Ann Druyan

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Druyan accepting Peabody Award in 2014 for Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Ann Druyan (born June 13, 1949) is an American author and producer specializing in productions about cosmology and popular science. She was a co-writer of the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan whom she married in 1981. She is the creator/producer/writer of the follow-up Cosmos seasons: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and Cosmos: Possible Worlds.

She was in charge of music selections that were included with the pioneer spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.


  • When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don't think I'll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
  • I think the roots of this antagonism to science run very deep. They're ancient. We see them in Genesis, this first story, this founding myth of ours, in which the first humans are doomed and cursed eternally for asking a question, for partaking of the fruit of the "Tree of Knowledge". It's puzzling that Eden is synonymous with paradise when, if you think about it at all, it's more like a maximum-security prison with twenty-four hour surveillance. It's a horrible place. Adam and Eve have no childhood. They awaken full-grown. What is a human being without a childhood? Our long childhood is a critical feature of our species. It differentiates us, to a degree, from most other species. We take a longer time to mature. We depend upon these formative years and the social fabric to learn many of the things we need to know.
  • I really believe that the marijuana laws are a terrible injustice. They make no sense scientifically, ethically, legally, or any way. They cost a fortune to enforce and we incarcerate hundreds of thousands of people who have done nothing else, but possess or distribute marijuana. Maybe it's because I'm a child of the 60's and marijuana has been such a positive part of my life. I have never seen it as being addictive, having spent weeks, and months, and days of my life (and years) without using marijuana in any form. For me, it's a kind of a sacrament, something that should be used wisely and in the context of a loving family existence. [...] There's a place for alcohol too, but there's no reason why adults shouldn't be allowed to do something which not only doesn't add harm to themselves or others, but is a way to enhance the beauty of life, the beauty of eating, of listening to music, of being with friends and family, of being with the one you love.
  • Recently there's been a resurgence of rejection of evolution - possibly one of the most concrete and indisputable discoveries of science. To the extent that we deny this, we're wandering in the darkness.
  • We have the means to get through these terrible troubles, but we have to get our act together,” Druyan insists. “And one of the ways, in my view, is to spread the knowledge of science and high technology to the widest possible public once again.”
  • In order to inspire people to wake up from their stupor and act in defense of the planet and its many inhabitants, I think it’s important to convey the diversity of locations and conditions on this planet. We’ve looked at a few other planets, and they’re not as interesting and this one! It’s so rich in diversity because that’s what life does. It reworks the sky. It reworks the surface. And we wanted to pay tribute to that as often as we can.
  • Science has nothing in common with fundamentalism or with superstition, but it has a lot in common with that desire to understand where we came from and who we are.

Cosmos: Possible Worlds (2020)[edit]

  • above all, Albert Einstein was a true believer in the scientist's duty to communicate with the public...those attending heard not much more than the words that began his speech: "If science, like art, is to perform its mission truly and fully, its achievements must enter not only superficially but with their inner meaning into the consciousness of the people." This always has been and always will be, the dream of Cosmos. When I stumbled upon Einstein's rarely quoted words of that night during some random late-night wandering on YouTube, I found the credo for 40 years of my life's work. Einstein was urging us to tear down the walls around science that have excluded and intimidated so many of us-to translate scientific insights from the technical jargon of its priesthood into the spoken language shared by us all, so that we may take these insights to heart and be changed by a personal encounter with the wonders they reveal...We didn't know that particular Einstein quote when Carl and I began writing the original Cosmos in 1980 with astronomer Steven Soter. We just felt a kind of evangelical urgency to share the awesome power of science, to convey the spiritual uplift of the universe it reveals, and to amplify the alarms that Carl, Steve, and other scientists were sounding about our impact on the planet. Cosmos gave voice to those forebodings, but it was also suffused with hope, with a sense of human self-esteem derived, in part, from our successes in finding our way in the universe, and from the courage of those scientists who dared to uncover and express forbidden truths.
    • about the 1939 New York World Fair
  • In that photo ("Pale Blue Dot"), the inner meaning of four centuries of astronomical research is suddenly available to all of us at a glance. It is scientific data and art equally, because it has the power to reach into our souls and alter our consciousness. It is like a great book or movie, or any major work of art. It can pierce our denial and allow us to feel something of reality-even a reality that some of us have long resisted. A world that tiny cannot possibly be the center of a cosmos of all that is, let alone the sole focus of its creator. The pale blue dot is a silent rebuke to the fundamentalist, the nationalist, the militarist, the polluter-to anyone who does not put above all other things the protection of our little planet and the life that it sustains in the vast cold darkness. There is no running away from the inner meaning of this scientific achievement.
  • We all feel the chill our present casts on our future. Some part of us knows that we must awaken to action or doom our children to dangers and hardships we ourselves have never had to face. How do we rouse ourselves and keep from sleepwalking into a climate or a nuclear catastrophe that may not be reversed before it has destroyed our civilization and countless other species? How do we learn to value those things we cannot live without-air, water, the sustaining fabric of life on Earth, the future-more than we prize money and short-term convenience? Nothing less than a global spiritual awakening can transform us into who we must become.
  • Science, like love, is a means to that transcendence, to that soaring experience of the oneness of being fully alive. The scientific approach to nature and my understanding of love are the same:

Love asks us to get beyond the infantile projections of our personal hopes and fears, to embrace the other's reality. This kind of unflinching love never stops daring to go deeper, to reach higher.

  • The vastness of the universe-and love, the thing that makes the vastness bearable-is out of reach to the arrogant.
  • the basic rules of the road for science: Test ideas by experiment and observation. Build on those ideas that pass the test. Reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads. And question everything. including authority.
  • the possible world that excites me the most-the future we can still have on this one. The misuse of science endangers our civilization, but science also has redemptive powers. It can cleanse a planetary atmosphere overburdened with carbon dioxide. It can set life free to neutralize the toxins that we have scattered so carelessly. In a society that aspires to become a democracy, a conscious and motivated public can will this possible world into existence.
  • These are stories that make me more optimistic about our future. Through them I have come to feel more intensely the romance of science and the wonder of being alive right now, at these particular coordinates in spacetime, less alone, more at home, here in the cosmos.
  • We have known about the dangers we pose to ourselves for decades and yet we continue sleepwalking toward a grim future, somehow numb to what it will mean for our children and theirs. Almost every depiction of our world's future in popular culture is a dystopian vision of a planet piled high with garbage, a ruined wasteland. They are accurate reflections of the fear in our hearts. But if dreams are maps, could a great dream of our future possibly help us find our way out of this nightmare?
  • When we fell in love, it was like discovering a new world. It was one that I had hoped was possible but had never been to before.
  • Carl made me want to be the best human being I could be.
  • One starry night, as we lay together on the deck of a ship in the Pacific, we spotted a dolphin couple riding the wave off the hull. We watched them for about 10 minutes, when suddenly in a single graceful motion they peeled off the wave at a right angle and disappeared into the deep. They moved in unison as if they had been communicating in some mysterious way. Carl looked at me and smiled: "That's us, Annie," he said. We had 20 years until his death made me a permanent exile from that world we discovered together. I was suicidal. But our children were still young and as their mother I had no choice but to live. So I carried what I learned with Carl inside me and have done my best to keep his flame burning. I rededicated my life to continuing the work we had done together.
  • When Carl wrote Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, he imagined an Encyclopedia Galactica-a reference work that includes all the worlds of all the stars. He was bravely writing at a time before a single exoplanet had been discovered and long before the internet. In the decades since, we have located thousands of planets orbiting other stars. His dream of the Encyclopedia Galactica is a little closer to reality now.
  • The words Einstein chose to open the 1939 World's Fair echo in my brain: "If science, like art, is to perform its mission truly and fully, its achievements must enter not only superficially but with their inner meaning into the consciousness of the people."
  • a great tree grew up, one with many branches, and six times it was almost felled. But still it grows and we are but one small branch, one that cannot live without its tree. And slowly, we learned to read the book of nature, to learn its laws, to nurture the tree. To find out where and when we are in the great ocean, to become a way for the cosmos to know itself and to return to the stars.

Interview with Astronomy Magazine (2020)[edit]

  • at the heart of science is this tremendous regard for nature and reality
  • The episodes range broadly and widely, but there's a through line, which is, it matters what's true. Not absolute truth. We don't get that! But these little successive approximations of reality are all we have.
  • To turn away from reality and to not listen to the scientists, couldn't be more dangerous. We've begun seeing the consequences of our disregard for the environment, they have started to accrue at a rapid pace. I don't want to yell at people and harangue them, but I would love to create a vision of a hopeful future--one that we can still have, based on the strength and courage of our ancestors and on the power of our technological and scientific reach. If we awaken from this crazy sleep.
  • If anyone ever says to me, ‘Music is no good anymore’ or ‘These kids today...’ I always fight against that. We are who we’ve been for a long time. We were all basically playing from the same deck.
  • I've always believed that dreams are maps. You present a dream of a future that's worth working for. I wanted to inspire people. The apocalyptic visions of what's going to happen to us haven’t succeeded in melting that frozen sea inside us. You can't expect a student to do the hard work--to know a subject deeply, the way it’s required for an engineer, a mathematician, a scientist—if they have no faith in the future.
  • I remember going to the New York World's Fair when I was a teenager in Queens, and what that meant for me, what the space mission of the 60s meant to me. That was an occasion for great human self-esteem. I think our self-esteem right now is at an all-time low. We have news coming at us from all different directions, every single day, we hear about the species extinction rate. I sense among the young people I know a great dread. Then I think of what our ancestors went through, what they faced. I think we need to be reminded that we come from really strong stock, and we have what it takes.
  • I wanted to convey something of the possibilities. It was like: Let’s just get going again. Let's get back in the business of doing the kind of exploration that captivates a global audience.
  • What I would be so happy about is—I don’t expect everybody to understand everything about science at the end of the season, but I want them to be curious about learning more. I want them to understand the power of science, and its tremendous liberating potential. If those things are communicated, then I feel like my work is done.
  • If we could only just see our lives as links in the chain of life, and see as our first responsibility to get that next link in the chain safely to the future
  • think it's good that we die. I just wish that more of us could have more fulfillment, and know the beauty of life more fully. When I hear about Silicon Valley billionaires who want to live forever, I think to myself: There’s no higher entitlement than thinking that you should live forever, when part of the beauty of nature is that even the stars die. That's what Emily Dickinson said: 'That it will never come again/is what makes life so sweet.' I believe that.

Interview (2018)[edit]

  • Another thing we're doing is that "Cosmos" has a view of the future which I believe has the power to inspire. So much of what we see, and so much of what our kids and grandchildren see, is so dystopic and despairing. It's like … our punishment for all our sins is just around the corner, and humanity doesn't have a future, except the one that's choking and dying. And in "Cosmos" we imagine the future that we can still have.
  • We're a story-driven species.
  • I think one of the great tragedies of my own education … was that the science was denuded of all the passion and the feeling.
  • we really believe that science is a birthright that belongs to every one of us. And the degree to which we're excluded from science is the degree to which we are powerless. We can't be informed decision-makers.
  • I think [distrust of science] is a completely legitimate point of view, because science has been misused. It will always be misused, because humans are using it. Think of how religion has been misused, how politics have been misused, manufacturing, medicine — every human undertaking has been and will be misused because that's who we are. But my theory is that … the more people [there are] who are comfortable with the ethos, the language and the methodology of science, then the less likely [it is that misuse] can happen.
  • You know, the planet will go on, other species will survive. The tardigrades will be fine. But whenever I think of this, I always think of all the generations of our ancestors who struggled so hard to create the civilization that we live off of now, and the idea that we could render all of that meaningless with our short-term thinking and our selfishness. Its horrifying.

Quotes about Ann Druyan[edit]

  • Ann Druyan suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn't strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?
    • Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space p. 11 (1994)

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: