Star Stuff

Today is Carl Sagan Day! I love Carl Sagan because, in a world where the majority of people seem to believe science has replaced magic, he put the magic back in to science. Here are a few of my favourite Carl Sagan quotes:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies was made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.

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“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

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“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

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“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.”

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“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” “The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

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“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ 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.”

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“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years.

Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

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Finally, one more thing to celebrate Carl Sagan day: this “Science Symphony” video of Carl Sagan with an appearance by Stephen Hawking is one of my all-time favourite things on YouTube.

Happy Carl Sagan Day!


Photo credits in order of appearance (via Unsplash): Jeremy Thomas (header), Allef Vinicius, Bryan Goff, Dino Reichmuth, Jeremy Bishop, Luca Baggio, Roan Lavery, Vincent Chin.

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8 thoughts on “Star Stuff

  1. So beautiful. Thank you. And I especially love this quote: “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.”

    I think the evolution of the universe, our solar system, our planet, humanity would make a far more wonderful creation story than the one Christianity has now.

    1. Agreed! There was a liturgy in the Anglican book of common prayer that talked about the cosmos and the universe at a church I used to go to, but it rarely got used in the services, I actually asked the priest about it and he said it was his favourite too but a lot of people didn’t like it… go figure.

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