Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Connection An Extraterrestrial Perspective


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In 1973, Carl Sagan published The Cosmic Connection, a daring view of the universe, which rapidly became a classic work of popular science and inspired a generation of scientists and enthusiasts. This seminal work is reproduced here for a whole new generation to enjoy. In Sagan’s typically lucid and lyrical style, he discusses many topics from astrophysics and solar system science, to colonization, terraforming and the search for extraterrestrials. Sagan conveys his own excitement and wonder, and relates the revelations of astronomy to the most profound human problems and concerns: issues that are just as valid today as they were thirty years ago. New to this edition are Freeman Dyson’s comments on Sagan’s vision and the importance of the work, Ann Druyan’s assessment of Sagan’s cultural significance as a champion of science, and David Morrison’s discussion of the advances made since 1973 and what became of Sagan’s predictions. Who knows what wonders this third millennium will reveal, but one thing is certain: Carl Sagan played a unique role in preparing us for them.

  • Contains scientific updates and new material by world-class scientists David Morrison and Freeman Dyson
  • Includes a new commentary by Sagan’s long-time collaborator Ann Druyan, co-author of Contact and the Cosmos television series
  • A classic book by an author of cosmic reputation, as relevant today as it ever was

Reviews & endorsements

“Carl Sagan is a scientist of quality, who is also a writer of quality. [With] great intelligence, wit, and insight, The Cosmic Connection is a success on every level.” Washington Post

“Sagan’s gift for clear and stylish explanation is a delight.” New Scientist

“A perfect opener for readers new to Sagan’s work….this informative text illuminates how our perspective on earth’s place in the universe has evolved in the last half-century. Sagan’s witty text is still a standard for stargazers as well as a reflection of how far society has to go.” Publishers Weekly


Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking and Voyager missions to the planets and briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. He helped solve many mysteries in planetary science from the high temperature of Venus to the seasonal changes on Mars. For his unique contributions, he was awarded the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievment and for Distinguished Public Service (twice), as well as the Tsiolkovsky Medal of the Soviet Cosmonautics Federation, the John F. Kennedy Award of the American Astronautical Society and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Space Education.


Jerome Agel


Freeman Dyson, Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan, David Morrison

Table of Contents

Foreword Freeman Dyson
Personal reflections Ann Druyan
Part I. Cosmic Perspective:
1. A transitional animal
2. The Unicorn of Cetus
3. A message from earth
4. A message to earth
5. Experiments in utopias
6. Chauvinism
7. Space exploration as a human enterprise I. The scientific interest
8. Space exploration as a human enterprise II. The public interest
9. Space exploration as a human enterprise III. The historical interest
Part II. The Solar System:
10. On teaching the first grade
11. ‘The ancient and legendary Gods of old’
12. The Venus detective story
13. Venus is hell
14. Science and ‘intelligence’
15. The moons of Barsoom
16. The mountains of Mars I. Observations from earth
17. The mountains of Mars II. Observations from space
18. The canals of Mars
19. The lost pictures of Mars
20. The Ice Age and the cauldron
21. Beginnings and ends of the Earth
22. Terraforming the plants
23. The exploration and utlization of the solar system
Part III. Beyond the Solar System:
24. Some of my best friends are dolphins
25. ‘Hello, central casting? Send me twenty extraterrestrials’
26. The cosmic connection
27. Extraterrestrial life: an idea whose time has come
28. Has the Earth been visited?
29. A search strategy for detecting extraterrestrial intelligence
30. If we succeed …
31. Cables, drums, and seashells
32. The night freight to the stars
33. Astroengineering
34. Twenty questions: a classification of cosmic civilisations
35. Galactic cultural exchanges
36. A passage to elsewhere
37. Starfolk I. A Fable
38. Starfolk II. A future
39. Starfolk III. The cosmic Cheshire cats
Epilog David Morrison


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