Universal Mind: Carl Sagan
December 20, 1996
A remembrance of Carl Sagan, astronomer, writer, and national teacher of science. Here is how he introduced his 1980 public television series "Cosmos."
CARL SAGAN: ("Cosmos" 1980) The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home, the Earth. For the first time we have the power to decide the fate of our planet and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young and curious and brave. It shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made almost astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the cosmos and our place within it. I believe our future depends powerfully on well we understand this cosmos in which we float like a mode of dust in the morning sky.
We're about to begin a journey through the cosmos. We'll encounter galaxies and suns and planets, life and consciousness coming into being, evolving, and perishing, worlds of ice and stars of diamond, atoms as massive as suns and universes smaller than atoms. But it's also a story of our own planet, and the plants and animals that share it with us, and it's a story about us, how we achieved our present understanding of the cosmos, how the cosmos has shaped our evolution and our culture and what our fate may be. We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads, but to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths, of exquisite inter-relationships, of the awesome machinery of nature.
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't, because the cosmos is also within us. We're "made" of star stuff. We are a way that the cosmos can know itself. The journey for each of us begins here. We're going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies. It can take us anywhere in space and time. Perfect as a snowflake, organic as a dandelion seed, it will carry us to worlds of dreams and worlds of facts. Come with me. (music in background)
JIM LEHRER: Carl Sagan died today of bone marrow disease. He was 62 years old.