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Carl and Ann

Ten years ago today, the world lost a great man - Carl Sagan.

While he was alive, I pretty much took him for granted - he'd pop up on Johnny Carson now and then....



...his books and films came out in a steady stream, and he was simply there, ever-present in the media.

Since his passing, I've had the chance to read some of his work that I hadn't read before. It is only now, in retrospect, that I fully appreciate how much he gave us. He was a tireless evangelist for science, at a time when respect for science in America was entering a steep decline. He devoted an entire book to that concern - The Demon Haunted World - and warned of the risks presented by a world driven by mysticism.

We remember Carl now after a decade without him. But one thing he did, together with his wife Ann and son Nick, may outlast the entire human race.

Carl was the creative force that drove the addition of plaques installed on Pioneer 10 and 11, and the Voyager Golden Records that were launched on Voyager 1 & 2. All four of these spacecraft are now beyond our solar system, approaching interstellar space.

It will take 40,000 years for them to reach the neighborhood of another star. Whether humanity will be around that long remains to be seen.

However it turns out for us, at least our message to the stars was delivered by people worthy of the task. With the same love evident in this photo of Carl & Ann, the human spirit was hurled to the cosmos, where it will drift long beyond our time.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
primroseburrows
Dec. 21st, 2006 07:02 am (UTC)
I didn't realise it's been ten years. Wow.

What I love best about Carl Sagan is that he flies in the face of the stereotypical atheist. He was proof that not believing in a god or religion doesn't take away from having a sense of wonder about the universe we live in. He's definitely on my list of heroes.
deafscribe
Dec. 21st, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
There's been a fair amount of comparison lately between Carl's gentle style and that of Richard Dawkins, who has been famously likened to being Darwin's Rottweiler. He seems to have moderated his approach lately, and I suspect some talks with Ann Druyan had something to do with it.

Carl's enthusiasm came off as goofy sometimes, but he was loved and admired for it all the same. Isaac Asimov once said that he'd only met two people in his life that were definitely smarter than himself. Carl was one of them (Marvin Minsky was the other).
primroseburrows
Dec. 22nd, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
His enthusiasm never came off as goofy to me. It was almost childlike, which made me love him all the more. People who aren't afraid of their own feelings are very cool indeed. :)
(Anonymous)
Jun. 19th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
I still miss him
Listen after 21 years of his untimely passing, I still miss Carl. I still watch his COSMOS DVDs religously, second by second with subtitles, altho I have seen them many times before. Everytime something new jumps ou. He was ONE OF A KIND, and NO ONE has replaced him, PERIOD!

Carl, you were a gift sent from COSMOS for a 25-year old college student way back when in the 80s, and now after almost 28 years; if love is truly eternal, you caused me to see and learn it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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