Monday, 9 November 2009
Happy Birthday Carl Sagan.
Carl Sagan was and still is a huge personal hero of mine and he would have been 79 years old today if he was still alive. He was an educator, astronomer, best selling author, and creator and host of Cosmos, which to this day remains the most widely-watched series in the American T.V. history. He was every bit the hard-nosed scientist while able to somehow, simultaneously not just recognize but celebrate our humanity which he found to be every bit as wonderful and mysterious as the universe within which we somehow managed to find ourselves.
He did many remarkable things remarkably well before leaving us too soon at the age of 62 in 1996. Carl Sagan would have been 75 today, and it seems fitting to remember his life, work and continued impact by noting the incredible things that have been discovered and achieved since his passing that he, no doubt, would have liked very much.
Among those that come to mind are the jaw-dropping images that have been sent back from the Hubble Telescope. We have found evidence of water on Mars and the moon alike. And very recently NASA scientists have determined that amino acids, proteins precursors and the building blocks of life, have been detected on the surface of a comet.
Not as contradictory as it may appear on the surface of things, Sagan was highly skeptical of sightings of UFOs and tales of abductions but was also one of the driving forces behind the quest for signs of life out there and served as a trustee for the SETI Institute whose core mission is to explore and explain the existence of life throughout the universe.
He wanted us to celebrate our lives here on earth and to continue the search for it elsewhere. He simply asked that we embrace and employ good, sound methods, and he was genuinely, infectiously enthusiastic about that.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we can revisit Cosmos in part or in full any time. (since none of us probably have the 12 hours to dig in right now)
"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." — Carl Sagan.