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Star gazing, it’s hard not to feel small...and lonely. Maybe that’s why it’s so irresistible to look out into all that darkness and see our own reflection staring us back, like Narcissus gazing into the pool. On this episode of Radiolab, we reflect on our romance with, projections upon, and insignificance within space. We begin by joining some sky watchers at Fire Island to see what they see. Then, we take a trip to see Ann Druyan, one of the creators of the 1977 Golden Album included on the Voyager probes. We invited composer Philip Glass to remix this album.

Comments [20]

Gorganzola Spread from USS Go Cheese urself

Yall are CHEESY

Aug. 11 2016 08:55 PM
Frank Lymoronic

Jad -

You said the other night that Alberio is "50 million light years away." Dude, you need Neal or Brian again to radically recalibrate your sense of scale. Alberio is about 430 light years away, well within the Milky Way galaxy. A sphere 50M light years across contains not just other galaxies, but most or all of the nearest clusters of galaxies. As you later pointed out, we're just a mere speck on a speck.

Oct. 09 2014 01:23 AM

I loved this story about Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan when I first heard it. But then I found out that Sagan was married to another woman, Linda Sagan, in 1977 (up until 1981 actually). While this doesn't negate the story told by Druyan, I find Radiolab's recounting of this true love (read: adultery) to be misleading. They were engaged to be married...while he was still married for 4 years. This Radiolab story completely whitewashes the truth.

Apr. 02 2014 07:02 PM
Bob Fischer

Just to be clear- the opening piece talking about "touching a star" with a laser is some serious poetic license by the producers. The star, being millions of light years away, will not be touched by any of the photons emmitted by that laser. By the time the laser photons got there (in millions of years), the star will be somewhere else, or not existing at all.

Frankly they could have opened with a better piece than that one.

Dec. 09 2013 10:33 AM

What chorus was singing the "Sanctus" by Faure from his Requiem?

Dec. 29 2012 01:06 PM
Michael from Burlington, Vermont

What kind of laser touches the star? It sounds so interesting to do so. Is it available for purchase?

Nov. 15 2012 01:45 PM

The music under the opening is the Sanctus from the Faure Requiem.

Sep. 04 2012 08:59 AM
Thompson Bright from Toolafalls, Mississippi

Mr Abumrad said "She literally touched the star. ... I forgot the ground underneath my feet, and that that star, Albireo, was fifty million light-years away." In reality, Albireo is 380 light-years away.

Aug. 23 2012 12:08 PM

@Micah, that is actually a Philip Glass song. From The Hours original score.

Mar. 15 2012 04:13 PM

Does anyone know what piano piece is playing near the end of this segment? It starts at the end of Philip Glass' story about Gandhi and ends when Jad closes the segment out. It only plays for fifteen seconds or so but it's absolutely captivating.

May. 29 2011 11:49 AM
DMV from Brooklyn

mikeg, I was looking for it too. I think this recording is it:

I found that through Google. Maybe you all could link to it from here?

Love the show. Really love the show.

Mar. 26 2011 02:42 PM

Where can I find the recording of what Neil Gaiman would send that is mentioned in this podcast at about 12:50? You say it's on the website somewhere? Is it still available?

Mar. 15 2011 07:34 AM
Daniel from San Francisco

Ellen, it is actually a Real Audio file. You need to download and install the Real Player.

Jun. 07 2010 02:31 PM

How do I open an audio file via .py file? It wants to open as a text file, and a google search yields the same conclusion...

May. 07 2010 08:28 PM
Emily from New York, NY

Caryn, if you're still out there reading somewhere... that was Fauré's Requiem.

Apr. 01 2010 03:49 PM

To Jacob Reed and Caryn (maybe), look for
Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007.


Jul. 29 2009 12:27 PM
Caryn from Boston MA

Does anyone know the name of the music used in the opening of this section?

Jan. 14 2009 12:47 AM
Caryn from Boston MA

Does anyone know the name/composer of the music used in the opening of this section?

Jan. 14 2009 12:46 AM
Jacob Reed from Los Angeles, CA

So, I realize this might peg me as a bit of a philistine... but, what's the name of the Bach piece playing behind the Philip Glass segment?

Jan. 09 2009 05:21 PM
William Gilcher from Washington, DC

I was just listening to this show on WAMU in DC (February 3, 2008) and thought you would like to know that the European cultural channel, ARTE, produced a major television evening on this subject on October 28, 2006, when they beamed their whole program into outer space. The program is called "Cosmic Connexion" and there is a website about it. Your listeners will find it of interest, I think.
A summary of the program is showing in Washington, DC on Sunday, Feb 10 at the French Embassy's Maison Française, as part of the series called "Best of INPUT, the International Public Television Screening Conference." More at

Feb. 03 2008 06:32 PM

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