Carl Sagan Explains How Stars Are Born, Live, and Die
“We are made by the atoms and the stars… our matter and our form are determined by the cosmos of which we are a part.”
By Maria Popova
Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934–December 20, 1996) was a tireless champion of reason, a shamanic storyteller who conveyed the whimsy of science, and frequently traversed the metaphysical in his great wisdom on such larger-than-science questions as the essence of spirituality and the meaning of life. At his finest, Sagan married the two — the enchantment of metaphysical mystery and the rigor of reason — to ignite the transcendent experience of curiosity quenched that is science.
In this sublime short excerpt from his recently remastered Cosmos series, Sagan does just that as he explains the life and death of stars:
The events in one star can influence a world halfway across the galaxy and a billion years in the future… But from a planet orbiting a star in a distant globular cluster, a still more glorious dawn awaits — not a sunrise, but a galaxy-rise; a morning filled with four hundred billion suns — the rising of the Milky Way… From such a world… it would be clear, as it is beginning to be clear in our world, that we are made by the atoms and the stars, that our matter and our form are determined by the cosmos by which we are a part.
Couple with this visual history of humanity’s quest to map the cosmos and this magnificent children’s book celebrating our shared stardustness, then revisit Sagan’s reading list.
Published December 17, 2014