Brian Cox is a Professor of physics at the University of Manchester, and a leading light in teaching the public about science*. The BBC 4 radio channel just aired a program with Brian talking about Carl Sagan, and it's terrific. Beautifully done, with personal insights, quotations, and interviews with Sagan, it's well worth an hour of your time. But hurry-- it's only available for a few days.
Carl Sagan means a lot to me; the path I walk today was first blazed by him. I wrote a brief post about this in 2006, and about his legacy I wrote this:
Sagan’s 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.
That is still true today, and I think it always will be. There is a comfort in lies whispered to ease our immediate fears, but they are lies nonetheless. Reality is something to be embraced whole-heartedly, or more accurately whole-mindedly. We are just past the cusp in our evolution where we can start to truly appreciate the Universe for what it is, and leave behind the superstitions and comforting falsehoods of our species' youth.
Sagan reminded us to look ahead, and to be joyful about what we will find.