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You live here!
on 2 October 2005
As these pages attest, there are a number of fine writers out there providing us non-scientists with insights on nature's mysteries. None, however, quite reached the breadth of view or intensity of feeling imparted by Carl Sagan. His writings explained topics ranging from quantum particles to the extent of the cosmos. Along the way, he addressed evolution, space engineering and countless other facets of science and technology. Even fiction wasn't beyond his grasp.
Pale Blue Dot is a journey in time and space. Beginning with the assertion that we're natural wanderers, being the only species to settle across our world, it continues with a plea to extend further our exploration of space. The early chapters challenge restrictions on our desire to explore and learn. Sagan demonstrates how foolish minds have restrained our quest for knowledge of the cosmos. He then takes us on a tour of the solar system, exhibiting the wonders revealed by the fleet of robot probes. He reminds us of the forces the cosmos can unleash, sometimes right in our neighbourhood. Like many of the rest of us, Sagan was awed by the collision of a comet with the Jovian gas giant. It was a hint of what might lay in store for us if we fail to understand the universe better than we do now. The space probes also returned images of worlds invalidating existing theories of planetary formation. If our own neighbours can present such bizarre structures, what kinds of worlds ride beyond our ken, circling suns we can barely imagine? What Sagan can't portray, he can conjecture. With his firm working scientist's foundation, Sagan's speculations command respectful attention.
This book must be shelved alongside Richard Dawkins THE SELFISH GENE and THE BLIND WATCHMAKER. Together, these three fine works confront the traditional Western view of a universe and the life in it resulting from a Designer. From Dawkins' biological analysis to Sagan's cosmological view, this obstructionist outlook is here rendered groundless. More people must read Pale Blue Dot to gain an idea of who we are and where we stand in the vastness of a nearly limitless universe. Please read this book and convey its ideas to others. There is much to be gained from its imparted wisdom. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]