Cosmic Apprentice: Dispatches from the Edge of Science

Dorion Sagan, Author
Dorion Sagan. Univ. of Minnesota, $24.95, (288p) ISBN 978-0816681358
Paperback - 978-0-8166-8136-5
Open Ebook - 305 pages - 978-0-8166-8437-3
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Blending science, philosophy, poetry, and personal experience, Sagan presents a series of essays kaleidoscopic in style and tone. He explains that, "this book is a book of science, but it is also one of philosophy." Both are evident in his explorations of life, death, and the universe. Replete with quotations from everyone from Galileo to Dr. Seuss, his writing is often arcane, with sentences the length of which would delight a German philosopher, and he expects the reader to be familiar with the intellectual background of his musings; for instance, "The death wish...stems from this protosemiotic or ur-semiotic drive to return to equilibrium." Later, he states, "The reintroduction of function—the reunion of ontos and telos with bios—is as empirically valid as it is spiritually salutary." Sagan is of noble scientific pedigree—his mother was evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, and his father astronomer Carl, of whom he shares warts-and-all remembrances—though in his essay on sex, readers will learn more about the habits of crabs and slugs than they may like. This is not a book to read quickly or to swallow whole, but for those who are intrigued by the great imponderables of existence, Sagan offers tasty morsels to savor. (May)
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