Hope Springs Eternal - Quotes
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
Nothing is more humbling than to look with a strong magnifying glass at an insect so tiny that the naked eye sees only the barest speck and to discover that nevertheless it is sculpted and articulated and striped with the same care and imagination as a zebra. Apparently it does not occur to nature whether or not a creature is within our range of vision, and the suspicion arises that even the zebra was not designed for our benefit.
Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.
One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.
It was certainly not by design that the particles fell into order, they did not work out what they were going to do, but because many of them by many chances struck one another in the course of infinite time and encountered every possible form and movement, that they found at last the disposition they have, and that is how the universe was created.
Only when the doors of perception are cleansed will man see things as the really are - infinite.
... deprived of pain, and also deprived of danger, able to do what it wants, [Nature] does not need us, nor understands our deserts, and it cannot be angry.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
If acorns start growing into theologians, or if women begin turning into pillars of salt, then we may wish to hypothesize about a supernatural influence. But until such time as nature becomes hopelessly unintelligible and unpredictable, we need look no further than nature itself for explanations.
... Carl Sagan estimated that there are a million technological civilizations in your galaxy alone. His more conservative colleague Frank Drake offers the number 10,000. John Oro calculates that the Milky Way is sprinkled with a hundred civilizations. Life Beyond Earth, National Geographic, January 2000
Where is everybody? Humans could theoretically colonize the galaxy in a million years or so, and if they could, astronauts from older civilizations could do the same. So why haven't they come to Earth?
the Fermi paradox
...we are, despite all our great technological advances, still very much a simple biological phenomenon. Despite our grandiose ideas and our lofty self-conceits, we are still humble animals, subject to all the basic laws of animal behaviour. ...We tend to suffer from a strange complacency..that there is something special about us, that we are somehow above biological control. But we are not. Many exciting species have become extinct in the past and we are no exception. Sooner or later we shall go, and make way for something else. If it is to be later rather than sooner, then we must take a long, hard look at ourselves as biological specimens and gain some understanding of our limitations.
Q: Do you think there is intelligent life out there?
A: I sometimes doubt whether there is intelligent life down here! It seems incredible that, in this enormous universe, we are the only intelligence. If we are the only intelligence in this gigantic universe, that's a tremendous responsibility.
BBC World Service
Q: But if there is life out there, do you think it will be more intelligent or less intelligent than us?
A: Out in the universe, among those hundreds and thousands of stars and planets, we might find intelligence on all levels, from a slug up to something which we would call god-like.
BBC World Service
When I was a medical student, and a patient came to the hospital with a heart attack, things were mostly up to God. Today, there's a better than 95 percent chance to survive. Now that all comes from research.
The unfortunate things is that there are people, even some scientists, who look at the money that goes to NASA and say, you know, we could use that money to support out work. That's very shortsighted. The more research that's done in any area of science, the better off everyone is going to be. The more that's done in physics, the better off I am in cardiology. There's no better investment for a society than research.
National Geographic, January 200, Surviving in Space
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.