If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Category: Astronomy

Carl Sagan – Cosmos (1980)

The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.

Carl Sagan – Cosmos (1980)

I believe our future depends powerfully upon how well we understand this cosmos, in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot (1994)

All our self-inflicted environmental problems, all our weapons of mass destruction are products of science and technology. So, you might say, let’s just back off from science and technology. Let’s admit that these tools are simply too hot to handle. Let’s create a simpler society, in which no matter how careless or short-sighted we are, we’re incapable of altering the environment on a global or even on a regional scale. …

Such a world culture is unstable, though, in the long run if not the short–because of the speed of technological advance. … Unless there are severe constraints on thought and action, in a flash we’ll be back to where we are today. … And while such a devolution of the global civilization, were it possible, might conceivably address the problem of self-inflicted technological catastrophe, it would also leave us defenseless against eventual asteroidal and cometary impacts.

Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot (1994)

It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths and fewer of our weaknesses, a species returned to circumstances more like those for which it was originally evolved, more confident, farseeing, capable, and prudent–the sorts of beings we would want to represent us in a Universe that, for all we know, is filled with species much older, much more powerful, and very different.

Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot (1994)

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 understand a little bit about it.

Edward Harrison – Cosmology (2000)

No person entering the third millennium may claim to have a liberal education who has not glimpsed, however briefly, the universe of general relativity.