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4.38  ·  Rating details ·  135,338 ratings  ·  3,935 reviews
The story of fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transforming matter and life into consciousness, of how science and civilisation grew up together, and of the forces and individuals who helped shape modern science. A story told with Carl Sagan's remarkable ability to make scientific ideas both comprehensible and exciting, based on his acclaimed television series. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 365 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Random House (first published 1980)
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Maurice Frank Quite a bit is not up to date, and shows that just like folks he criticised, Sagan was pushing some of his agenda of wishes that have not been borne o…moreQuite a bit is not up to date, and shows that just like folks he criticised, Sagan was pushing some of his agenda of wishes that have not been borne out:
- Understanding about the prevalence of gamma ray bursts and of high mass stars producing supernovas, has led to understanding that galaxies have habitable zones: large parts of galaxies are not compatible with life. this greatly reduces from Sagan's wishful estimates the chances of prevalent alien civilisations in the Milky Way.
- Milky Way now reckoned to be a barred spiral, rather than plain spiral.
- Density of matter in the universe now clearly favours an open universe (infinite). Sagan showed in chapter 10 he preferred and was hoping for a closed back on itself universe. So there is not a hierarchy of universes nested within each other as subatomic particles.
- The Kuiper Belt, outer asteroidal zone, wasn' t known at Cosmos's time. This includes the planetary demotion of Pluto, and affects the description of how planetary systems form.
- Also affecting that and affecting the estimate for alien life: we now know that gas giants' orbits often don't stay stable at outer distances like Jupiter, but they drag on the early star's nebula and decay their orbits inwards to very close to the star, disrupting in the process any inner zone of terrestrial planets. More gas giants now known with orbits very close to their stars, than orbits like Jupiter.
- Even that evolution of advanced life has needed the moon to keep the Earth's axis stable and hence our zones of climate stable, and you contrast that with how chancy it is that the Moon exists: even that has been worked out since Cosmos as does not feature as known at that time.(less)
Michael Tito "Aristocrats is a broad term that usually refers to people that a particular social order considers the highest social class of that society. " - wiki…more"Aristocrats is a broad term that usually refers to people that a particular social order considers the highest social class of that society. " - wikipedia(less)

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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  135,338 ratings  ·  3,935 reviews

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Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Can I give this one ten stars? If I had a religion, I would be a Carl Saganian. Love him so much.
I wonder what Carl Sagan may have thought of 9/11 and the world in the new millennium, a strife-torn place which is being shaken up and shaken out every moment. I imagine the civil but slightly horrified and slightly bemused tone he may have employed while talking about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the antics of the Bush administration which have become such excellent fodder for stand up comedians the world over. And I can almost detect the note of boyish enthusiasm in his voice while he ma ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The Star system in GR is absolutely inadequate for rating this book.

Gosh, I should not use the term ‘absolutely’ for something in which everything orbits around relativity.

Anyway, I think something like this would give a better idea of my opinion about this book: my rating is an universe of zillions to the power of zillions of stars, …and expanding.

My rating:

What a brilliant read this has been. I have read it very slowly; one chapter a week. But what are thirteen weeks in relation to cosmic ti
I saw the TV series years before I read the book. I'm glad I did; I was able to project the image and voice of Carl Sagan into the words on the page. If there is a better science related, non-fiction book out there, please, someone point it out to me.

Revised Oct. 2017.
I'm not sure what I could possibly say about Cosmos that hasn't already been said by countless others in the 28 years since its publication, and likely in a far more intelligent and eloquent way than I ever could. But upon recently reading this book for the first time (which may seem a bit belated, but I am, after all, only 23) it instantly became one of my favorites, a status not easily attained by any book, and so I feel compelled to say something, to expound upon its many virtues and why it h ...more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A five stars to this book.
Stars borrowed from skies that I witnessed when I was eight or maybe ten and would wake up early at pre-dawn, because that was the best time for star gazing after all.

To read Mr.Sagan, the words so simple describing the Universe so complex. To read a small passage and follow it up with a sleep filled with dreams of all those stars dying and being born every passing moment.
To recall, days of childish innocence gazing towards the infinite.Gazing in anticipation of recog
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2008
Let's put it simply. Cosmos is required reading for everyone who lives on this planet. It will give you a sense of perspective that nothing else can -- no lofty ideology, no omniscient religion, no inspiring quotations can explain things quite as clearly as Carl Sagan's treatise on science, reality, and the nature of things in this universe. Mind-bending and dazzling, and best of all, uncluttered by confusing scientific terminology. A book worthy of all the positive superlatives I can think of b ...more
Abubakar Mehdi
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“ The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us - there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries. ”

With these lines, we hop on Sagan’s ‘ship of imagination’ to visit distant worlds of Quasars, Pulsars, Black holes and Galaxies that are billions of light years away from us. A peak into the Cosmos.

Sagan is a p
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
Sagan explores the history and future of cosmology with wonder and foreboding in this slightly dated but insightful and still highly relevant mix of science and philosophy. He begins with the story of Eratosthenes, the first to calculate the circumference of the earth in the third century BCE. His instruments were two sticks. He placed one vertically in the ground at the summer solstice on the equator and a second 800 kilometers north. At noon the first would give no shadow but the angle of the ...more
TS Chan
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Carl Sagan was a good writer. For a scientist, his prose had a literary style that is enjoyable to read, and he injected a sense of philosophy into his passionate account of the origins and marvels of the cosmos.

I do find that the delivery was quite heavy-handed in trying to instill that sense of awe and wonder into the reader. What made it even more so was the narrator whose intonation carries a quality of breathless resonance. The arrangement of the subject matter also seemed a bit haphazard
Carl Audric Guia
Jun 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing

I love Carl Sagan so much. This book is real science with a hint of poesy. It was a joy to read, but not: It triggers a train of thought about human societies, the Earth, the universe, and beyond.

Cosmos is here not for leisure but curiosity.
Not a walk in the park, but a fulfilling voyage in science.
I really enjoyed this! Sagan presents each topic in a clear and concise manner. His passion for science and wonderful writing made this an enjoyable reading experience.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
The best book ever written.

A masterful work encompassing the whole of human existence and the universe, with a focus on science.

Sagan discusses
- evolution,
- Kepler, astrology and acceptance of truth in spite of what outcome is desired,
- Venus and Mars, including the made-up belief of life on Mars a century ago,
- the Voyager spacecrafts' Grand Tour of the Outer Planets (a rare alignment),
- ancient Greek scientists,
- Relativity,
- atoms, elements, and how star make them,
- Creation Myths, incl Hin

Re-visit 2016:

1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean: After an introduction by Ann Druyan, including the benefits of the end of the Cold War, Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a "Spaceship of the Imagination" (shaped like a dandelion seed). The ship journeys through the universes' hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' attempt to calculate the circum
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-gems, kindle
As a child, I was fascinated and mesmerised by our world. It looked so huge, so full of wonders. Еverything was a source of marvel and inspiration. The world, the Earth, waited to be discovered and I had a long life ahead of me to do that.

Then, in teenage years, I already knew all there was to know about life, people, the Earth and the Universe. Nobody could tell me any better. The new source of wonder had become love – falling in love, finding the purpose in another human being, the complete m
Lewis Weinstein
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wonderful perspectives, marvelous photos and drawings, beautifully written ... considers the hugeness of space and the tiniest atom, all connected ... somehow ... Cosmos has stood the test of time (yes, that's a pun) ... I have read several books on this topic in preparation for a course at Oxford on Cosmology ... this is the best ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous book in every possible way. From the lush illustration and clever diagrams clear through to Sagan's lyrical and at times whimsical narrative, this is the science book for non-scientists. (And if you are a scientist, may this be a lesson in how to tell your story.) Sagan makes the astronomy and the math and the mind-boggling complexity of the universe not only comprehensible but palatable. He wraps up our history as a species into the history of the universe (such that we can even know ...more
Apr 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: theology, science
This book was my bible when I was an enemy of God. As a stubbornly devout atheist, this was the book I turned to for justification of my proud and arrogant rejection of my Creator. Instead of reading this pile of conjecture, I recommend reading the Holy Bible (then get on your knees and repent before the holy God who gave you life and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for your lawlessness and sin). :-)
Melissa Palumbos
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest books on understanding the universe and our place in it. Moving and mesmerizing. No book has been more effective in making me appreciate existence.
Orhan Pelinkovic
If you want to get a general understanding of the history of the Universe and the sciences that holds it together, this is an excellent book to start with. It's fun and informative.

I've read the 2013 Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Edition / Cosmos by Carl Sagan / 432 pages / 116,202 words.
Shahad takleef
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting.
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 starstuff

i don't think i'll ever give 5 stars more wholeheartedly as i am doing now ..
5 shimmering , eye-blindingly shinning stars , the brightest suns GR has i
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humans... How little we are. How little we know.

Finally I finished this book last night at about 23:00. This is one of the best popular scientific books that I have read. This book is well written, reads like a mystery novel and is a great source of interesting information. Scientific information is explained in "simple reader" language.

The focus in this book is on astronomy : how big is our universe, how old it is, how it "works", etc. Sagan pays a lot of attention to stars and galaxies, but al
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those kind of books that comes along every few years that is so fantastic that you purposely drag out reading it in order to savor its awesomeness. It doesn't matter that it was written 25+ years ago, pre-Hubble telescope, before the fall of the USSR, etc. - Sagan's insight and wide-reaching scope are timeless.

The last few chapters are so rich in thought-provoking information they are worth re-reading. Sagan would have never wanted his work to become the foundation of a religion,
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

I wish I had LOVED this book as Carl Sagan is an icon. It was entertaining, if you ignore the fact that it is VERY dated (I mean, 40+ years dated), which is not its fault. However, I much prefer A Short History of Nearly Everything for a review of the same information.
It took me long to read it, but it was worth it. First thing that captivates me that despite being a nonfiction scientific book, Carl Sagan described the whole universe, explained the science in such a poetic and eloquent way that you would think he is a romantic poet! And the parts about his childhood and his enthusiasm for astronomy, for cosmos were the cutest and beautiful thing I have ever read. I saw myself, my passion for space in him, in his writings. And best part of this book was the in ...more
Ross Blocher
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cosmos operates at a massive scale worthy of its lofty title. Carl Sagan, in a companion compendium to his 13-part 1980 TV series of the same name, explains what we know about the universe and the progression of human thought about origins and the nature of reality. We zoom across frames of reference, from the actions of atoms and subatomic particles, to the molecules that store genetic information, to life on this planet, and beyond, to the structure of the universe. We learn about the various ...more
Arun Divakar
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When do we truly die ? The most logical answer would be to say that we die when the last breath escapes us and when our body and mind cease to function. But I tend to differ , death would be the loss of fascination and wonderment at the world around us. To wake up and see the sun rise everyday, to listen to birdsong in the mornings and see the blue sky above you, to feel the rain lashing at you and at times caressing you with its softness, the gentle breeze of the evenings, the feel of the sea w ...more
May 舞
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
"For 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."
Pawan Mishra
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
It has always made me very curious how science touches many other seemingly different subjects of history, philosophy, and religion. This book is really very impressive. A story of 15 billion years of the cosmos compressed in this relatively smaller book! Easy to read and understand, Carl Sagan's Cosmos draws the reader into a world so vivid and realistic that it's hard not to be mesmerized throughout while reading this book. ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, must-read
Highly recommended for people who have a little interest in astrophysics :)
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In 1934, scientist Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After earning bachelor and master's degrees at Cornell, Sagan earned a double doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1960. He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. A great popularizer of science, Sagan produced th ...more

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