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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!

By Phil Plait

[Friday was Carl Sagan's birthday, celebrated by lovers of science and rationality around the planet. I wrote the following post last year, but I think it's still appropriate (and I updated his age). Happy birthday, Carl. It's a darker cosmos without you, but we still walk with the candle you lit for us.]

If Carl Sagan were still alive, heâd be 78 years old this past Friday. Perhaps he wouldnât have been overly concerned with arbitrary time measurements, especially when based on the fickle way we define a "year," but itâs human nature to look back at such integrally divisible dates ⦠and Carl was very much a student of human nature.

Iâve written about him so much in the past thereâs not much I can add right now, so I thought I would simply embed a video for you to watch. But which one? Where James Randi eloquently and emotionally talks about his friendship with Carl? Or the wonderful first installment of Symphony of Science using my favorite quote by Carl? Or this amazing speech about how life seeks life?

But in the end, the choice is obvious. Carl Saganâs essay, "Pale Blue Dot," will, I think, stand the test of time, and will deservedly be considered one of the greatest passages ever written in the English language.

Happy birthday to Dr. Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy, scientist, skeptic, muse, andâthough he may not have thought of himself this wayâpoet.

Iâll leave you with this, something I wrote abut Carl a while back, when asked about what his greatest legacy is:

Saganâs insight, his gift to us, is the knowledge that we all have the ability to examine the Universe with all the power of human curiosity, and we need not retreat from the answers we find.

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