{personal} carl sagan day

"I went to the librarian and asked for a book about stars... And the answer was stunning. It was that the Sun was a star but really close. The stars were suns, but so far away they were just little points of light... The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. It was a kind of religious experience. There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left me. Never ever left me." - Carl Sagan

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what is true." - Carl Sagan

"Whatever the reason you're on Mars is, I'm glad you're there. And I wish I was with you." - Carl Sagan

Today would have been Carl Sagan's 80th birthday. He was an amazing astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, a major promoter of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), and author of one of my favorite books which was then turned into one of my favorite movies.

In 1990 when the Voyager 1 spacecraft completed its primary mission and was set to leave the Solar System, Carl Sagan was the one who requested that the camera on the spacecraft be turned around to photograph Earth across an expanse of space measuring over three and a half billion miles. This image is the result and is titled "Pale Blue Dot." It illustrates both our insignificance and significance.

This is why I love Carl Sagan; he seems to have been both scientist as well as artist. 

As much as I admire his beautiful words and thoughts and ideas, regrettably there is very little of his work that I am actually familiar with. When I read Contact a few years ago, it was such perfection that I've been putting off reading Cosmos and Pale Blue Dot which have been sitting on my to-read pile for far too long. I also have plans to finally watch the original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage which was written and presented by Mr. Sagan in 1980. I can then watch this year's followup Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. And then someday I would like to visit his grave in Ithaca, New York, so that I can be among those who place a blue marble on his tombstone in honor of Pale Blue Dot.

No comments: