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(36,023 posts)
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 09:39 AM Nov 2023

Today is Carl Sagan Day.

Carl Sagan Day is observed on November 9 every year to celebrate his life and teachings.

An American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator, he is known for his many contributions to science.

Sagan helped lay the groundwork for two new scientific disciplines: planetary science and exobiology, or the study of potential life on other planets.

He co-founded and served as the first president of The Planetary Society, an organization dedicated to inspiring and involving the public in space exploration.

His best-known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including an experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation.

He also assembled the first physical messages sent into space that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might come across them. Sagan argued the now-accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect!


The day was created in 2009 by the Center For Inquiry in Fort Lauderdale, as well as Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH), and other groups. Events held in Florida have helped spread the celebrations around the world. Events such as star parties — where people come together and view the sky — astronomy lectures, science fairs, and workshops are held every year.

Sagan worked in many scientific fields, such as astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics, and astrobiology. He is best known for his making scientific ideas accessible the general population, exemplified by his 1980 PBS documentary series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, which was the most widely viewed PBS program of its time. It won two Emmys and a Peabody Award, and has been viewed by over a billion people in 60 countries. Sagan also published a book to go along with the series.

In fact, Sagan wrote more than 20 books, including The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence, which won a Pulitzer Prize, Contact, which was made into a film, and The Demon-Haunted World.
For 12 years, he was the editor-in-chief of Icarus, and published 600 scientific papers and articles in publications such as Skeptical Inquirer.

Beginning in the 1950s, Sagan was a consultant and adviser to NASA. He received countless honors and awards and was a professor of astronomy, as well as director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies, at Cornell University.
He passed away in 1996.

For millions, Carl Sagan created a sympathy for intelligence, curiosity, scientific inquiry. Sagan encouraged us away from human centric perspective toward a cosmic perspective, then to live with both.
He spread the feeling of awe.

"Look at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us.

On it everyone you love,
everyone you know,
everyone you ever heard of,
every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines,
every hunter and forager,
every hero and coward,
every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant,
every young couple in love,
every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer,
every teacher of morals,
every corrupt politician,
every "superstar,"
every "supreme leader,"
every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there -- on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.
Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner,
how frequent their misunderstandings,
how eager they are to kill one another,
how fervent their hatreds.
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings,
our imagined self-importance,
the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.

In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life.
There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet.

Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.
There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
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Today is Carl Sagan Day. (Original Post) ancianita Nov 2023 OP
Happy Carl Sagan Day !!! - My Favorite Quote: JackCoop Nov 2023 #1
Happy Carl Sagan Day! I have so many favorites, I'll just start with this one: ancianita Nov 2023 #2
Hail Sagan! Timeflyer Nov 2023 #3
An extraordinary man who left us too soon. Deuxcents Nov 2023 #4
More from Carl ancianita Nov 2023 #5
I suspect that a Qanon person would interpret that completely differently from us. progressoid Nov 2023 #6
Likely, until they come across the scientific reality that precision is not accuracy, and so not the 'whole' truth. ancianita Nov 2023 #8
yep doin' this all day ancianita Nov 2023 #7
'Contact ' is one of my favorite science fictions. triron Nov 2023 #9
I heard the book is waay better than the movie, which is all I know of 'Contact.' I've read a couple of his, so ancianita Nov 2023 #10
Wonderful story with a fabulous, unexpected end! CrispyQ Nov 2023 #18
Millions and Billions of rec's! usonian Nov 2023 #11
Yes, big number cosmic rec's are for Carl! ancianita Nov 2023 #12
Why today? Because it's Carl's birthday! jaxexpat Nov 2023 #13
Carl's law of conservation of birthdays ancianita Nov 2023 #14
A similarity of singularities? Neato concept. jaxexpat Nov 2023 #22
I believe this is a brilliant idea Uncle Joe Nov 2023 #15
This is the quote that stays with me. redqueen Nov 2023 #16
Mine, too. I have the book, and underlined this. Carl as scientist, had more ideas to ancianita Nov 2023 #17
He was a very large influence on my life. Mr. Evil Nov 2023 #19
Sagan had as profound an influence on my personal values as any priest or bishop in 18 years... Moostache Nov 2023 #20
And another thing ancianita Nov 2023 #21
Happy Birthday, Carl -- you'd love today's technology, and would make sure that humans control AI. ancianita Nov 2023 #23


(119 posts)
1. Happy Carl Sagan Day !!! - My Favorite Quote:
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 09:44 AM
Nov 2023
“You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

― Carl Sagan, Contact

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/202606-you-re-an-interesting-species-an-interesting-mix-you-re-capable-of


(16,190 posts)
4. An extraordinary man who left us too soon.
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 10:10 AM
Nov 2023

YouTube has a video called The Blue Dot with music from Pink Floyd’s On the Turning Away. I watch it a lot as it really puts it all together. Thanks for posting this..


(36,023 posts)
8. Likely, until they come across the scientific reality that precision is not accuracy, and so not the 'whole' truth.
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 10:47 AM
Nov 2023

Then they're faced with the choice to commit to facts, all of them, not the ones that give them the comfort of confirmation bias to the point where they're bamboozled into a whole nother reality.


(36,023 posts)
10. I heard the book is waay better than the movie, which is all I know of 'Contact.' I've read a couple of his, so
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 10:54 AM
Nov 2023
this is definitely next on my list.


(36,457 posts)
18. Wonderful story with a fabulous, unexpected end!
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 12:17 PM
Nov 2023
I remember closing the book & taking a few moments.

The movie was shite.


(115,103 posts)
16. This is the quote that stays with me.
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 11:58 AM
Nov 2023
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark


(36,023 posts)
17. Mine, too. I have the book, and underlined this. Carl as scientist, had more ideas to
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 12:14 PM
Nov 2023

carry us through this dark time, to remedy what he correctly predicted.

Mr. Evil

(2,839 posts)
19. He was a very large influence on my life.
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 12:25 PM
Nov 2023

I was always interested in astronomy and science in general but, when Cosmos came out I was totally amazed and hooked. Carl's presentation of our world and its place within the universe enthralled me. And it still does to this day. I invite everyone to read one of his books if you haven't already. It will automatically become one of the best you've ever read.

As far as I'm concerned my sig line says it all.


(9,895 posts)
20. Sagan had as profound an influence on my personal values as any priest or bishop in 18 years...
Thu Nov 9, 2023, 12:57 PM
Nov 2023

I was raised Catholic, and attended Sunday School during elementary school and in middle and high school was in actual Catholic schools - complete with compulsory mid-week Mass attendance. I was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church and raised with all that entails... By the time I had reached High School though, I knew that the basic tenets were all nonsense and contradictions of logic, facts and the antithesis of the scientific method. All of it. 1 god in 3 persons? Water into wine? Stars falling to Earth? Rotation of the planet suddenly stopped? Planetary flood and respawning of populations within decades instead of centuries or millennia?

I attained the age of reason (as Carlin once opined) and promptly left the church. It was the philosophical underpinning of Sagan's work and worldview that I found most compatible with my own and with reality as I observed it. I have been at peace with that decision for decades and have thoroughly marveled at just how prescient Sagan was in the book "Daemon Haunted World".

For anyone not versed in Sagan's work, I cannot recommend anything more than that work and "Pale Blue Dot" as jumping off points to an expansive and wonderous journey of understanding and feeling just how we can be simultaneously tiny beyond belief and precious beyond imagination!

Happy Sagan Day to all!!!

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