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Here is a woman I admire

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by Cracked Ass, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    This was so good I had to manually type the whole thing in. (I don't have a scanner or whatever, and it's not available on the Discover magazine website.) She nails my whole philosophy of science and religion in a couple of succinct interview questions.

    Mistress of the Cosmos Sets Her Sail

    This fall a converted Russian ICBM is scheduled to launch Cosmos 1, the world's first solar sail spacecraft, into Earth orbit. Powered only by the pressure of the sun's photons striking its eight massive Mylar-like panels, Cosmos 1 will be unique. It is the first space mission sponsored by a public organization, the 100,000 member Planetary Society, cofounded by the late Carl Sagan, and the first financed by a media outlet, Cosmos Studios, a science-based entertainment company run by Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow and collaborator.

    Why is Cosmos Studios financing the solar sail?
    D: It's highly cost-effective - a possible first in the history of space exploration for the price of a New York apartment. A less practical and more philosophical answer is that Cosmos Studios was conceived to awaken the widest possible public to the liberating power of science.

    How much risk is involved in an untested technology?
    D: There is a huge risk. It's been a struggle for Cosmos Studios to support this. People who are a lot smarter than I am have told me there will be no way to monetize the solar sail. But I know it will pay off. Maybe instead of making money, we'll make history. If it succeeds, it will be a naked-eye sky object day and night. You can't hope for greater visibility than that.

    Is this a slap at NASA?
    D: No, because NASA's mandate is not to provide leadership. It carries out the wishes of the administration and Congress. I love NASA. You could stack up what the men and women of NASA have achieved in just 50 years against the achievements of any other organization of humans in history and NASA would come out near the top.

    Will Cosmos 1 stimulate private spacefaring?
    D: I hope it will inspire NASA. I'm not comfortable with the privatization of space, which to me is just a repetition of our worst mistakes on Earth. I don't think we should be high-tech conquistadores, staking out our territories. Instead, we are continuing an ancient human tradition, of seeking to know the immensity of the universe.

    Is there any danger in a media company creating news? Isn't that a form of privatization?
    D: No, because we're not saying that we want to control the news coverage of the project. We welcome as much coverage as possible. It's a stimulus to the public and particularly to younger people to become involved in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology.

    The television series Cosmos still seems to resonate with people 20 years after it first aired. Why did it have such an impact?
    D: It was a pioneering presentation in popular culture of what it means to take the lessons of science to heart. Carl was a peerless teacher because he never spoke to impress the audience with his erudite knowledge but to communicate the joy he took in coming to understand the great insights that science reveals. Cosmos was a kind of love poem to the scientific method as a way of seeing and thinking, not science as a collection of digested amazing facts. There's a yearning for a spiritual vision of the universe that is not supernatural but which acknowledges that while we may be tiny and not central to teh universe, we are part of a great story - much greater than our religious heritage ever conceived.

    Do you view religion and science as incompatible?
    D: I think that suprstition and science are incompatible. I think that the doctrine of unquestioning faith and science are antithetical. To me, there was no greater spiritual awakening than the Enlightenment itself. And I'm convinced that our failure to accept it as a primarily spiritual awakening is a major source of our dysfunction.

    Is there anything inherently wrong with someone believing in the intangible?
    D: There's nothing wrong with having a sense of wonder about the things you don't understand, but I think it's wrong to commit to a belief in the absence of evidence, especially when what you believe is transparently a palliative for your fear. The search itself should be never ending. That's why the conclusive religions do not satisfy me spiritually, the way science does.

    How is that different from believing there is life on other worlds when we don't yet have evidence?
    D: I think you should withhold that belief. You should not believe anything for which there is no evidence. You can have hope - I have a lot of hope, which I like to think is based on good evidence - but that is very different than faith. For me, the method of science is a profoundly spiritual discipline, because it's saying that I will give up telling myself things that will make me feel better in exchange for knowing a little bit about the universe. Not absolute truth, because science can't offer that, but little pieces of truth, successive approximations of truth. Much of what we believe now will prove to be wrong, but how could it be otherwise?

    Why are people afraid of science?
    D: The complexity and jargon are daunting, and the knowledge has been horribly misapplied. We have weapons of mass destruction because of our fledgling knowledge of science. Furthermore, the Western religious tradition is based on a fear of knowledge. It goes right back to Prometheus and to the Garden of Eden, to God's threat that if we partake of the tree of knowledge, we will know only misery and death. So we keep one thing in our heads that says, yes, our cell phones work, our TVs work because of science, but we keep an infantile, geocentric view of the universe locked within our hearts.

    How do you combat that?
    D: Number one: Do not lie to your children. Do not tell them things that are probably untrue, because in a way you doom them to a perpetual infancy. Number two: Invest in education so that science becomes a way of seeing and thinking that is natural to all of us and not something reserved for the lucky few. At Cosmos Studios we are working on a radical new approach to teaching science from kindergarten through high school. We see it as an act of citizenship. If only an elite minority understands science and technology, there is no hope for democracy, because then we, the people, cannot make informed decisions. We will always be manipulated.

    Do you think scientists still act as if they were part of an exclusive club?
    D: I think that is changing. The community of science has gone from being a kind of priesthood, consisting almost entirely of white men, to being far more open and inclusive. Carl did a prodigious amount of first-rate science. Yet he took a huge amount of abuse for not being a "real" scientist because he was trying to tear down those walls and invite everyone in. Now the scientists who are trying to do the same work he did face a totally different environment.

    What else would improve the public's appreciation of science and scientists?
    D: We desperately need leaders who evince some respect for science, rather than one who seems proud of his ignorance. Many other things, like money for science education and research, would flow directly from a change in that kind of leadership.

    You've described science as subversive. What do you mean?
    D: It's the most revolutionary mechanism ever devised, applicable to absolutely everything. Science reserves the highest reward for those of you who disprove our most cherished beliefs. At any moment someone from any walk of life could come forward and be responsible for a complete revision of our view of everything.

    What's the most exciting trend in science today?
    D: I am excited about the scientific research for extraterrestrial intelligence because I think it would be a branching-out point in human consciousness.

    How so?
    D: The violent and brutal struggle to dominate this planet is a function of our inability to come to grips with our true circumstances, the reality of the pale blue dot that Carl was trying to convey. Once you grasp that all life is related here and that this is our heaven, you have a completely different attitude, you become less greedy and shortsighted. The notion of stealing the oil from this country, or of dominating one corner of this little dot, becomes pathetic.

    You helped select the music included on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 interstellar messages. What were you hoping to convey?
    D: To possible spacefaring extraterrestrials, it was a way for us to convey something of how rich and beautiful life is here on this little planet. It was also a way for us to look at Earth as if for the first time, to look at human culture as if for the first time, and to see it as an extraterrestrial might. The idea is straight out of Voltaire.

    Was it perhaps misleading for the messages to convey only the wonderful things about Earth and human society?
    D: We debated that vigorously, and in the end we concluded that any civilization clever enough to travel in space was likely to see through our pretensions. So we decided to put our best foot forward, knowing fully that we a re flawed creatures, imprisoned in our own moment in time.

    Is there any trend that concerns you?
    D: I'm most worried about the erosion of the separation of church and state and the disconnect between public awareness and science.

    But isn't there more communication between scientists and the public?
    D: It is catch-as-catch-can. Yes, if you are motivated and have cable, you can find science on TV, Yes, you can read Discover. But out of hundreds of possible cable channels, look at how many are devoted to comprehending how nature is put together, and how many are devoted to its mystification. It's a troubling ratio. All day long on CNN, I've been hearing that "eyewitnesses to the Roswell flying saucers" will be interviewed tonight on Larry King. Not "people who claim to be eyewitnesses" but eyewitnesses. That worries me.
  2. kaesthebluntedwonder

    kaesthebluntedwonder Elite Member

    Joined: May 16, 2000 Messages: 3,066 Likes Received: 1
    I'm gonna read this later, I promise.

    THE CORONER Banned

    Joined: Jun 2, 2004 Messages: 2,171 Likes Received: 0
    yeah that was very interesting
    big ups for sure
  4. iloveboxcars

    iloveboxcars 12oz Royalty

    Joined: Jul 29, 2002 Messages: 20,506 Likes Received: 450
    Hahaha, has anyone else noticed that the coroner *usually* seems to still not read posts? All of his posts actually pertain to the situation.. but they also are responses you could easily muster just by reading the topic title?

    haha, yeah, good post.

    BURLAP Member

    Joined: Jul 29, 2004 Messages: 307 Likes Received: 0
    thanks for posting that.
    i've had 'cosmos' sitting on my shelf for about 4 years,
    been meaning to delve into it..soon i hope.
  6. effyoo

    effyoo Elite Member

    Joined: Sep 2, 2002 Messages: 4,703 Likes Received: 0
    I did read it, and it was really informative. I've heard about Carl Sagan before but that was about it. Besides being a scientist, was he a teacher or a lecturer? I guess a google search is in order.

    My favorite part:

    and damn, you're going to be able to see this thing without a telescope? this thing will be massive
  7. kaesthebluntedwonder

    kaesthebluntedwonder Elite Member

    Joined: May 16, 2000 Messages: 3,066 Likes Received: 1
    Wow, so on point.
  8. kaesthebluntedwonder

    kaesthebluntedwonder Elite Member

    Joined: May 16, 2000 Messages: 3,066 Likes Received: 1
    I so did not see that you had quoted the same thing I just quoted.
  9. GamblersGrin

    GamblersGrin Elite Member

    Joined: Sep 24, 2003 Messages: 3,243 Likes Received: 16
    she just blinded you with science holmes
  10. effyoo

    effyoo Elite Member

    Joined: Sep 2, 2002 Messages: 4,703 Likes Received: 0
    haha^^ nice one.
  11. That interview = A+

    Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World" = A+++
  12. Dick Quickwood

    Dick Quickwood 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Aug 25, 2002 Messages: 14,783 Likes Received: 14
    excellent stuff. i'm going to have to read that again.
  13. crave

    crave Veteran Member

    Joined: Jan 20, 2002 Messages: 6,728 Likes Received: 10
    wow, that was a pretty insightful read.
  14. 455

    455 Guest

    That was pretty interesting....
  15. seeking

    seeking Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 25, 2000 Messages: 32,277 Likes Received: 235
    thanks for typing that all out.
    you should post more often. you'd be surprised as to the impact you can have.