^_^ It is Carl Sagan’s birthday in a few days, and today is the first official Carl Sagan Day. For those of you who don’t know, before his death, Carl Sagan was an astronomer and science populariser. On the astronomy side, was heavily involved in the Voyager Spacecraft and SETI among many other things, and on the entertainment side, he created the series Cosmos and wrote Contact, (the book that the Jodie Foster movie was based on) among many other things.

It’s hard to pick among his work for examples, since all of it is so incredible, as far as I’m concerned he was (and remains) the best popular presenter of science. His method of delivery is so direct, uncluttered and clear. Anything he explains is graspable, whether that’s a 4th spatial dimension, or very large numbers and watching Cosmos has moved me close to tears on a number occasions with its insight, scope and depth of humanity. For anyone who wonders why science is relevant, or why we should care about galaxies or atoms when they seem to have nothing to do with our lives, watch Cosmos, and science will for good reason come to seem the most human endeavour we can undertake.

As a little trivia, Hugo Weaving’s riveting performance in The Matrix seems eerily similar to Carl Sagan’s mannerisms. Despite a total 180 in attitude from Sagan to Smith, it’s impossible to take your eyes off either, and the remarkable similarity took me a while to get used to! (section edited, see comments)

So to celebrate his awesome life, how about some music:

This is a really cute little song called Cosmic Carl
And this is a bunch of clips from Cosmos, all edited to a tune XD

So, hail Cosmic Carl, billions and billions of cheers indeed!


  1. liquidcow says:

    ‘In order to make an apple pie, I must first blow your mind.’

  2. Kate says:

    I admit I cry freely!

  3. mike says:

    Paul, love your work on Freak Angels!

    As a source of factual data, however, I’ll have to look elsewhere; Carl Sagan’s birthday is not today (though I dutifully tweeted the error after reading your blog). His birthday is Monday.

    Still, thanks for the reminder of this video, which I’ve seen before and was happy to watch again.

  4. Ah, many apologies! I must have been misinformed somewhere along the way, I shall edit.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hugo Weaving did NOT copy Sagan’s mannerisms in creating the Agent Smith character. This absurd rumor got started when a few people who thought the voices sounded smilar synched up Sagan’s voice to a clip from The Matrix. This makes a mildly funny joke, but it has become tiresome, and Weaving has repeatedly stated his real inspirations for the character voice in many interviews. Sagan has never been mentioned. (Nor does the humanitarian Sagan have a thing in common with Smith.) So stop repeating this fake factoid as if it’s true.

  6. @Anonymous
    I’m happy to face up to criticism, but there are much more civil and friendly ways to point out flaws in other people’s writing than to post angry, anonymous comments. It seems that you’ve completely ignored the positive intent of my post in favour of a sad, angry nitpicking that is far less worthy of Sagan’s memory than a piece of misrepresented trivia.

    However, as rude as you were, you’re right. I was wrong for presenting it as a fact rather than an interesting observation and I’ve corrected my entry.

  7. Kenn says:

    Fantastic stuff. Stuff. A perfectly good word as I explained to my jr high school English teacher. Carl Sagan uses it. Just one of the many many ways this man has affected my life. Here’s to Carl Sagan. By the by, I also find President Obama’s speaking cadence to be very familiar.

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