Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Carl Sagan - November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996

Carl Sagan is a man I admire.  He was born four months before me and died almost exactly forteen years ago.  He was unknown to me until three or four years after his death; until my son introduced me to Demon Haunted World - Science as a candle in the dark.  As I have said elsewhere, it was in reading that book that I finally woke up to the wonderful world, and liberation, of critical thinking.  Carl Sagan presents himself as such a gentle man.  Perhaps it was being such a great astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist that gave him the humility that comes over in his work.

As a child I loved to listen to David Davis as he read Swallows and Amazons, and other Arthur Ransome books, on the BBC's Children's Hour.  Coincidentally, he died only eight months before Sagan, at the age of 97.  His voice was smooth, comforting, and confident; one that, as a child, I felt I could trust.  Carl Sagan has the same affect on me as an adult.  David is now, largely, lost in the mists of time to all except those who, like me, remeber him fondly.  Carl published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books.  YouTube is awash with clips from his TV Series Cosmos, so he is still, very much, in the public eye.

To remember him on the anniversary of his birth here's a sample.  Enjoy!

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