Inspirational Science (Tribute to Carl Sagan) Video
(Top Posts - Science - 072309)

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The Carl Sagan Portal
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Carl Sagan Lives (061700)
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"Excerpts from 'Billions and Billions: Thoughts
On Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium',
the last book by Carl Sagan"


From the Epilogue (by Carl's wife, Ann Druyan)

"Contrary to the fantasies of the fundamentalists, there was no
deathbed conversion, no last minute refuge taken in a comforting
vision of a heaven or an afterlife. For Carl, what mattered most
was what was true, not merely what would make us feel better.
Even at this moment when anyone would be forgiven for turning
away from the reality of our situation, Carl was unflinching. As
we looked deeply into each other's eyes, it was with a shared
conviction that our wondrous life together was ending forever."

... later (end) of Epilogue ...

"As I make the changes in proof that Carl feared might be
necessary, his son Jeremy is upstairs giving Sam his nightly
computer lesson. Sasha is in her room doing homework. The
Voyager spacecraft, with their revelations of a tiny world
graced by music and love, are beyond the outermost planets,
making for the open sea of interstellar space. They are hurtling
at a speed of forty thousand miles per hour toward the stars
and a destiny about which we can only dream.

I sit surrounded by cartons of mail from people all over the
planet who mourn Carl's loss. Many of them credit him with
their awakenings. Some of them say that Carl's example has
inspired them to work for science and reason against the forces
of superstition and fundamentalism. These thoughts comfort
me and lift me up out of my heartache. They allow me to feel,
without resorting to the supernatural, that Carl lives."

-Ann Druyan
February 14, 1997
Ithaca, New York

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Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion,
Wonder, Awe . . . and Carl Sagan
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I think the roots of this antagonism to science
run very deep. They're ancient. We see them
in Genesis, this first story, this founding myth
of ours, in which the first humans are doomed
and cursed eternally for asking a question, for
partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

It's puzzling that Eden is synonymous with para-
dise when, if you think about it at all, it's more
like a maximum-security prison with twenty-four
hour surveillance.


God threatens to kill Adam and Eve if they dis-
obey his wishes. God tells them that the worst
crime, a capital offense, is to ask a question; to
partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

What kind of father is this?


This imperative not to be curious is probably the
most self-hating aspect of all, because what is
our selective advantage as a species? We're not
the fastest. We're not the strongest. We're not
the biggest. However, we do have one selective
advantage that has enabled us to survive and
prosper and endure:

      A fairly large brain relative to our
      body size. This has made it possible
      for us to ask questions and to recog-
      nize patterns. And slowly over the
      generations we've turned this aptitude
     into an ability to reconstruct our dis-
     tant past, to question the very origins
     of the universe and life itself. It's our
     only advantage, and yet this is the
     one thing that God does not want us
     to have.


Science is nothing more than a never-ending
search for truth. What could be more profoundly
sacred than that?


Here's science, just working like a tireless machine.
It's a phenomenally successful one, but its work
will never be finished.


In four hundred years, we evolved from a planet
of people who are absolutely convinced that the
universe revolves around us. No inkling that the
Sun doesn't revolve around us, let alone that we
are but a minuscule part of a galaxy that contains
roughly a hundred billion stars.

If scientists are correct, if recent findings of planets
that revolve around other stars are correct, there
are perhaps five hundred billion worlds in this gal-
axy, in a universe of perhaps another hundred
billion galaxies.


a man named Giordano Bruno was burned alive for
one reason: he would not utter the phrase, "There
are no other worlds."


Is the notion that we are tiny and the universe is vast
too much of a blow to our shaky self-esteem?

It has only been through science that we have been
able to pierce this infantile, dysfunctional need to be
the center of the universe, the only love object of
its creator.

Science has made it possible to reconstruct our dis-
tant past without the need to idealize it ... We've
been able to view our tiny little home as it is.


Science has brought us to the threshold of accept-
ance of the vastness.

It has carried us to the gateway of the universe.


That we even do science is hopeful evidence for our
mental health. It's a breakthrough. However, it's not
enough to allow these insights; we must take them
to heart.


The Bible says that the Earth is flat. The Bible says
that we were created separately from the rest of life.

If you look at it honestly, you have to give up these
basic ideas, you have to admit that the Bible is not
infallible, it's not the gospel truth of the creator of
the universe.


To me, faith is antithetical to the values of science.
Not hope, which is very different from faith. I have
a lot of hope.


When my husband died, because he was so famous
and known for not being a believer, many people
would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-
and ask me if Carl changed at the end and con-
verted to a belief in an afterlife.

They also frequently ask me if I think I will see
him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging
courage and never sought refuge in illusions.


I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But,
the great thing is that when we were together,
for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid
appreciation of how brief and precious life is.

We never trivialized the meaning of death by
pretending it was anything other than a final


I don't think I'll ever see Carl again. But I saw
him. We saw each other. We found each other
in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.

Copyright (c)2003 Ann Druyan

Here is the dedication Carl Sagan wrote
in his best-selling book Cosmos:

For Ann Druyan

In the vastness of space and the immensity of time,
it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with

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(Top Posts - Science - 110905)
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"... Inspiring, provocative, enlightening, enrich-
ing, these are but a few of the many accolades
describing Carl Sagan's greatest work in a life
cut far too short by the naturalistic forces Carl
went to great lengths to explain in this series. ..."

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Cosmos (Carl Sagan)
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"The best-selling science book ever published in the 
English language, Cosmos is a magnificent overview
of the past, present, and future of science. Brilliant 
and provocative, it traces today's knowledge and 
scientific methods to their historical roots, blending 
science and philosophy in a wholly energetic and 
irresistible way."

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All of Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' Videos

Note that at the end of some of these videos,
Carl Sagan made an update 10 to 12 years
after the original air date of the series in 1980.

Dare I say, this series (along with all of Carl's
other contributions to logic, reason, responsi-
bility, scientific & historical knowledge) remains
the most influential and inspiring  that I have 
experienced in all my (now) close to 54 years
on planet Earth.

Thanks to Carl Sagan for this magnificent work
of a scientific master of combining compelling
science with powerful and convincing persuasion.

In writing this post, I re-viewed 'Cosmos', and
it remains as enrapturing and exciting and causal
in tears-of-joy as it was when it originally aired.

(closed captioning is available on these videos)

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Cosmos (1 of 13) -- The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

At the beginning of this cosmic journey across space and time, Dr. Carl Sagan takes us to the edge of the universe aboard a spaceship of the imagination.

In the 3rd century B.C.E., Eratos - thenes, the third chief librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria, the center of science and learning in the ancient world, computed the circumference of the Earth with amazing accuracy, based on little more than sticks & shadows & his reasoning skills as a scientist.

The Library of Alexandria, at its height 2,000 years ago, all the knowledge of the ancient world was there, the first true research institute in the history of the world.
The library was destroyed 7 centuries after it was founded. At its peak it contained nearly one million papyrus manuscript scrolls, the first time the knowledge of the world was collected in one place.

The surviving manuscripts helped to spur the European Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Cosmic calendar (based on compressing an estimated 15 billion years down to a year) -- since Cosmos was made, WMAP has recently discovered that the actual age of the expansion of the space-time continuum we exist in is 13.7 billion years.

Cosmos (2 of 13) -- One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

Dr. Sagan's cosmic calendar makes the history of the universe understandable and frames the origin and evolution of life.

Some Japanese history and how selection led to a crab eventually having a carapace which resembles the face of a Samurai warrior.

How natural selection eventually led to the diversity present in the natural world, including a plausible explanation of the origin and evolution of life. Evolution is a fact, not a theory -- it really happened.

Cambrian explosion -- enormous explosion of new multicellular life forms (540 million years ago).

Dinosaurs thrived for 160 million years, but perished around the time of the appearance of the first flower.
Compressing 4 billion years of evolution into 40 seconds.

The same 50 organic molecules are used in the essential machinery of Earth life in every living thing.

The biological holy of holies -- the DNA double helix, a machine with about a 100 billion moving parts (atoms) -- there are as many atoms in one molecule of DNA as there are stars in a typical galaxy.

Cosmos update (10 years later) -- RNA can reproduce itself. Scientists wonder if first molecule of life was an RNA molecule. Feasible that key building blocks for life origins came from comets, which have a lot of organic molecules in them. Chicxulub impact now known to be primarily responsible for dinosaur extinction.

Cosmos (3 of 13) -- The Harmony of the Worlds
This episode includes a multi-cultural history of observing the night-time sky, a debunking of astrology, the Earth - centered model of Ptolemy, and a historical recap of Copernican theory.

Also included, the 15th & 16th century life of Johannes Kepler, the last scientific astrologer, the first modern astronomer and the author of the first science fiction novel, Somnium (The Dream), which described a journey to the moon in which the space travellers stood on the surface, and gazed up to see rotating slowly above them, the lovely planet Earth.

Exiled for refusing to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, Kepler collaborated with Tycho Brahe to arrive at the laws of planetary motion. 
Kepler discovered planets move in elliptical orbits, moving faster the closer they got to the sun, moving slower the further away they were from the sun.

Kepler was the first person to fully understand how the planets moved and how the solar system works. 8 days after his discovery of the 3rd law of planetary motion, the Thirty Year's War began.

Initially the war was fought largely as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Roman Empire, although other disputes played a significant part. The Thirty Years' War marked the last major religious war in mainland Europe, ending the large-scale religious bloodshed accompanying the Reformation, in 1648.

Cosmos (4 of 13) -- Heaven and Hell

Tunguska blast which occurred in Russia in 1908. Comets, throughout history, oft-times viewed as harbingers of doom.

In 1178, 5 men witnessed what has been interpreted as a collision of an object with the moon A discussion of that report, along with theories regarding its nature, appear at Historic lunar impact questioned, a story written on May 1, 2001.

A descent through the hellish atmosphere of Venus to explore its broiling surface serves as a warning to our world about the possible consequences of the increasing greenhouse effect.

Humans evolved to see in visible light, a spectrum of colors from violet to blue to green to yellow to orange to red.
However, light consists of much outside of visible light. Beyond visible light, is ultraviolet light. Beyond that are X-rays. Beyond that are gamma rays.

On the other side is the infrared, and beyond that are radio waves. All of these are different kinds of light, differing only in their frequency.

In the cosmos, there is no refuge from change. If you wait long enough, everything changes. Both the insignificant and the extraordinary are the architects of the natural world.

If we ruin the Earth, there is no place else to go. The Earth need not resemble Venus very closely for it to become barren and lifeless. It may not take much to destabilize the Earth's climate, to convert this heaven, our only home in the cosmos, into a kind of hell.

Cosmos (5 of 13) -- Blues for a Red Planet

Is there life on Mars? Dr. Sagan takes viewers on a tour of the red planet first through the eyes of  science fiction authors, and then through the unblinking eyes of two Viking spacecraft.

Recap of the impact of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (written in 1897; broadcast via radio 40 years later, frightening many who listened to the broadcast in a day & age in which radio was the dominant form of both news & entertainment).

Percival Lowell, in 1908, proposed that canals on Mars supported the idea that intelligent beings existed there.
Edgar Rice Burroughs (famous for his creation of the Tarzan character) wrote sci-fi and fantasy stories which included travel to various planets (including Mars).

Robert Goddard, spurred on by the writings of Wells, Lowell, and Burroughs, was a pioneer of liquid - fueled rocketry in the 1920s and 1930s.

Viking spacecraft search for Mars life yielded tantalizing but inconclusive results. In the future, Mars rovers will be utilized. In the distant future, will
humans transform Mars to become Earthlike?

Cosmos (6 of 13) -- Travellers' Tales

Dr. Sagan compares explorers who ventured in sailing ships halfway around our planet in their quest for wealth and knowledge to the excitement around Voyager's expeditions to Jupiter and Saturn, and beyond.

Voyager, unique in its inclusion of a golden message from Earth, for any intelligent beings that might some day meet up with the spacecraft as it travels beyond our solar system.

The Dutch, in the 17th century, pursued vigorous planetary exploration, embracing (more than any country of the time) the spirit of the Enlightenment (when the age of reason and science began to overturn ancient notions of authority / tradition oft - times controlled by religion). Holland prospered in its freedom of thought.
Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687): "The world is my country, science is my religion." A friend of Huygens, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, is considered the world's first microbiologist, and is the first to observe & describe single - celled organisms. He also is the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatazoa, and blood flow in capillaries.

Constantijn Huygens' son, Christiaan Huygens, advanced the idea that light was a kind of wave, and was the first to see a surface feature on Mars, the first to speculate Venus completely covered with clouds, the discoverer of Titan, and the inventor of the pendulum clock.

First detailed exploration of Europa and Io, in 1979 by Voyager, shown.

Cosmos (7 of 13) -- The Backbone of Night

Carl Sagan visits a 6th-grade class in a school he once attended in Brooklyn.

Humans once thought the stars were campfires in the sky and the Milky Way "the backbone of night." Some of the causality in the origins of human stories regarding gods, rituals, myths.

In Ionia,  in the 6th century B.C.E., it was argued that the universe was knowable, that universe order was  cosmos, and that nature could be explained without the gods -- this is the place where science was born, between 600 & 400 B.C.E.

First scientist? Thales, an Ionian (per Bertrand Russell, he was the "father of western philosophy").  A student of Thales, Anaximander, concluded that life had originated in water and mud, and then colonized the dry land, and 
that humans must have evolved from simpler forms (an insight that waited 24 centuries before being confirmed by Darwin).

Democritus held everything to be composed of atoms (confirmed by modern-day scientists), that nothing happened at random, that everything has a material cause.

He perceived the prevailing religions of the time as evil, neither souls or immortal gods existed, Earth was round, every world had a beginning and an end, and a world could be destroyed by a collision with another world.

Exploration is in our nature; we began as wanderers and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean; we are ready at last to set sail for the stars.

Cosmos (8 of 13) -- Travels in Space and Time

A handful of sand contains about 10,000 grains, more than the total number of stars you can see with the naked eye on a clear night. The total number of stars in the universe is larger than the number of all the grains of sand on all the beaches of planet Earth.

Albert Einstein's discovery of the speed of light, and his development of the theory of special relativity. Strange things happen when you approach the speed of light, such as time slowing down.

Discussion of possible designs for spacecraft  which approach the speed of light. Carl believes that if we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day travel to the stars.
Detailed discussion of the possibilities regarding time travel.

For example, what if the first scientists, the Ionians, had 'won'? History would've likely dramatically changed, and we might, by now, be going to the stars (not to mention having cured 'disease' and solving a much greater array of mysteries than we've solved to-date).

Discussion of the possible adventures humans will experience when we  set sail for journeys to distant stars.

Recap of the evolutionary history of all life on Earth. We are star stuff which has taken destiny into its own hands.

Cosmos (9 of 13) -- The Lives of the Stars

A typical atom is surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Atoms are very small. Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing.

An infinity of the very small (when considering cutting an atom in half, and cutting that in half, etc.) and an infinity of the very large (when considering the cosmos and going beyond the edge of all that is known), these infinities are among the most awesome of human ideas, an unending progression which goes on forever.

Atoms are made in the inside of stars.

Using computer animation and amazing astronomical art, Dr. Sagan shows how stars are born, live, die and sometimes collapse to form neutron stars or black holes.
Included, the projected end of the sun and the end of the Earth. 

Supernova explosions described.

Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff.

On July 4, 1054, the Chinese recorded the appearance of a new star, a result of a supernova explosion resulting in the Crab nebula.

Postulations on possibilities of black holes being gateways to other areas of space / time / other universes.

It makes good sense to revere the sun and the stars because we are their children. Our matter and our form are determined by the cosmos of which we are a part.

Cosmos (10 of 13) -- The Edge of Forever

How did the universe arise? What was around before that? Might there have been no beginning? Is the universe infinitely old?

We are a universe of galaxies. We've been investigating galaxies for less than a century.

The universe, sometimes violent, sometimes benign, is indifferent to the concerns of creatures such as we.

Doppler effect explained.

In 1929, Milton Humason & Edwin Hubble discovered evidence for the big bang (the big bang had first been proposed by Georges Lemaitre in 1927).

The nature of dimensions discussed.

What happened before the big bang?

In many cultures, the customary answer is that a god or gods did it. 
Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, with questions that were once treated only with religions and myths.

Hinduism and its notions of creation and nature are explored. Among its ideas, some of which resemble modern ideas of science & cosmology:

  • the cosmos itself undergoes an infinite number of deaths & rebirths
  • a day and night of Brahma is 8.64 billion years long 
  • the universe is but a dream of a god 
  • there are an infinite number of other universes, each with its own god
  • humans may not be a dream of the gods, but rather, the gods may be a dream of humans

  • Every human generation has asked about the origin & fate of the cosmos. Ours is the first generation with a real chance of finding some of the answers. One way or another, we are poised at the edge of forever.

    Cosmos (11 of 13) -- The Persistence of Memory

    The Great Whales, intelligent graceful masters of the deep oceans, the largest creatures to ever evolve, larger by far than the dinosaurs. Whale songs discussed.

    Gene libraries made of DNA, books whose function is to store & transfer information. Every organism contains a portable library of DNA information:

  • A virus? 10,000 bits.
  • A bacterium? 1 million bits.
  • An amoeba? 400 million bits.
  • A whale or a human? 5 billion bits.

  • The brain has evolved from the inside out. The brain stem evolved first, handling basic biological functions, such as heartbeat & respiration. The higher functions of the brain evolved in three successive stages:

    1) Reptile brain atop the brain stem, evolved hundreds of millions of years ago; the seat of aggression, ritual, territoriality, & social hierarchies.
    2) Limbic system surrounding the reptile brain, evolved tens of millions of years ago, a major source of our moods & emotions & concern for the young.

    3) Cerebral cortex surrounding the limbic system, evolved millions of years ago, 2/3rds of human brain mass, where matter is transformed into consciousness, the realm of intuition & critical analysis; it regulates our conscious lives.

    Neurons, tiny switching elements, humans have 100 billion of them, with something like 100 trillion inter - connections. The human brain library has 10,000 times more information in it than the human gene library.

    No longer at the mercy of the reptile brain, we can change ourselves. Think of the possibilities.

    Writing is perhaps the greatest human invention, the repository of our long evolutionary journey, from genes to brains to books.

    Cosmos (12 of 13) -- Encyclopedia Galactica

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Have we been visited by aliens? 

    All the claims of extraterrestrial visits / contacts / abductions / sightings, none of them have been supported by extraordinary evidence.

    Remembrance of the work of linguist Jean - François Champollion, who decoded the Rosetta Stone, enabling ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic scripts to be deciphered.

    We are currently searching for a message from the stars, using radio astronomy.
    Using the Drake equation, Carl guesses at the likely number of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

    A guess on the low side based on few civilizations, 1/100 millionth of those that ever developed technological capabilities lasting past their technological adolescence, only 10.

    A guess on the high side, with 1/100th of civilizations that ever developed technological capabilities lasting past their technological adolescence, millions.

    Thoughts on what an Encyclopedia Galactica, containing vast information on planets and living beings throughout the Milky Way galaxy, might contain.

    Cosmos (13 of 13) -- Who Speaks for Earth?

    Remembrances of the first contacts between European & Native American cultures. In some, the contact was peaceful. Far too often, however, the contact was hostile & deleterious to the survival of the Native Americans.

    Dr. Sagan's ominous warnings against nuclear war. In all of World War II, a total of -2- megatons of bombs were dropped. Now, one nuclear bomb can deliever that level of destruction.

    The world impoverishes itself by spending a trillion dollars per year on preparations for war, & by employing perhaps half the scientists on the planet in military endeavors.

    Recap of the advances present in the ancient world when the Library of Alexandria existed. Hypatia, Greek scholar, scientist, first notable woman in mathematics, teacher of philosophy & astronomy, a pagan, a member of the Library of Alexandria, in 415 C.E., on her way to work, was brutally killed by a Christian mob.
    Per wikipedia: "Christian monks stripped her naked & dragged her though the streets to the newly Christianised Caesareum church, where she was brutally killed. Some reports suggest she was flayed with ostraca (potshards) and set ablaze while still alive, though other accounts suggest those actions happened after her death".  The Library of Alexandria was destroyed within a year of her death.

    Recap of the evolution of the space - time continuum we exist within, and of Earth life, from the big bang 'til now. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We are star stuff.

    Science connects us with our origins. Science's only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths.

    Our obligation to survive & flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that cosmos, ancient & vast, from which we spring.

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    Recent posts with helpful references:

    Universe(s) Video
    "The Universe - Parallel Universes History 
    Channel, 2008 ... Parallel Universes ... BBC 
    Documentary, 2001 ... Observable universe 
    ... WMAP Content of the Universe ... Multi-
    verse ... Not just  a staple of science fiction, 
    other universes are a direct implication of 
    cosmological observations, by Max Tegmark ..."

    Time Tree of All Earth Life (061509)
    "... scientists and nonscientists now have easy 
    access to information about when living species 
    and their ancestors originated, information that 
    previously was difficult to find or inaccessible ..."

    Humans to become masters of their 
    own evolution? 
    "Bioengineers will likely control the future of
    humans as a species ..."

    Ida, 'Missing Link' in Human Family 
    "Scientists find the 'missing link': A 47million-year-
    old lemur that could revolutionise how we see 
    human evolution ... 'Ida is a link between the apes, 
    monkeys and us with the rest of the mammals and 
    ultimately the whole animal kingdom. I think Darwin 
    would have been thrilled.' ..."

    Nation's leading scientists (overwhelming 
    majority) disbelieve in a personal God 
    "... In 1998, 72.2% of National Academy of Sciences
    members have disbelief in a personal God. ... 20.8% 
    have doubt or agnosticism in a personal God. ... So, 
    to sum it up, 93.0% of National Academy of Sciences 
    members have disbelief, doubt, or agnosticism regard-
    ing a personal God. ... Evidence pointing to a negative 
    relationship between intelligence and religious belief 
    within nations comes from four sources. ... in only 17% 
    of the countries (23 out of 137) does the proportion 
    of the population who disbelieve in god rise above 
    20%. These are virtually all the higher IQ countries. ..."

    Richard Dawkins -- Growing Up
    in the Universe 
    "Growing Up to a Proper Scientific Understanding 
    of the Universe Based Upon Evidence-Public 
    Argument rather than Authority or Tradition or 
    Private Revelation / Trying to Understand How 
    the Universe Works - Not Copping Out With 
    Supernatural Ideas that only Seem to Explain 
    Things -but- Actually Explain Nothing"

    Large Hadron Collider Video

    "... Are there undiscovered principles of nature? 
    What is the origin of mass? Do extra dimensions 
    exist? What is dark matter? How can we solve 
    the mystery of dark energy? And how did the 
    universe come to be? ..."

    When the universe turns bad
    (Apophis is near-term threat) 
    "In the face of disaster, optimists tend to be 
    grateful because they easily imagine how much 
    worse things could have been. Count astro-
    physicists among them. When we hear about 
    earthly problems, many of us think to ourselves, 
    'You have no idea ...' In 2029 [Friday, April 13, 
    2009] , it [Apophis] will pass within about 
    18,000 miles of Earth ... If Apophis passes at 
    18,893 miles above Earth, it will pass through 
    a gravitational 'keyhole' about half a mile wide, 
    which would nudge it just enough to send it 
    on a course for collision with Earth seven years 
    later, on April 13, 2036 [Easter Sunday].' ..."

    What triggers mass extinctions? 
    "... the Big Five - the five greatest mass 
    extinctions over the past 500 million years, 
    each of which is thought to have annihilated 
    anywhere from 50 to 95 percent of all species 
    on the planet. ... main suspects behind these 
    catastrophes seem to come either from above, 
    in the form of  deadly asteroids or comets, 
    or from below, in the form of extraordinarily 
    massive volcanism. Occasionally, however, 
    unexpected culprits arise - for instance, other-
    wise innocuous forests. ..."

    The Root of All Evil? Video 
    "... The following videos, well-produced, both
    visually and in content, describe some of the 
    dangers of indoctrinating children into religious 
    faith from a very young age, with Richard 
    Dawkins the featured speaker, and with 
    Dawkins' interviews with religious proponents 
    also featured. ..."

    Preponderance of Evidence for
    Naturalistic Origins and Evolution
    of Life 
    (073102, expanded to 4 of 4 on 031909 
    "Intelligent Design advocates (i.e., the 
    latest phase in the evolution of creationists/
    goddidditists) seem to be steadfastly com-
    mitted to dismissing out-of-hand the prepon-
    derance of evidence for evolution against
    the extreme lack of evidence for 'goddiddit' 
    or 'aliensdiddit' ..."

    Future Search for Earthlike Planets 
    & Life 
    "... links to Hubble photos ... Kepler Mission: A 
    search for habitable planets ... James Webb Space 
    Telescope ... The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), 
    Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and European 
    Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)-all expected
    to see first light by 2020-will dwarf the biggest 
    observatories in use today. ... Are You Out There, 
    ET? ..."

    Richard Dawkins : Religious Faith, 
    Evolution, Science 
    "... Are people ready to jettison, or at least 
    question, religious faith as a way to explain 
    and manage the world? 'I'm starting to think 
    the answer to that may be yes, and very 
    encouraging it is, too,' Dawkins said ..."

    Mystery about origin of life solved? (022009)
    "... a new theory to show how a universal
    molecular machine, called ribosome, self-
    assembled or self-organized itself to become 
    a critical step in generating all life on earth ... 
    Thanks to the research ... scientists now have 
    a glimpse of one key event that emerged 
    spontaneously out of the primordial chemical 
    soup of the early earth. ..."

    Non-Human Intelligence (022009)
    "Monkeys Can Subtract ... Chimp Memory Beats 
    Humans' ... The more we study dolphins, the brighter 
    they turn out to be ... Crows Have Human-Like 
    Intelligence ... Is Rollie an exception, or are all 
    gorillas as clever? ... Primate Intelligence ... Why 
    Elephants Might Be as Smart as Humans ... The 
    Intelligence of Animals ... Parrots 'as intelligent' 
    as young children ..."

    Evolution? 'It's not only a theory.  It is a 
    historical fact, evident and provable.' (2 of 2) 
    "Charles Darwin ... Sir David Attenborough 
    discusses how Darwin helped shape his career
    ... What evidence supports evolution through 
    natural selection? ... Why Evolution Is True ..."

    Known Universe (021509)
    "... examining the fabric of space and time ... 
    the vastness of the universe is discussed ... 
    deconstructing the biggest explosions in the 
    universe, including asteroid impacts, super-
    novas, and the big bang ... Galaxy has billions 
    of planets that support life forms, says leading 
    astronomer ..."

    Intelligent Design versus Evolution 
    "... 'Intelligent design is just a way for creationists
    to put a new face on their beliefs and agenda and 
    to try and get around legislation on the separation 
    of church and state.' ... 'Why Evolution is True' ..."

    Evolution? 'It's not only a theory.  It is a 
    historical fact, evident and provable.' (1 of 2)
    "... 'The proof comes from fossils, geographical 
    distribution, genetics' ... Links/excerpts to some 
    helful information  regarding evolution's past/
    present/future, science, and how the scientific 
    method is a superior methodology when it 
    comes to open-minded search for verity ..."

    Charles Darwin, a Hero of Humankind,
    born 200 years ago 
    "February 12, 1809, a monumental day in
    the evolution of humankind from ignorance
    and myth -to- a much deeper understanding
    of the place of homo sapiens and all life in
    a naturalistic world. ..."

    An Ethanol and/or Solar and/or Wind 
    and/or Fusion Future? 
    "Anything Into Ethanol -- Forget about corn-future 
    biofuels will be made of wood chips and trash ... 
    Powering the Planet With Sun-Harnessing Balloons
    ... High-Flying Windmills Blow Away Their Ground-
    Based Cousins ... Can Engineers Achieve the Holy 
    Grail of Energy: Infinite and Clean? ...

    Evolution, Dogs (100708)
    "... Based on DNA evidence, the wolf ancestors 
    of modern dogs diverged from other wolves 
    about 100,000 years ago ... You would have 
    to admit, in a moment of logic and reason, that 
    Darwin's theory of evolution is one of humankind's 
    greatest accomplishments. ..."

    NASA Identifies Carbon-rich Molecules
    in Meteors as the 'Origin of Life' 
    "... These molecules, called quinones, are poten-
    tially significant for the "origin of life" or the habit-
    ability of planets. ..."

    Water, Water, Everywhere, So 
    Let's All Have a Drink 
    "... Offshore desalination could turn the oceans 
    into an inexhaustible water supply. ..."

     Life Elsewhere in a 'Crowded' Universe? 
    "... as for stars with planets, the term 'crowded'
    is used in the following to describe the latest 
    discoveries of planets which a couple of scientists 
    view as increasing the likelihood that life and 
    planets are likely widespread in the particular 
    universe we happen to inhabit an itsy-bitsy tiny 
    part of, relatively speaking ..."

    Future Think (June 6, 2008) (060608)
    "... Why Men Have Breasts ... IBM aims to 
    cool chips with water ... New Way To Think 
    About Earth's First Cells ... Plan for quake 
    'warning system' ... Discovery Channel Bets 
    on Planet Green ..."

    The Neuroscience of Illusion (060208)
    "How tricking the eye reveals the inner workings
    of the brain -- Brightness and Color Illusions ...
    Shape Distortion Illusion ... Illusory Motion ... 
    Ambiguous Figures ..."

    All That Is, All That Was, All That Ever Will Be? Video
    "... Immortality? ... Immortal Suffering? ... Oblivion? 
    ... Pleasant Immortality Hope? ... Totality of Reality? 
    ... Cosmological Calendar ... The Universe - Cosmic 
    Apocalypse ...

    Nature the Tinkerer (020808)

    "... Remember the old story about modern science:
    knowing more and more about less and less? It's not 
    true any more. We are living in the age of the great 
    biological synthesis. Both Neil Shubin and Sean B 
    Carroll thrillingly show us how, in the last 10 years, 
    work on fossils, on DNA sequencing and on embry-
    ological development have combined to piece together 
    the story of how we got here. ..."

    Epigenetics, more than genes inherited/
    passed on 
    "... with the impact of environment on genetic switches, 
    the Nature + Nurture equation includes the impact of 
    Nurture, not only on the child, directly, but also on the 
    child's ancestors and their ancestors' gene switches
    which have been passed down to the child."

    Comet probes reveal evidence of origin of life,
    scientists claim 
    "Recent probes inside comets show it is over-
    whelmingly likely that life began in space,
    according to a new paper by Cardiff Univer-
    sity scientists. ..."

    Astronomers Find a Billion Light-Years
    Without Matter 
    "How big is your sandbox? Well, no matter 
    how big you imagine it to be, scientists have 
    discovered a billion light-years of no matter 
    within it. What is it, why is it, how did it get 
    there? Science is stumped. Philosophers? Yet 
    to weigh in. ..."

    Major Extinctions (072707)
    "... The bad news? At ~65 million years, earth has 
    gone longer without a major extinction event than 
    it has for almost the entire history since complex 
    life developed on earth, increasing the risk that a 
    major extinction event is due (as it's just a matter 
    of time). ..."

    What did the 'big bang' bang into? 
    "... The standard presumption is that there was
    nothing, a bang, and then everything. More re-
    cently, scientists have theorized about a before 
    the big bang realm, and of many dimensions pos-
    sibly existing beyond the -4- we're familiar with. 
    Multiple universes, also part of the possible realm 
    of the 'all'. Cyclic universes, also part of the pos-
    sible realm of the all. Infinite universes, infinite 
    time, also part of the possible realm of the all. As 
    for what the totality of 'all' that is natural is, exactly, 
    actualized human knowledge is profoundly sparse, 
    thus far, even though theories abound. ..."

    NASA Turns to the Dark Side (070407)
    "... NASA has announced five new space missions
    to track mysteries that go "beyond Einstein" 
    - where the universe came from, 
    - what it's made of, and
    - whether space has edges. ..."

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