Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium

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Billions and Billions
Billions and Billions.jpg
Author Carl Sagan
Publisher Ballantine Publishing Group
Publication date
Pages 322
ISBN 0-345-37918-7
OCLC 39234941
Preceded by The Demon-Haunted World
Followed by The Varieties of Scientific Experience

Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, published by Random House in 1997 (ISBN 0-679-41160-7), is the last book written by renowned American astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan before his death in 1996.[1]

The book is a collection of essays Sagan wrote covering diverse topics like global warming, the population explosion, extraterrestrial life, morality, and the abortion debate. The last chapter is an account of his struggle with myelodysplasia, the disease which finally took his life in December 1996. Sagan's wife, Ann Druyan, wrote the epilogue of the book after his death.


Part I: The Power and Beauty of Quantification[edit]

  • 1. Billions and Billions
  • 2. The Persian Chessboard
  • 3. Monday Night Hunters
  • 4. The Gaze of God and the Dripping Faucet
  • 5. Four Cosmic Questions
  • 6. So Many Suns, So Many Worlds

Part II: What Are Conservatives Conserving?[edit]

  • 7. The World That Came in the Mail
  • 8. The Environment: Where Does Prudence Lie?
  • 9. Croesus and Cassandra
  • 10. A Piece of the Sky Is Missing
  • 11. Ambush: The Warming of the World
  • 12. Escape from Ambush
  • 13. Religion and Science: An Alliance

Part III: Where Hearts and Minds Collide[edit]

  • 14. The Common Enemy
  • 15. Abortion: Is It Possible to Be Both "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice"
  • 16. The Rules of the Game
  • 17. Gettysburg and Now
  • 18. The Twentieth Century
  • 19. In the Valley of the Shadow

"Billions and billions"[edit]

To help viewers of Cosmos distinguish between "millions" and "billions", Sagan stressed the "b". Sagan never did, however, say "billions and billions". The public's association of the phrase and Sagan came from a Tonight Show skit. Parodying Sagan's affect, Johnny Carson quipped "billions and billions".[2] The phrase has however now since become a humorous fictitious number—the Sagan.


  1. ^ Sagan, Carl (1997). Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium. Random House. ISBN 0-679-41160-7. 
  2. ^ Carl Sagan takes questions more from his 'Wonder and Skepticism' CSICOP 1994 keynote, Skeptical Inquirer

External links[edit]