Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer

The words come from a profile of Sagan, "Seeking Other Worlds," Newsweek (15 Aug 1977). The final paragraph reads:

“A serious search with negative results says something of profound importance,” Sagan argues. “We discover there’s something almost forbidden about life ... if it turns out we really are alone.” But clearly, Sagan is looking for a happier result. There may be no galumphing green Barsoomian giants to satisfy the fantasies of a romantic Brooklyn boy. But no doubt, there are even stranger discoveries to be made ... some totally new phenomenon perhaps ... Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

Those final words, not a quotation, have been broadly mistaken for an actual statement by Sagan.

Sharon Begley, one of the writers of the article, has confirmed the words are hers.

Sagan's daughter , Sasha Sagan, has also disavowed the quotation, noting that her father would never have used "incredible" in such a context, as the word literally means "not credible."

More discussion: Somewhere, Something Incredible Is Waiting To Be Known – Quote Investigator®.

Added on 15-Mar-23 | Last updated 15-Mar-23
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  1. Richard McBroom

    The past has everything to do with the course of the future. The past be truly known, humans would not be doing what they are currently doing to this planet.

    The life cycle of birth, expression and death is necessary for any organism to evolve and survive into the future. The limit to life expectancy is completely dependent upon the rate of change for the physical constants and the implications for DNA replication. This evolution is known as TOP DOWN cosmology.

    This is near certain: Imagine a universe beginning with a single “particle” of gigantic mass that spontaneously divides into two smaller masses (with a field that obviously must exist to unite them, like, say, primordial electrostatic gravity, a quantum relationship modulo 2). Imagine that over “time” the process of division continues, producing “newer,” lighter “particles” (and forces that unite them “programmed” for future expression within when, per chance, they are irrationally unreconcilable by quantum counting) over “time.” (Note: That cascade of particles is presently observed as “nuclear decay,” where heavier elements spontaneously cascade into a spectrum of heavier-to-lighter elements.) To see how rapidly the NUMBER of observed particles (of increasingly smaller mass) can grow in a short amount of time, just multiply 2 x 2 = repeatedly on a small calculator– in a very short time the numbers go off the scale! Just imagine, then, IN THE PROCESS OF DIVIDING, heavier masses, that eventually form galaxies, divide over time (seemingly coming from “nowhere”) at each epoch of division (and extinction). This process is known as “TOP DOWN cosmology.” In the end, you have present-day smaller galaxies, PLUS the cosmic heat signature of NOW-EXTINCT past elements (including galaxies), known today as the “cosmic microwave background radiation.” (Note: Smaller early galaxies are required by BOTTOM UP big bang cosmology, where predicted smaller primal galaxies form larger galaxies over time, and where the predicted cosmic microwave background radiation would be “smooth;” HOWEVER, the OBSERVED cosmic background radiation is actually “lumpy,” and OBSERVED primal galaxies are actually larger.) TOP DOWN cosmology wins! PS: I call this theory “The Origin Theory,” as an extension of Darwin’s “Origin of the Species.” Please leave the ultimate origin and direction of our currently-complex universe (either with TOP DOWN or BOTTOM UP cosmology) to lesser-probabilities of 50/50, so as not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Given that the latest “breakthrough” in fusion technology recklessly announces controlled fusion energy when it provides ignition WITHOUT accounting for energy out Vs TOTAL energy in (I still remember “cold fusion”), My TOP DOWN theory of cosmology says that in order to reconcile static gravitational and Coulomb effects (a valid grand unification theory goal) there is a value, a number R, such that Ke^2 = RGm^2, where K is the Coulomb constant, e^2 is the square of the charge on an electron, G is the universal gravitational constant and m^2 is the square of rest mass of an electron– what can be simpler than that!. The calculated value of R is 4.16574 x 10^42. Given my TOP DOWN cosmology, then, Coulomb effects are 4.16574 x 10^42 times more intense than gravitational effects, meaning that local ignition, compression and containment needed for sustained fusion reactions are collectively unattainable. Clearly, the evolutionary direction of the universe must be countered and reversed to sustain a local fusion reaction– a physical impossibility! Yet, much money and time is being WASTED on attempts to “find a way,” apparently to justify continued reckless population growth on this fragile planet. (The problem does not exist with fission reactions, which have their own set of intractable problems, because energy release follows the direction of universal evolution.)

    What is R? Numbers and predictive ability matter (rather than finding explanation after a discovery, presently being done with BOTTOM UP BBT): Per my TOP DOWN cosmology, the radius of the universe on a quantum level is R = Root (M/m), where M is the total mass of the universe needed to unite gravitational and electrostatic forces and m is the rest-mass of an electron, yielding, Ke^2/ R^2 = RGm^2/ R^2, where R^2 is the square of R. The calculated mass at a quantum level, including “missing mass,” is M = 1.58079 x 10^55 power Kg, and the calculated radius of the quantum realm is R = 4.16574 x 10^42 power measured in instantaneous, dimensionless units. (M is undefined in the quantum realm, yet partially discernable as the observed mass Mo of the universe in the macroscopic world,). The number of unit circles (or squares) in the quantum realm is R^2 = 1.73534 x 10^85 power. It is a quantum attribute that area of unit squares and number of unit squares are indistinguishable (No need for citation, as all stated derivations are my own.) Everything is separating visually by such distance that the presence of extra-terrestrial life is very difficult to detect, yet everything has always been quantum-connected (“not locally real”). The total mass M needed to reconcile gravitational and electrostatic states is M = Mo /(2Pi – 1) (alpha^2), where Mo is the OBSERVABLE mass of the universe, (2Pi – 1) is the Bell inequality (ever an inequality in the macroscopic world, and equivalent to Euler’s “proof of God” in the quantum realm, where M is UNDEFINED), and (alpha^2) is the square of the fine-structure constant (a optical magnification factor, twice applied for virtual and real expression). In the quantum realm, the equation is undefined, because the radius is equal to the circumference, meaning that Pi = 1/2. The number of unit circles (or squares) in the universe is M/m, where m is the present-day rest mass of the electron. For a unit circle to become a unit square, Buffon’s needle problem becomes applicable, where one side is electrostatic and the other is gravitational. In order for the PROBABILITY to equal 1/2 (regarding Bell’s inequality AND Buffon’s problem), Pi = 4, meaning that Pi = 1/2 AND Pi = 4, implying that 1 = 8; hence, the qubit (used in quantum computing) is emergent. (My observations and derivations– no citation needed.) Using my TOP DOWN cosmology, the rate of change of alpha is -2.7958 x 10^-17/ year, based upon a perceived age of the universe of 13.799 x 10^9 years. For very large R the definite integral of R over time T approaching origin of the universe to the present day is approximately 1/2 of R^2, verifying perceived dichotomy (a weird quantum nuance, where areas AND number of unit circles or squares are indistinguishable).

    In the quantum realm, the term (2Pi – 1) = 0 can also be considered as the sidereal rotation of a unit circle within a unit circle (created by Buffon’s needle drop probability).

    As a physicist, I have been promoting this TOP DOWN model since1979. For those who would state (not me) that this is a “fun theory” (with its fulfilled prediction of larger primordial galaxies), demanding the math; then, when presented with the mathematical model finding the much-sought-after hidden “missing mass” and quantum gravity, implying that I am a mathematician with little relevance to physics: The physical world can instruct the mathematical world, IMO. In addition to reconciling the Coulomb constant and the universal gravitational constant, I have explained the significance of the little-understood fine structure constant, alpha. If you would simply “run with it,” you have the information to calculate the age and rate of expansion of the universe (much older than the presently-accepted age of the universe, hidden by quantum effects).

    Here are three obvious “predictions:”

    -Per TOP DOWN cosmology, there is understandably a paucity of antimatter in the local universe.

    -Hydrogen-rich stars and galaxies of equivalent mass, respectively, previously and inappropriately deemed to be colliding under BOTTOM UP (BBT) cosmology are actually and appropriately DIVIDING under TOP DOWN cosmology, which respects and predicts this behavior from evolutionary changes regarding critical mass (witness our own galaxy and Andromeda, representing main sequence evolution).

    -The current abundance of elements is reconciled by main-sequence TOP DOWN evolution, not requiring multiple solar cycles, exceeding even the presently-accepted age of the universe per BOTTOM UP BBT.

    There are no absolutes (a logical dilemma in itself). The closest thing to absolute certainty is found in abstract math– in application there is always an uncertainty (like when counting apples). The best that can be expected in the physical world is to “bet on the odds.” Given my TOP DOWN cosmology, odds are for things dividing rather than melding regarding cosmic events; whereas, there is every inclination for one schooled in BOTTOM UP BBT to look for, and prejudicially expect observed galaxies and stars to be colliding. Regarding dark energy: The hidden quantum world, which reveals itself as “locally not real” (Nobel Prize already given), contains a memory of the past in our own DNA, for example, revealed in morphogenesis (“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”), “betting on the odds.” Dr. Rupert Sheldrake describes this as “morphic fields” and “morphic resonance.” BTW, His theory accounts for why the Kelly astronaut twins are no longer DNA-identical twins, where there is no other better explanation that I have seen being offered– instead, relegating any explanation to the growing category of “unexplained mysteries!”

Thoughts? Comments? Corrections? Feedback?