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Cosmos: Possible Worlds

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This sequel to Carl Sagan's blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom. Based on National Geographic's internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up toget This sequel to Carl Sagan's blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom. Based on National Geographic's internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up together. From the emergence of life at deep-sea vents to solar-powered starships sailing through the galaxy, from the Big Bang to the intricacies of intelligence in many life forms, acclaimed author Ann Druyan documents where humanity has been and where it is going, using her unique gift of bringing complex scientific concepts to life. With evocative photographs and vivid illustrations, she recounts momentous discoveries, from the Voyager missions in which she and her husband, Carl Sagan, participated to Cassini-Huygens's recent insights into Saturn's moons. This breathtaking sequel to Sagan's masterpiece explains how we humans can glean a new understanding of consciousness here on Earth and out in the cosmos--again reminding us that our planet is a pale blue dot in an immense universe of possibility.


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This sequel to Carl Sagan's blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom. Based on National Geographic's internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up toget This sequel to Carl Sagan's blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom. Based on National Geographic's internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up together. From the emergence of life at deep-sea vents to solar-powered starships sailing through the galaxy, from the Big Bang to the intricacies of intelligence in many life forms, acclaimed author Ann Druyan documents where humanity has been and where it is going, using her unique gift of bringing complex scientific concepts to life. With evocative photographs and vivid illustrations, she recounts momentous discoveries, from the Voyager missions in which she and her husband, Carl Sagan, participated to Cassini-Huygens's recent insights into Saturn's moons. This breathtaking sequel to Sagan's masterpiece explains how we humans can glean a new understanding of consciousness here on Earth and out in the cosmos--again reminding us that our planet is a pale blue dot in an immense universe of possibility.

30 review for Cosmos: Possible Worlds

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela Kozhuharova

    Beautiful, poetic and very inspirational love letter to science, life and the human potential.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    A fascinating and at times, personal, journey through time, space, and history by the author as she explores not the just the universe as we know it, but also the various stories of people throughout history who have placed the importance of science and other people above their own. The book is not only about 'Possible Worlds' but also, like the first Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, a 'Personal Journey' by the author who not only wants the readers to see the wonders the universe has to offer, but a A fascinating and at times, personal, journey through time, space, and history by the author as she explores not the just the universe as we know it, but also the various stories of people throughout history who have placed the importance of science and other people above their own. The book is not only about 'Possible Worlds' but also, like the first Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, a 'Personal Journey' by the author who not only wants the readers to see the wonders the universe has to offer, but also some of the trials she has to go through to keep the ideas and ideals of Carl Sagan alive. "Ladder to the stars" gives an overview of the journey with the Cosmic Calendar (that compresses all of time from the Big Bang to the present into one calendar year). Highlights from the calendar are presented, from the creation of Earth, the rise of life on Earth, the rise of humanity until human civilisation is established. "Oh, Mighty King" shows humanity's struggle to understand the universe and the supernatural nature of good and evil in an unfeeling universe. The chapter begins with Zoroastrianism and ends with the story of the Indian Emperor Ashoka who started out being an embodiment of evil, yet was changed by Buddhism to become a paragon of good in India. "Lost city of life" looks at how life might have developed on Earth, deep under the sea, in vast towers of minerals that sheltered and nurtured the first life forms. It then gives a brief look at the lives of some of the scientists who looked at chemistry and biochemistry and ends with a consideration of other worlds and moons in the Solar System that may well harbour life as we know it. "Vavilov" tells the story of agriculture and the struggle to prevent hunger by growing better types of grains and other plants. It also tells the story of Nikolai Vavilov, a Russian scientist whose botanical skills would lead to the identification of the centre of origins for various agricultural plants. But his is not a happy story, for it takes place prior and during the Second World War and would involve Stalin and Trofim Lysenko. "The cosmic connectome" looks at the brain and the mystery of its numerous connections that give us the ability to think and of awareness. Starting from how animals evolved the brain, the chapter also covers the history of brain research from recognising that the brain is the seat of thinking to the discovery of what different parts of the brain do, to detecting signals from the brain to current brain research that is revealing the large number of connections between neurons in the brain. "The man of a trillion worlds" looks at the lives of two scientists during the period in the 20th century when the search for the beginnings of life on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets was being researched: Gerald Kuiper and Harold Urey. The chapter also looks at the graduate student who would be a bridge between them: Carl Sagan, who would also organise the first group to study how life might exist on other planets. "The search for intelligent life on earth" considers the search for intelligent life in the universe by looking at what may be intelligent life on earth (besides us). From the web of fungi and plants to the 'dance' of bees, the examples chosen show what intelligent life might look like if we were consider the ways it expresses itself in the way communities of plants and animals live. "The sacrifice of Cassini" gives an overview of what made the Cassini mission to Saturn possible. Starting with a history of the astronomical observations of Saturn, the chapter moves on to the story of the Russian who dreamed up the idea of gravitational assist, an idea that would make most interplanetary missions possible. The chapter ends with some of the discoveries made by the Cassini probe before it was commanded to end its mission by crashing into Saturn, to protect the moons of Saturn from possible contamination from Cassini. "Magic without lies" looks at the strange nature of light. From the early arguments between Newton and Huygens over whether light is a wave or made up of particles, to the mysterious interference experiments of Thomas Young and the mysterious inner quantum nature of light shown by Bell's Theorem, the chapter offers a glimpse that we still don't really understand light, much like Flatlanders don't really grasp the nature of the third dimension. "A tale of two atoms" tells the tale of two kinds of atoms. One is carbon, which is the basis for life as we know it, the other is uranium, from which some of the most destructive weapons would be created. The two kinds of atoms would meet when humanity would harness uranium for its destructive power. "The fleeting grace of the habitable zone" looks at what will happen as the sun ages. At first, it will give off more light (and heat), forcing humanity (if it still exists far in the future) to abandon Earth to live on worlds further from the sun. But as the sun becomes a white dwarf and cools, humanity will have no choice but to move to another star system. Is this possible? The author imagines the journey our ancestors did to navigate the great unknown oceans of Earth and believes such an incredible journey to other stars may one day be possible. "Coming of age in the Anthropocene" this chapters looks at what humanity has done to change the earth enough that we are now living in a human-caused age. The rise of hunting, agriculture and, ultimately, technology, has enabled humanity to change and modify the Earth. More than that, humanity has the ability to predict what will happen in the future (via examples like the ozone hole caused by Chlorofluorocarbon, or climate change caused by increasing amounts of Carbon dioxide). But the question is whether humanity is willing to act on it. "A possible world" end the book the way it started: with a look at the World's Fair. While the introduction showed the 1939 World's Fair seen by Carl Sagan, the one featured here shows a World's Fair in the near future on a world recovering from the damage done by humanity. It is possible? Perhaps.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kaja Kulinicz

    Wspaniała książka. Polecam każdemu. Znawcy tematu, laikowi, miłośnikowi poezji i romansu, opowiadań, fizyki i kosmosu. Cuda i problemy, które dotyczą nas wszystkich, są opisane i ułożone tak, że wszyscy czytelnicy rozsmakują się w tej książce.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ace Boggess

    I'm torn about this book. It was fascinating and captivating, but at same time not structurally coherent or what the subtitle implies. The book discusses science, history, and religions (much in the same way Bill Bryson does in A Short History of Nearly Everything, but without the humor). However, it does so tangentially, without really following a path. This is a book of tangents. They're all interesting tangents. I learned weird things, and I'm a lover a learning weird things. But if you're lo I'm torn about this book. It was fascinating and captivating, but at same time not structurally coherent or what the subtitle implies. The book discusses science, history, and religions (much in the same way Bill Bryson does in A Short History of Nearly Everything, but without the humor). However, it does so tangentially, without really following a path. This is a book of tangents. They're all interesting tangents. I learned weird things, and I'm a lover a learning weird things. But if you're looking for more of that fantastic voyage to other worlds that the original Cosmos series offered, you will be disappointed. That said, I enjoyed the book for what it is. I suspect that you, reader, will either love it or hate it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Based on the National Geographic television show “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” this compelling volume explores how science and civilization grew up together. Lavishly illustrated, thought-provoking, and captivating, the narrative begins with a look at the 1939 World’s Fair after which it proceeds to investigate history, humanity, and science. It ends, prophetically, with a visit to the 2039 World’s Fair It’s about knowing and relating and communicating. It’s about education and truth and discovery. Based on the National Geographic television show “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” this compelling volume explores how science and civilization grew up together. Lavishly illustrated, thought-provoking, and captivating, the narrative begins with a look at the 1939 World’s Fair after which it proceeds to investigate history, humanity, and science. It ends, prophetically, with a visit to the 2039 World’s Fair It’s about knowing and relating and communicating. It’s about education and truth and discovery. It’s about the cosmos and how we, made of starstuff, fit into this universe. Suggestions for further reading, based on each chapter, are included. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    This was a great companion to the new series, with more detail than you obviously are going to get in a 45 minute episode, but still similar to the topics as presented on screen. But it also ended up being pretty personal at times by the author, using those moments of life to show us how she got into science and why she's trying to tell people about it. Some really good stuff here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ross Cohen

    It feels good to wonder and hope realistically.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Kardel

    I very much enjoyed Cosmos: Possible Worlds. There is less about space and the universe then there was in the original Cosmos, but like the original there's plenty about history, science, humanity and how we relate to the vast universe we inhabit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob Perry

    A great read from the only person that was so close to Carl Sagan that his voice can be heard in her writing. I was not disappointed in the scope and knowledge that is transferred to the reader. It's not Carl Sagan, but there is no one to match his brilliance and communication skills. As with keeping with Sagan the book gives hope and warnings. Fortunately Carl didn't have to live in the nightmare that is our country now. I believe he would have been able to slow the erosion of morals, ethics, e A great read from the only person that was so close to Carl Sagan that his voice can be heard in her writing. I was not disappointed in the scope and knowledge that is transferred to the reader. It's not Carl Sagan, but there is no one to match his brilliance and communication skills. As with keeping with Sagan the book gives hope and warnings. Fortunately Carl didn't have to live in the nightmare that is our country now. I believe he would have been able to slow the erosion of morals, ethics, education, and joy of knowing things which lead to better questions. The Grand Canyon like divide between seeking truth and believing everything a talking head tells you is right, was one of Dr. Sagan's primary messages throughout his life. I'm afraid that a great deal of people will pronounce this work as political, which it is not. But today's America has been programmed to see everything as political and as such never get the opportunity to learn about things that can change your point of view and your life. Ann Druyan has written a fantastic sequel to the Cosmos story. I hope you have the thirst of knowing and the open mind to allow yourself the pleasure of this much needed work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    I am trying to read, actually on audio CD. But, it is so dry and so much propaganda and little science. How ironic. Often argued science is not a religion, yet this book basically uses religious languages. At one point it states "Where scientists worship" while they do research in a cave. Druyan states science just follows the evidence and does not argue but just accepts the facts. Really, has she read "Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein" is she familiar with the PLOS article on I am trying to read, actually on audio CD. But, it is so dry and so much propaganda and little science. How ironic. Often argued science is not a religion, yet this book basically uses religious languages. At one point it states "Where scientists worship" while they do research in a cave. Druyan states science just follows the evidence and does not argue but just accepts the facts. Really, has she read "Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein" is she familiar with the PLOS article on accurate research https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicin... ? or http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/sci... Has she ever read about those who do not adhere to the big bang? There are not many but they exist, she probably does not consider them real scientists. Scientist disagree on a lot of things contrary to her naivete view, of how scientist just follow the evidence, what kind of echo chamber does she live in? Then Druyan goes full out on the noble savage theory as some indisputable fact. This is outright laughable. Has Druyan done any research. Try: War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage by Lawrence H. Keeley Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony by Robert B. Edgerton Constant Battles: Why We Fight, The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage by Steven Le Blanc and Katherine E. Register http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/... Then of course Cosmos must dig up some poor martyr from the past and mess up history in doing so. First it was Giordano Bruno and now it is Baruch Spinoza, but I will not even get into that fun... Finally of course we are reminded we are 99% similar to a chimp. Bad science but do not listen to me, take it from a scientific children's web site and get the facts right with our students. 99% of human DNA is identical with chimps if we ignore 18% of the chimp genome and 25% of the human genome https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbY12... So will I finish the book? I'll try or maybe just skip to interesting parts and chapters.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lee McKerracher

    What a fabulous read! Ann Druyan has such a wonderful way of making science and astronomy accessible to everyone. Her passion for space exploration is clear and this is such an entertaining way to learn about our solar system, the universe and the history of scientific discovery around the world. She has taken her late husband, Carl Sagan's work, and given it a new life and has included more recent discoveries and theories. I was lucky enough to meet Ann when she toured Australia in early 2020 wi What a fabulous read! Ann Druyan has such a wonderful way of making science and astronomy accessible to everyone. Her passion for space exploration is clear and this is such an entertaining way to learn about our solar system, the universe and the history of scientific discovery around the world. She has taken her late husband, Carl Sagan's work, and given it a new life and has included more recent discoveries and theories. I was lucky enough to meet Ann when she toured Australia in early 2020 with Neil de Grasse Tyson (yes met him too!) and they were promoting the new Cosmos series based on this book. The TV series is good but the book is so much better. The text is accompanied by some very good photography and artist impressions that emphasize the points Ann makes. Even if you only have a tiny interest in science and astronomy or if your child has an interest in this area, grab this book as it will ignite a passion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Javier

    Yes, it’s not strictly speaking an astronomy book. Yes, there are better books for those interested in gathering scientific knowledge or understanding the mechanisms of life and the universe. Yes, it’s clearly a personal account and not a scientific paper or essay (I don’t think that anyone can complain about this anyway, as it wasn’t advertised as such). And yes, being a personal account it has personal references to the Sagan family. All that said, this is a deeply inspiring, holistic book whic Yes, it’s not strictly speaking an astronomy book. Yes, there are better books for those interested in gathering scientific knowledge or understanding the mechanisms of life and the universe. Yes, it’s clearly a personal account and not a scientific paper or essay (I don’t think that anyone can complain about this anyway, as it wasn’t advertised as such). And yes, being a personal account it has personal references to the Sagan family. All that said, this is a deeply inspiring, holistic book which intertwines different disciplines from biology to physics, from history to geology. It’s filled with interesting facts and stirring questions. Personally, I love it and I think Ann Druyan deserves a lot of credit for building up on the the legacy of the original Cosmos book written by her husband Carl Sagan. I’ll certainly be re-reading this book soon. That’s, I suppose, the best review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aiden

    A dying honeybee releases a special chemical called oleic acid. The odor of this "death pheromone" alerts the hive mates that whichever bee is wearing that scent must be carted outside by pallbearers. It amazed us that even a healthy honey bee dabbed with a smidgen of oleic acid will be carried off as a corpse, no matter how vigorously it protests. This is true even for the queen bee, who plays such a critical role in the hive. When an egg rolls out of the nest, a mother goose nudges it back in-- A dying honeybee releases a special chemical called oleic acid. The odor of this "death pheromone" alerts the hive mates that whichever bee is wearing that scent must be carted outside by pallbearers. It amazed us that even a healthy honey bee dabbed with a smidgen of oleic acid will be carried off as a corpse, no matter how vigorously it protests. This is true even for the queen bee, who plays such a critical role in the hive. When an egg rolls out of the nest, a mother goose nudges it back in--a behavior with obvious value for the maintenance of goose genes. In fact, she will roll back anything vaguely egglike placed near the nest. Her behavior makes us ask: Does she understand what she's doing?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Spirrison

    Ann does a wonderful job taking us back again through the cosmic calendar. Plenty of unsung hero scientists from the past getting their due and fascinating updates on more recent events like the Cassini-Huygens Mission. If you're a sucker for the original Cosmos or Bryson's Short History you'll enjoy this one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Almodather Fathallah

    I fell in love with is book from the first line. This book is yet another creation of the talented Ann Druyan, whose talents are very immensely notable, they shone even in the presence of her late husband Carl Sagan's shadow. The book is an invitation to see the world from the lens of science, a fantastical journey no one can finish without falling in love with science itself.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I loved the original cosmos because, despite it's massive, complicated general topic, it took the time to focus on the details, the little moments. And this book did too, forcing me to learn in a way that is both delightful and sobering. Still a fantastic listen, well worth the time and money.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    An entertaining history of scientific influences that shaped our world and offers possibilities for the future. It could have been better organized into a more coherent linear logic of thought , but is an interesting and entertaining read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Really good book. Easy to read, no complicated scientific terminology like other science books, and good stories as well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Griffin

    A wonderful follow-up to Carl Sagan's classic. Ann Druyan is a brilliant science writer. I've unfortunately not been able to watch Cosmos: Possible Worlds (no cable, yay!) so I'm so glad that this book exists so I was able to enjoy the season anyway. Popsugar reading challenge 2020: A book published in the month of your birthday.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian Compton

  21. 4 out of 5

    Razvan Milea

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed al-Jamri

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike Gonzalez

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey David Marraccini

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  26. 4 out of 5

    thara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian Stuhr

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frederick

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ray Walker

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