Carl Sagan

"The books of Carl Sagan, the distinguished astronomer, are the most widely read scientific works in the world.  Cosmos, first published in 1980, is the best-selling science book ever published in the English language.  The accompanying Peabody and Emmy Award-winning television series was broadcast in sixty countries.  His other books include The Dragons of Eden, awarded the Pulitzer Price in 1978, Broca's Brain, and the bestseller Comet.
    Dr. Sagan was deeply involved in both spacecraft and exploration of the plants and radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  His numerous awards include the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and for Distinguished Public Service.
   Dr. Sagan was the Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences at Cornell University, where he also served as director of Laboratory for Planetary Studies at the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research.  He died in 1996 after consulting briefly on the movie Contact.  He never lived to see its debut and critical acclaim, however, hundreds of tributes worldwide were erected to honor his significant tributes."
- Pocket Books

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
     The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
     Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
- Carl Sagan