Saturday, November 7, 2009

carl sagan day

today is carl sagan day, with a celebration being held at broward college in southern florida for what would have been carl's 75th birthday.

carl sagan was an astronomer, but most well-known to the public as an incredible science communicator. i meet professional astronomers all the time who claim him to be a major influence in their decision to go into science, including myself.

he has written some very influential books, shared amazing perspective as to our place in the universe on our pale blue dot, he and partner ann druyan created the memorable cosmos tv series, and a recent youtube video featuring carl sagan, a glorious dawn, has proven to be very popular!

here is carl with the dalai lama in 1991.

i'm actually working on another piece about carl sagan, and i'd like to hear your thoughts. what influence has he had for you, if any? what memories do you associate with him? if you are a young person, do you know who he is? how did you hear about him?


Sojourner said...

I don't know if I qualify to be 'young' in this context (I am 26). But I believe I came to know about sagan only this year. Perhaps first on this blog. Not sure. I understand that he is a pioneer in bringing the distant parts of the universe closer to our eyes. And that youtube video is really awesome (again got to know it from this blog, from the earlier post).
It is very odd that I never stumbled upon his TV programs on the net in the past years of searching for videos about the universe.
I found and still find the visuals of the movie 'contact' amazing and did not realize until now that the movie is based on his work. Good books lend movies a really solid base and it shows.

John said...

The COSMOS TV series, my first telescope, and the visit by Voyager 1 to Jupiter all hit my young brain at about the same time in the late 1970's. Now I'm a college professor who studies Mars and teaches a planetary science course.

Stoned Astronomer said...

Carl Sagan was also a pothead. I got a link on my blog to Carl's essay on dope!

Anyway, his excellent Cosmos series has just been re-released on DVD!

Anonymous said...

I like to imitate his voice! Similar in cadence to Unka Walter Cronkite. And now that i know he was a stoner, he seems a bit more interesting.

Rik Gern said...

When I was a kid he was the amiable, goofy guy with the speech impediment that we used to see in the 16mm educational films our teachers used to show. He seemed like Mr. Rogers smarter brother.

I remember seeing him later in Nova, but not really paying attention because I wasn't as interested in science then. I was impressed, though, that his presentational style had become really good.

Years later, I stumbled upon a used and abused copy of "The Dragons of Eden". Loved the book, and gained great respect for Carl Sagan. Later, when I read more about evolution, I realized that he implied a sort of directionality to evolution, which most scientists would disagree with, but still, he has the ability to take a bunch of potentially dry material and make it absolutely exciting. I'm now more familiar with him and consider him a real hero.

Rik Gern said...

P.S. I didn't realize he was herb friendly, but that makes me like him even more!

Brandon Ayers said...

I didn't know that he smoked either, but I surmised. I'm 26 my wife is 21, both of us have been intellectually expanded with the help of Carl. I'm glad that she has been so enthusiastic about learning now that she is starting college to learn biology. Thank you Carl for helping. Also this year I discovered his Cosmos program, and read one of his books (so far). I find it odd that I just started watching Cosmos as it's been on longer than I've been born. It's a shame it's not more popular. He has truly given me faith in the human species.