All the Quotes i n Carl Sagan’s “Contact”

My heart trembles like a poor leaf.
The planets whirl in my dreams.
The stars press against my window.
I rotate in my sleep.
My bed is a warm planet.
-MARVIN MERCER P. S. 153, Fifth Grade, Harlem New York City, N. Y. (1981)

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.
-WILLIAM BLAKE Songs of Experience “The Fly,” Stanzas 1-3 (1795)

Since I first gained the use of reason my inclination toward learning has been so violent and strong that
neither the scoldings of other people… nor my own reflections… have been able to stop me from following this
natural impulse that God gave me. He alone must know why; and He knows too that I have begged Him to take
the light of my understanding, leaving only enough for me to keep His law, for anything else is excessive in a
woman, according to some people. And others say it is even harmful.
-JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ Reply to the Bishop of Puebla (1691), who had attacked her scholarly work as
inappropriate for her sex

I wish to propose for the reader’s favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly
paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when
there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. I must, of course, admit that if such an opinion became
common it would completely transform our social life and our political system; since both are at present faultless,
this must weigh against it.
-BERTRAND RUSSELL Skeptical Essays, I (1928)

CHAPTER 3: White Noise
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
-JOHN KEATS “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1820)
The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
-ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON Virginibus Puerisque (1881)

Are there no Moravians in the Moon, that not a missionary has yet visited this poor pagan planet of ours
to civilize civilization and Christianize Christendom?
-HERMAN MELVILLE White Jacket (1850)
Silence alone is great; all else is weakness.
-ALFRED DEVIGNY La Mort du Loup (1864)

Oh, speak again, bright angel…
-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Romeo and Juliet

And if the Guardians are not happy, who else can be?
-ARISTOTLE The Politics Book 2, Chapter 5

No credence whatever is to be given to the opinion… that the demons act as messengers and interpreters
between the gods and men to carry all petitions from us to the gods, and to bring back to us the help of the
gods. On the contrary, we must believe them to be spirits most eager to inflict harm, utterly alien from
righteousness, swollen with pride, pale with envy, subtle in deceit…
-AUGUSTINE The City of God, VIII, 22
That Heresies should arise, we have the prophesie of Christ; but that old ones should be abolished, we
hod no prediction.
-THOMAS BROWNE Religio Medici, I, 8 (1642)

The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven,
arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable
mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and
degenerate race of beings.
-Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, XV

Wonder is the basis of worship.
-THOMAS CARLYLE Sartor Resartus (1833-34)
I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research.
-ALBERT EINSTEIN Ideas and Opinions (1954)

Do we, holding that gods exist, deceive ourselves with insubstantial dreams and lies, while random
careless chance and change alone control the world?
-EURIPIDES Hecuba

The world is nearly all parceled out, and what there is left of it is being divided up, conquered, and
colonized. To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I
would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.
-CECIL RHODES Last Will and Testament (1902)

Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns
and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots
on the map of France?
-VINCENT VAN GOGH

With the basest of companions, I walked the streets of Babylon…
-AUGUSTINE Confessions, II, 3

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer:
there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and
discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness.
-GEORGE SANTAYANA Scepticism and Animal Faith, IX

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
-WALT WHITMAN Leaves of Grass “Song of the Open Road” (1855)

The God whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a
wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.
-WILLIAM JAMES The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)

Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we
long to make music that will melt the stars. -GUSTAVE FLAUBERT Madame Bovary (1857)
Popular theology… is a massive inconsistency derived from ignorance…. The gods exist because nature
herself has imprinted a conception of them on the minds of men. -CICERO De Natura Deorum, I, 1

A rough sea! Stretched out over Sado The Milky Way.
-MATSUO BASHO (1644-94) Poem

… mount to paradise
By the stairway of surprise.
– RALPH WALDO EMERSON “Merlin,” Poems (1847)
It is not impossible that to some infinitely superior being the whole universe may be as one plain, the
distance between planet and planet being ‘only as the pores in a grain of sand, and the spaces between system
and system no greater than the intervals between one grain and the grain adjacent.
– SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE Omniania

All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.
– THOMAS BROWNE “On Dreams” Religio Media (1642)
Angels need an assumed body, not for themselves, but on our account.
– THOMAS AQUINAS Summa Theologica, I, 51, 2
The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.
– WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Hamlet, II, ii, 628

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods–They kill us for their sport.
– WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE King Lear, IV, i, 36
Who is all-powerful should fear everything.
– PIERRE CORNEILLE Cinna (1640), Act IV, Scene II

That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.
– EMILY DICKINSON Poem Number 1741

We have not followed cunningly devised fables… but were eyewitnesses. – II PETER 1: 16
Look and remember. Look upon this sky;
Look deep and deep into the sea-clean air,
The unconfined, the terminus of prayer.
Speak now and speak into the hallowed dome.
What do you hear? What does the sky reply?
The heavens are taken; this is not your home.
– KARL JAY SHAPIRO Travelogue for Exiles

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. – I CORINTHIANS 15: 51
The universe seems… to have been determined and ordered in accordance with number, by the
forethought and the mind of the creator of all things; for the pattern was fixed, like a preliminary sketch, by the
domination of number preexistent in the mind of the world-creating God. – NICOMACHUS OF GERASA
Arithmetic I, 6 (ca. A. D. 100)

The Msa7arati

Every night during Jordan’s Ramadan at around 2:30 AM, I wake up feeling like a giant is about to step on me, thanks to the “Boom! Boom! Boom!” of the msa7arati’s set of drums. It’s irritating of course, for several reasons. I wake up panicked for one thing, and it takes me a while to figure out that I am not about to be squished. It also takes me a couple of hours to be able to go back to sleep, and I still have to wake up at 7 every day.
Yet, my irritation does not equal my fascination with the mystifying “msa7arati”. Every night after his booming wakes me up, I scuttle out of bed, scramble for my glasses, and dash to the window, only to find that booming has already drifted away, taking the “msa7arati” with it. I run to another window, but his booming is also trailing off. It’s almost as if he moves around in a paranormal device that is much too fast for sleepy feet.
And so, this hide-and-seek game between me and the “msa7arati” has been going on since last years Ramadan.
Until last night. Last night, I scuttled out of bed fast enough, scrambled for my glasses swiftly, and dashed to the window in a flash.
I finally got a glimpse of the “msa7arati”.
Unfortunately, he looks nothing like what I imagined him to look. Here’s a quick sketch of what my over-active Disney-run imagination thought he would look like (never mind my drawing, I want to go nap to make up the lost sleep):

In reality, the “msa7arati” looks exactly the opposite :) He’s very tiny; it’s almost as if his set of drums is carrying him. He also wasn’t wearing a fez, and he was wearing khakis and a shirt.
Well… at least I got the drums part right :)
For those of you who grew up in Jordan, my fascination with the “msa7arati” will seem silly. To me though, this is a part of a culture I didn’t grow up in, but that I was told about by my parents and cousins.

I love our culture.

4.1 Million Domestic Robots in 2007?

The 2004 World Robotics Survey, conducted by the United Nations, predicts that by the end of the year 2007, there will be 4.1 million domestic robots in use doing household chores and providing entertainment. Right now the number is 607,000. I love how thoughtful this little boy looks, like he’s not at all sure he wants Irobi (that’s really its name) the “Family Robot” to become his companion. The Irobi, just announced by Korean Yujin Robotics, can act as a security guard, read stories, and deliver messages.

[Via Popgadget]

Why does this article remind me of all the robots-gone-bad movies I’ve watched over the years?