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Carl Sagan – Contact (1997)

“Look, we all have a thirst for wonder. It’s a deeply human quality. Science and religion are both bound up with it. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to make stories up, you don’t have to exaggerate. There’s wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature’s a lot better at inventing wonders than we are.”

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Carl Sagan – Contact (1997)

There were vast areas of the Midwest intricately geometrized with squares, rectangles, and circles by those with agricultural or urban predilections; and, as here, vast areas of the Southwest in which the only sign of intelligent life was an occasional straight line heading between mountains and across deserts. Are the worlds of more advanced civilizations totally geometrized, entirely rebuilt by their inhabitants? Or would the signature of a really advanced civilization be that they left no sign at all?

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Carl Sagan – Contact (1997)

She set out to broaden her education, to take as many courses as possible apart from her central interests in mathematics, physics, and engineering. But there was a problem with her central interests. She found it difficult to discuss physics, much less debate it, with her predominantly male classmates. At first they paid a kind of selective inattention to her remarks. There would be a slight pause, and then they would go on as if she had not spoken. Occasionally they would acknowledge her remark, even praise it, and then again continue undeflected. She was reasonably sure her remarks were not entirely foolish, and did not wish to be ignored, much less ignored and patronized alternately. Part of it–but only a part–she knew was due to the softness of her voice. So she developed a physics voice, a professional voice: clear, competent, and many decibels above conversational. With such a voice it was important to be right. She had to pick her moments.

National Geographic (Apr. 2019)

But what will it be like, I asked Reid, to have thousands of these zipping around the skyline? You’re inventing a new technology that has just as much revolutionary potential as automobiles. What kind of world will it make?

“We’ll figure it out,” Reid said.

Maybe we will. But it might be wise to do some of the figuring first. We didn’t have to go completely nuts about cars, allowing them to become the tail that wagged the urban dog. We didn’t have to rip up all the streetcar lines. We didn’t have to forget that cities are for people–and we don’t need to do it again.

“Rethinking Cities”

National Geographic (Apr. 2019)

Along the 45-mile stretch of El Camino between San Francisco and San Jose, within half a mile of the road, there are 3,750 commercial parcels occupied by a motley collection of mostly one- or two- story buildings. … If El Camino were lined with three- to five-story apartment buildings, Calthorpe explained, with stores and offices on the ground floor, it could hold 250,000 new homes. You could solve the Silicon Valley housing shortage and beautify the place at the same time, while reducing carbon emissions and water consumption and wasted human hours.

“Rethinking Cities”

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National Geographic (Aug. 2018)

While it sometimes seems as if we have more nightmares than pleasant dreams, this probably isn’t true. Frightening dreams are simply more likely to trigger our override system and wake us.

“Want to Fall Asleep? Read This Story.”

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National Geographic (Aug. 2018)

Every time we experience REM sleep, we literally go mad. By definition, psychosis is a condition characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Dreaming, some sleep scientists say, is a psychotic state–we fully believe that we see what is not there, and we accept that time, location, and people themselves can morph and disappear without warning.

“Want to Fall Asleep? Read This Story.”