Today is the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death. There is a world-wide event going on today to remember this master of science. I like to believe every one has stories of how Sagan impacted their lives, at least those in my generation. I remember this guy fascinated me, because he spoke so passionately and caring and full of amazement about science, much more than any teacher I had ever had. I feel that it was Sagan who was responsible for establishing my desire to see things in the right dimensions and perspective. I didn’t care that much for astronomy, but I found his methods absolutely fascinating.
Soon after I joined Cornell I was able to see Sagan in action in real life, and in those two hours he showed why he deserved to be put on this pedestal. Yes, he certainly was a show man, but he used it to connect to students and really get into their heads. Yet he wasn’t offer dogma but food for thought. He was one of the absolute master educators as there are only a few more, some of those at Cornell.
It is probably best described by Yervant Terzian, former Astronomy Chair at Cornell. "Carl was a candle in the dark. He was, quite simply, the best science educator in the world this century. He touched hundreds of millions of people and inspired young generations to pursue the sciences."
PS. Those of you who are have recently joined the Dawkins fanclub, should revisit some of Sagan writings as they provide a less politicized view of the tensions between science and religion. The recently publicized transcript of his Gifford lecturesare certainly a good starting point.