Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective

By Carl Sagan

Rating: 4 stars

Although nominal pop science, this certainly isn’t a primer for the general layman, since it seems to already assume a decent amount of knowledge on the part of the reader. It does provide, however, a very lucid description of the origins of the solar system, the development of life and its progression and wider place in the universe (at least as understood up to the early 1970s when it was written).

Our space probes are discussed, including the Pioneer probes which Sagan himself worked on — I hadn’t realised that there was such controversy over the plaques that were mounted on Pioneers 10 and 11 — and he describes how they were used to develop and test theories about the planets of the solar system.

Sagan isn’t afraid to speculate about the possibility of life on other worlds and the possible means of listening for them, and maybe even communicating with them. This willingness to delve into what a lot of scientists may consider unsavoury territory is part of what makes Sagan’s work so charming.

The only issue that I had with the book is its age. Some of his more optimistic predictions have already been proven wrong (like his suggestion of a permanent moonbase by now). I would love to read a contemporary piece that discusses the history of human spaceflight the way that Sagan has, but brings it up to date, charting all the successes and failures since Sagan’s day.

In total, a charming and well-written description of man and his relationship with the universe.

Book details

ISBN: 9780521783033
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year of publication: 1973

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