For most of the Earth's history, life consisted of the simplest organisms; but then something happened that would give rise to staggering diversity, and, ultimately, life as complex as that which we see today. Scientists are still struggling to figure out just what that was.
2015 • Nature
The center of the Milky Way is home to strange and deadly phenomena that we don't yet understand, but using the latest science, experts are revealing how the supermassive black hole our galaxy's core shapes life on Earth.
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).
After visiting the Moon, humanity seeks to explore deep space and learn to live beyond the Earth. This requires extensive experimentation, and the building of NASA's first space station - Skylab. Thus begins a new stage in space exploration, heralding the replacement of rivalry with partnership; The International Space Station unites over a dozen nations - with Japanese, Canadian and European astronauts aiming to complete it by 2010. Meanwhile NASA's greatest asset - the Hubble Space Telescope - reveals what is waiting for us deep in space, having begun its life as NASA's most famous mistake.
Set to the words of Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot is an animation that situates human history against the tapestry of the cosmos. Using a eclectic combination of art styles woven seamlessly together through music and visuals, the animation seeks to remind us that regardless of our differences, we are one species living together on the planet we call Earth.
2015 • Astronomy