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2005-06-20 — 8:31 a.m.

Sagan Conversation - Part 1

Here is the second part of the blog, but the first part of the conversation I mentioned in my last post.

Here is his reply:
Knowing what a fan I am of Sagan, Michelle forwarded me your email. A number of years ago I decided Cosmos was a must read. After having been so greatly influenced by the everything that Sagan described, I made an effort to read his other works. Pale Blue Dot was in the lineup. The insignificance that it brought to my own personal psyche was one of the most liberating sensations I’ve ever felt. It literally relaxed my posture.

I still have a handful to read as well…Boca’s Brain, Dragons of Eden, and the Demon Haunted World. Shadows of forgotten Ancestors was his final work, which was co-written with his wife Ann (not to be underestimated in her own right). He passed away before it was finished…the really cool thing is that when I finished the book, I immediately realized that his physical existence is really unnecessary to carry on all the gathering knowledge that he so passionately exposed.

I do some philosophical writing myself. A few years ago I decided to share my even the most random circumstances…..I believe this qualifies. Can you guess the main influence on this one?


Once there wandered a living organism dependent upon a deluge of fabrications. Amid the many varieties of the planet, a delicate balance with one another prepared an oxygen rich atmosphere with a landscape dominated by liquid water. A protective layer of the atmosphere worked as a temperature controller and filter from the planet’s star. For the existing species, the harmony of this chemically induced biology created a paradise for life to reside. From simple happenstance of geography and such, the time was right, and one of them broke away to become the dominant form. This species of earth seemed to turn the incubator of evolution into a higher gear. Slowly, thoughts formed, moral sense confused, and primal instincts gave way to powerful emotions. From a state of consciousness, egoism varied the form to being technologically advanced. Society was born, and all of the creatures followed a creed toward advancement. In the society many civilities became the fuel of daily life. Politics, economy, and industry were consumed as a steady diet. While many of the parts of this society relied on hollow tangibles, the core of the race was in their heart and soul. Some, or rather all in some way, gained an appreciation for their special endowments and expressed their thoughts and feelings in the form of art. This animated representation proved to have much of its influence from a nurturing feeling toward nature and the universe. Ironically there were negative aspects of the tangible society that harmed this environment they appreciated so much. So a struggle ensued between the products of the advancement and the respect for the natural world; “progress faced with ramifications” (Eddie Vedder). At last view of this continuing saga, the planet shrunk and the universe became its expedition…and so the story continues with no definite end rationalized, just a direction pursued by the prodigious sailors of this cosmic buoy. The species however, can be assured as with all organisms subjected to the slow action of time, that inevitable variations will occur, transforming them to best deal with this paradox.

This is the story of humans on this planet we call earth. Immersed into nature, we at present form are but momentarily entwined into the evolution of earth’s species. In the twilight of each span of geological time, roams a forerunner to the next variation of the perfect match to nature’s state of dynamic going. Putting the still present Ptolemic view aside, we are but visitors in the ongoing struggle for existence. The 3 million year reign of the humans of the 21st century is not the end all of evolution. Just look to the end of the 200 million-year rule of the dinosaurs for proof. So, now with that egoistic premise of our form out in the open, the majesty of our more accurate representation can be revealed. We are a creation of the grand universe in which we float. We were once single celled life forms floating in the depths of a watery sea, only to become multi-celled beings floating in the shallows of an airy sea. An action propelled momentum to cultivate an objective towards perfection. At our present state we are the products of that action. Our particular condition is the result of the striving of perfection by all previous generations. Continuing the tradition, the ideal to become perfectly matched to the given set of conditions is ongoing. We are perfect in relation to what our ancestors were furthered towards, whilst just shy of the potential to be better matched to the enormous set of variables in which we exist. In this premise it is immediately obvious that we are bestowed with much fortune to be effected by such a purely wondrous action. Much of that credit is owed to every other living and non-living entity that surrounds, all of nature including twigs and ozone. These equal allies are provoked by the same action and therefore share the same fortune. The poetic connectivity that is laid out by these facts fosters a meaningful sense of kinship to all things in this universe. Leaving aside all of the ins and outs of daily life, this justice prevails, working seamlessly throughout time. So what is shown by the notion of this belief is that our present structure is only momentary. Destined to change. “We’re all just visiting, all just breaking with the waves”(Eddie Vedder). I hail all my previous forms as I drift through my turn, wishing only for a mutual respect by the next progeny that burns by the same glow of life.

Tom H.
Mechanical Project Engineer

My response to Tom:

Nicely worded, Tom. It's nice to meet another thinker! There are so few people in the world that actually question what they see and believe.

When it comes to astronomy especially, I've always been amazed. There's so much out there that we'll never see. In fact, it was astronomy that killed God for me once and for all. It was a Hubble image. Here, . I realized after looking at these ~1500 previously unknown GALAXIES, that we have no concept of time and space, and it's too big to have some omnipotent creator. Of course, astrology was long dead for me, and religion is right there now with any other mythology. People just can't get used to the fact that life on this tiny planet has no other purpose than its own existence.

Of course, I've no idea what your beliefs are, but that's my atheism in a nutshell.

Back to Sagan, a very dear friend of says that Broca's Brain is particularly impressive - it's still on my list too.

Tom's reply:

YES, there are more of us out there!

Thanks, and thanks for taking the time to read one mans gibberish.

That pic is familiar, but then again all of Hubble’s images elicit the same response…complete astonishment at the beauty of creation.

I admire your atheistic conviction and willingness to share that belief.

I think I generally agree with your statements, but I do add a bit of mysticism to the pot…if I had to finish your thought it would read something like this… And that existence is made up of a chaotic mass of different perceptions and formulas of random conclusions that result in a significant amount of personal isolation. From that point, there exists a few morsels of pureness…times we’ve all had in which our soul vibrates by some energy that is unlike any sensation…the catalyst being whatever “turns you on”. Those moments though rare give me proof of some unknown force that conspires.

And that’s just it, the unknown, that’s what I believe in…

My response:

My pleasure, really!

The unknown. Yes, that's the crux of it, isn't it? It's the human propensity to fill in the gaps. There are so many things that I do not understand, can't explain, have never heard of, etc. Lack of knowledge, however, does not make me stray towards the supernatural/divine explanation as many in our species do. For me, it's something that I can't wait to learn about; can't wait for us to develop technology to detect and explain it. Sometimes it's just fun to ponder, but the point is, I don't know; I can't prove anything.

I love that photo I sent you, because not only is it awe-inspiring, it also marks for me an enlightenment; a turning point in my personal evolution. The official NASA report of that Hubble Deep Field reads that the piece of sky revealed was the size of a dime - at 75 feet distant. Literally, it's a pinprick in the sky, which revealed over 1500 entire galaxies we never knew existed. Statistically, the Universe should look like that in every direction, right? If you think about the entire sphere of the Earth, how many galaxies is that?

Frankly, I have no idea about the Universe's creation; I wasn't there. I accept the very plausible Big Bang theory. What was before that? Another Universe? I think that's very plausible, and I'll share with you my theory (your turn to read one man's gibberish!).

If you think about it - and yes, providing our theories of physics are somewhat accurate - every galaxy is powered by a super massive black hole. It provides our impetus through the cosmos and maintains our galactic cohesion. Over time unimaginable, billions of years, that black hole will consume the entire galaxy.

We've proven scientifically that the gravitational pull of our galaxy and the galaxies in the Local Group (our very own galaxy cluster!) affect each other directly. To continue, it's not a stretch of logic to extrapolate that the more the black hole consumes, the more its mass increases, and therefore the stronger its gravitational pull. Now the gravity of the galaxy itself remains more or less constant, but as gas and dust from stellar explosions, random things cought in the event horizon, etc, the black hole will increase in mass, and the gravitational lock that the orbiting stars have around it will shift. The gravitational orbit we have around our star is very frim, yes, but our sun is off-gassing and ejecting all sorts of things away from itself, which is decreasing its mass. The reverse is happening to the black hole. As it increases in mass, albeit slowly, it will speed up its consumption of the galaxy. How long will that take? A few billion more years, most likely.

When all the matter is consumed, galaxy-by-galaxy, the Universe will slowly darken and become populated by nothing but black holes. I can't begin to imagine the gravitational pull these will have on one another. So, our dark Universe coalesces as the black holes start cannibalizing each other, with every union an exponential increase in gravity and speed. Billions more years pass. The gravity becomes so huge that the dark Universe collapses on itself to a single point…


A critical mass is reached and this horrible construct of matter can't take it any more; it explodes in, literally, the most violent explosion that has ever been, and matter gets ejected into the far reaches of space. I don't think I need to explain further.

Now I would ask you: what universe is this? We know it's our Universe, since we're a part of it, but is it the first? Is it the 10th? 5700th? Millionth? How many other galaxies, stars, planets, civilizations, people, creatures, have come and gone? We assume with our limited linear thinking that it's the only one that has ever been. Some think, also, that it was the hand of a creator that started the universe, but no one can prove it any more than I can prove to you this theory of mine. The point is, we have no concept of time and space. We don't have the cranial capacity to put a billion years into perspective, let alone a billion miles.

Speaking of miles (if I may expand on my point), the nearest star to us, just one of the billions in our pathetic little galaxy, is 4.22 light years distant. That's 24,807,268,155,860 miles away - almost 25 trillion miles. I can't even grasp that kind of number, and that's THE CLOSEST one! At a speed we can relate to, say 500 miles an hour, it would take us 5,663,760 years to get there, and that's THE CLOSEST one!

There are so many limitations on us already, dependence on oxygen and water notwithstanding. I'm sure that we're capable of great things, but in order to evolve and excel as a species, we need to shrug off the mantle of the supplied answers and learn to think for ourselves. We have to save ourselves, that's the long and short of it.

To be continued...

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Want to comment? Speak up! 1 Quips to Date

jeri - 2009-06-27 03:00:39
Hey, I started "Boca's Brain" does that count?

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