Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Putting it all in perspective

I recently watched a tape of the original show of Carl Sagan's thirteen-part Cosmos series. Early on in Part One, Sagan takes a hypothetical journey through the universe in a spaceship capable of traveling many times faster than the speed of light. During his journey, he gives what I consider an ingenious discourse on the size and scope of the known universe. One of his wondrous statements is that there are one hundred billion galaxies that contain a billion-trillion suns. The Milky Way galaxy alone contains one hundred billion suns.

Some people yawn or roll their eyes when they hear these kinds of statistics, but I find them fascinating. To me, the incomprehensible immensity of the universe -- which stretches for trillions and trillions of miles in all directions -- teaches us a valuable lesson. We are part of something magnificent, but only a very, very small part.

The late Dr. Sagan said, "The Cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be."

Isn't that enough?

-- Jim


Judy Thomas said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to the publication of The Pit. The concept of doing such a wide-spread epic is almost overwhelming. I have some short stories set in my own world, but haven't gotten up the nerve to see what happens in the future. Kudos to you.

Jim Melvin said...


Thanks much for your comments. It was a pleasure to discover your blog. I'm very excited about my debut, but there's a lot of work ahead. Good luck in all of your projects!

Michael said...

I haven't seen the series, but I read parts of Sagan's book Cosmos for research on a novel I've plotted - although I haven't gotten around to writing it yet. I find all that stuff fascinating too. I'm looking forward to Death Wizard Chronicles. In my reply to your last comment on my blog, I asked if you'd be interested in letting me review the first book in my magazine, Tower of Light Fantasy. Congrats on the debut, Jim, and good luck with the sales!

Michael said...

Oops! The italics was supposed to be around the whole title ... oh, well. Sorry about that.

Jim Melvin said...


I'm sorry, I did miss your last comment about a review. I'd be honored, if you're still interested. I left a comment on your blog about it. Please send me a personal email at

Michael said...

Thanks, Jim. I'm still interested, of course. You didn't really miss it, I just posted it, and that's why I linked to it in my last comment here. I didn't want you to miss the part about conning you out of a free copy ... lol!

Allie Boniface said...

It's great to be reminded of that, yes!

Anonymous said...

YES! :) I am a huge, huge Carl Sagan fan. It always amazes me how people can yawn or roll their eyes over such fascinating facts about the sheer immensity, mystery and wonder of our universe. I have read every book Dr. Sagan ever wrote, and COSMOS is simply sublime.

Have you ever read his novel, CONTACT? The movie is good, but the novel is better!

Thank you for visiting my blog! :)

Jamie Ford said...

I have that series on dusty old VHS tapes. Loved them, but haven't seen them in ages. Back in college I read everything I could find by Carl Sagan, except Dragons of Eden which lost me along the way for some reason. Loved Contact too, both the book and the movie.

Time to break out those VHS tapes and see if my son can sit still long enough to appreciate them...

Jim Melvin said...

The first 20 minutes or so of the first Cosmos installment is some of the most fascinating TV I've ever seen, and it stands the test of time. Even today, it doesn't look dated. When I worked at the St. Pete Times, I almost had an in-person interview arranged with Sagan, but then it got mysteriously canceled. I found out a while later that he was ill. What a loss that was. Thanks Thomma and Jamie for your comments!

Jim Melvin said...

And yes, Thomma, I have read Contact and agree that the book was better than the movie, although the movie was pretty decent too.


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About Me

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Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.