  Settle, not yet.  Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.  There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.  To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 The Imposition Of Position
Rainin’ Fire In The Sky
2020 Stand Up!
Crowd Sourced Scouting Report
2019 Only One Direction
2018 Respect Is Long Gone
2017 Dream Of Dreamers
2016 Dear Automakers
2015 And Some Not So Brave Too
2014 In My Lifetime…
2013 Democracy
2012 Borrowed Expectations
2011 Not Necessarily True

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Even these stars, which seem so numerous, are as sand, as dust – or less than dust – in the enormity of the space in which there is nothing.
    —    Carl Sagan
No other planet in the solar system is a suitable home for human beings;  it’s this world or nothing.  That’s a very powerful perception.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 We Need Professional Journalists AND The First Amendment
It Was Rainin’ Hard
2020 Neither Alone, Nor Lonely
Giving
2019 That’s Why It’s Called Faith
2018 So We Agree, #45 Is Dumb – Too
2017 The Morality Of Spying
2016 He Doesn’t Remind Me Of Me
The First Rule
2015 Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow
The Man Without Fear
2014 I Blame Robocop
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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The brain is like a muscle.  When it is in use we feel very good.  Understanding is joyous.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 Fortes Fortuna Juvat*
Layin’ In Bed
2020 For Sale
2019 Letting Go
2018 Trying To Give More
2017 The Reproductive Value Of A Presidential Election
2016 For Me It’s Been Faith
2015 Where Many Paths And Errands Meet
2014 Rimmed Out
2013 Likeness
2012 Sums It Up Quite Well, Actually
2011 Momentary Abandonment

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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.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 Put ‘Er There
Are You Goin’ On Again?
2020 And In The Back
2019 Sunlight Stream
2018 Wars Without Taxes
2017 Multiplication And Division
2016 I Went To The Woods…
2015 I’ve Got To Run
2014 Which Is It?
2013 Making You Stronger
2012 Sick Of Being Sick
Greater Than Power
2011 Clear, Specific And Measurable
2010 The Runner’s High
Into The Dark…

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Science is … a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.  If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 I’d Argue Wealth, Then Income
Knock Him Off His Feet
2020 Steppin’…
2019 Every Vote Counts
2018 Or A President
2017 Pleasures
2016 Why Not?
2015 Je Suis Charlie
2014 To The Nines
2013 Higher And Truer
2012 Life’s Last Question
2011 A Single Heartbeat
A Little Male Humor – WHY MEN SHOULDN’T RETIRE

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Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome Universe that utterly dwarfs — in time, in space, and in potential — the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.  We gaze across billions of light-years of space to view the Universe shortly after the Big Bang, and plumb the fine structure of matter.  We peer down into the core of our planet, and the blazing interior of our star.  We read the genetic language in which is written the diverse skills and propensities of every being on Earth.  We uncover hidden chapters in the record of our origins, and with some anguish better understand our nature and prospects.  We invent and refine agriculture, without which almost all of us would starve to death.  We create medicines and vaccines that save the lives of billions.  We communicate at the speed of light, and whip around the Earth in an hour and a half.  We have sent dozens of ships to more than seventy worlds, and four spacecraft to the stars.  We are right to rejoice in our accomplishments, to be proud that our species has been able to see so far, and to judge our merit in part by the very science that has so deflated our pretensions.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 A Weary Rehearsal?
Are You Poking Me Again?
2019 At Least Mostly On Purpose
2018 Only One You In All Time
2017 Have You Hugged A Tree Lately?
2016 Unconquerable Imagination
2015 Just Plain Wrong
2014 Finding Beliefs
2013 Pretty Confident
2012 Effective Ranges
2011 Three Wisdoms
2010 I’m Just Askin’…
Space & Time

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It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery.  But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red?  It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Build It To Last
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2019 30 Day Health / Weight Update (Oct 2019)
When Reason Comes
2018 One Of The Great Ones
2017 Mirror In The Oval Office
True Courage
2016 What’s Your Excuse?
2015 Some Meaningful Resemblance
2014 Bloom
Orange October (VII) – The Giants Win The Pennant!!
2013 Walking The Walk
2012 Legacy Of Star Trek (TOS)
2011 Tolerating The Intolerant
Passionate Germs
2010 Giants Win Game 1 In Philly (4 to 3)!!

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Here we face a critical branch point in history, what we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants.
We are star stuff, which has taken its destiny into its own hands.  The loom of time and space works the most astonishing transformations of matter.  Our own planet is only a tiny part of the vast cosmic tapestry, a starry fabric of worlds yet untold.  Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth.  Each of those worlds is as real as ours.  In every one of them there’s a succession of incidents, events, occurrences, which influence its future.  Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time, and our small planet at this moment — here we face a critical branch point in history.  What we do with our world, right now will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants.  It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well.  If we capitulate a superstition or greed or stupidity, we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance.  But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet, to enhance enormously our understanding of the universe and to carry us to the stars.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 3 November Is Coming!
Bee Gees’ing
2019 Senate Republicans: Impeachment – Because It Is Right!
Dave’s Not Here, Man!
Mixing Business And Pleasure
2018 Intensity Doesn’t Make It Correct
HF2: 1940’s Grapes
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
It’s Alive!! (3rd Pair Shoe Review)

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In the long run, the aggressive civilizations destroy themselves, almost always.  It’s their nature.  They can’t help it.
    —    Carl Sagan
[Does anybody else remember when being a conservative Republican meant supporting the troops, law and order and an efficient, cost effective government?  Now, Republicans criticize the commander of the Joint Chiefs, support insurrection in the Capitol Building and are threatening to ruin the “good faith and credit” of the United States by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.  Let’s recall, the current budget (which Congress agreed to) was signed by a Republican President.  These are debts the Republicans ALREADY committed to owing when they passed last year’s budget.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Michigan Countdown
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2019 Speak Up / Call Out
2018 Does Smiling Count?
2017 Giving Much
2016 Sounds Like Class
2015 Inert Ideas
2014 Worth Anything?
2013 Bruises Before Bed (Or Why You Didn’t Answer)
Revealed Riches
2012 Extra Gears
2011 Say What?
2010 Hello Frogs…

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Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group.  Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations.  We have broadened the circle of those we love.  We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together — surely a humanizing and character building experience.  If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth.  Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant.  They will fear the loss of power.  We will hear much about treason and disloyalty.  Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones.  But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 Stay Gentle
2019 Immoral #45
2018 From My Soapbox
2017 The Single Most Effective Thing For Health
2016 A Trumpet Solo
2015 Potential Is A Heavy Burden
2014 Fear Not, Weep Not
2013 Half Way There
2012 Sacrificed Any Lately?
2011 The Value Of One’s Character
2010 Intervals
On Being Human
Non-predictive Emergence
Events
Bodily Functions
Standing Thoughts
Sent Home Is Better Than Fixed

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Unlike the La Pérouse expedition the Conquistadors sought not knowledge but Gold.  They used their superior weapons to loot and murder, in their madness they obliterated a civilization.  In the name of piety, in a mockery of their religion, the Spaniards utterly destroyed a society with an Art, Astronomy and Architecture the equal of anything in Europe.  We revile the Conquistadors for their cruelty and shortsightedness, for choosing death.  We admire La Pérouse and the Tlingit for their courage and wisdom, for choosing life.  The choice is with us still, but the civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity.  As the ancient myth makers knew we’re children equally of the earth and the sky.  In our tenure on this planet we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage, propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders, all of which puts our survival in some doubt.  But we’ve also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience and a great soaring passionate intelligence, the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.  Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth.   But up there in the Cosmos an inescapable perspective awaits.  National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space.  Fanatical ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our Earth as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and the citadel of the stars.  There are not yet obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours rush inevitably headlong into self-destruction.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2020 It Is Still About Sharing And Cheering
2019 Sounds Like #LyingDonald
2018 Start Building
2017 Woof! Woof!
2016 Cast Out
2015 Small Pieces
Happy Father’s Day!
2014 Uncertain Work
2013 Unpatriotic And Servile
2012 What Price Freedom?
2011 Particular Importance
Three From Bette…

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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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