[Today is 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, he'd be 78 years old today. Perhaps he wouldn't have been overly concerned with arbitrary time measurements, especially when based on the fickle way we define a "year", but it's human nature to look back at such integrally-divisible dates... and Carl was very much a student of human nature.
I've written about him so much in the past there's 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 Sagan's 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 Doctor Carl Sagan, Professor of Astronomy, scientist, skeptic, muse, and - though he may not have thought of himself this way -- poet.
I'll leave you with this, something I wrote abut Carl a while back, when asked about what his greatest legacy is:
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.