On Carl Sagan’s Birthday

The Writer’s Almanac tells me that today, the 9th of November, is Carl Sagan’s birthday. He would have been seventy-five.

Said Garrison Keillor of Sagan this morning: “[He] published a number of books that helped regular people understand ideas about the universe, including Dragons of Eden: Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977), which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Cosmos (1980),which is considered the best-selling science book ever published in English.”

I have read Dragons of Eden, which I enjoyed a great deal. Broca’s Brain is interesting. Cosmos I received at an early age, and I have read it so many times I am surprised that my copy has yet to fall apart. I especially liked Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, his book on pre-human evolution. Comet gets overlooked, but it’s very much the spiritual and thematic successor to Cosmos; it introduced me to the idea of Dyson Trees, which is one of those ideas that are absolutely amazing and I want to write a story about them, but I have absolutely no idea where to begin or what kind of story I want to tell. Sagan’s most recent book, a collection of lectures he delivered in 1985 is entitled The Varieties of Scientific Experience, and I liked that a great deal.

I have never read The Cosmic Connection, his book on SETI. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for, yes, twenty-five years. I just never have.

And, of course, I remember Sagan’s occasional articles in Parade; he’d write about O’Neill Colonies and space exploration and things like that.

And even though I posted this a few weeks ago, I’ll post it again:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,
You must first invent the universe.

For someone who watched Cosmos at a young age and had his life shaped by it, this video is really cool. 🙂

And if you want the song as an mp3 (because who doesn’t, and I love listening to it), you can download it here.

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