When you make the finding yourself – even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light – you’ll never forget it.
We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.
the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.
Topics: Understanding, Intelligence
But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Topics: Genius, Laughter
There is today-in a time when old beliefs are withering-a kind of philosophical hunger, a need to know who we are and how we got here. It is an on-going search, often unconscious, for a cosmic perspective for humanity.
Topics: Philosophy, Philosophers
If the dinosaurs had had a space program, they would not be extinct.
We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
Topics: Mankind, Man, Loyalty
Except for children (who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions), few of us spend time wondering why nature is the way it is.
Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history.
Books tap the wisdom of our species—the greatest minds, the best teachers—from all over the world and from all our history. And they’re patient.
Our ancestors worshipped the Sun, and they were not that foolish.
It makes sense to revere the Sun and the stars, for we are their children.
Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.
Topics: The Universe
Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back
In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature.
Topics: The Artist
One of the criteria for national leadership should therefore be a talent for understanding, encouraging, and making constructive use of vigorous criticism.
One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.
We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.
The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration.
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality
Imagine that I am riding a bicycle toward you. As I approach an intersection I nearly collide, so it seems to me, with a horsedrawn cart. I swerve and barely avoid being run over. Now think of the event again, and imagine that the cart and the bicycle are both traveling close to the speed of light. If you are standing down the road, the cart is traveling at right angles to your light of sight. You see me, by reflected sunlight, traveling toward you. Would not my speed be added to the speed of light so that my image would get to you considerably before the image of the cart? Should you not see me swerve before you see the cart arrive? Can the cart and I approach the intersection simultaneously from my point of view, but not from yours? Could I experience a near collision with the cart while you perhaps see me swerve around nothing and pedal cheerfully on toward the town of Vinci? These are curious and subtle questions. They challenge the obvious. There is a reason that no one thought of them before Einstein. From such elementary questions, Einstein produced a fundamental rethinking of the world, a revolution in physics.
Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.
A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called
I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.
We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
We are at a crossroads in human history. Never before has there been a moment so simultaneously perilous and promising. We are the first species to have taken evolution into our own hands.
Topics: Sin, History
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Galileo Galilei Italian Astronomer
- Stephen Jay Gould American Paleontologist
- Robert A. Heinlein American Science Fiction Writer
- Kurt Vonnegut American Novelist
- Robert Anton Wilson American Polymath
- E. O. Wilson American Sociobiologist
- Albert Einstein German-born Theoretical Physicist
- Arthur Rubinstein American Pianist
- Isaac Asimov American Novelist, Critic, Popular Scientist
- Norman Mailer American Novelist, Journalist