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Towards the Stars

J.Z. Young, 22 November 1979

Broca’s Brain 
by Carl Sagan.
Hodder, 347 pp., £6.95
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... When I saw the title of Carl Sagan’s new book, I was troubled. I was afraid he might have followed the path of other scientists who turn to study the brain because they are disillusioned by the inhumanity of physical science. I need not have worried. He remains an enthusiastic astronomer. The title refers to the sprightly opening piece in which he describes a visit to the backstage storerooms of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris ...

Great Chasm

Reyner Banham, 2 July 1981

Corridors of Time 
by Ron Redfern and Carl Sagan.
Orbis, 198 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 85613 316 7
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... in all this, the loss is effectively made good by a before-the-credit-titles introduction by Carl Sagan, American television’s equivalent of James Burke and Patrick Moore, combining Burke’s Flash Harry glibness with Moore’s manic enthusiasm. In rhapsodic prose, Sagan sets the Grand Canyon in the perspective ...

Short Cuts

Jonathan Meades: This Thing Called the Future, 8 September 2016

... CoEvolution Quarterly which revived the idea of space colonies. Though it had the support of Carl Sagan, James Lovelock and Buckminster Fuller it came to nothing, but there’s time ...

We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to Saturn

Nick Richardson: Lingua Cosmica, 18 June 2020

Extraterrestrial Languages 
by Daniel Oberhaus.
MIT, 252 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 262 04306 9
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... ice was to attract attention with a huge (preferably exploding) drawing. The German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss wanted to plant a visual proof of Pythagoras’ theorem, comprising a right-angled triangle bordered on each side by squares, in the Siberian tundra. The borders of the shapes were to be marked out by trees and their interiors filled with ...

Chemical Common Sense

Miroslav Holub, 4 July 1996

The Same and Not the Same 
by Roald Hoffmann.
Columbia, 294 pp., $34.95, September 1995, 0 231 10138 4
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... active scientists – have crystallised: the belletristic essay, such as the work of Lewis Thomas, Carl Sagan, Alan Lightman or Harold Morowitz, which reveals the elegance and spirit of science; the scientific discourse that is interesting to the broad public because of its ‘human’ dimension, as in the immense, neo-Darwinian undertaking of Stephen Jay ...


Jeremy Bernstein: Newton’s Rings, 1 April 1999

... in New York and they blew the fuses in half of my apartment building. He showed me a telegram from Carl Sagan saying he would be willing to do it for a tiny percentage of the film’s gross. Kubrick decided to let the film speak for itself. Throughout the filming of 2001 our chess games continued. Once, in the studio, when we couldn’t find a ...


Thomas Jones: The Bomb in My Head, 5 April 2018

... fed into the anti-nuclear sentiment of the 1980s, not least in the notion of nuclear winter, which Carl Sagan introduced to the world on Halloween 1983. Later modelling showed that a nuclear winter wouldn’t be as severe as Sagan and his colleagues first thought, more like a nuclear autumn, and the fear of it began to ...

His Father The Engineer

Ian Hacking, 28 May 1992

Understanding the present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Picador, 272 pp., £14.95, May 1992, 0 330 32012 2
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... of that. He has scorn for even the greatest popularisers in the Bronowski tradition, men such as Carl Sagan. He tells a story of some of the sciences from the time of Galileo to the present. Coming soon: the ‘humbling of science’ as we enter another ‘post-’ age (post-scientific, this time). He much regrets the pushing aside of the very idea of ...


Emily Witt: Online Dating, 25 October 2012

... my wink. I went to a lecture by the novelist Ned Beauman who compared the OK Cupid experience to Carl Sagan pondering the limits of our ability even to imagine non-carbon-based extraterrestrial life, let alone perceive when it was beaming signals to us. We troll on OK Cupid for what we think we want, but what if we are incapable of seeing the signals ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer, 25 January 1990

The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... Atwood, Paul Theroux, Fay Weldon, Harold Bloom, Susan Sontag, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Dwight Bolinger, Elizabeth Traugott and many more). What is revealing is how the panel’s response to certain types of usage has changed between 1969, the date of the first survey, and 1988. Take, for example, one of Amis’s favourite bête ...

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