Purely by chance, in the summer of 2006, I was Googling for star charts and NASA material when the words "Carl Sagan" and "Cosmos" appeared in the searches. This man, I knew was famous in the fields of astronomy, space and science, and somewhere in the back of my mind I also knew "Cosmos" (which I had never seen) had been a ground-breaking science series. After avidly reading reviews, all of which were five-star, I of course, ended up purchasing the boxed set! I excitedly (with my young son) awaited its arrival, but was devasted to hear from Ann at the beginning of Episode 1 that Carl had infact died in 1996. I simply had never heard this terrible news when it broke (I don't know how well it had been covered in the UK - I'm sure it didn't appear in the newspapers for which I was working), and for some reason watching Cosmos became even more imperative.
Both myself, and my son shared the whole series together several times. It is true to say that never a week goes by when at least one episode isn't repeated. Despite the hundreds of books I read for my degree, other courses I have attended, and the countless documentaries I have watched, it is a tribute to Carl that absolutely nothing has so profoundly changed my perspectives on life , than Cosmos. More importantly, the series continues to inspire a new generation, witnessed by my son. I obtained the book, and am currently awaiting "Pale Blue Dot" (it has to be imported from the US).
Carl Sagan was quite simply to science, what Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was to music. Nothing less than a genius. Cosmos, for example is exquisite, captivating and inspirational, due in no small part to Carl's enthusiasm and passion for science. He masterfully took complex scientific concepts, and explained them in understandable terms to ordinary people, in which I count myself. If there is one person in this world I would have wished to meet, and talk to, it would have been Carl Sagan.
However, happily Carl is still very much alive today in the millions of hearts and more importantly, minds he touched and changed by his amazing work. The best tribute to Carl we could possibly make is to ensure that his work continues - and that our civilisation does not re-enter the Dark Ages, clouded with superstition, and religious/racial hatred, bigotry and intolerance. All too relevant following the events of 9/11. We must all ensure we are not victims of mass deception, in any subjects, but especially in political, economic and religious matters, we must make it our business to apply that scientific methodology, rigorously, and that verifiable evidence is available, in all claims. We must not take extraordinary claims at face value in our search for "the truth" about the Cosmos, and we must ensure that these ideas are propagated with our peers. Show them Cosmos, get them to buy the book and Carl's other work.
For it is through keeping Carl alive in our brains, and ensuring his ideas become the prevailing paradigm of all of those in authority, that we may avert making that ultimate mistake of destroying our own civilisation. In so doing we will through science, I am certain, eventually discover what we all long for - "the big truth" about the Cosmos. Star stuff and the Cosmos fully conscious and aware of how it created itself.
Andy Fleming, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, United Kingdom
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