Sagan’s Fascinating Voyage into Outer Space – Read to Feed to Lead
Carl Sagan the name is synonymous with the word Cosmos. It is not that because he has written the book Cosmos but the way he has made us all fall in love with world beyond our world. He is not just a scientific author of prose but a magical storyteller par excellence; he doubles up in this book as a poet on the subject of universe. There is romance in the way he has flirted with the frames of space.
Cosmos, a science book for the non-scientist.
“It reads like a mystery book.”
“There is science.”
“There is philosophy.”
It keeps unraveling, chapter after chapter and there is so much information loaded in each paragraph, it forces us to stay put and re-read to do justice to the body of work. He has made astronomy reading a child plays. There is so much outside our world that we are merely a drop in the ocean but the quintessential question where is the space beginning and where it ends, the question continues to intriguing us after so many theories and hypothesis put forth of by many great scientists.
There is lavish usage of metaphors to aphorisms to symbols to signaling the significance of the world outside our world. He is profusely lyrical and periodical whimsical making the reading flow smoothly and suddenly take off and landing in another safe zone.
In the beginning, when the beginning itself remains questionable but whenever it was, it must have been a fascinating event and if it was a Big Bang. The story of Big Bang is intriguing. The Universe took its birth and it started to grow and it has taken billions of years to build its body structure. The universe is a space and space must have come from something and that something is nothing, just like zero has no standing by itself but when it stands with someone else it literally stands out. So is nothing when it stands with something it states its stature, and what is that something nobody knows and where from God comes into existence to make that nothing become something.
What matters in the universe is the matter and how has the matter come into existence?
Carl Sagan covers the contribution from Galileo to Copernicus to Tyco Brahe to Johannes Kepler to Christian Huygens to Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein…he touches the stories from Eratosthenes to Pythagoras. There is an extensive exploration of the treasure trove in the Library of Alexandria.
Cosmos, a book that eternally changes our perspective of our world we live and brings so much meaning into our life; we suddenly realize that how silly we are in our arguments and how parochial we are in our behaviour. We are deceptively imprisoned in our own world when the world around us is epitome of infinite freedom, the universe is there and we are here like a speck of color on a large canvas.
The book is indeed a treasure house and it has everything we want to know about universe, it is an encyclopedia on the world beyond our world. Indeed our universe is incredible and we are incredibly lucky to have been gifted with the book by Carl Sagan. It is a book that invokes an experience that is life changing. Never easy to take such an abstract and abstruse subject and make it concrete and conceptually clear for any reader. His imagination is so versatile and fertile that you don’t know what comes next and how come something like that unexpectedly landed in that part of book.
It starts with what we know and then it gradually navigates us to smoothly expand our circle of knowledge without getting encircled by the complexity of the subject. Not easy to dissect Cosmology. How microscopic we are in the massive world of universe that we are an insignificant part making some significance of our existence. There is sound reasoning to historical references to philosophical insights to sumptuous illustrations.
The bigger question, are we alone in this planet, is it a lonely planet in the space with billions of galaxies. Nothing can be explained beyond assumptions, hypothesis and postulation. It has to be the role of supreme hand; God is there, somewhere orchestrating the play that is unfolding in this infinite universe.
Then, how come God decided to exclusively give Earth the sole privilege to nurture life and why so? What’s wrong with millions of other planets in our universe? Why this preferential treatment and what is that Earth has done for God and why has God fallen in love with Mother Earth only.
The book takes us through everything and every question that haunts us. Right from the evolution of human being to the ever expanding world of the interstellar space and from the realms of religious discourse to the reality of modern scientific discovery that have shaped our thoughts. Infinitesimal position that humanity occupies in this universe, we are ignorant and perhaps it is not the best way to describe it is not ignorance is bliss. We are trapped in the self created envelope of idiosyncrasies of life. He saw the big picture and how to rise above the petty things and bridge the differences that is dividing the civilization on this sole planet blessed with life. The fear, the fight, hating to cutting, we have taken life for granted and we undermine our own conscience without being mindful of the consequences that confronts us with those wrong doings.
Building understanding through mutual awareness of our common humanity, knowledge and pure knowledge that can be a beautiful bridge erasing the differences between mankind.
The book covers the civilization from Greek to Romans. Cosmos is a Greek word that stands for the order of the universe, and it is in a way opposite of Chaos. There is a deep inter-connections of things freely floating in this vast space and there is a subtle way how this universe is weaved together to present to us the mankind as a designer fabric. Carl Sagan makes science beautiful and exciting. He takes us through a time machine, a space voyager streaming the sections of the iterative process happening for many billions of years and use of the word billion leaves us in wonder.
If you have a curious mind and you have found it difficult to anchor it and you have been frantically searching for a tool that tap the mind to make some meaning out of our maddening search, the search stops here at the doorstep of the book Cosmos. It moves us profoundly and marks its indelible imprint. Master of words and he has artistically employed the characters to depict the complexity in its avatar of simplicity and directed the musical composition like an orchestra. The final outcome is much like the perfect symphony.
World of Science is for exploration but the world has been divided by the scientific vs. non-scientific community, and there is religions and there is politics and the science that should pervade everything and connect humanity with all its hospitality and not with its hostility. The curiosity needs to be ignited and not callously extinguishing it.
We are engendered spices in the vast universe, and who has to protect us and ironically we have to protect ourselves. The nitrogen is in our DNA, the calcium is in our teeth, and the iron in our blood, the carbon in the earth all made of the collapsing stars…we all made of stardust. Tiniest atoms to the titanic sun, everything is there, fascinating illustrations the beautiful narration and blows our mind with awe and wonder…Sagan voice is timeless.
Science is an ongoing process and it keep evolving and it will keep revealing and unraveling the mystery surrounding us.
Book to be read by every students and school to have few teachers like Carl Sagan, he educates and he enlightens us. Unfortunately, any of us get branded as non-science students and we are treated differently and we pursue a different career and we end up thinking we need to keep ourselves from this stream of thoughts that has any remote connection with science. Cosmos the book is dealt through prism of science to math to physics to chemistry to biology, and no where will a non-science student find science complex or confounding but would rather get pleasantly surprised and discover the fascinating facets of science of space.
Science has been subtly dealt with empathy and compassion and so should be the dealing of humanity amongst each other.
Science with a human heart, science has an umbilical cord with spirituality and spirituality gets its undeclared inspiration from the scientific discovery and invention.
Any idea or concept that hasn’t got a scientific tag has a spiritual touch in making humanity appreciates the existence of inexplicable things around us. There is a wonderful confluence of science, history and philosophy.
The universe is a universal vacuüm, everlasting stretch of intergalactic space, planets, stars, and galaxies, millions and billions of them and there is no figure that can fathom these unfathomable worlds of eternal space. Cosmos of pulsars, quasars and quacks, snowflakes and fireflies, there are dark matters and there are black holes and there are mysteries and there are more mysteries to be solved.
Everything in nature has a purpose, and it needs to be meaningfully used.
Plants are the most fascinating natural machines, nature and machine sounds bit asynchronous but the fundamental design of machines have been abundantly inspired from the sources of nature. Plants are powered by the solar energy, pulling water from the soil through capillary forces and taking carbon dioxide from the air, and then converting these assorted ingredients into a wholesome basket of food to be self consumed and shared with humanity. The plant uses the carbohydrates as source of energy and man eating plant combines the carbohydrates with blood and derives the energy needed to make its organs function. We exhale the carbon dioxide to be recycled by plants for replenishing their source of energy the carbohydrates. All these are able to act the way they are functioning thank to the powerful star, the sun some millions of kilometers away from us.
How the first cell did came into existence?
The single cell organism must have been the starting of life and then perhaps the cell would have evolved into acquiring the ability to self replicate and produce multi cellular parts forming the clusters based on common characteristics and orchestrating the design of organs doing their bit to making a human being come into full existence.
Once we read it, we stop to the see the world the way we have seen, it changes our perspective and we then incidentally became a better human being. It is just not about the universe, the cosmic bodies and the space travel but much more fundamental and question our foundation and who we are and where from we have come from and these philosophical questions are what keeps us intrigued and crafting the tale of species and origin of life.