Five Reasons To Remember Carl Sagan

Dec 20th, 2006 | By | Category: Commentary

Carl Sagan dayIt’s Carl Sagan day – the tenth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death, and blogger Joel Schlosberg is leading a Carl Sagan Memorial Blog-a-Thon that’s already proving to be very popular.

If you’re not familiar with Carl Sagan, it’s likely that you weren’t alive in 1980 when his acclaimed television series Cosmos hit the airwaves.

Cosmos was a popular introduction to astronomy, astrobiology, history of science, the scientific method, the search for life in the universe, and whatever else struck Sagan as interesting. It was a massive hit for public television, one of its most-watched series of all time.

Sagan also worked as an advisor to NASA, wrote hundreds of scientific papers, dozens of books and even published a novel, Contact, that was made into a movie.

For those that do remember Sagan, though, it wasn’t his particular achievements that made him special, but the passion and poetry he used to explain our strange and fascinating universe.

Here are five reasons that we think you should take a moment to remember Carl Sagan today.

Five Reasons to Remember Carl Sagan

  • Sagan made science and critical thinking must-watch TV. He used animation, speculation and even a bit of cheesy 80’s special effects to make his discussions compelling to a broad audience. In doing so, he brought the science of the universe and a universe of ideas to a massive audience.
  • He gave us billions and billions of things to think about. You couldn’t watch Cosmos, or read one of his many books, without having a new perspective on our place in the universe. How significant are our troubles in the face of a world of billions of people, in a galaxy of billions of stars, in a universe of billions of galaxies?
  • He had great taste in music and introduced people to a lot of sounds that they’d never heard before. The soundtrack to Cosmos included well-known classical works by Vivaldi and Stravinksy, but also adventurous modern compositions by Alan Hovhannes and Gavin Bryars. He even threw in some then-edgy electronic work by the likes of Edgar Froese and Vangelis.
  • Sagan made it clear that you don’t need magic to explain the universe. Science does a better job of helping us understand our universe, and the things that science helps us find out are often more magical than imagined explanations.
  • More than anything else, Carl Sagan was a superstar of science. He was smart, he was eloquent and women loved him. He let people everywhere know that you could be a geek, you could be successful, and you could still look pretty damn good in a turtleneck.

We could use a few more Carl Sagans. If you’re a podcaster or blogger, consider remembering Sagan in your work today.

And when fundraising time comes around for public television, remember Sagan, too. Who else is going to bring the next Carl Sagan to TV?

No Responses to “Five Reasons To Remember Carl Sagan”

  1. elisabeth says:

    I can’t think of Carl Sagan w/o thinking of “Cosmos”, and I can’t think of “Cosmos” w/o thinking of nights spent watching the tv version with my cute boyfriend, snuggling under a blanket in his parents’ chilly basement rec room.

    That was in 1981! A long time ago! Boyfriend also wrote me a silly song about Carl Sagan, entitled (I think) “Sippin Star Stuff Through A Straw.”

    Do you remember that, Mr. Sys Admin Smarty Pants?

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