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Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan
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“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Coal, oil and gas are called fossil fuels, because they are mostly made of the fossil remains of beings from long ago. The chemical energy within them is a kind of stored sunlight originally accumulated by ancient plants. Our civilization runs by burning the remains of humble creatures who inhabited the Earth hundreds of millions of years before the first humans came on the scene. Like some ghastly cannibal cult, we subsist on the dead bodies of our ancestors and distant relatives.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. I want to grow really old with my wife, Annie, whom I dearly love. I want to see my younger children grow up and to play a role in their character and intellectual development. I want to meet still unconceived grandchildren. There are scientific problems whose outcomes I long to witness—such as the exploration of many of the worlds in our Solar System and the search for life elsewhere. I want to learn how major trends in human history, both hopeful and worrisome, work themselves out: the dangers and promise of our technology, say; the emancipation of women; the growing political, economic, and technological ascendancy of China; interstellar flight. If there were life after death, I might, no matter when I die, satisfy most of these deep curiosities and longings. But if death is nothing more than an endless dreamless sleep, this is a forlorn hope. Maybe this perspective has given me a little extra motivation to stay alive. The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to live forever.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Perhaps, in retrospect, there would be little motivation even for malevolent extraterrestrials to attack the Earth; perhaps, after a preliminary survey, they might decide it is more expedient just to be patient for a little while and wait for us to self-destruct.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“The prediction I can make with the highest confidence is that the most amazing discoveries will be the ones we are not today wise enough to foresee.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“The hole in the ozone layer is a kind of skywriting. At first it seemed to spell out our continuing complacency before a witch's brew of deadly perils. But perhaps it really tells of a newfound talent to work together to protect the global environment.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“If we go far enough back, any two people on Earth have a common ancestor.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“If we are not graced with an instinctive knowledge of how to make our technologized world a safe and balanced ecosystem, we must figure out how to do it. We need more scientific research and more technological restraint. It is probably too much to hope that some great Ecosystem Keeper in the sky will reach down and put right our environmental abuses. It is up to us. It should not be impossibly difficult. Birds—whose intelligence we tend to malign—know not to foul the nest. Shrimps with brains the size of lint particles know it. Algae know it. One-celled microorganisms know it. It is time for us to know it too.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“In little countries and big countries, capitalist countries and communist countries, Catholic countries and Moslem countries, Western countries and Eastern countries—in almost all these cases, exponential population growth slows down or stops when grinding poverty disappears. This is called the demographic transition. It is in the urgent long-term interest of the human species that every place on Earth achieves this demographic transition. This is why helping other countries to become self-sufficient is not only elementary human decency, but is also in the self-interest of those richer nations able to help.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“علينا دائما أن نلقي أسئلة، أسئلة ذكية. لايجب أن نقبل أي شيء على نحو أعمى! يجب أن نفهم. يجب أن لانسمح لمطامحنا الخاصة أن تقف عثرة أمام الفهم.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Dear Friend, Just a line to show that I am alive & kicking and going grand. It’s a treat.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“I’m told that Sherlock Holmes never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson” (at least in the Arthur Conan Doyle books) Jimmy Cagney never said, “You dirty rat”; and Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.” But they might as well have, because these apocrypha have firmly insinuated themselves into popular culture.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Thomas Jefferson taught that a democracy was impractical unless the people were educated.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term, but it is suicidal for nations in the long term.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“We need more than anniversary sentimentalism and holiday piety and patriotism. Where necessary, we must confront and challenge the conventional wisdom. It is time to learn from those who fell here. Our challenge is to reconcile, not after the carnage and the mass murder, but instead of the carnage and mass murder. It is time to fly into one another's arms. It is time to act.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“إذا تم العثور على ذكاء خارج الأرض، سوف تتبدل وجهة نظرنا إلى الأبد حول الكون وحول أنفسنا. وإذا لم نعثر بعد بحث طويل منتظم على أي شيء، سنكون قد توصلنا إلى تقييم جانب من ندرة وعظمة الحياة على الأرض.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“It’s hard to talk about the Cosmos without using big numbers. I said “billion” many times on the Cosmos television series, which was seen by a great many people. But I never said “billions and billions.” For one thing, it’s too imprecise. How many billions are “billions and billions”? A few billion? Twenty billion? A hundred billion? “Billions and billions” is pretty vague. When we reconfigured and updated the series, I checked—and sure enough, I never said it.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“One of the central issues in the world population crisis is poverty.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“La Unión Soviética se anexionó por la fuerza Letonia, Lituania, Estonia y partes de Finlandia, Polonia y Rumania; ocupó y sometió a un régimen comunista a Polonia, Rumania, Hungría, Mongolia, Bulgaria, Checoslovaquia, Alemania oriental y Afganistán, y sofocó el alzamiento de los obreros de Alemania oriental en 1953, la revolución húngara de 1956 y la tentativa checa de introducir en 1968 el glasnost y la perestroika. Dejando aparte las guerras mundiales y las expediciones para combatir la piratería o el tráfico de esclavos, Estados Unidos ha perpetrado invasiones e intervenciones armadas en otros países en más de 130 ocasiones*, incluyendo China (18 veces), México (13), Nicaragua y Panamá (9 cada uno), Honduras (7), Colombia y Turquía (6 en cada país), República Dominicana, Corea y Japón (5 cada uno), Argentina, Cuba, Haití, el reino de Hawai y Samoa (4 cada uno), Uruguay y Fiji (3 cada uno), Granada, Puerto Rico, Brasil, Chile, Marruecos, Egipto, Costa de Marfil, Siria, Irak, Perú, Formosa, Filipinas, Camboya, Laos y Vietnam. La mayoría de estas incursiones han sido escaramuzas para mantener gobiernos sumisos o proteger propiedades e intereses de empresas estadounidenses, pero algunas han sido mucho más importantes, prolongadas y cruentas.

* Esta lista, que suscitó una cierta sorpresa cuando fue publicada en Estados Unidos, se basa en recopilaciones de la Comisión de fuerzas armadas de la cámara de representantes.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Like it or not, we humans are bound up with our fellows, and with the other plants and animals all over the world.
Our lives are intertwined.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“It’s hard to imagine an American sports team named the Diarrheas (“Gimme a ‘D’ …”).”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“But you reassure yourself that at least here they are safe from baleen whales and oil slicks and cocktail sauce.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life & Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Hablamos de ganar y perder una guerra con la misma naturalidad con que se habla de ganar y perder un partido. En un anuncio televisivo del ejército norteamericano aparece un carro de combate que destruye a otro en unas maniobras, después de lo cual el jefe del vehículo victorioso dice: «Cuando ganamos, no gana una sola persona, sino todo el equipo.» La relación entre deporte y combate resulta por demás clara. Los fans (abreviatura de «fanáticos») llegan a cometer toda clase de desmanes, incluso a matar, cuando se sienten vejados por la derrota de su equipo, se les impide celebrar la victoria o consideran que el arbitro ha cometido una injusticia.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“We invented phonetic writing so we could put
our sounds down on paper and, by glancing at a page, hear someone speaking in our head—an invention that became so widespread in the last few thousand years that we hardly ever stop to consider how astonishing it is”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“El siglo XX será recordado por tres grandes innovaciones: medios sin precedentes para salvar, prolongar y mejorar la vida, medios sin precedentes para destruirla (hasta el punto de poner por vez primera en peligro nuestra civilización global) y conocimientos sin precedentes sobre nuestra propia naturaleza y la del universo. Las tres evoluciones han sido fruto de la ciencia y la tecnología, una espada de dos filos bien cortantes. Las tres tienen raíces en el pasado remoto.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“A healthy young man can produce in a week or two enough spermatozoa to double the human population of the Earth. So is masturbation mass murder? How about nocturnal emissions or just plain sex? When the unfertilized egg is expelled each month, has someone died? Should we mourn all those spontaneous miscarriages?”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“Для многих американцев коммунизм – это бедность, отсталость, ГУЛАГ в наказание за искренность, жестокое подавление человеческого духа и безудержное стремление завоевать весь мир. Для многих советских людей капитализм – это бездушная и ненасытная алчность, расизм, война, экономическая нестабильность и всемирный заговор богатых против бедных. Это, хотя они и возникли не на пустом месте, карикатуры, которым действия Советов и Америки со временем придали определенную достоверность и убедительность.”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
“إذا فهمت العمليات الأسية، فإن مفتاح كثير من أسرار الكون ستكون بين يديك”
Carl Sagan, Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium

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