Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Billions and billions.

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It's no secret to anyone who knows me or had read the old 'Tourist' blog (on which I wrote extensively about him) that Carl Sagan was and still is a huge personal hero of mine. He would have been 79 years old last month 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 non cable series in the American TV 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. 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 his groundbreaking series 'Cosmos' in part or in full any time on Youtube. (since none of us probably have the 12 hours to dig in right now)
Anyhoo, my main point to this post is that 'Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey' a brand new follow-up to Sagan's original 'Cosmos: A Personal Vovage' documentary series has finally been scheduled to be shown in early 2014. The new series will be presented by another of my all time favourite science teachers, the brilliant Neil  deGrasse Tysson and is produced, somewhat puzzlingly by Seth MacFarlane of 'Family Guy' fame (I'll put my mistrust of the writer and producer of that awful piece of TV on the back burner!) and Sagan's widow and co-writer and producer of the original series Ann Duryan.

"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love."
- Carl Sagan.

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