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Cosmic Calendar

In response to the Cosmic Clock post, Larry Klaes wrote to remind of us of Carl's Cosmic Calendar:

Beyond Belief

Before my long holiday train ride, I took the time to download the recent Beyond Belief sessions to watch during the trip. (One of the few bonuses of riding Amtrak is outlets.) This is hardy stuff that would've made Carl Sagan proud - the meat and potatoes of existence. If you haven't already, you simply must check it out. I recommend session 2.

If you're unfamiliar with the project, here's their website's description:
Just 40 years after a famous TIME magazine cover asked "Is God Dead?" the answer appears to be a resounding "No!" According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine, "God is Winning". Religions are increasingly a geopolitical force to be reckoned with. Fundamentalist movements - some violent in the extreme - are growing. Science and religion are at odds in the classrooms and courtrooms. And a return to religious values is widely touted as an antidote to the alleged decline in public morality. After two centuries, could this be twilight for the Enlightenment project and the beginning of a new age of unreason? Will faith and dogma trump rational inquiry, or will it be possible to reconcile religious and scientific worldviews? Can evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience help us to better understand how we construct beliefs, and experience empathy, fear and awe? Can science help us create a new rational narrative as poetic and powerful as those that have traditionally sustained societies? Can we treat religion as a natural phenomenon? Can we be good without God? And if not God, then what?

This is a critical moment in the human situation, and The Science Network in association with the Crick-Jacobs Center brought together an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers to explore answers to these questions. The conversation took place at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA from November 5-7, 2006.

Ann Druyan gave a particularly moving presentation. Here it is in three parts:

Three Bedrooms – A Tribute to Carl Sagan

Scott Thompson emailed us the link to his blog-a-thon post, which is a worthwhile read. Here's a excerpt:

When I was a young teen in 1980 there were three televisions in the house: One was in the small family room, and was typically shared by my parents. Another was in their bedroom - used primarily by my father to watch Kansas City Chiefs football games on crisp fall weekends. In my own inner sanctum - my bedroom, I had a little 13-inch GE black-and-white set, which I mostly used for watching PBS and Star Trek. It was on my little television that I learned about the coming premiere of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

Cosmos so intrigued me that I was motivated to leave the electronics and Lego and book-strewn confines of my own bedroom in search of a color television. I knew I needed to see stars and galaxies, nebulae and molecules in vivid color. I persuaded my parents to let me use their bedroom color television to watch the series, no small task given their dubious view of science-fiction, their abhorrence of evolution and general mystification regarding science. I eventually won the argument with assurances of the series’ educational value and reassurance of “non-sinful” content. Every week, I’d find myself plopped on my parents white king-sized comforter, propped-chin-in-hands, waiting for the next astonishing (my favorite Cosmos word) installment to propel my mind far from my pedestrian Ozarks home.


When I was at home with my family in the Christmas Eve I just looked at my library and saw at the billions and billions book and realized that have been passed ten years since Carl Sagan left this world. Then I tought in all the things he taught me in his books, not only to really understand how vast is the space and the importance of the contamination and population growth control but the importance of questioning our thoughts and believes.

Ten years and is obvious that there is a lacking of someone who light the path of humanity from the ignorance and ambitions of power in this planet. In all these years population grew up from5.8 billions to 6.5 billions. The global heating has increased and there are countries where the PIB is less than USD 1000 per year. I could spend more time detailing each of these circumstances and listing much more, but is not my goal right now.

Are we living in a new age of obscurantism? It seems that is necessary a new renaissance of the humanity. But what is the way? Carl has buried a seed in every one who knew his work, and it is time for the new generation to do something for this world which is the only habitable until now that we know.

Well, I just wanted to say thanks Carl.


A Link to 'More Carl' on the Web!

Just an addendum to my post on this superb tribute message board. Many, many thanks, you're all doing him the justice he so deserves. It shows he is still very much alive.

I have my own website, about 70s and 80s UK radio (160,000 hits last year), used at times by a resource and meeting place for UK listeners and presenters.

It's rapidly becoming a Carl Sagan tribute!

Because of his video clips our 3GB monthly bandwidth is exceeded until January 1!!!!!!!! (We've had to purchase more!)

Here is the link:

All the best - let's all keep in touch and the blog going. Let's look after all us like minds ad be ambassadors together for Carl and science on this Pale Blue Dot.

Andy Fleming
Co Durham

Sagan's Rationale for Human Spaceflight

Alex Michael Bonnici brings to our attention an article in The Space Review called Sagan's rationale for human spaceflight by Michael Huang. Here's a short excerpt:
In medieval times, some people kept a human skull in their home to remind themselves of mortality, and to view their priorities against the big picture of life and death. A modern equivalent is the dinosaur fossil. The fossilized remains of a once great and dominant species reminds the human species of our eventual choice: survival or extinction, or as Sagan put it, “spaceflight or extinction”.
It's a quick and interesting read and a great launch point for discussing our future in space. Thanks, Alex.

'Vision.' - A Tribute to Carl Sagan

Lang Kasranov writes:
Thank you for a wonderful site.
I would be honored if you would watch, and possibly include, my recent video about Dr. Sagan. It is hosted at YouTube and Google video.

Carl Sagan, gone for "ten trips around the Sun"

Tom Moore emailed us with the link to his blog-a-thon post. Here it is in full:

Carl Sagan was one of the strongest and most enduring influences on my choice to pursue teaching and then science. His view of humans as "a way for the universe to know itself" echoed and extended themes I'd read in Alan Watts. Carl's many books and shorter articles guided and inspired me up through his untimely death. They shaped my interests and led me to specialize in the science of the solar system. Many were critical of what they saw as Carl's excessive participation in the cult of personality through the media. But from my perspective, Carl was the ultimate modern renaissance man, with interests that spanned the universe in a way that few others came close to expressing. He excelled not only in communicating the excitement of science to the general public, but also led a generation of scientists in seeing the broader relevance and impact of their work, helping us to get beyond the mentality of the cold war. He is deeply missed.

There is a detectable web competition for the title of "Next Carl Sagan". It's a very tough act to follow on the world stage. But we do need others to tell us how wonderful is the world as revealed by science, how little we really need our illusions and superstitions, and how much more sound is a simple reverence for life and all the forces that have created it.

- Tom Moore

Missing (from China)

We received the following on December 24th, 2006:

Dear Mrs Sagan:

I am from China, the country which has the largest population. Please excuse me for writing to you first.

I know today is the 10th anniversary for Mr Sagan, so I’d rather like to express my regards and sadness to him - the great scientist by this E-mail. I’m so captivated and interested in his loving science and the strive perseveringly for it. Especially the "The Demon-Haunted World" is what I like most, it influenced on me strongly; it is exciting! Sagan is the idol in my heart all life. In the special day, except for giving my respect to you — dear Mrs Sagan, missing the idol, too. Thank you for the construction of science for long long time!

Sorry , my English is poor .If any thing wrong has in this letter or offend you , please don’t care and forgive me, thanks a lot! Because it is my first time to write E-mail in English.

Bai lee
December 20 2006