” We, this individuals, on a small and lonely planet/ Taking a trip through casual space/ Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns/ To a location where all signs inform us/ It is possible and essential that we find out/ A brave and surprising reality …” So starts Maya Angelou’s cosmic clarion call to mankind, among the most lovely and poignant poems ever written– a poem that flew to space, a poem that came from space: a poem influenced by Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot— his lyrical meditation on the landmark photograph of Earth, which the Voyager spacecraft took in 1990 as an afterthought upon finishing its unmatched photographic survey of our Planetary system, and which Sagan spent years petitioning NASA to permit.
The Voyager, which had cruised into area thirteen years earlier, brought together with its instruments The Golden Record— a visionary, extremely poetic effort to catch the essence of Earth in sounds and images that would communicate to another planetary civilization across spacetime, and, maybe a lot more extremely in the middle of the Cold War, mirror back to us who and what we are: a single symphonic species.
Tasked with the difficult, inspired work of distilling that essence was the project’s innovative director, Ann Druyan In the course of making up the record, Sagan and Druyan, to their own wonder-stricken surprise, discovered themselves making up a sensational love story with their lives. They invested the staying 20 years of Sagan’s life fathoming and figuring deep space together– writing poetic queries into the origin of comets, thinking up kids’s book concepts, collaborating on the renowned 1980 tv series turned book Universe, which The Library of Congress listed amongst 88 books to have actually formed the nation’s conscience, together with epoch-making accomplishments of guts and vision that have altered the course of culture and the understanding of nature– books like Rachel Carson’s Quiet Spring and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Yard
2 decades after Sagan’s death– decades coruscating with dazzling clinical discoveries that have actually disquieted us into shedding more misconceptions and beholding more of reality– Druyan selected up the thread of marvel to compose and produce a continuation of Universe, starring astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and skyrocketing into these brand-new frontiers of our ever-evolving understanding of area and time.
Tracing our cosmic story– from the cyanobacteria through which life first flowered on our rocky world billions of years ago to our search for life on possible worlds many lightyears away; from the cavern walls on which early people first mapped their spatial collaborates to the Rube Goldberg device of discoveries that resulted in the lasers with which these caverns are now studied; from the symbiotic advancement of plants and the pollinators that feast on them to the Russian scientists who starved to death in a homicidal dictatorship to protect their valuable collection of seeds ensuring our planet’s biodiversity far beyond their life times– Druyan takes up the mission not as a scientist herself but as a lifelong student and steward of the clinical mindscape, a self-described “hunter-gatherer of stories”: stories that begin with the human, with private scientists or teams of scientists, and beget the cosmic, parting the drape to let in a couple of more golden rays of reality, chiseling some precious piece of understanding from the tremendous monolith of the unidentified.
At the center of her extensive reach into past and future is a lucid, luminous look at the truths and obligations today is calling us to rise to– a query into what it would consider us to transcend our human constraints and characteristics so that we might sustain as stewards instead of destroyers of this irreplaceable planet. In a testimony to the basic fact that science is ” a genuinely human endeavor,” Druyan composes:
Science, like love, is a means to that transcendence, to that skyrocketing experience of the oneness of being fully alive. The clinical method to nature and my understanding of love are the same: Love asks us to get beyond the infantile forecasts of our personal hopes and fears, to embrace the other’s truth. This type of unflinching love never ever stops bold to go deeper, to reach greater.
This is exactly the method that science enjoys nature. The vastness of the universe– and love, the thing that makes the vastness manageable– is out of reach to the conceited.
Learning not to confuse the strength of our beliefs for the strength of the evidence is, obviously, one of the greatest, most tough victories of our development– as people, as societies, and as a species. In consonance with the tenets of Sagan’s ageless Baloney Detection Kit for crucial thinking, Druyan offers her easy, elegant formula for telling the two apart:
Test ideas by experiment and observation. Build on those concepts that pass the test. Turn down the ones that stop working. Follow the evidence any place it leads. And question whatever, consisting of authority. Do these things and the universes is yours.
She opens and closes the book with the words of Albert Einstein, spoken at the 1939 World’s Fair, where he had actually gone to leave a time-capsule of wisdom for posterity:
If science, like art, is to perform its mission genuinely and completely, its achievements must go into not only superficially however with their inner significance into the awareness of the people.
The guy whose unassailable vision had actually landed the first human foot on another celestial body understood that in the poetry of reality, every website of wonder, be it art or science, is a portal to truth.
What emerges from Druyan’s Cosmos: Possible Worlds is a rosary of such glittering sometimeses. Complement it with poet Marie Howe’s spectacular ode to the singularity of our cosmic belonging, then revisit physicist Brian Greene on wresting the poetry of presence from an aloof universe and Carl Sagan on how to live with the unknown