Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Carl Sagan gave us

11th anniversary of
Carl Sagan's death post

Whether you know it or not, everyday you use what Aristotle, Hypatia, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, etc. gave us. They gave us knowledge.

Carl Sagan stood on the shoulders of these giants of science and saw further. He gave us much more than knowledge, coalescing their science into one inescapable result; love. Do you use it everyday?

Sagan’s legacy is a love unadulterated by dogma, superstition, authority, and fear. It is literally Universal; accessible to anyone who opens their eyes, heart, and mind.

If you think of the relentless advance of science as a “great human demotion,” please, think again. Through science, Sagan courageously revealed an overlooked but wonderful paradox of humility. One that turns the "demotion" upside down. By taking us out of the center of the universe, Sagan put us back in - for truer reasons. He showed that our value is intrinsic to the universe, and that our story, is the universe’s story.

Sagan lit the way to a love rooted in truth, even if some of those truths hurt at first (which is the reason some find it difficult to accept). But the reward for courage is a new way to love ourselves, our lot in life, our planet, our place in space and time, and perhaps most importantly, each other. Sagan showed us that love does not come from outside this universe, it comes from within - from within the youniverse.

As the battle between religion and science rages on, why isn't it clear that love without knowledge is lame, and that knowledge without love is dangerous? Alone they are equally meaningless. It's such a shame that science and love are divorced in the minds of most. As a scientist, I know how gushy and sentimental this sounds. So let me try to express it in a way you critical thinkers are accustomed to:
Knowledge is power.
Love of knowledge.
To know the power of love.
I’m not sure if this is a formally valid syllogism. But no matter your stripe, that’s what Carl Sagan gave all of us; truthful, transcendent, pure, poetic, powerful, love. I'd say he gave more, but how could anyone give more than that?

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

10 orbits on

We've been 10 times around the sun without him.

Have you ever noticed that there are just some people who seemed to be especially "changed" by Carl Sagan? Those who go so “ga-ga” over him, that even ten years after his death, they still blog, gush, and talk nearly incessantly about him? And these are often the people least likely to otherwise worship, idolize, or even get excited about a professional athlete, celebrity, rock star, authority or politician.

I’m one of those people. My life-trajectory was tugged and defined by the gravity of Carl Sagan. He gave all of us reasons to cherish the pale blue dot and “all that ever was or is or ever will be.” He personified the Cosmos – literally. A gifted scientist, communicator, dad, and human being, he moved millions to see.

But what’s more incredible than how many he did move, is how many have somehow missed the message. Because make no mistake - and he would be the first to admit – his legacy is about the message not the man. As endearing as he was, this is not a cult of personality, but of the Cosmos.

Carl Sagan articulated poetic and accessible accounts of reality that were so beautiful and simple that once you understood what he was saying, you would never see the world the same way again. Everything was meaningful and awesome. So ask yourself if you understand what he was saying. Do you have any idea what you are missing? Please, take some time to get to know what Carl Sagan was telling us. So many smart, thoughtful, and loving people can't be wrong. I invite you to join the club.

I often wonder how much better our world be if he were still here to offer his insights and guidance. But he is gone. And the rest of us who did hear him can only forge ahead, doing what we can to open people’s eyes.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Carl Sagan Portal

Ann Druyan, is the peak of my pyramid of heroes.

Just noticed the newly-released Carl Sagan Portal page. Be prepared to read it and weep.

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