R.I.P. Carl Sagan

On this day in 1996, Carl Sagan lost his battle against pneumonia at age 62, and although I didn’t hear about him until after he had passed away, I miss him. I miss him greatly — more and more, year after year.

Carl Sagan profoundly changed how I view the world, and re-ignited a passion for cosmology and science in general that’s always been lurking at my core. He changed my life’s goals and aspirations. He taught me about so many things I never learned or grasped in school — perhaps most importantly how crucial critical thinking is, and how and when to apply it. He showed me right from wrong. He has been, without a shred of doubt, the greatest influence in my adult life.

I can only dream of becoming a tenth of the man Carl Sagan was. A great scientist and an amazingly charismatic and enthralling educator. A hopeless romantic who, despite a constant stream of criticism and the Cold War raging, never betrayed his dreams for humanity, and who ended up loved by millions of people for it. A person who’s unfailingly referred to by all contemporary popularizers of science as a hero and an inspiration.

In the future I might have children who aren’t interested in science, and who don’t share my view of the world, but I will make damn sure that none of them go through life without having watched the Cosmos TV series from beginning to end.

Thanks to Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot, Demon-Haunted World, and all his other work, I feel humbled, amazed, and inspired by our world and our universe. And I’m a much better person for it.

“For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions, and by the depth of our answers.”

Thank you, Carl.