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tv   National Book Festival - Ann Druyan Cosmos  CSPAN  October 10, 2020 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT

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through the mail and a note of apology. >> at todays rates they would have totaled more than $10,000. book dtv will bring you new programs and publishing news and you can watch our past programs anytime at in ♪ ♪ >> hello. i'm annie druyan and i'm speaking to you from my home in
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ithaca, new york, and i am the author of "cosmos: possible worlds." truly honored to be participating in an event nor library of congress. in the very first cosmos exactly 40 years ago, carl sagan and stevenned soar and i celebrated the great library of alexandra, and the library of congress means so very much to me because of the democratic idea of the world's knowledge, belonging to all of us, and so it's my great honor to be here, and here to talk but possible worlds, which is the book i've written but also the television series that i have the pleasure of producing, writing, and directing, with my collaborator,
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brannon brag y. why a third cass mose does mose after 40 years? the first cosmos was an effort to give the broadest possible public a global public, its coordinates in space and in time. it was carl sagan's dream, one i completely share, that how we find our way in the cosmos, the great story of the 40,000 generations of human beings, who in one way or another added to our current understanding of nature, that we could tell these wonderful, inspire can stories, to a global audience so that as
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many of us as possible could have a cosmic perspective on both space and time. and in that original series there was the cosmic calendar in which we come pressed what was then caught -- thought to be something like 18 billion years of cosmic evolution compressed interest a single year at a glass calendar. well, over the last 40 years, our sense of the age of the cosmos has changed. that is the great strength of science. its power. because it seems constantly to error-correct to use the medaling -- methodology of science, five or six rules to
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ferret out those things which are not true and what is why science will never be completed and it's not for any one generation to see the whole picture of space-time. but instead science is a generation-binding enterprise, connecting all of us back to our earliest ancestors, in more recently, to the ancient greeks, the centers of science. and inventorsors of libraries ad memory and even a sense of the future. so the first cosmos was about finding our place in space-time. and the second cosmos in 2014, cosmos a space-time odyssey took the parallel explanatory power
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of some motif like the cosmic calendar the ship of the imagination, vehicle that can take all of us anywhere in space-time, powered by twin engines of skepticism and imagination. that's the key. not one at the expense of the other. rigorous skepticism of a faithfulness to reality and to what the data tells us, but at the same time a soaring imagination, based on what we know, could be possible. so the third cosmos, possible worlds, is my searching for a realistic, evidence-based sense
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of how we can be hopeful about the future. we all know the long shadow that falls on our future. who of us looking at our children and grandchildren cannot feel a certain pang of remorse and concern about whether or not we are handing them a planet that will be as habit able for them as it has been for us and our ancestors. i know that there was no need to tell the audience how serious the challenges we face are, but instead to find hope to find a reason for hope, that would be rational and truthful and so i took my inspiration for the show
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and the book from stories of some of the scientists who crossed the general rays, faced -- generations faced formidable and dangerous enemies, that who did not want their information to be shared with the public, and i took a great deal of courage from the stories of maybe two dozen people that you'll meet in the pages of the book and the episodes of the show who, against all odds, stood up in defense of reality, in defense of the evidence, in defense of the methodology of science, for finding out where we are. i mean, nature will not be
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deceived. we can tell ourselves as many lies as we want to, but in the end, that will guess us nowhere -- get us nowhere. in fact it's worse than that. that will doom us. skepticism, this sacred searching of science, this is the selective advantage. in fact it may be the most powerful selective advantage we have. after all, as organisms we are not the fastest or the biggest. we don't have those other advantages. what we have is ability, fantastic ability of pattern recognition, great cleverness, that can get us out beyond that place where the wind from the sun dies, as our spacecraft have
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done can rendevous with a distant plant or its moon a 50 years from now with absolute flawless precision we have enormous capabilities and yet here we are sleepwalking as if in a stubbor done stupor, in a dream, unable to awaken and create a future that we need to create by making the changes in the way we live. and the way we treat each other. this spring has been a moment of tremendous optimism for me because i've seen a sea change in the united states. not as a result of a single charismatic leader but a sea change in the hearts of all of
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us, and that's what is so inspiring because that is what has to happen and so i feel a great sense of hope and that hope is, i hope completely permeate every page, every word, every shot, in both the series and the book. no possible worlds we imagine the distant future that our descendents could conceivably experience on the worlds that circle other suns, in places that we can only dimly apprehend at this moment with our most powerful telescopes. so how die dare imagine that -- how do i dare imagine that
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future? when 100-degree fahrenheit at the arctic, when our poisoning of the ocean, the rivers, the land, the air, the climate, is so rampant and so completely out of control. well, part of it is that i feel there is a widespread yearning to fight for the future, and i also feel that unlike before, we have each other's phone numbers. we're able to communicate with each . other our planet just at the moment that we are reaching this urgent and dangerous upon in human history, we have developed a means to become ann intercommunicating organism and to reach people all over the
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world. i'm so proud of the fact that the original cosmos series, a personal voyage, has been seen by nearly a billion people, and that cosmos a space-time odyssey and cosmos possible world showed in 180 countries around the world, and the message at the heart of cosmos is to make the case for science. not that science hasn't known sin. of course it has, because it is practiced by human beings, and we are deeply flawed. that's true. -- -- but the dangers that we currently face can only be debt with with scientific knowledge and a scientific approach,
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completely unflinching, looking at our true circumstances whether it be climate change or the global pandemic, has brought us to a halt. these are the days that the earth stood still and we -- before this pandemic began i don't think any of us thought that any, anything could make us stop in our tracks, and i personally have been quarantining alone from the of march until a month ago and for me it was a tremendous experience, yes, there were moments of great sadness, great, great pain, and yet i was able to observe the unfolding of spring and beautiful ithaca where i live as never before to
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appreciate each new leaf on the tree and nature's -- any fantasy or stories we can ever make up and so it's left me with a greater conviction than ever that we have what it takes and that you'll see if you read the book or if you see the show, the book is important i think because it can tell these stories in such greater depth than is possible in a show that is on for an hour. what you'll see in these stories is not only the possible world, the ekso planets, the other world that melee -- may lay in our future as well as the lost world of this planet, the lost
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civilization of which we know so little, waiting to be discovered and unearthed and finally about the possible worlds that this can be, that this can become, if you are -- we are unified, if we are clear-eyed, and keep our eye on that most precious of all prizes, it's beautiful. a beautiful planet so completely graceed by life in almost every conceivable tiny nook and cranny, great diversity of life that that is so precious. if we can value this world, in the way it sustain us and our fellow earthlings, above money, if we can value it above a
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certain inconvenience, if we can value the air, the water, the climate, the things that we need to provide every organism, above those other things that are just recent constructs, that will make the last few centuries, if we can keep our eye on this most precious of all prizes, and wonders that await us in this cosmos, past and ancient, are beyond or wildest -- our wildest imagination. science has done some things to us that many people very hurt by and i respect that and understand that. we started out in 1609 to go back to galileo, we -- a lot of us which arishes the idea that we were the only children of a
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creator that the entire universe revolved around us. and one by one, what i call the great demotions of science, one by one, well, once the world had accepted to the extent that we have the earth -- work of the earlier scientist could person cuss who said the century was at the center of the solar system. once we said we're not at the center of the solar system but we're at the center of the galaxy, we're at the center of the universe. no. no, no. not any of those. well, we were created separately from the rest of all the other living beings on this planet. we have god's only children. well, . no it turns out we are so deeply related to each other and to all
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of the life we share this planet with, that we have more in common genetically, you and me, with the a sunflower than we are likely to have with a being from any other world in the cosmos, and so i cherish what carl sagan said, if a person disagrees with you, let them live. you will not find another in 100 billion galaxies. and so that's something of the value of science. that illinois of the -- that image. to me, when i look at that and i look at it countless times, since that first moment, that carl showed it to me back in the early 90s, when i look at that image, i say, this is where
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science and spirituality and emotions and even esthetics meet in one place. you do not need an advanced degree to understand what that pale blue dot is telling you. it's saying that we inhabit a tiny dot. how, how can a nationalist, the chauvinist, the polluter, the purveyor of the fossil fuels and other products that will destroy our future, how can they look at that dot and escape its meaning. and so there's always been kind of wall, a very tall wall
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between science and the rest of us, and i was not born inside those walls of science. i was a lousy student. i was not a good math student or a science student, and i didn't come to my love of science until i was an adult, until i found those live philosophers and bego feel included and then when it met carl sagan in my view one of the greatest teachers of the last thousand years or more, when i met carl sagan and had the honor and privilege to spend 20 years, thinking with him, writing with him, working with him, building our beautiful family together, i felt this
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overwhelming desire to share the spiritual uplift, the joy, the pleasure, of knowing even a little bit about a universe revealed by science with everyone on earth, as carl used to say when he was asked why he would spend all this time in the laboratory, why did he go on television shows and go to immigration and naturalization ceremonies and kindergartens and so many other things that he did to talk but science, he would say, when you're in love, you want to tell the world, and that's what i feel about my book which is very personal in many ways, of course personal in ways that a television show could not see.
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i felt really -- that's what i wanted to do was to share this knowledge which was no longer impenetrable to me, which was no longer boring, which was no longer something that i felt alienated from but instead i felt an almost evangelical desire to thesters of great scientists, heroic firth, people who chose death rather than telling a lie but science if don't think i could do that. and people who you have never heard of, they're not the darwin uredial -- or galileo but instead they're unsung heroes who lived so bravely so dramatically and made it possible for us to venture to the stars.
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i've never known anyone who was able to integrate both a very rigorous evidence-based, mathematical knowledge of physics and chemistry and biology that was comprehensive to integrate. that theory, rigorous skepticism, with boundless imagination and sense of wonder and joy, always the -- the founding myth of our civilization is that if you partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, you will be ruined and miserable and doomed, and it's a criminal thing to do.
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whereas i feel that in the story of genesis, when we do partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, that is when we become our human selves. it's the most natural thing for us. this is what we're really good at. and so you can't do it just with skepticism and -- i'm not the first person to say this. einstein, carl, many people said this way before me, but you can't -- you need that kind of -- you need baloney detection commit your brain which helps you discern people -- things that are real from things we want to be real. you need that but you also need imagination and a sense of the great beaut you of life, and when i think of the person who
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was able to integrate those two things perfectly, never one at the expense of the other, always think of carl because he embodied that. he followed his -- and i think was probably one of most fully realized human beings -- he was the most fully realized human being i ever met because he never lost his sense of the great joy of life. the romance of life. the romance of being alive. in the cosmos one reason he felt loved is he had the urgent sense that the universe was -- we now think it was 13.8 billion years old, but the universe -- late sea it's $1.8 billion.
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how long do we live? we are may flies. 100 years is the best we can get. and yet carl knew and he internalized it, wasn't just lip service, wasn't just something he preached. he knew how brief life is, and so he lived it with that sense of great pleasure and appreciation for even the smallest thing while see same time dreaming so big, dreaming of what it would be like to stand on the world of another sun, to travel into the very distant future or into the past, and so i felt -- i feel like something has happened since we began space exploreation, before
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the space age began and i write about this in the book and we tell this story in the show. before the space age began, all of the different scientific disciplines were very siloed so there was not a single journal on planet earth where a biologist and a geologist could co-author a peer reviewed scientific paper. isn't that amazing. and in the beginning of carl's career even when i came into this life he was constantly criticized for being wildly interdisciplineary and yet i think he understand that once you leave this planet, whether you're sending your instruments or other human beings, there's no way to explore and to understand without a complete
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synthesis of many different scientific displans. want to mars without a geologist and you want an astronomer, a of check cyst, and physicist and a microbiologiest to hunt for past life. and he was part of the generation andded edited the first scientific journal that had collaboration and that's another facet -- i think of him as the great tearer down of walls, not just the wall between science and the rest of us, but also the walls between the disciplines, and done with such good humor and joy and imagination of what the next experiment, the next spacecraft
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would be and also how to enthrottle people of all ages the joy of discovery. there need not be -- you need not sacrifice your humanity and your soul to be a scientist. if you're a writer artist, musician, you need not lose any of that creative juice by knowing something about nature. in fact i think it makes everything we do that much richer. ♪ ♪
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