I first saw the series COSMOS on TV in about 1980 when I was about 12, and have been searching for similar material ever since. Carl Sagan is able to capture the mystery and the beauty of astronomy, science, art and religion in a way that most poeple can follow, and in a way that is interesting and invigorating. He is a very clear thinker and presenter. And this book, based on that very popular TV series of the same name, I found in an old book store, which I immediately grabbed. Here was something of my childhood, and something very special. The book did not disappoint. It is filled with stunning images, photographs, illustrations, diagrams and so on. And the text is fun, enlightening, clear, visionary, and precise. Not surprising, since it is written by an atronomer at heart. It is also advisable to search around and buy the illustrated edition-the illustrations add much to the text.
Carl places the earth on the shores of the cosmic ocean-the title of the first chapter. He traces religious, artistic and scientific investigations into the 'cosmos' throughout the millenia, and the amount of useful historical information he brings up is quite extraordinary. He draws together the thoughts of ancient cultures like the Greeks, Babylonians, Stone Age man, Renaissance thinkers, poets, artists, and famous scientists, and ties these in with many modern discoveries concerning the nature of the universe. One can see his strong leanings on the likelihood of extraterrestial life and the SETI project between the lines, as well as his views on religion and its place in the human psyche. One particularly interesting peice describes the downfall of the old greek science and the destruction of the library at Alexandria, and how these tie in with his views on history, science and religion in general. (click for full review)
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