When I watched the movie Contact for the first time (I was in high school at the time), I was amazed at how well the movie had captured my own fascination with the universe. At the end of the movie, I noticed that there was a dedication: "For Carl." It took me a few years to find out that they were referring to a man named Carl Sagan who had written the book that the movie was based on. Despite being a book-a-holic, I never quite got around to reading anything by Carl Sagan.
Less than a year ago, I was looking for something for Brett and I to watch via Netflix Instant Streaming. We're a fan of nature documentaries, and in one of the suggestion areas I saw something and was instantly intrigued. Apparently Carl Sagan had done a 13 episode television series back in the late 70's. The show, 'Cosmos', was all about the universe and our place in it.
Brett agreed to watch the first episode with me, and we made fun of it the entire time. (Come on... it's a little hard not to laugh at the 70's-tastic production values and hairstyles!)
Despite this, we kept watching episodes, and quickly became big Carl Sagan fans. The series is sprinkled with history, hypothetical scenarios used to explain complex theories of physics, Carl's own memories of childhood, explanations of evolution and the human brain, and so much more.
But it is not just what he talks about, but how he talks about it. Wikipedia describes Carl as "an American astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences." This, in my opinion, leaves out two very important descriptors: poet and philosopher.
"For as long as there been humans we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on 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. This perspective is a courageous continuation of our penchant for constructing and testing mental models of the skies; the Sun as a red-hot stone, the stars as a celestial flame, the Galaxy as the backbone of night."
--Carl Sagan, "Cosmos"
If you are not yet a fan of Carl Sagan, there is hope for you yet: Hulu is currently streaming all 13 episodes.
If you ARE already a fan of Carl, I invite you to check out a few awesome and amusing things I have found regarding him.
- "We Are All Connected" by Symphony of Science - This is a song and music video created using several voices: primarily Carl's, but it also features others including Bill Nye! It's pretty nifty, and there are more videos by the same guy, all of which feature Carl (this one just happens to be my favorite).
- You may be aware that Carl Sagan's voice has an eerie similarity to it. If you want a good laugh, I present you with Carl Sagan vs The Matrix. (And yes, watch until the end, because the last line is pretty great.)
- Charm Studio - Carl Sagan poster - Okay, maybe I linked to this one because my friend makes these posters. But she just made it, and I immediately bought it, because it's really wonderful. So if you're a Carl fan, support my friend and buy the poster!
Posted by on Sun, 18 Apr 2010