Today marks ten years since the passing of a very great American, Carl Sagan. To celebrate this extraordinary man’s contributions, Joel Schlossberg has called for an all-day blog-a-thon to celebrate the man. You can find thoughts on Carl Sagan from his son, Nick who I met at a party once and who probably thinks I’m an idiot because I could not stop blathering on and on about how much I loved his father. John Scalzi has a wonderful personal essay about what Carl Sagan meant to him. And there’s a fantastic website called Celebrating Sagan, which is collecting thoughts, memories, pictures, etc. about the man.
I remember watching Carl Sagan on Cosmos and wherever he used to turn up as a general science celebrity, back when we had science celebrities. I remember liking him and finding his stuff cool. But it was later in life, in my late twenties, in fact, that I fell hard for the guy. I’m not sure if it was The Demon Haunted World or The Dragons of Eden that hooked me. But I do know that it had something to do with his rigorous devotion to truth and his improbable optimism about human nature. In Billions and Billions, his wife Ann Druyan recounts his final days and his struggle with his own impending mortality. Despite the temptation to succumb to a belief in an afterlife, Carl remained true to what, for me, is his defining ethic. “I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”
The world could really use Carl Sagan today. He has no equal.