Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “astrophysics

A Tribute to Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

– Excerpted from The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980

Yesterday, Nov. 6, 2010, a lot of people from different communities and organization joined the celebration of the Second Annual CARL SAGAN DAY. This event was launched by a local coalition of science and reason-based organizations to celebrate his legacy at the 76th anniversary of his birth (November 9, 1934), and to increase public involvement in the excitement of astronomy and space exploration.

Several activities, like workshops, talks, a 5-k run, science displays, games, showings, etc. were included in this event to encourage public participation. There was even a live streaming of the talks by different speakers on some astronomy and cosmology topics so that people from other parts of the globe could also participate.

Dr. Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy  and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He served as an advisor and consultant to NASA, and played a major role in the establishment of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and most familiar to the public through his COSMOS series on PBS. In addition to numerous awards, recognitions and honorary degrees for his outstanding contributions, he is acknowledged as one of the most effective public faces of astronomy and space science throughout the world. Sagan died in December 1996.

No other scientist has been able to reach and teach so many non-scientists in such a meaningful way. In fact, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite” in their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan.

Earth as seen from Voyager 1 while on the edge of our solar system. The image above was taken at the request of Sagan by the science team as the robot was passing the 3.7 Billion miles-from-home-marker.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

The beautiful intro to the Cosmos television series. Carl Sagan talks about the universe and our place within it.

To Dr. Carl Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences, thank you for all your works and contributions, especially for making us appreciate beauty of this vast universe and for sharing  how special our world is. 😀

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