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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Cosmos

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Cosmos
by Carl Sagan
Science Non-Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science. The book also discusses the underlying premises of science by providing biographical anecdotes about many prominent scientists throughout history, placing their contributions into the broader context of the development of modern science.

The book covers a broad range of topics, comprising Sagan's reflections on anthropological, cosmological, biological, historical, and astronomical matters from antiquity to contemporary times. Sagan reiterates his position on extraterrestrial life—that the magnitude of the universe permits the existence of thousands of alien civilizations, but no credible evidence exists to demonstrate that such life has ever visited earth

Review:

If you are interested in reading about life - nearly every aspect of it - then you should probably pick up this book.  Although it is not lengthy page-wise, the information and the concepts introduced are so dense and thought-provoking that it feels like this book contains more than it's deceptive page count reveals.  Carl Sagan weaves in so much history, science, astronomy, and philosophy, while keeping a very readable writing style, and making the concepts as clear and lucid as possible.  I do think having some basic science knowledge is helpful though, because there aren't many illustrations to help visualize some of the more esoteric concepts.

I love science, but I think I was most excited by all the instances in this book where Carl Sagan talks about historical precedent and the evolution of our thinking in various matters.  Religion is touched on in a very respectful way, and I feel like the point which is made on trying to understand God through our physical surroundings instead of stories written so many years in the past is particularly valid given the scope and awe of the universe.  There were also many moments when I was reading that I just had to stop and digest after coming across a particularly eye-opening bit of information.  I just loved learning so much through this book.  Towards the end, the book starts to delve more into theoretical ideas and personal thoughts which, while interesting, was not as compelling a read for me, but of course this is such a small issue compared to the overall achievement in the breadth and scope of this book.

Even though this is a non-fiction book heavily steeped in science, this was a truly exciting read and full of information and ideas that everyone can find benefit from.  And I've never had must interest in astronomy, but this book has given me such an interesting perspective that I feel like visiting the nearest observatory!

-- For Friday's post, I will feature a collection of fascinating facts from this book!

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15 comments:

  1. Have you been watching the new series with Neil deGrasse Tyson? I haven't seen it yet but it's supposed to be really good!

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  2. I have been watching, and loving the show! Neil is doing a fabulous job with narrating, I love that they film on location, and the graphics are excellent! They are only a few episodes in, maybe you can catch it next Sunday!

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  3. I don't have TV, so I have to watch episodes online. I have the site bookmarked, I just haven't made the time yet.

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  4. Oh ok, yes probably watching them online will be better - you can marathon watch them. :)

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  5. I've never read anything like this but I had to watch a lot of documentaries about the topic in chemistry (surprisingly, right?) and I actually loved them. Could just have been the awesome narration by Morgan Freeman but ;) Might have to check this out!

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  6. I heard about the Morgan Freeman series! (Actually through Neil deGrasse Tyson's podcast) I haven't seen many science shows in the past, but I love Cosmos so much that I'm seeking more, so I have to check out that one! Morgan Freeman does do awesome narration! :D

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  7. I tried to watch the series with Morgan Freeman (Through the Wormhole) and got a little bored with that one. I may try it again.

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  8. I have never read this... but my mom owns it and I would always glance at it on her book shelf growing up, never actually reading it. I regret that and will now pick this up for sure!!

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  9. Through the Wormhole, that's the one! It's a little slow sometimes but I really love the visuals :)

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  10. Oh ok, it sounds like something I can watch once in awhile - I save binge watching for the really addictive shows! :)

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  11. I loved when I could browse my Mom's bookcase and gradually read through what she had - just had that memory from reading your quote. :) I think you will get so much out of this book - I look forward to reading your thoughts on it!

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  12. I love books on cosmology, but I actually don't think I've ever read anything by Sagan! Definitely an author I need to get to. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! :)

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  13. He has a really great writing style, so it makes all these complex ideas easy to understand! But I am curious as to which is the best book on cosmology you have read so far?

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  14. I really liked The Universe in a Nutshell by Hawking and I thought The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene was pretty good too. Michio Kaku's books are also some of my favorites.

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  15. Thank you, I'm going to add those books to my Goodreads TBR!

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