Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"The Cosmic Connection" By Carl Sagan

I found this book in a used book store and bought it simply because it was written by Carl Sagan.

Summary: This is a non-fiction book in which Sagan discusses projects and theories that he is familiar with regarding our place in the universe and the possibilities of contacting other intelligent life. Surprisingly for a book written in the 1970's, it is a nice introduction to all the major ideas on the topic. For example, he discusses Dyson spheres, which still comes up today as an exciting futuristic idea. Similarly, he spends time considering the SETI program, both in terms of finding evidence of other life and ways that others might find us.

One gem is his discussion of the plaque added to Pioneer 10 as a message for any extra terrestrials that might discover it in flight. Sagan was the person who made it happen on this mission and several following missions. His insight as to the intentions and the process of designing the plaque is something you likely wont find in any other book.

He shares his experiences studying dolphins, giving insight into the difficulties in communicating with a totally different but intelligent lifeform. The most persuasive point he makes in arguing that dolphins are in fact intelligent is that they have learned several words in English, but not a single human has learned any Dolphin. It is a fascinating idea to think that maybe dolphins are as smart as we are, and the thing that distinguishes us from them is our manual dexterity and ability to use tools.

I am also extremely fond of Chapter 37, where he begins his Starfolk narrative. Chapter 37 is subtitled A Fable and recounts the history of us, from the beginning to today. It places us right here and now, in context, cleanly and clearly, with the grandeur of myth, but without the falsehoods.

What I Liked: I love the feel of Sagan's writing. He is 100% that one professor you had that was able to pack profound knowledge into a casual conversation. His books feel like a transcript from a musing lecture with the rigor of a researched publication.

What I Didn't Like: I have no complaints about Sagan.

Rating: Recommended.

Also Read by this Author: Pale Blue Dot, The Demon-Haunted World.

Reviewed by: Nick

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