I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I'm doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world - the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, investments in science and technology have proved to be reliable engines of economic growth. If homegrown interest in those fields is not regenerated soon, the comfortable lifestyle to which Americans have become accustomed will draw to a rapid close.
For most of human civilization, the pace of innovation has been so slow that a generation might pass before a discovery would influence your life, culture or the conduct of nations.
Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That's a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don't know what you're doing.
The solar system should be viewed as our backyard, not as some sequence of destinations that we do one at a time.
One of my great laments is that education today seems to have... be less about passion and more about process, more about tactic or technique.
You can't come away with this cosmic perspective thinking that you are better than others and want to fight. That's why you'll never have astrophysicists leading nations into war.
If we find life out there, and it's not us, we will deem it not intelligent. But what may be equally as likely is that we find life that's vastly more intelligent than we are. If that's the case, we are putty in their hands.
We think scientific literacy flows out of how many science facts can you recite rather than how was your brain wired for thinking. And it's the brain wiring that I'm more interested in rather than the facts that come out of the curriculum or the lesson plan that's been proposed.
Science literacy is the artery through which the solutions of tomorrow's problems flow.
The caricature of science is that we hold tight to the theories we have, and shun challenges to them. That's just not true. In fact, we hold our highest rewards for those scientists who can prove others wrong. And by the way, they are famous in their own lifetimes. We don't wait until they're dead.
I think that intelligence is such a narrow branch of the tree of life - this branch of primates we call humans. No other animal, by our definition, can be considered intelligent. So intelligence can't be all that important for survival, because there are so many animals that don't have what we call intelligence, and they're surviving just fine.
The partisanship surrounding space exploration and the retrenching of U.S. space policy are part of a more general trend: the decline of science in the United States. As its interest in science wanes, the country loses ground to the rest of the industrialized world in every measure of technological proficiency.
Science is basically an inoculation against charlatans.
I don't care what town you're born in, what city, what country. If you're a child, you are curious about your environment. You're overturning rocks. You're plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you're doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.
What people are really after is, what is my stance on religion or spirituality or God? And I would say, if I find a word that came closest, it would be agnostic.
I don't want to be the embarrassment of the galaxy to have had the power to deflect an asteroid, and then not and end up going extinct. We'd be the laughingstock of the aliens of the cosmos if that were the case.
The universe is hilarious! Like, Venus is 900 degrees. I could tell you it melts lead. But that's not as fun as saying, 'You can cook a pizza on the windowsill in nine seconds.' And next time my fans eat pizza, they're thinking of Venus!
To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen. If people are not within your midst who dream about tomorrow - with the capacity to bring tomorrow into the present - then the country might as well just recede back into the cave because that's where we're headed.
If you get asteroids about a kilometer in size, those are large enough and carry enough energy into our system to disrupt transportation, communication, the food chains, and that can be a really bad day on Earth.
I lose sleep at night wondering whether we are intelligent enough to figure out the universe. I don't know.
I try to show the public that chemistry, biology, physics, astrophysics is life. It is not some separate subject that you have to be pulled into a corner to be taught about.
When we see animals doing remarkable things, how do we know if we're simply seeing tricks or signs of real intelligence? Are talented animals just obeying commands, or do they have some kind of deeper understanding? One of the biggest challenges for animal researchers is to come up with tests that can distinguish between the two.
We explore our environment, more than we are compelled to utter poetry, when we're toddlers. We start doing that later. Before that happens, every child is a scientist.
Everything we do, every thought we've ever had, is produced by the human brain. But exactly how it operates remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries, and it seems the more we probe its secrets, the more surprises we find.
Carl Sagan spoke fluently between biology and geology and astrophysics and physics. If you move fluently across those boundaries, you realize that science is everywhere; science is not something you can step around or sweep under the rug.
Every account of a higher power that I've seen described, of all religions that I've seen, include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.
Most religious people in America fully embrace science. So the argument that religion has some issue with science applies to a small fraction of those who declare that they are religious. They just happen to be a very vocal fraction, so you got the impression that there are more of them than there actually is.
In science, if you don't do it, somebody else will. Whereas in art, if Beethoven didn't compose the 'Ninth Symphony,' no one else before or after is going to compose the 'Ninth Symphony' that he composed; no one else is going to paint 'Starry Night' by van Gogh.
Do you realize that if you fall into a black hole, you will see the entire future of the Universe unfold in front of you in a matter of moments and you will emerge into another space-time created by the singularity of the black hole you just fell into?