Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Cosmos

Cosmos has 13 heavily illustrated chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. In the book, Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science. The book also...

Title:Cosmos
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Edition Language:English

Cosmos Reviews

  • Esther

    Can I give this one ten stars? If I had a religion, I would be a Carl Saganian. Love him so much.

  • Daniella

    I'm not sure what I could possibly say about

    that hasn't already been said by countless others in the 28 years since its publication, and likely in a far more intelligent and eloquent way than I ever could. But upon recently reading this book for the first time (which may seem a bit belated, but I am, after all, only 23) it instantly became one of my favorites, a status not easily attained by any book, and so I feel compelled to say something, to expound upon its many virtues and why it h

    I'm not sure what I could possibly say about

    that hasn't already been said by countless others in the 28 years since its publication, and likely in a far more intelligent and eloquent way than I ever could. But upon recently reading this book for the first time (which may seem a bit belated, but I am, after all, only 23) it instantly became one of my favorites, a status not easily attained by any book, and so I feel compelled to say something, to expound upon its many virtues and why it has endeared itself to me so completely.

    Perhaps prophetically, this is exactly the effect the late great Dr. Sagan acheived with this book. Through the power and fluid elegance of his prose, while reading

    I could almost hear that familiar and somehow majestic voice (which in large part, I believe, made the PBS miniseries of the same name so wholly entrancing), as if the two of us were old friends having a leisurely, albeit profoundly intellectual, chat over coffee. Not exactly what one might expect from a book largely concerned with science, but this is just one of many qualities that makes it not only endearing to the reader, but also--and perhaps more importantly--accessible, making even the smattering of complex equations seem casual and undaunting.

    Aside from the beauty of its prose, which is at times poetic in its depth and its eloquence,

    is also wholly engaging and fascinating in the depth and scope of its subects. Sagan succinctly and expertly covers everything from the birth of stars to the birth of science, the origins of life on Earth to the possibility of life on other planets, and our far distant and recent (in the grand cosmic scheme of things) past to the possibilities for our distant future. And yes, because science is constantly evolving and, as Dr. Sagan states, self-correcting, some of the information and theories covered may now be outdated, but I still believe that

    is well worth reading. Not only can it serve as a friendly, accessible, and engrossing jumping-off point for we common folk who are interested in delving deeper into science but may feel a bit intimidated, it is also, if nothing else, worth reading for the beautifully poignant and evocative insights and the oft-philosophical tidbits contained therein.

    My only complaints about

    are these: the last two or three chapters lag just a bit, incorporating several topics that seem extraneous and unnecessary, and somewhat lose the smooth, easy flow present throughout the rest of the book; and though I feel that, in the current world political climate, the section discussing nuclear arms is still as relevant today as then, I can't help but think that anybody above the age of 12 and possessing a fully-functioning cerebral cortex is already aware of the potential consequences of nuclear war (gamma burst, radiation poisoning, junk in the atmosphere, nuclear winter, death, doom, destruction, we get it already). However, I can concede on this last point that, at the time of publication, the aftermath of a full-scale nuclear war was perhaps still a pretty hot topic. And in the grand scheme, these negative points make up only a negligible fraction of this otherwise fantastic book, and do not in anyway detract from its intrinsic value or from its overall enjoyability.

    All in all,

    is a thoroughly enthralling read that takes you on a breath-taking journey from the inception of the Universe to futures that may never be, and allows us to ponder--when considering our own epic journey from starstuff to "assemblages of a billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of atoms"--what it truly means to be human and what our place, our purpose, is in the vast expanse of "this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky".

  • Bettie☯

    Re-visit 2016:

    1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean: After an introduction by Ann Druyan, including the benefits of the end of the Cold War, Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a "Spaceship of the Imagination" (shaped like a dandelion seed). The ship journeys through the universes' hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' attempt to calculate the circum

    Re-visit 2016:

    1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean: After an introduction by Ann Druyan, including the benefits of the end of the Cold War, Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a "Spaceship of the Imagination" (shaped like a dandelion seed). The ship journeys through the universes' hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' attempt to calculate the circumference of Earth leads to a description of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Finally, the "Ages of Science" are described, before pulling back to the full span of the Cosmic Calendar.

    2: One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue : Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of the theory of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous--Tertiary extinction event)

    Heaven and Hell: Sagan discusses comets and asteroids as planetary impactors, giving recent examples of the Tunguska event and a lunar impact described by Canterbury monks in 1178. It moves to a description of the environment of Venus, from the previous fantastic theories of people such as Immanuel Velikovsky to the information gained by the Venera landers and its implications for Earth's greenhouse effect. The Cosmos Update highlights the connection to global warming.

    1908 Siberia

    Tunguska

    5: Blues for a red planet: The episode, devoted to the planet Mars, begins with scientific and fictional speculation about the Red Planet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Edgar Rice Burroughs' science fiction books, and Percival Lowell's false vision of canals on Mars). It then moves to Robert Goddard's early experiments in rocket-building, inspired by reading science fiction, and the work by Mars probes, including the Viking, searching for life on Mars. The episode ends with the possibility of the terraforming and colonization of Mars and a Cosmos Update on the relevance of Mars' environment to Earth's and the possibility of a manned mission to Mars.

    6: Traveller's Tales: The journeys of the Voyager probes is put in the context of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, with a centuries-long tradition of sailing ship explorers, and its contemporary thinks (such as Constantijn Huygens and his son Christian). Their discoveries are compared to the Voyager probes' discoveries among the Jovian and Saturn systems. In Cosmos Update, image processing reconstructs Voyager's worlds and Voyager's last portrait of the Solar System as it leaves is shown.

    Definitely need an up-to-date version with all that has been discovered since this was published in 1980

  • Saud Omar

    من مدونتي: ثمانون كتابا بحثا عن مخرج

    ***

    لو كنت سوف أقرأ كتاب علمياً واحداً في حياتي, بل لو كنت سوف أقراء كتاباً بشرياً واحداً, سوف أختار كتاب الكون لكارل ساغان.

    عادة يكون هدف الكتب العلمية التي تكتب لغير المختصين هو تبسيط المعلومة, لكن كتاب الكون يسلك مسلكا أخر, كتاب الكون كتاب يتأمل في الكون.

    يحوي كتاب الكون ثلاثة عشر فصلاً, هذه الفصول كتبت بأسلوب غير تراكمي؛ بمعنى أنك تستطيع قراءة أي فصل دون أن تقرأ الفصول التي قبله, وتتباين هذه الفصول في مواضيعها وفي مجالات هذه المو

    من مدونتي: ثمانون كتابا بحثا عن مخرج

    ***

    لو كنت سوف أقرأ كتاب علمياً واحداً في حياتي, بل لو كنت سوف أقراء كتاباً بشرياً واحداً, سوف أختار كتاب الكون لكارل ساغان.

    عادة يكون هدف الكتب العلمية التي تكتب لغير المختصين هو تبسيط المعلومة, لكن كتاب الكون يسلك مسلكا أخر, كتاب الكون كتاب يتأمل في الكون.

    يحوي كتاب الكون ثلاثة عشر فصلاً, هذه الفصول كتبت بأسلوب غير تراكمي؛ بمعنى أنك تستطيع قراءة أي فصل دون أن تقرأ الفصول التي قبله, وتتباين هذه الفصول في مواضيعها وفي مجالات هذه المواضيع, فالكتاب يتحدث عن مكاننا في الكون, وأصل الحياة, تتطور الإنسان, جيراننا الكواكب, النظرية النسبية, وإمكانية وجود حضارات أخرى, وغيرها الكثير.

    القاسم المشترك بين مواضيع الكتاب أنها – في النهاية – تجعلنا نفهم الكون بشكل أفضل, وللأسف الشديد تم تجاهل ثلاث فصول من الكتاب عند نقله للغة العربية, وهو ما يشكل تقريباً ربع الكتاب الأصلي.

    كتاب الكون كتاب يتأمل في الكون, وعن طريق هذا التأمل نجده يتأمل بين فقرات فصوله في الإنسان, وثقافته, وتطوره, يتأمل في السياسة, يتأمل في التاريخ, يتأمل في الحرب, يتأمل في الحياة؛ لأن لا سبيل لنا لفهم الكون ما لم نفهم الإنسان, ولا سبيل لنا لفهم الإنسان ما لم نفهم الكون.

    قصة تأليف الكتاب بدأت عام 1976 حين كان مؤلف الكتاب منهمكا في العمل مع فريق عمل المركبة الفضائية ( فايكينغ ) المعدة للذهاب للمريخ, حينها استطاع مع رفاقه ولأول مره في تاريخ البشرية أن يرسوا مركبتين فضائيتين على سطح كوكب المريخ, وكانت نتائج عملهم رائعة, لكن الإعلام للأسف لم يعر هذا الانتصار الفلكي أي اهتمام, مما حدا بكارل ساغان وأحد المسئولين عن مشروع الفايكينغ أن يقوما بإنشاء شركة إنتاج تكرس جهودها لنقل العلم إلى الناس بطريقة مشوقة, وكان باكورة إنتاج هذه الشركة هو المسلسل التلفزيوني العظيم المذهل الكون, والذي تم العمل عليه لمدة ثلاث سنوات, وقد شاهد هذا المسلسل أكثر من 600 مليون مشاهد – 10% من البشرية – في أكثر من 60 دولة, وهو ما جعله المسلسل الأكثر مشاهدة في أمريكا حتى عام 1990, وقد صدر بالتوازي مع المسلسل هذا الكتاب. المسلسل عبارة عن ثلاثة عشرة حلقة, مدة كل حلقة ساعة تقريباً, وكل حلقة من المسلسل توازي فصل من الكتاب, وكما يمكنك ان تتوقع, الكتاب يُفصِّل أكثر في الطرح, بينما المسلسل يجذب ويثير أكثر, وبالمناسبة حلقات المسلسل موجودة في موقع قوقل للفيديو.

    في هذا الكتاب, وفي كتابات كارل ساغان عموماً, هناك دائماً أربع ميزات تجعل مما يكتبه هذا الرجل كنزاً إنسانياً نفيساً.

    الميزة الأولى: تتصف كتاباته بمستوى ثقافة وإطلاع مذهل جداً, أثناء قراءتك لكارل ساغان سوف تشعر تجاهه بنفس الشعور الآمن الطفولي الذي كان يساورك أثناء الحصص المدرسية بأن المدرس يعرف كل شيء.

    الميزة الثانية: البعد الإنساني, أياً كان الموضوع الذي يتحدث عنه كارل ساغان, سوف تجده يرتبط في النهاية ارتباطا وثيقا بالإنسانية, سواء كان بمصيرها أو بتاريخها أو بسلوكها, هناك دائما أفق أنساني يلوح فوق أي سطر يكتبه كارل.

    الميزة الثالثة: منهج الشك, لا يوجد أي شيء مُسلّم به في كتابات كارل ساغان, كل شيء عرضه للمسألة والتحقيق والمحاكمة والمقاضاة.

    الميزة الرابعة: أسلوب الكتابة الرائع, أسلوبه بالفعل جدير بأن يُدَّرس, وكان وصف أحد الصحف دقيقا حين كتبت بأنه يقنعك – ولو مؤقتاً على الأقل – بأن لا شيء أخر يمكن أن يكون أكثر إثارة.

    في النهاية لا أستطيع أن أقول سوى: يا له من خطأ جسيم أن لا تقرأ هذا الكتاب أو تشاهد المسلسل!

  • Huda Yahya

    على الهامش

    النسخة المترجمة للكتاب حذفت ثلاثة فصول كاملين أعتقد لترابطها بمفاهيم نشأة الأرض والأديان

  • Samadrita

    I wonder what Carl Sagan may have thought of 9/11 and the world in the new millennium, a strife-torn place which is being shaken up and shaken out every moment. I imagine the civil but slightly horrified and slightly bemused tone he may have employed while talking about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the antics of the Bush administration which have become such excellent fodder for stand up comedians the world over. And I can almost detect the note of boyish enthusiasm in his voice while he ma

    I wonder what Carl Sagan may have thought of 9/11 and the world in the new millennium, a strife-torn place which is being shaken up and shaken out every moment. I imagine the civil but slightly horrified and slightly bemused tone he may have employed while talking about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the antics of the Bush administration which have become such excellent fodder for stand up comedians the world over. And I can almost detect the note of boyish enthusiasm in his voice while he may have spoken of the Higgs Boson and explained the reasons behind the incorrect observation readings of the

    experiment that had made the headlines a few years ago.

    I can only imagine because he wasn't there to witness these watershed events and he isn't here to offer comment, criticism or share his inexhaustible repository of knowledge with us any longer. His time in the Cosmos had run out within two decades of the publication of this work - a testament to his own belief in the staggering inferiority of our evanescent lifetimes in the scheme of the universe(s).

    It would be nice if I could summarize each one of the 13 chapters of 'Cosmos' and give readers the lowdown on our painstakingly slow but rewarding crawl through the fabric of space and time, the civilizational hurdle race towards a finish line which we can neither begin to envision nor fully comprehend yet.

    I could write a review in the conventional format, leaving you with a gentle nudge to read this book as soon as you can.

    Or, instead, I could simply write about how, despite being more than 30 years outdated, Carl Sagan's voice of reason rings truer than ever, cutting through the heart of all the din and chaos of our troubled times. I could just tell you how Sagan's deep and abiding love for nature and humanity reverberates in every page of this work and how our scientific endeavours across timelines and geographical boundaries, across the unending void which surrounds us on all sides, symbolize our collective pursuit of knowledge.

    The Cold War is a now defunct appendage of our history, the Soviet Union is no more, America has achieved a milestone in its race relations by welcoming its first African American President. But turmoil in the world order persists - the nuclear arms race between the Americans and the Soviets has been replaced by a newer dance of dominance in the Asia Pacific region. The world is as much embroiled in a mesh of steadily growing list of challenges as it was in the past, if not more. Preposterous decrees issued by fanatical outfits, blatant human rights violations, infringement on freedom of speech and expression, diplomatic arm-wrestling, the ever-enthusiastic decriers of science,

    , the shouts of the global-warming deniers reign supreme still. The players may have changed faces but the game of petty one-upmanship in the arena of global politics still continues unabated.

    Which is why Sagan's rousing call for all of mankind to unite under the identity of citizens of the

    and not as citizens of a nation moves me to the core of my being. His recapitulation of our scientific advancements achieved against the tide of adverse circumstances, of the victories won in the face of persecution by religious authority, impresses upon us a sense of urgency - that with the exponential increase in the defense budgets of the global powers, the incentive given to the greatest minds of our times to devote time and energy to unraveling the mysteries of the Cosmos is reduced. As the concept of 'nuclear deterrence' receives a pat on the back, the global arms sales numbers continuing to soar despite hollow promises of arms control, more and more scientists are being engaged in improving weapons technology rather than validating the fact of our existence against the intimidating presence of the stars, galaxies and universes. The NASA budget cuts of recent times are proof of this ignominy.

    Is it to this end that the ancient advanced cities like Alexandria, the destroyed civilizations of Ionia and the Aztecs and pioneers such as Eratosthenes, Democritus, Aristarchus, Hypatia, Leonardo da Vinci, Copernicus, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Christiaan Huygens, Issac Newton and Albert Einstein worked tirelessly for? To further intensify mutual national antagonism and increase our probability of complete self-annihilation?

    Sagan thinks not.

    This is why I can't help but agree quite heartily with someone who says

    If there is only one worldly diktat we must abide by with unquestioning faith, let it be this one.

  • rahul

    A five stars to this book.

    Stars borrowed from skies that I witnessed when I was eight or maybe ten and would wake up early at pre-dawn, because that was the best time for star gazing after all.

    To read Mr.Sagan, the words so simple describing the Universe so complex. To read a small passage and follow it up with a sleep filled with dreams of all those stars dying and being born every passing moment.

    To recall, days of childish innocence gazing towards the infinite.Gazing in anticipation of recog

    A five stars to this book.

    Stars borrowed from skies that I witnessed when I was eight or maybe ten and would wake up early at pre-dawn, because that was the best time for star gazing after all.

    To read Mr.Sagan, the words so simple describing the Universe so complex. To read a small passage and follow it up with a sleep filled with dreams of all those stars dying and being born every passing moment.

    To recall, days of childish innocence gazing towards the infinite.Gazing in anticipation of recognizing a constellation or an anticipated meteor shower.

    To pause while reading and reflect, wonder. To attempt understanding things with closed eyes.

    To hear back from the infinite, after all these many years. Because thoughts might after all travel through vacuum.

    To think what has been thought centuries ago, but not by you yet.

    To take a possibility, and create countless possibilities.

    To be curious, to question. To look at things with not just your eyes. To be looked back from an infinite distance, with your own eyes.

    To the journeys we could take each night, only if we gave ourselves the chance to.

    To Pause.To realize that this moment ephemeral as it is, and only one among a multiple of possible moments,still

    .

  • Duane

    I saw the TV series years before I read the book. I'm glad I did; I was able to project the image and voice of Carl Sagan into the words on the page. If there is a better science related, non-fiction book out there, please, someone point it out to me.

    Revised Oct. 2017.

  • Kalliope

    The Star system in GR is absolutely inadequate for rating this book.

    Gosh, I should not use the term ‘absolutely’ for something in which everything orbits around relativity.

    Anyway, I think something like this would give a better idea of my opinion about this book: my rating is an universe of zillions to the power of zillions of stars, …and expanding.

    My rating:

    What a brilliant read this has been. I have read it very slowly; one chapter a week. But what are thirteen weeks in relation to cosmic ti

    The Star system in GR is absolutely inadequate for rating this book.

    Gosh, I should not use the term ‘absolutely’ for something in which everything orbits around relativity.

    Anyway, I think something like this would give a better idea of my opinion about this book: my rating is an universe of zillions to the power of zillions of stars, …and expanding.

    My rating:

    What a brilliant read this has been. I have read it very slowly; one chapter a week. But what are thirteen weeks in relation to cosmic time? I have also read it in parallel to watching the DVD programs. What a treat this has been to have Carl Sagan in the little and measurable and limited space of my living room, bringing home and explaining to me, the immensity of all that space and dust and gas and light and fire and immeasurable time.

    Sagan’s mind is truly cosmic, in scope and in outlook. We accompany him as he pulls together history, with the pre-Socratic, the Alexandrians, Leonardo, Kepler and Tycho Brahe, Huygens, Einstein, with the basics of biology and chemistry and physics and astronomy.

    I particularly liked his explanation of the effects of Relativity on the light spectrum on board of an Italian Vespa, in a true Pasolini manner. I smiled at the candid StarTreckish nave from which we travel through his half-observed-half-fictional universe. I gasped to see he was using a touch screen to navigate his craft, realizing this would have seemed so fancy back in the early 1980s when Sagan’s program and book were all the rage, and which for us is now so irritatingly ubiquitous.

    I loved his survey of the Lives of Stars and his anecdote of his first trip to the library as a kid, when upon his request for a book on stars the Librarian gave him a book on Hollywood actors and actresses. Startling are also the simulations in the film version of the encounter of various objects and any given galaxy. Unforgettable.

    The contents are primarily a laudable exposition of what he calls the language of the universe--the language of science--, which he deciphers as if he were handling a Rosetta stone of multiple dimensions. But a running argument, and I suspect one motivation behind this wondrous book and program, is his deeply human and humane quest to undo our main enemies: superstition and violence.

    Produced during the Cold War, the book seems a mission launched to make us aware of our origins and our circumstances and increase our awareness of the possibilities of self-destruction. His work is an epic from a savior with a cosmic projection.

    But the most precious impression I have gathered in this reading is a reminder of how infinitesimally small I am and the inconsequence of my being. But also how, in spite of my own insignificance, how lucky I am to be one more specimen of this wondrous phenomenon of evolution through which a conscience is formed in a strange and extraordinary combination of a few natural elements.

    Rather than depressing, I have found this thought heartening.

    A reminder that I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

    Which means to keep reading books and bask in the knowledge transmitted to me through this wonderful medium, invented by us.

    Sagan after all begins and ends his account with the Alexandrian Library.

    He understood.

  • Joseph

    Science is changing the way we see the universe at a rapid pace. Black holes, gravity waves, Higgs boson, and dark matter were (mathematical) theories a generation ago. Today they are reality. Popular science television shows can teach the public about quantum theory but anything over ten years old is pretty much out of date. How can a publication on general science over thirty-five years out of date be relevant in the world today? It depends on who and how the story is told. Carl Sagan possesse

    Science is changing the way we see the universe at a rapid pace. Black holes, gravity waves, Higgs boson, and dark matter were (mathematical) theories a generation ago. Today they are reality. Popular science television shows can teach the public about quantum theory but anything over ten years old is pretty much out of date. How can a publication on general science over thirty-five years out of date be relevant in the world today? It depends on who and how the story is told. Carl Sagan possessed a quality that that was very inclusive. He did not speak down to people or try to show how much smarter he is (unlike another “cosmos” guy) than the general public. He spoke with a sage-like wisdom and in a way that Buddhist monk would speak, but without the riddles -- Here is what I have and I wish to share it with you. Sagan foremost was human and looked at things in a very human way.

    The story of science, our understanding of the cosmos, is, of course, our view as humanity. Cosmos covers the beginning of the universe, life on earth, the rise of man, and what man has accomplished. The Library at Alexandria was an ancient high point. It’s destruction and the murder of Hypatia a low point. Knowledge was willingly destroyed. Mankind rose and fought discovering science. Man excelled in launching Voyager space probes but failed in the nuclear build up of the Cold War which was still in full force while this book was being written. There is a lament over what could be done if so much wasn’t invested in destruction.

    Cosmos remains as interesting relevant after thirty-five years and will likely remain relevant in another thirty-five. Cosmos remains a book about science and a book about mankind and his quest for knowledge as well the suppression of knowledge. But, there is hope. As Sagan said:

    “The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

    Audiobook read by LaVar Burton (Star Trek TNG and the Reading Rainbow)

    Introductions by (and read by) Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson


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