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am 17. Mai 2000
He never says it. But it's a sequel, par excellence, to the classic _Cosmos_.
Sequels are usually disappointing. This is one of those rare cases where the sequel is better than the original. I had read this book in hardcover and ended up buying my own paperback copy while in Ithaca (Sagan's hometown) because I had nothing to read and a long ride back home.
I'm a fan of Sagan - can't help it - because even though he's a brilliant scientist, he somehow manages to be a great writer as well. This book is no exception. Sagan's basic idea is that the destiny of humanity is to expand out to the stars. And even though this idea reeks with echoes of Manifest Destiny, I have to agree. In Manifest Destiny, there were Indians - here, no intelligent life that we know of. And if there is something out there, wouldn't we want to know about it?
Like so many great works of popular science, Sagan starts out by tracing the changes in our views of the world, from our conceit that we were the center of the Universe to the backwater position that we're in today. Sagan's idea of generalized chauvinisms comes up - first in place (the obvious), then in time (if there was other intelligent life, it's not around any more), and, if I recall correctly, in chemical basis (life must be made out of carbon). He refutes all these ideas - and why not? Who said that silicon can't conquer the universe?
My personal favorite part of the book is Chapter 5, "Is There Intelligent Life On Earth?" Sagan asks us to "[imagine yourself as] an alien explorer entering the Solar system after a long journey through the blackness of interstellar space". As we examine the Earth at finer and finer resolution, what do we see? I won't tell you - it's a bit unexpected - but the answer will surprise you. Who said scientists can't be humorous?
A large portion of the book surveys the prospects of life elsewhere in the Solar System - Venus, Mars, Io, and Titan (but, surprisingly, not Europa) figure prominently. (Sagan did research on Titan tholins, precursors to organic molecules found on Titan.) It's interesting - maybe a bit out of place in Sagan's overall idea, but who cares?
So why don't we leave Earth? Why are we still stuck on this pale blue dot? The politicians, says Sagan. They don't see far enough into the future - all they care about is their own re-election. And it's even too far for normal humans to see, sometimes. But it's worth it - evolution demands that we adapt.
Near the end, we find this passage:
"It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very much 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." (p. 329) Perhaps this illustrates the inspirational quality of Sagan's writing. So why are we still here?
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am 9. Januar 2000
As a highschool student I found this book remarkably easy to read and incredibly inciteful. I am now taking advanced math and sciences in the hopes of becoming a engineer to take us to mars. Niel Armstrong was the first man on the moon Pioneer 10 was the first space craft to leave the solar system.
But Carl Sagan is the man who inspired the new generation of scientist and engineer who will take us to the stars.
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am 1. Juni 1999
This book was the third Sagan book I read (the first was Demon-haunted world followed by Cosmos) and certainly, it is a most. Sagan portraits the future of mankind as a hopefully, brilliant one. A future that has been, and still is, the dream of science fiction writers (and readers like me) for years. It is hopefully to know that there are scientists who take that picture seriously and encourage readers to believe that it is possible as long as we want it to be possible. But of course, Sagan snaps us in the back and reminds us the dangers the technologies that might make that dream come true will pose us if we are foolish enough to misuse them. And makes us think about the state of humankind and, despite the fact that "the Universe wasn't made for us" -as he put it- to remember how precious, unique and importat we are. The Universe might be crowded of all kinds of intelligent life. But certainly, there is only a human race. This book made me remember a quote by Isaac Asimov: "The future of humanity is in the stars, and that future is to bright to be lost by dumb and ignorant superstition." Two years and a half after Sagan's death, I still miss him.
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am 24. August 2000
Der amerikanische Astronom Carl Sagan spannt in dem vorliegenden Werk einen großen Bogen über die Ergebnisse der Raumfahrt in den letzten vierzig Jahren. Es wird das Wissen über unser Sonnensystem in zahlreichen kleinen gut zu lesenden Kapiteln zusammengefasst. Besonders erfolgreich waren die beiden Voyager-Sonden sowie das Apollo-Programm und die Galileo-Sonde zum Jupiter, die viele erstaunliche Erkenntnisse zu dem Buch beitragen. Im letzten Drittel seines Buches beschreibt der Autor eine durchaus realistische Vision von der Zukunft der Menschheit im Weltraum, die bei der Besiedlung des Mars und der wirtschaftlichen Ausbeutung von erdnahen Asteroiden anfängt und in mehreren Millionen Jahren mit der Verbreitung der Menschen über die ganze Milchstraße endet.
Das Buch ist sehr populärwissenschaftlich gehalten und für den naturwissenschaftlich interessieren Leser leicht verständlich. Wer allerdings bereits ein Grundwissen über die Raumfahrt besitzt, wird nicht viel neues erfahren. Mir hat "Pale Blue Dot" trotzdem sehr gut gefallen, denn es ist in Zeiten von permanenten Budget-Kürzungen für Raumfahrtprogramme einfach unheimlich inspirierend, die sprühende Überzeugungskraft des Carl Sagan zu erleben. Sehr empfehlenswert für alle Menschen, die ihren Gedankenhorizont von der irdischen Beschränktheit befreien wollen und keine Scheu vor einem sehr weiten Blick in die Zukunft haben. Denn letztlich bleibt der Menschheit keine Alternative zum Verlassen des Mutterplaneten, wenn wir und als Spezies weiterentwickeln und dauerhaft überleben wollen.
Leider enthält diese Taschenbuchausgabe von Ballantine Books keinerlei Bilder oder Diagramme.
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am 14. März 2000
Read the opening sequence of the book and see our world as a tiny blue pixel from beyond Neptune's orbit. Try, as Sagan admonishes you to do, to imagine the conflicts fougt and wholesale murder that has been committed to control a fraction of that pixel. You are forced by the very grandeur of the Universe to think beyond your own provincialisms and imagine us as one world, one species, with the capability to go on to something great or destroy ourselves in an instant. This is the most frightening part of Sagan's book to some: Whether we make it or not, is up to us; the Universe won't care one way or another.
Sagan then introduces you to the wonders awaiting us when we move off our dot and explore the solar system and surrounding stars. It's a magnificent journey filled with all the wonders that the cosmos has to offer. From the safety of your easy chair, you can journey to Mars, the moons of Jupiter and the outer planets. A truly worhty sequel to Cosmos.
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am 3. April 2000
A suburb well rounded take on all the basic major aspects for the human future in space that also manages to stay grounded in reality, except possibly some of the parts on terraforming, but every field needs its visionaries. Also interesting is the reactions of people to Sagan's usual bit on the nature of humanity, some people balk quite violently when faced with their (and that of their fellows) ignorance, arrogance and cosmic insignifigance. I suppose that's only natural, but Sagan also offers an alternative to our stupidities in rational understanding and wonder at the universe, even though Sagan himself acknowledges that he is hardly an unsympathetic and indifferent observer to humanity and is hence sometimes swaed by our prejudices and failings. As for the final word on the design arguement for a cosmic creator, which is brought up in Bale Blue Dot: we are proudcts of this universe, its logical then that as a survival mechanism we would see the universe in a way that made sense to us and stimulated our minds to fruther interact with our enviroment, its how the human species survived in the past, and things are more complex now, but it is still how we survive. In fact Sagan makes that very point somewhere in this and (more so) in his other books.
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am 17. November 1998
Nearly two decades ago, a man strode out of the blackness of a star-lit background with the phrase "billions and billions..." In COSMOS, Carl Sagan introduced the general public to the infinitude of space, the staggering proportions of the universe, and the implications of mankind's scientific efforts to understand and explain it. Now, in PALE BLUE DOT, Sagan has once again returned us to the journey and the wonder.
Sagan's basic message: "Due to our actions or inactions, and the misuse of our technology, we live at an extraordinary moment, for the Earth at least--the first time that a species has become able to wipe itself out. But this is also, we may note, the first time that a species has become able to journey to the planets and the stars. The two times, brought about by the same technology, coincide--a few centuries in the history of a 4.5 billion-year-old planet...Our leverage on the future is high just now." And, he says, in the process of journeying out to the stars our species will inevitably be transformed. Having left our home in search of the stars, we will encounter many other worlds which may prove more challenging to our efforts to populate. More and more, humanity will look back with reverence at the home world, appreciate and cherish the "pale blue dot" that gave us birth.
This book was one of the last works of Carl Sagan before his untimely death due to cancer. The man who gave inspiration and a sense of wonder to many now has gone on ahead, not into the sunset, but into the stars, where he no doubt journeys among the "billions and billions" of worlds, confirming his hypotheses.
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am 12. Februar 1999
Carl Sagan has done it again. This may be the most complete and knowledgable book I've ever read on our universe. It covers every planet and its' environment, how the planet's environment came to be, and where it may be going. It covers man's exploration of space and time, from satellites to shuttles. More on future technological development of nuclear directioning of comets and asteriods. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in our solar system and beyond. The name 'Pale Blue Dot' comes from a story told by Dr. Sagan of when the Voyager was passing Mars. Sagan recommended NASA to turn the satellite around and take a picture of Earth from such a great distance. NASA questioned him for it would appear to be a pale blue dot and a virtuosly useless picture. Sagan explained to them that man needs to see Earth from another perspective, so we might get an idea of exactly how insignificant we are in such a vast cosmos.
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am 19. Juli 1998
I have read many books, but none have changed my way of thinking like this one. Truly magnificent in the way he explains how insignificant and small we really are and how deceited we have become in our train of thoughts, to think we are alone in this infinitive Multiverse, how we treat our planet; other living creatures; each other, the list is be endless, Carl Sagan opens up the proverbial "can of beans" in all who reads minds, triggering a chain reaction of questions about why? things are the way they are, about the ignorance of religion, war, global abuse, etc.
Science and Astronomy made interesting to the mass populus of earth, only one man can do this with distinction, that man is Dr Carl Sagan, open your mind, take a ride, if you only read one book in your lifetime.... make it this one, awe inspiring stuff.
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am 12. März 2000
After having just watched the movie, "Mission to Mars" it is obvious the Sagan's impact on scientific popular culture is growing exponentially. Movies such as Contact, Armageddon, Deep Impact, and even (regrettably) Rocketman, have been shaping public perception of our species future in space. I believe Sagan has been responsible for this recent explosion in the interest of space. Of course I realize the findings of the "supposed" fossilized Mars life has played a huge part in this as well. Sagan is magnificent in his ability to pull the reader in and open his/her mind to the truly important things in life - truth, discovery, and skepticism. This book is a truly a steeping stone in our pursuit towards the ultimate question - where are we going? Space the final frontier.
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