Posted on 29.05.14 By Sarah Krasnostein

Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

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Cosmos Remixed (Carl Sagan – ‘A Glorious Dawn’ ft Stephen Hawking):

The First Law of Sagan holds that it is difficult to watch anything by Carl Sagan without wanting to watch everything by Carl Sagan.

Sagan was, amongst many other things, an astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist who died in 1996 at the age of 62. He was also one of the first and best ‘science popularizers’. In 1978 and 1979, Sagan hosted and, with Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, co-wrote and co-produced the PBS TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

No less brilliant for being brief, Cosmos is a crash course in the Universe and our place within it. Sagan’s science is as self-centered as it is outward facing and it is steeped in an Atheism more spiritual and wondrous than religion.

Perfectly poised between cause and consequence, Sagan brings a long view to the present. Within the space of these 13 episodes about the Cosmos, Sagan wakes us up to the fact that we are simultaneously the most insignificant and the most colossal creation in it. And he communicates the emancipation and the responsibility inherent in that position in a way that is as cerebral as it is compassionate.

When he tells us that ‘in order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the Universe’, he is reminding us about the miracle in the mundane: that -  literally – ‘the earth and every living thing in it are made of star stuff’. So the next time you look around and ask yourself, ‘Is this it?’, you will realize that this is Everything.

Astrophysicist Neil Tyson De Grasse, who is heavily inspired by Sagan, once said that ‘I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes me want to grab people on the street and say: “Have you HEARD THIS?”‘ Rightly so. This knowledge is our birthright. And once you grasp even the tiniest corner of it, it is as empowering as it is beautiful. And it is as beautiful, as the Yiddish saying goes, as the world.

Pale Blue Dot:

Eratosthenes calculates the circumference of the earth:

Star Stuff / Evolution:

Gravity in Wonderland:

The 4th dimension:

Symphony of Science – ‘We Are All Connected’ ft Sagan, Fenman, deGrasse Tyson & Bill Nye

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