The Big Bang is our modern scientific creation myth. It comes from the same human need to solve the cosmological riddle Where did the universe come from?
Accommodation to change, the thoughtful pursuit of alternative futures are keys to the survival of civilization and perhaps of the human species.
Virtually every major technological advance in the history of the human species -- back to the invention of stone tools and the domestication of fire -- has been ethically ambiguous.
In the long run, the aggressive civilizations destroy themselves, almost always. It's their nature. They can't help it.
The impediment to scientific thinking is not, I think, the difficulty of the subject. Complex intellectual feats have been mainstays even of oppressed cultures. Shamans, magicians and theologians are highly skilled in their intricate and arcane arts. No, the impediment is political and hierarchical.
Every time you look up at the sky, every one of those points of light is a reminder that fusion power is extractable from hydrogen and other light elements, and it is an everyday reality throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.
The secrets of evolution are death and time-the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were imperfectly adapted to the environment; and time for a long succession of small mutations.
All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star stuff.
Religions are often state-protected nurseries of pseudoscience, although there's no reason why religions have to play that role. In a way, it's an artefact from times long gone.
Black holes may be apertures to elsewhen. Were we to plunge down a black hole, we would re-emerge, it is conjectured, in a different part of the universe and in another epoch in time ... Black holes may be entrances to Wonderlands. But are there Alices or white rabbits?
You could just as well say that an agnostic is a deeply religious person with at least a rudimentary knowledge of human fallibility.
We have heard the rationales offered by the nuclear superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?
A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.
The total number of stars in the Universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth.
Our intelligence is imperfect, surely, and newly arisen; the ease with which it can be sweet-talked, overwhelmed, or subverted by other hardwired propensities -- sometimes themselves disguised as the cool light of reason -- is worrisome.
Both the Freudian and the Platonic metaphors emphasize the considerable independence of and tension among the constituent parts of the psyche, a point that characterizes the human condition.
Has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? ... No other human institution comes close.
Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth. But up there in the Cosmos an inescapable perspective awaits.
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power.
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
Every cell is a triumph of natural selection, and we're made of trillions of cells. Within us, is a little universe.
We will know which stars to visit. Our descendants will then skim the light years, the children of Thales and Aristarchus, Leonardo and Einstein.
So those who wished for some central cosmic purpose for us, or at least our world, or at least our solar system, or at least our galaxy, have been disappointed, progressively disappointed. The universe is not responsive to our ambitious expectations.
In more than one respect, the exploring of the Solar System and homesteading other worlds constitutes the beginning, much more than the end, of history.
The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff.
The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.
But I try not to think with my gut. If I'm serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.
No other planet in the solar system is a suitable home for human beings; it's this world or nothing. That's a very powerful perception.
Discussing the possibilities of extraterrestrial life: I would love it even if they were short, sullen, grumpy and sexually obsessed. But there just isn't any good evidence.
A tiny blue dot set in a sunbeam. Here it is. That's where we live. That's home. We humans are one species and this is our world. It is our responsibility to cherish it. Of all the worlds in our solar system, the only one so far as we know, graced by life.
The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I'm down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse.
Those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.
An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.
Except for fools and madmen, everyone knows that nuclear war would he an unprecedented human catastrophe.
Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.
Science is not perfect. It's often misused; it's only a tool, but it's the best tool we have. Self-correcting , ever changing, applicable to everything: with this tool, we vanquish the impossible.
Science is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. ... The obvious is sometimes false; the unexpected is sometimes true.
The way to find out about our place in the universe is by examining the universe and by examining ourselves -- without preconceptions, with as unbiased a mind as we can muster.
If we're capable of conjuring up terrifying monsters in childhood, why shouldn't some of us, at least on occasion, be able to fantasize something similar, something truly horrifying, a shared delusion, as adults?
She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true.
Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.
In a lot of scientists, the ratio of wonder to skepticism declines in time. That may be connected with the fact that in some fields-mathematics, physics, some others-the great discoveries are almost entirely made by youngsters.
Let's see if I got this right, she would say to herself. I've taken an inert gas that's in the air, made it into a liquid, put some impurities in a ruby, attached a magnet, and detected the fires of creation.
The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it, with its skeptical protocols, is the pathway to a dark age.
A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the milky way.
The American and Russian capabilities in space science and technology mesh; they interdigitate. Each is strong where the other is weak. This is a marriage made in heaven -- but one that has been surprisingly difficult to consummate.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
We humans appear on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.
If the constellations had been named in the twentieth century, I suppose we would see bicycles and refrigerators in the sky.
When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions, that is the heart of science.
I consider it an extremely dangerous doctrine, because the more likely we are to assume that the solution comes from the outside, the less likely we are to solve our problems ourselves.
If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you.
If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.
There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
Science is more than a body of knowledge. It's a way of thinking: a way of skeptically interrogating the universe.
Science is much more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don't conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which ones best match the facts. It urges on us a fine balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything - new ideas and established wisdom.
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.
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.
We are alive and we resonate with idea of life elsewhere, but only careful accumulation and assessment of the evidence can tell us whether a given world is inhabited.
Paid product endorsements, especially by real or purported experts, constitute a steady rainfall of deception. They betray contempt for the intelligence of their customers. They introduce an insidious corruption of popular attitudes about scientific objectivity.
All inquiries carry with them some element of risk.
All inquires carry with them some element of risk. There is no guarantee that the universe will conform to our predispositions.
Arguments from authority carry little weight -- authorities have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
There is a wide, yawning black infinity. In every direction, the extension is endless; the sensation of depth is overwhelming. And the darkness is immortal. Where light exists, it is pure, blazing, fierce; but light exists almost nowhere, and the blackness itself is also pure and blazing and fierce.
People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs.
We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.
I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future, can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled, even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven't forgotten: The open road still softly calls like a nearly forgotten song of childhood.
Cutting off fundamental, curiosity-driven science is like eating the seed corn. We may have a little more to eat next winter but what will we plant so we and our children will have enough to get through the winters to come?
The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos.
A single message from space will show that it is possible to live through technological adolescence... It is possible that the future of human civilization depends on the receipt of interstellar messages.
A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.
A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet. One of the great revelations of the age of space exploration is the image of the earth finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable, bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time.
A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth; it would be a miracle on Mars. Our descendants on Mars will know the value of a patch of green. And if a blade of grass is priceless, what is the value of a human being?
The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.
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.
While our behavior is still significantly controlled by our genetic inheritance, we have, through our brains, a much richer opportunity to blaze new behavioral and cultural pathways on short timescales.
I think the discomfort that some people feel in going to the monkey cages at the zoo is a warning sign.
When you look more generally at life on Earth, you find that it is all the same kind of life. There are not many different kinds; there's only one kind. It uses about fifty fundamental biological building blocks, organic molecules.
If we are merely matter intricately assembled, is this really demeaning? If there's nothing here but atoms, does that make us less or does that make matter more?
In Mozambique, the story goes, monkeys do not talk, because they know if they utter even a single word some man will come and put them to work.
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.
Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history.
Like it or not, we humans are bound up with our fellows, and with the other plants and animals all over the world.
Our lives are intertwined.
It's perilous and foolhardy for the average citizen to remain ignorant about global warming, say, or ozone depletion, air pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, acid rain, topsoil erosion, tropical deforestation, exponential population growth. Jobs and wages depend on science and technology.
For all I know we may be visited by a different extraterrestrial civilization every second Tuesday, but there's no support for this appealing idea. The extraordinary claims are not supported by extraordinary evidence.
Scientists make mistakes. Accordingly, it is the job of the scientist to recognize our weakness, to examine the widest range of opinions, to be ruthlessly self-critical. Science is a collective enterprise with the error-correction machinery often running smoothly.
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.
It is clear that the nations of the world now can only rise and fall together. It is not a question of one nation winning at the expense of another. We must all help one another or all perish together.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.
Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?
We are an intelligent species and the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth.
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.
The Apollo pictures of the whole Earth conveyed to multitudes something well known to astronomers: On the scale of the worlds -- to say nothing of stars or galaxies -- humans are inconsequential, a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.
The total amount of energy from outside the solar system ever received by all the radio telescopes on the planet Earth is less than the energy of a single snowflake striking the ground.
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.
If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds. Sailors on a becalmed sea, we sense the stirring of a breeze.
The visions we offer our children shape the future.
The visions we offer our children shape the future. It _matters_ what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps.
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 am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.
All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.
A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.
When you make the finding yourself -- even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light -- you'll never forget it.