Anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death

by Austin Young

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the death of the, deep breath, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, science populariser and science communicator, Carl Sagan.

While Sagan’s body of work is, naturally given his resume, pretty broad, he’s perhaps best known in many circles for being the man behind the 13-part TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a show that has been credited with changing the way science was shown on TV forever – pretty high praise.

On top of that, the series, which dealt with a wide range of scientific subjects, including such TV-friendly themes as the origin of life and a perspective of man’s place in the universe – became the most widely watched series in the history of American public television, that is until The Civil War documentary series stole it’s crown in 1990. Still, when you consider the fairly “difficult” subject matter of the series, it certainly did alright!

Of course, Sagan did a lot more than that. While he produced so many scientific papers, books and other various methods of work that they would be too numerous to mention, he’ s revered in pop culture circles for writing the novel Contact, which was, of course, the basis for the 1997 film starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

Sagan will forever be revered by anyone who even so much as read any of his work, and Twitter has been full of tributes to the man for much of today.

One user, Rocky_Sci wrote: “Remembering Carl Sagan this morning who left us this day in ’96. The great astrophysicist and cosmologist inspired a generation, including me.”

Another user, GovertTweets, wrote “15 years ago today (20 Dec 1996), Carl Sagan died, great inspirator.”

A famous letter than Isaac Asimov wrote Sagan back in 1974 has also been doing the rounds online, and sums up the man far better, and more concisely, than any tweet or blog post ever could. It read:

“Dear Carl,

“I have just finished The Cosmic Connection and loved every word of it. You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.

“One thing about the book made me nervous. It was entirely too obvious that you are smarter than I am. I hate that.


Isaac Asimov”

Genius. In every sense of the word.

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