Carl Sagan, astronomer, communicator, author, intellectual, and skeptic, was a personification of all the things that we love about science, skepticism, and humanity. He sought to understand our universe and to communicate that understanding to the rest of us. He was an inspiration to so many, an embodiment of what a great skeptic can be. He was funny, insightful, profound, friendly, eloquent, and will be missed dearly, not only by skeptics, but by any of those multitudes of people who he touched with his insatiable curiosity and science-infused poetry.
Few celebrities in science have done more for the promotion of science, reason, rationality, and critical thinking than Carl Sagan, whom we remember today upon the occasion of his birthday: November 9, 1934. Carl would have been 78 years old today.
In honor of all things Sagan, the Center for Inquiry is hosting its fourth annual Carl Sagan Day, and I will help those of you not able to attend the events celebrate!
Who is Carl Sagan?
Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, but most of us know him as a Pulitzer Prize winning author and the creator of COSMOS. That Emmy and Peabody award-winning PBS television series transformed educational television when it first aired in 1980, but now, thirty years later, it’s gone on to affect the hearts and minds of over a billion people in sixty countries.
No other scientist has been able to reach and teach so many non-scientists in such a meaningful way, and that is why we celebrate Dr. Sagan, remember his work, and revel in the cosmos he helped us understand.
Where Can I Find More Sagan?
Since you probably cannot make the event in Florida, I have decided to provide you with all of the resources that you need to inundate yourself with all things Sagan. You will learn about the Cosmos, find inspiration, and probably become a better critical thinker as a result, so give these a shot.
You can watch Cosmos, the program that brought Carl and his wonderful vision of the universe to the public, here.
You can watch a tribute lecture to Carl here.
To get an idea of just how eloquent Carl was, make sure to watch this narration from his classic book “Pale Blue Dot.” Try not to feel humbled by it.
To listen to an auto-tuned Carl, speaking some of his best lines from Cosmos set to music, check out Symphony of Science, here.
You can print out your own 11×17 inch (or 8×11 inch) awesome Carl Sagan Day posters, here.
You can learn more about Carl Sagan Day, hosted by Center for Inquiry, here.
You can purchase any one of Carl’s many books (I recommend “The Demon Haunted World, a great primer on skepticism), here.
You can buy some of the many Sagan posters, stickers, t-shirts (like the awesome one I am wearing above), etc., here.
You can read on of the many articles written by and about Carl Sagan in Skeptic Magazine, here.
You can revel in Carl’s way with words by checking out some of his profound quotes about science, religion, skepticism, and life, here.
You can read a piece that Carl did for NOVA about aliens and alien abduction, here.
You can learn about Carl’s life, interests, projects (including working on spacecraft, rovers, etc.), and enduring legacy, here.
Here’s one of the awesome posters for your enjoyment:
In celebration of a man who brought science and skepticism to the masses, and who was taken from us much too soon, be a little more inquisitive today, ask a question you wouldn’t have asked, or just marvel at the awesome construction of space, Carl would’ve liked that.