Carl Sagan

I had never heard of Carl Sagan before the PBS series Cosmos began in the 1980s. Besides being surprised that PBS had programming that I actually liked, I was immediately captivated by Dr. Sagan’s style of speech and his obvious passion for the subject matter. As a life long “space head” myself, the show quickly became a “must see” event for me. The fact that the programs were frequently accompanied by the music of Vangelis truly made Cosmos into a classic.

But I hated the way the man was made fun of by comics mimicking the way he said “billions and billions” when referring to the numbers of stars in the Milky Way or the number of galaxies in the cosmos. This was partly because I envied the clarity with which he spoke, but also because this was a time when I had small children that I wanted to inspire with the same sense of wonder that I had as a child, and I saw the show Cosmos as just the aid I needed to help me do that.

But the way Carl Sagan was treated by the media provided the perfect “out” for those in our environment who wanted to dismiss that kind of forward and outward thinking as the way of impractical dreamers. Even the fabulous success of Cosmos and of the movie made later from his book, Contact, wasn’t enough to turn the tide. It’s so sad that he never got to see that movie, but his spirit absolutely lives on. Carl Sagan will always be one of my greatest heroes.

I had been trying to come up with just the right way to honor this man ever since I created the My Heroes volume of this blog, but it wasn’t until I did the research for my recent posts about the space program that I was able to come up with a way that felt right to me. To that end, I submit the following four videos.

The first video is the introduction to the Cosmos:

The second video is the actual speech he gave about The Pale Blue Dot:

The third video is a reflection of how The Pale Blue Dot speech affected people, accompanied by the music of Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away.

The final video is the trailer for the movie Contact:

I know that there really is no way to express the emotions that I feel when reliving some of these moments, but I’ve done the best that I know how to do just that.

I miss Carl Sagan. Our world could really use more like him.

22/May/2010: I just had to add this wonderful little piece…

I want ice water.

More from the My Heroes volume

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8 thoughts on “Carl Sagan

    • We’ve spent all of our history pretending that we were the most important things in the universe, completely overlooking the fact that our true greatness resides in our ability to recognize our true place in the cosmos. Rather than thinking that we’ve been given the keys to the kingdom, we should see that what we’ve actually been given is the ability to make any key we wishand the responsibility to use them wisely!


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