Today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Carl Sagan, he would have been 72. Carl was in my opinion, one of the greatest Americans that ever lived, certainly one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century. He was an extremely intelligent, generous, passionate, compassionate, articulate, and devoted man and scientist. He devoted his life to science, and communicating his love of science to people. Carl was single-handedly responsible for getting me hooked on science. He not only made great scientific contributions, but he also did more to foster science education then anyone else. His landmark Cosmos television series is still selling very well today, 26 years after it was first created, and it is a series that every kid should see. Carl was also one of three founders of The Planetary Society.
Carl also wrote many wonderful books, including Pale Blue Dot, which everyone should read to gain a new perspective on our place in the universe. A new book of his was just released: Varieties of Scientific Experiences. I just started reading this book and I can hardly put it down. I will post a review once Iâ€™m done reading it.
We miss you Carl, especially in this age of anti-science Republicans and Evangelists. Ann Druyan said it best:
To know what Carl would have thought of the current state of our nation, you need only remember that his pride in being an American stemmed from the integrity of our elections, our system of checks and balances, our respect for the rule of law both domestically and internationally, our high standards of evidence and truthfulness, our long historical recognition of the critical importance of the separation of church and state, our ability to take care of each other in times of disaster, what we stand for on the planet, our commitment to science and public education, and, perhaps most of all, the Bill of Rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution.
Carl died five years before the attacks on September 11, 2001, but he saw growing religious fundamentalism-whether it was in Mecca or the Bible Belt-as a looming threat, from without and within, to everything we value. He knew but one antidote for the magical thinking that lies at its root: the ability to weigh contending hypotheses and evaluate them by using the scientific method. So, despite the fact that he was battling a fatal disease and undergoing the “medieval torture” we call bone marrow transplants, he found the strength to write The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. It would be one of two books that he would write during his last illness. His doctor told me that he had never had a patient who was able to read two books during the months it takes for a bone marrow transplant, let alone to write them.
For more information on Carl you might want to check Carl Sagan commemorative blog-a-thon . I encourage you to check it out, and if like me you are a fan of Carl, why not participate!