Quotes From Timeless Science Books: Cosmos by Carl Sagan

We are all starstuff

Erik Jones
8 min readNov 8, 2020


Image by Erik Jones

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

That is the brilliant first line from Carl Sagan’s 1980 TV series, Cosmos, as well as the first line of his book of the same name. This series was a clear demarcation line in my life when I watched it a little over a decade ago. There was a before, and an after, where the after was marked by a much more intense desire to understand the world around me.

Sagan has a way of communicating the wonder of the universe and history of science in an erudite, yet down to earth way. He is also able to successfully pull off a level of earnestness and poetic language that feels missing or discouraged in today’s discourse.

To see what I mean, just check out his famous thoughts about our Pale Blue Dot.

I read the book version of Cosmos several years ago and found it to be equally awe-inspiring and cosmically humbling as the TV version.

Before getting to the quotes, here is one more video I would recommend, if only to get a sense of his voice, because it is so much more fun to read the below in his voice and cadence. This explanation from his Cosmos series about Googol, a Googolplex, and infinity is something I honestly still think about all the time all these years later.

The following quotes jumped out to me as I read through the book.

Context and quotes from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

This is Sagan on the purpose of science. This is in response to Immanual Velikovsky, a psychiatrist who in 1950. He proposed that Venus was originally a comet that originated near Jupiter and before settling in its current orbit, came near Earth at the time of Moses to help part the Red Sea as well as cause volcanic eruptions and floods.

Many hypotheses proposed by scientists as well as by non-scientists turn out to be wrong. But science is a self-correcting enterprise. To be accepted, all new ideas must survive rigorous standards of evidence. The worst



Erik Jones

Writing about podcasts and creativity. Check out https://www.hurtyourbrain.com/ to never miss an article and to get podcast recommendations that make you think.