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Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s Ultimate Mix Tape – A Love Story

carl sagan love story

In the summer of 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft as part of the Voyager Interstellar Mission. Their primary mission was to study and send back information on Jupiter and Saturn. They succeeded in this task, to gather priceless knowledge of the outer planets of our solar system, but the spaceships were concieved as martyrs.  No return route was possible.

It was known that eventually, the two crafts would escape our solar system, passing the point where communication was possible, and would continue hurtling through the universe into interstellar space.  With their fate in mind, the spacecraft were outfitted with time capsules to transmit essential information about life on Earth.

The time capsules are gold-plated records – plaques of bionic codes that include, among other things, the sound of a kiss, a whale song, music from all over the world, and greetings in over 50 different languages.  Engineers designed the records to last billions of years and they also included photos, pictures of trees and lakes and monuments, and human experiences like that of a mother breast feeding her child. These spacecraft continue today into the great expanse of space behind our solar system. And the hope is, that against all odds, the records might someday represent our history, should they cross paths with new civilizations. And this was Carl Sagan’s idea.

carl sagan golden record

Sagan’s Golden Record

Sagan, already a famed astronomer and astrophysicist, hired a project manager to help curate the sounds and images of our human experience that would bring the records to life. That project manager was Ann Druyan, an author and cosmologist. The two fell in love on their first phone call about the project, and married. They had two children and continued to work together on Sagan’s popular PBS series, Cosmos, until Sagan’s death in 1996.

“The Voyagers” is a beautiful short film about about Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, two small spacecraft, an epic journey, serendipity and falling in love:


The Voyagers from Penny Lane on Vimeo.


Even when we’re gone, we’ll be traveling in time.


Also from Carl Sagan:  The Pale Blue Dot. 









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Pale Blue Dot

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast, cosmic arena,”  said Carl Sagan in his now famous speech to Cornell University Graduates in 1994, “Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, our delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe are challenged by this point of pale light – our planet is but a drop of light in our universe….It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly to one another, and to preserve and cherish the Pale Blue Dot.  The only home we’ve ever known.”

An art student at Sheridan College took an excerpt from that speech and created this beautiful art video.   The Cornell speech was taken from his inspiring, humbling and thought-provoking book “The Pale Blue Dot,“ which challenges traditional perspectives of Earth and human civilization.



Pale Blue Dot – Animation from Ehdubya on Vimeo.


Carl Edward Sagan (seɪɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell Universitywhere he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He advocated scientifically skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Sagan is known for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. Sagan wrote the novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name.

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We Are All Made of Stars

Check out this mind-blowing, heart-bursting, video of the beauty of the Earth and our Universe as you’ve never seen it.

Every image in this video comes from picture frames taken by the International Space Station, courtesy of NASA.  It shows the immensity of the universe, and the utter magic of connectedness in everything. It would be easy to look at this and feel that we are but a speck lost in space . After all, our sun is just one of 50 billion stars in the galaxy and there are billions of galaxies.  Still,  rather than feeling separation, the video brings an absurdly wonderful sense of celebration and a feeling of kinship:  Because stars exist, we exist. The processes that created those billions of unimaginably distant galaxies also created us.


The Earth as You’ve Never Seen it Before: Atmosphere, Airglow and Aurora from AJRCLIPS on Vimeo.

You and I are not merely separated from the galaxies by unimaginable immensities of space, we are connected to them by unimaginable immensities of time. We are literally made from stars. We are their descendants. The only difference between us and stars is time.  The scientific fact is that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.  Because humans and every other animal — as well as most of the matter on Earth — contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.

From Physics Central:
Every element in the periodic table (aside from hydrogen) is essentially stardust…but how much of our body is made up of this stardust? Since stardust atoms are the heavier elements, the percentage of star mass in our body is much more impressive. Most of the hydrogen in our body floats around in the form of water. The human body is about 60% water and hydrogen only accounts for 11% of that water mass. Even though water consists of two hydrogen atoms for every oxygen, hydrogen has much less mass. So, we can conclude that 93% of the mass in our body is stardust.

You know this, right?  It’s been popularized in the media, but in case you’ve missed it, here are our three favorite references:

1) At Woodstock, Joni Mitchell famously sang about this in a song aptly titled “We are stardust.”

     ”Billion year old carbon.
     We are golden..
     Caught in the devil’s bargain
     And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

2) In 2002, music artist Moby released “We Are All Made of Stars,” explaining during a press interview that his lyrics were inspired by quantum physics. “On a basic quantum level, all the matter in the universe is essentially made up of stardust,” he said.

3) In the early 1980s, astronomer Carl Sagan hosted and narrated a 13-part television series called “Cosmos” that aired on PBS. On the show Sagan, thoroughly explained many science-related topics, including Earth’s history, evolution, the origin of life and the solar system.

“We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff,” Sagan famously stated in one episode.

Just think, long ago someone may have wished upon a star that you are made of.

How does this video make you feel? Did we miss any popular references to this theory? Tell us!



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