Know your world...
The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden.A single lifetime,even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject...And so this knowledge will only be unfolded through long successive ages .There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know the things that are so plain and simple to them...Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will be effaced. Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate...Nature does not reveal her mysteries once and for all.
- Seneca,Natural Questions,Book 7,1st century.
Thus starts, Carl Sagan's all time greatest bestseller COSMOS which is a genuine effort to bring to the knowledge of the common man as to how the vast universe in which our home earth is a mere spec of dust works and has worked for millions of years and will work for the next so many eons to come.
The book chronologically deals with how the people on the earth started their quest to understand the chaos of the universe around them and how by the 21st century the human intelligence credited for its deep desire for knowledge has been able to explore to its own capacity the harmony of the universe i.e. the systematic way in which the whole cosmos works as if a machine very well designed by an engineer (Read: The Divine One) has been assembled and put to work.
In the first few chapters the author deals with what kind of opinions people of earth had about their world. The misconception of earth being at the centre of the universe endorsed by the church. Stars being seen as back bones of night without whom the night would fall upon earth and bring death and destruction.And amidst these misbeliefs how some heroes like Kepler,Galileo and Tycho dared to challenge the world and bring to the earth the vastness of universe.
Then the book discusses the process of evolution on earth and the possibility of lives on other planets.With detailed description of what has till yet been discovered about our neighbouring planets the author also lets us know the complexity of this harmony. Starting from Venus he describes the acid filled skies , the boiling surface and the toxic gases which adorn Venus, the ''Goddess of Love''.
To call Venus Earth's sister defies all logic as its climate and conditions are the least suitable for atleast the inhabitants of earth.
Blues for the Red Planet is the title of the chapter in which Mars has been described. Our timeless obsession with Martians and very little knowledge about this planet has made it the most hep destination for the astro scientific community.
Jupiter, Saturn and their mysterious rings which have varios explanations from various sectors are discussed next.
The book also lets us have a glimpse of how the future space travel if it ever happens would be like.
According to the author we have done much but much much more is still to be done. The pursuit of knowledge is endless. To quote a line in the book:
''There is a vast ocean of knowledge in front of us and we have only started to pick pebbles at the sea shore''
The book is a great read. At no point of time does one get bored and the excitement grows as you read on and then you don't feel like leaving this book until you have read it all.Though I must admit that the book does demand some basic knowledge of science.