Carl Sagan

There is no greater testament to the man than the 1000’s of people who he never met, or even knew of, who have themselves begun the epic voyage he set out on.

Saturday marked the 2nd Annual Carl Sagan day in memory of Dr. Carl Sagan who sadly left us nearly 14 years ago.

Although it isn’t is Birthday until tomorrow I thought it best I write this now before I forget. I’ll admit from the beginning that I’m a recent “Sagan-ist” my interest in science although long hadn’t exploded until the last year or so. Either way if I hadn’t sat and Read Carl’s work there’s a strong chance I would never have begun this voyage into the “greatest of mysteries.” I suppose in a way Carl has shaped everything about me, where I want to go, who I want to be and more importantly gave me an awakening that everything on Earth seems trivial, that we waste our precious few years squabbling amongst ourselves and less time appreciating the fact that we are not just star stuff but a Miracle, as he hinted at repeatedly on ‘Cosmos’  we’re mathematically a miracle.

Look back at our history, how many times have we as a species come to total annihilation, whether through natural means or the means of men, maybe after all this is why we haven’t met an intelligent species out there, maybe they succumbed to the evils we see around us. Despite Carl’s child like wonder at the universe his show carried a strong message about how we need to look after everyone, get along and more importantly work together to sail that “Cosmic ocean” of which we’ve only gone ankle deep into.

One thing I noticed when reading the essays on the Kepler site or other blog posts is how much people are grateful to Dr Sagan for igniting a passion inside of them. I suppose there is no greater testament to the man’s ability to communicate what is a quite complicated field to such a large audience than the 1000’s of people who he never met, or even knew of, who have themselves begun this epic voyage he set out on.

As I mentioned in the Sagan day post one of the best essays from the Kepler site was one by Stewart Atkinson, in it he wrote a short story about how he was “visited” by Sagan, in it he described his “epiphany” that those pin pricks of light were giant balls of gas, at first I thought of it as just symbolism but then I remembered that night in August, after fumbling for an hour I finally found the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) now until then when I watched anything through my modest scope I would hum and go “that’s nice” however seeing that blur of stars realising that those specks of lights so far away they blurred, billions upon billions of  stars like our sun, who knows how many worlds there are in there, how many life forms, maybe one is looking through their telescope and can see the blur of our own galaxy, and that light. Photons that until 100 years ago we didn’t understand leaving the stars travelling the cosmic ocean and falling into my eye over 2 million years since they set out.

Sagan transferred his enthusiasm and awe at our cosmos at a time when the world could be wiped out in mere minutes, his words touched those who saw and read them inspired many to become scientist, his words still echo to this day, the International space station carries his hope that humanity will overcome it’s differences for a greater good, Kepler and SETI are exploring new planets and listening out for anyone trying to contact us. Spirit and Opportunity are continuing Sagan’s dream of “sifting the sands of Mars, establishing a presence there, and fulfilling a century of dreams”

Instead of missing Carl we should be thankful that for an all to brief moment in the Cosmos he was here and as long as we continue our voyages in the Cosmic Ocean, his memory will live on.

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

Carl Sagan November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996

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