View Full Version : Carl Sagan's Influence on My Life

2006-Dec-20, 07:38 PM
My friend and forum co-admin, Phil Plait, reminded me that today marks 10 years without Carl Sagan. His son, Nick Sagan has been organizing an online memorial to commemorate his life and influence on science. ...

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/12/20/carl-sagans-influence-on-my-life/)

2006-Dec-20, 08:40 PM
My first memories of anything related to space was watching Cosmos and Dr. Sagan in 1979, at 5 years of age. Today, at 32, I am a lover of anything associated with space sciences, and that is because of one man, Carl Sagan. When we lost him, ten years ago today, I think we not only lost a brilliant scientist, we lost a great human being, and that is what Sagan should be known as.

I hope in whatever afterlife there is, that he finally has all the answers he devoted his life to finding.

We miss you!

2006-Dec-21, 03:07 AM
Carl Sagan was my greatest inspiration. I've read all his books and recommended to many to do the same knowing they would learn so much about themselves in this vast universe. Through his books, i've learned that not only are we part of life here on earth but so unique too. My hopes that life outside our own exists remains as a result of what Carl Sagan has brought to so many of us. It may have been 10 years, but the billions of years ahead (if we're smart enough to stay that long) will reveal to us what we now haven't see yet!

2006-Dec-21, 12:52 PM
I miss him. It seems the world has gone crazy for woo-woo without Carl Sagan. If he were here our lives would be better because we all would have a deeper understanding, and love, for a natural reality.

I have been "into" space-science since first seeing the rings of Saturn through a questar telescope on the exact same night Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. I was 15 and unfortunately, in those days, when I said I wanted to be an engineer everyone said it would be better to marry one. I began my love for sci-fi and went on to work in the theater, expecting to retire in some resort out by the rings of Saturn. < good imagination, eh? ;) >

And then in 1980 Cosmos, the TV series, came along ... well, everything came to a stop each of the 13 weeks and we were glued. I thought ... finally, we are going to Mars and beyond!

Years later, still no engineer in the family, I read Timothy Ferris: Coming of Age In The Milky Way. Cosmos had had me primed and waiting. There was something wonderful and profound about the Ferris book ... it enlightened me to an understanding of asking the right questions and then finding... more understanding and more questions. :)

Then there was Hale-Bopp, right around the time I was reading Demon Haunted World. For me it was now clear, although we name rocks in space after the discoverer today; chances are really good we have been naming them after gods since the days we slept in trees.

Unforunately, since the death of Sagan, we seem to have been going backwards. We have these cultures of woo-woo everywhere. Cultures of reason are really hard to find! But Carl planted that seed for us, now we just need to water and feed and protect what he passed on to us.

So, thanks Carl, and thanks Fraser and Phil.
Happy Solstice, Peace and Seasons Greetings too.

"We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces."

2006-Dec-21, 02:41 PM
I just wanted to add my sentiments, as Carl Sagan had a profound influence in my life as well. Reading "Cosmos" about 20 years ago expanded my horizons at a time that I really needed it, and it also re-ignited my childhood passion for space exploration. Things haven't been the same since! So thanks, Carl, and thanks to Fraser for giving me the opportunity to share my passion via "Universe Today."
Nancy Atkinson

2006-Dec-21, 02:47 PM
Sagan is my hero. I think I can say that "Cosmos" is one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

2006-Dec-21, 08:53 PM
Like you Frazier, and like many of your UT members, I raised myself on science fiction. Later on, after finishing a Ph.D. in literature, I returned, after some absence, to science fiction and science writing. Bronowski's ASCENT OF MAN and Sagan's COSMOS had a great affect on me and influenced my course planning and teaching. I used ASCENT OF MAN and later THE DRAGONS OF EDEN in interdisciplinary courses. Many, many ideas from Sagan's books entered my thinking, and I even took a postgraduate course in science writing which I then taught at my college. I even talked to Carl Sagan about coming to my college, but he was just too busy. I was deeply saddened by his illness and death and miss him to this day. Most of my students were totally ignorant of the history of science and scientific method which I had to background for them before asking them to think and write about science issues. I often used Sagan's prose as an example of purpose, clarity, and focus. I can only hope that some of my students have been disabused to some degree of their superstition, irrationality, and rush to judgment.

2006-Dec-21, 09:35 PM
This month the magazine Planetary Report has a wonderful article written by Ann Druyan, Carl's widow and co-author, titled "Where would we be with Carl?". Planetary Report is circulated to members of the Planetary Society but, unfortunately, no online copy is available.

I maintain the web pages of the Planetary Society Australian Volunteers (see link to this post). There is a section on the homepage with links to articles about Carl. For example, Ann gave me permission to reproduce the Baloney Detection Kit from Demon Haunted World:
and, recently, an extract about climate change from the 1980 book Cosmos:

I am pleased to be doing a little bit towards continuing his message of science-based decision making.

2006-Dec-22, 12:27 AM
Thats three first timers here and others who
post sparcely. Mr Sagan inspires much respect!
I became aware of him in the Seventies and
remember a society hiring a 16mm film with him
featured. What stays in my mind is how the
timbre of his voice through the projectors
sound system made the window panes rattle.
Then Cosmos with its fantastic production
details and great, varied music charmed many
many people. I value an old volume from the
sixties on developing various optical
electronic systems. The radiometer from
Mariner 2 is described and Carl is mentioned
as the science leader. He cracked the whip!
But I am sure he was charming about it.

Richard Faulkner
2006-Dec-22, 03:08 AM
Amen to Carl! "Cosmos" - the book and the PBS series - got me interested. This world is a better place for him having been here. "Contact" was also a winner.

Now if only we can find a way to stay focused on the objective (a tough thing to do over a 20 year period) and work our way to take those "baby steps" on Mars. . . I can only hope that my brain will still be reliable enough to enjoy that day.

2006-Dec-22, 06:02 AM
Carl Sagan's passing was a true loss to the world. It marked a setback in the path to clear and logical thinking, yet unlike most "logical" thinkers Carl always had a overiding sense of awe and wonder that gave hope for something more.
His explanation of the scientific method was as persausive as any of his work and it becomes obvious just why it isn't taught so widely in schools. Many of the peddlers of all of the conspiracy theories and fuzzy concepts have much to fear from a wide acceptance of the scientific method.
Most religious schools would have a very dubious platform if it were applied widely.
I had the good fortune to meet Carl in the 70's when he was principal Scientist on the Mars lander biology project and his enthusiasm for science was so infectious that one couldn't help be caught up in the wonder of it all.

2006-Dec-22, 06:12 PM
I wish I could have met him.

2006-Dec-26, 01:13 AM
I remember to have met Carl Sagan 1977 in Honolulu - ... well, in reality I was sitting in a large audience in the meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 19-22, 1977. Carl Sagan had several contrubutions to the interpretation of the results of the two Viking Lander missions in 1976. At that time most scientists were convinced that the results of the Viking biological experiments were not in favour of life on Mars. I remember a discussion contribution of Carl Sagan, that "so far there is no proof against life on Mars". It was apparent that he would have enjoyed any positive result and had to fight his disappointment.

All the best Jurgen

2006-Dec-26, 02:38 AM
His explanation of the scientific method was as persausive as any of his work

I am not very familiar with Sagan's writings.

Where did he explain the scientific method?

as an aside, I have read his Demon Haunted World, and as much as I wanted to like it, I didn't. It was like a magazine article overextended to book length. Long and boring. Pity he didn't turn it into a documentary, like he did with Cosmos (only the doco came first, the book second).

2006-Dec-27, 03:39 PM
Carl was my mentor as well. I too have read and own all of his books. I had to purchase a telescope and join an astronomy club bcause of his influence.
I still pop the Cosmos DVD in and enjoy it just as much as when it was on TV originally! Thanks, Carl, for opening such a vast door for me!!