The near side of a galaxy is tens of thousands of light-years closer to us than the far side; thus we see the front as it was tens of thousands of years before the back. But typical events in galactic dynamics occupy tens of millions of years, so the error in thinking of an image of a galaxy as frozen in one moment of time is small.
And you are made of a hundred trillion cells. We are, each of us, a multitude.
The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.
Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing.
The reappearance of the crescent moon after the new moon; the return of the Sun after a total eclipse, the rising of the Sun in the morning after its troublesome absence at night were noted by people around the world; these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death. Up there in the skies was also a metaphor of immortality.
Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.
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.
Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.
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.
By looking far out into space we are also looking far back into time, back toward the horizon of the universe, back toward the epoch of the Big Bang.
There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That's perfectly all right: it's the aperture to finding out what's right. Science is a self-correcting process.
Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.
Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.
We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.
We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.
It is said that men may not be the dreams of the god, but rather that the gods are the dreams of men.
What a marvelous cooperative arrangement - plants and animals each inhaling each other's exhalations, a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.
Observation: I can't see a thing. Conclusion: Dinosaurs.
When we look up at night and view the stars, everything we see is shinning because of distant nuclear fusion.
The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.
You are worth about 3 dollars worth in chemicals.
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.
The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us -- there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
The lifetime of a human being is measured by decades, the lifetime of the Sun is a hundred million times longer. Compared to a star, we are like mayflies, fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out their lives in the course of a single day.
There is a lurking fear that some things are 'not meant' to be known, that some inquiries are too dangerous for human being to make.
Personally, I would be delighted if there were a life after death, especially if it permitted me to continue to learn about this world and others, if it gave me a chance to discover how history turns out.
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Philosophers and scientists confidently offer up traits said to be uniquely human, and the monkeys and apes casually knock them down -- toppling the pretension that humans constitute some sort of biological aristocracy among the beings on Earth.
I can find in my undergraduate classes, bright students who do not know that the stars rise and set at night, or even that the Sun is a star.
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
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.
If intelligence is our only edge, we must learn to use it better, to shape it, to understand its limitations and deficiencies -- to use it as cats use stealth, as katydids use camouflage -- to make it the tool of our survival.
A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.
When you make the finding yourself - even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light - you'll never forget it.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
The gears of poverty, ignorance, hopelessness and low self-esteem interact to create a kind of perpetual failure machine that grinds down dreams from generation to generation. We all bear the cost of keeping it running. Illiteracy is its linchpin.
All inquires carry with them some element of risk. There is no guarantee that the universe will conform to our predispositions.
It Is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English -- up to 50 words used in correct context -- no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.
We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
I would be very ashamed of my civilization if we did not try to find out if there is life in outer space.
The uniqueness of humans has been claimed on many grounds, but most often because of our tool-making, culture, language, reason and morality. We have them, the other animals don't, and -- so the argument goes -- that's that.
Books tap the wisdom of our species -- the greatest minds, the best teachers -- from all over the world and from all our history. And they're patient.
We live at a moment when our relationships to each other, and to all other beings with whom we share this planet, are up for grabs.
One of the greatest gifts adults can give -- to their offspring and to their society -- is to read to children.
More Carl Sagan Quotations (Based on Topics)
Science - Astronomy & Cosmology - World - Books - Mind - Wisdom & Knowledge - Time - Computers & Technology - Thought & Thinking - Ignorance - Society & Civilization - Religions & Spirituality - Evolution - Death & Dying - Nature - Space - Night - Reasoning - Philosophy - View All Carl Sagan Quotations
More Carl Sagan Quotations (By Book Titles)
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - Richard Dawkins - Paul R. Ehrlich - Paracelsus - Otto Hahn - Joseph Priestley - Claude Levi-Strauss - Carolus Linnaeus - Antoine Lavoisier - Alfred Russel Wallace