Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cosmos: the Pale Blue Dot and Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science

The above clip is Carl Sagan's brilliant "Pale Blue Dot" speech, remastered and produced in the final episode of the new Cosmos series - highly recommended. Immediately following this the new host Neil deGrasse Tyson follows up with a great speech of his own, outlining the ideals of science. Text below courtesy of a commenter on the youtube clip:
How did we, tiny creatures living on that spec of dust, ever manage to figure out how to send spacecraft outer among the stars of the milky way? Only a few centuries ago, a mere second of the cosmic time. We knew nothing of where and when we were. Oblivious to the rest of the cosmos, we inhabited a kind of prison, a tiny universe bounded by a nutshell.
How did we escape form the prison? It was the work of generation of searchers, who took 5 simple rules to heart.
Question authority. No idea is true just because someone says so, including me. Think for yourself.
Question yourself. Don't believe anything just because you want to. Believing something doesn't make it so.
Test ideas, by the evidence gained from observation and experiment. If a favorite idea fails a well designed test, it's wrong. Get over it.
Follow the evidence, were ever it leads. If you have no evidence, reserve judgement.
And perhaps even the most important rule of all, remember you could be wrong. Even the best scientist have been wrong about somethings. Newton, Einstein, and ever other great scientist in history. They all made mistakes. Of course they did, their were human. Science is a way keep from fooling ourselves and each other.
Have scientist known sin? Of course, we have misused science, just as we have every other tool at out disposal. That's why we can't afford to leave it in the hands of a powerful few. The more science belongs to all of us, the less likely it is be misused. These values undermined the appeals of fanaticism and ignorance. And, after all, the universe is mostly dark, dotted by islands of light. Learning the age of the earth, or the distance from the stars, or how life evolves, what difference does that make?
Well, part of it depends on how big of a universe we are willing to live in. Some of us like it small, that's fine, understandable. But I like it big, and when I take all of this into my heart and my mind, I am uplifted by it. And when I have that feeling, I want to know that it's real. Not just something happening inside my own head. Because it matters whats true. Imagination is nothing compared with natures awesome reality.
I want to know what's in those dark places. And, what happened before the big bang. I want to know what lies beyond the cosmic horizon and how life began. Are there other places in the cosmos were matter and energy have become alive, and aware? I want to know my ancestors, all of them. I want to be a good strong link in the chain of generations. I want to protect my children and the children of ages to come.
We, who embody the local eyes and ear and the thoughts and feelings of the cosmos, we begun to learn the story of our origins, star stuff, contemplating the evolution of matter. Tracing that long path to which it arrived at consciousness. We and the other living things on this planet carry a legacy of cosmic evolution, spanning billions of years. If we take that knowledge to heart, if we come to know and love nature as it really is, then we would surely be remember by our descendants as good strong links in the chain of life. And our children will continue this sacred searching, seeing for us, as we have seen for those who came before.
Discovering wanders yet undreamt of, in the cosmos.