[SIGNED] Broca's Brain : Reflections on the Romance of Science by Carl Sagan
New York : Random House, 1979. Signed by Carl Sagan. Hardcover. 347 pages ; 25 cm. $12.95 dust jacket. Light foxing at page edges. No markings within this book. Binding is firm.
"We live in an extraordinary age," writes Carl Sagan, one of our leading astronomers. "As long as there have been human beings, we have posed deep and fundamental questions on the origins of consciousness; life on our planet; the beginnings of the Earth; the origins of the Sun; the possibility of intelligent beings somewhere up there, as well as the grandest inquiry of all, the advent, nature and ultimate destiny of the universe. For all but the last instant of human history, these issues have been the exclusive province of philosophers and poets, shamans and theologians. But today, as a result of knowledge painfully extracted from nature through generations of careful thinking, observing and experimenting, we are on the verge of glimpsing at least preliminary answers to many of them."
It is with these preliminary solutions that this book is concerned. Our most eloquent spokesman for science to the layman, Dr. Sagan has the rare ability to make the reader share with him his enthusiasm and excitement over what we have found out in the past few years about "that vast universe in which we are embedded like a grain of sand in a cosmic ocean," and most particularly what we have learned about our own solar system.
This is a wonderfully lucid account of recent astronomical discoveries, linked to discoveries about the human mind, which Dr. Sagan explored so dramatically in his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Dragons of Eden, and which he has used here as a touchstone against which to try age-old philosophical and theological concepts.
Science, Dr. Sagan explains, is not a body of knowledge but a way of looking at the world—a creative questioning, probing, testing of all things. Whenever we go below the surface, connect two facts, or refuse to accept blindly a piece of received information, we are practicing science. In these terms, the human affection for pseudoscience—the pernicious belief, in the absence of good evidence, in ancient astronauts, UFO's, ESP, and so on— becomes less and less tenable in an age that is hovering on the brink of astonishing scientific progress. Dr. Sagan examines the reasons that human beings cling so tenaciously to these notions and suggests a relationship to religious beliefs. He demolishes such borderline science in a model demonstration of the scientific method, and with equal style and vigor pays tribute to the achievements of real science. The three giant figures in this book are Paul Broca, the mid-nineteenth-century French surgeon, neurologist and anthropologist who discovered that different parts of die brain control different kinds of thinking; Robert Goddard, the father of modern space exploration; and Albert Einstein, whose centennial this is. But Dr. Sagan also acknowledges countless others who have pushed forward the frontiers of knowledge. This is a book on the joys of finding out how the world works, on the romance of tire scientific endeavor.
About the Author:
CARL SAGAN is as well known for his literary as for his scientific accomplishments. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize (for The Dragons of Eden), he has also received die NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and for Distinguished Public Service, and the Joseph Priestley Award "for distinguished contributions to the welfare of mankind." He is David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and has played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking and Voyager expeditions to the planets. He is past chairman of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, President-elect of the Planetology Section of the American Geophysical Union, and editor in chief of Icarus, the principal professional journal of solar system studies. A leader in establishing the high surface temperatures of Venus and in understanding the seasonal changes on Mars, Dr. Sagan was responsible for the Voyager interstellar record, a message about ourselves sent to other civilizations in space (and described in the book Murmurs of Earth). Among his current projects is Cosmos, a thirteen-part television series to be aired on PBS and throughout the world.
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