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December 19, 2006

Comments

Andy Fleming

Ann

I'm so sorry that despite blogging about Carl anywhere and everywhere, I have up to now missed your wonderful message! This seems to be a recurring theme in my life, as at the age of 46, although I remember Carl from NASA interviews (Viking, Pioneer etc)when I was a teenager, I only discovered Cosmos six months ago!

I felt, and still do feel devasted, discovering after your inspiring and beautiful introduction to the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean that he died in 1996, and how I still kick myself at having rejected science following a nervous breakdown in my adolescence (I was to study a degree in Biology and Soil Science at Canterbury University, UK). Five years of depression and suffering followed, after which I re-built my academic life, gaining a First Class (hons) degree in Sociology in 1989 at Teesside University, working in the Youth and Community Service
in Stockton-on-Tees, and finally getting married to a teacher, my soul-mate Gill, and having a family of my own. Having had for 10 years a successful job in Newspaper Marketing, I was made redundant, and now have a stress-free job delivering newspapers, with plenty of time to share my life-long interest of astronomy with our young son, David.

Carl was, as I suspected from watching Cosmos, confirmed by the sharing of your experiences, a wonderful person. I mourn his passing terribly. Cosmos has changed my life, in a way that five years at university never did. Many perspectives in Sociology are profoundly anti-positivist and are very sceptical of science, as indeed I became. What a tribute to Carl that although I'm a trained social scientist, I now know that my role is as an ambassador of the scientific enterprise. I have spent the last three months actively promoting Cosmos, and the search for "the truth" in rigorously verified scientific evidence.

Just as Carl would have wished, I am promoting his work and teaching, not with
scientists or academics but with ordinary British people (like me) - van drivers, newsagents, newspaper office staff, friends, family - infact anyone I meet. Even my 84 year old wheelchair bound mother currently has borrowed a couple of episodes! I always get round to talking about Carl!

I unashamedly admit I have cried about the loss of Carl, the tears have flowed reading your most human, wonderful message. I feel I have lost another soul-mate (sorry to borrow a quasi-religious expression), and sometimes watching episodes of Cosmos (you never tire of watching it do you!)I experience an overwhelming feeling of grief rising within, because I never had the chance to meet him, and express my deepest feelings of admiration for him.

Carl was indeed one of the most historically significant figures in science, your are absolutely correct Ann. He
has inspired myself and my son to become even more involved in astronomy. We're eagerly awaiting a reflecting telescope for Christmas, and "Pale Blue Dot", specially imported from the US.

In his honour, we held a "Sagan Party" on the evening of the 20th. Even our high pressure cell honoured him with perfectly clear skies over north east England. Just south of Durham City with no light pollution, we located and viewed with our binoculars M31, the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda - 2 million light years away. It is the first time both of us have seen it - what a majestic celestial object, and what a magical experience for a young child to share with his dad. I'm sure Carl would have been absolutely delighted.

If there is anything I can do to help in the promotion
and sale of Cosmos as a volunteer, and get it back on British television, I would be honoured and delighted. I have many contacts in the media industry here. It has, as you have just read, profoundly affected our lives for the better, and Carl deserves nothing less than a continued global audience. Carl is still very much alive in our hearts, and most importantly our brains.

I'm sorry this post is so long, it hasn't done Carl full justice, but I have tried!

How can you make a full tribute to such a remarkable, irreplaceable person. Carl, the world misses you so much.

Andy Fleming
Stockton-on-Tees
County Durham
United Kingdom.

Bob Birket

Thank you for sharing the intimate moments of your special relationship with your beloved Carl. Dr Carl Sagan inspired me to wonder. He touched my soul with curiosity, he set me on a life long course to the stars. I remember so well the airing of Cosmos. What magic it was. What a hopeful message it sent. I watch still to this day. Sometimes when I'm alone in the observatory late at night and the telescope and camera are gathering photons from a far away galaxy, I remember Carl. I remember the passionate, caring, insightful, teacher. And although I never met him face to face, I felt I knew him. As a fellow scientist and a dear special friend.

hardcase

i'd like to be able to say that carl nudged my life into a different trajectory, but i'm no scientist. in fact, i have no formal academic accreditation whatsoever. i'm just a truck driver. but i'm no sucker, and i know i have carl to thank for that. i was an atheist all of my life (despite being born into a very religious family) but i was certainly no skeptic. carl gave me the precious gift of critical thinking

i'll never forget when i discovered him for the first time. i came across a battered, moldy old copy of broca's brain by sheer random chance. i'm not sure what it was about that little book that called to me, but when i opened it up and started reading, carl's words spoke from those tattered pages with so much vibrance and life. it felt like the words had been written just for me. i couldn't tear myself away until i'd read the whole thing! after that i was hooked and i watched cosmos in it's entirety and started reading as many other books by carl (and you!) as i could lay my hands on

carl's teachings have changed me so much. now, every time i catch myself succumbing to some form of baloney, i hear his kind, patient voice in my head saying "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!"

and carl also taught me that being an atheist doesnt mean i can't experience wonder or feel a deep reverence for the world around me. i think that's the lesson that's brought me the most happiness. despite the enormous weight of his scientific contributions, i almost think of carl sagan as a poet first and a scientist second. i'm sure you know what i mean

anyway, sorry for the long-winded rant. i just really miss carl even though i never knew him. and i hope you don't feel too alone without him because we all mourn him with you. the world will never forget carl sagan

DuWayne

The strongest memory of my childhood was seeing Carl in Ann Arbor, MI, when I was eleven. He lit off a deep, passionate love of learning and science, that has carried through into my interactions with my son.

It was a combination of how easy it was to understand him and the way he addressed me in the q&a and after. He was the first adult, aside from my parents, who obviously took me and my questions seriously. And his passion for knowledge and the wonder of our universe was very contagious

He was and is, one of my greatest childhood heroes. Thank you for sharing these memories with us.

Juan Carlos Acosta B.

Nunca nos hemos visto, pero gracias a la visión de su esposo siento que la conozco de toda la vida. Recuerdo a Carl con toda la admiración y el respeto que un ser humano pueda llegar a tener por otro igual. Gracias a el, mi perspectiva y la de muchas otras personas del universo, nunca volvió a ser igual. Estoy en esta pagina y siento nostalgia al pensar que ya el no esta, pero su legado perdurara aun cuando nosotros ya no estemos, y no podemos hacer menos que lo que el nos enseño.

Lang Kasranov

Hi Ann,

Thank you for your essay, It was most enjoyable.

I debated making a post to your blog because self-promotion doesn't come naturally to me, and also because I have already visited Nick's blog. I have something I want to share with as wide an audience as possible, so I visited to see if posting it would be appropriate. I think it is, so I will share it with you and your readers here, as well.

I recently edited together a short video. Through this video, I commemorate Carl's significant influence upon my own life in a way that nicely ties up recent astronomical and space flight developments that, not coincidentally, I think Carl would have strongly approved of. After completing this video, I resolved never again to think of December 20th with any sadness at Carl's passing, but rather to look forward, eyes opened.

You may link to it by clicking on my name, below. I would be most honored if you would watch it some time. Thank you, and all the best.

lk

Alan Sylvia

As I read "The Varieties of Scientific Experience", I am reminded of one of Carl's descriptions of the beauty and power of books. He saw them as a way for you to share the mind of another human being, indeed to travel across passages of time to bring them back to life, if even for a short time. While reading this book, I can hear Carl's distinctive voice narrating it's contents directly to me. His brilliance, wisdom, and humility dazzle my mind's eye, a sad yet soothing balm to my spirit, in a world that is seemingly spiralling out of control at the hands of religious fanaticsm and fear.

I dearly miss this man, even though I never had the privilege of meeting him in person. How I dearly would have loved to share a dinner with him, and discuss the cosmos, where we are in it, and where we may be going as a species. I often find it difficult to share his optimism about our future , but if evoulution can produce such a human being as Carl Sagan, then maybe there is hope after all.

Thank you Ann, for sharing these poignant memories. Your husband's legacy will never fade, and I feel priveleged to have shared a few trips of my own around the Sun with the two of you.

James Payne

Ann,

I unfortunately missed your recent appearance on NPR's Science Friday. I wanted to tell you that I am so appreciative for what you and Carl did and are doing for science and what you have done for my life. The movie "Cosmos" changed the way that I looked at science, the world, and my life forever. The universe calendar was truly a life turning moment for me. It made all of the science simple because I could finally understand the time scales (For example: all of human history occurred in the last 10 seconds of December 31st). When I watched the movie for the first time, I was a freshman in high school who really wasn't at all sure what I wanted to do. I currently am progressing toward graduate school in marine biology (Astronomy was too much math). During my undergraduate I was made famous on my swim team for being able to teach science (mostly astronomy and biology) in such an easy way that anyone could understand it. I think that Carl taught me through those movies on how to teach someone complex topics such as those that occur in science in terms that are more relevant to them.

I thank your entire family for what you have done for our species and most especially what you have done for me.

Good luck with your future endeavors and I am sorry for your loss now ten years ago.

James Payne

Sean

At 41 years of age, I am just now starting to understand what a great person Mr. Sagan was and still is. I had the honor of meeting him purely by chance of all places, at Walt Disney World.
I was working at the Typhoon Lagoon water park, in a gift shop,I believe around 1989 or 90.
A gentleman walked up to my counter and asked me to point him in the direction of the 'sunscreen lotion'.
As he walked away, I kept thinking to myself,"that man sounds so familiar.....he sounds and looks just like Carl Sagan".
So when he came back to the counter, I asked him, "Has anyone ever told you that you sound and look, just like Carl Sagan?"
He looked at me, smiled, and said, "Well....I am!"
All I remember saying back to him was, "COOL!"
I'll never forget that, and at the time I barely knew of the show 'Cosmos'and had never read anything he had ever written.
But just in the past few months I have watched every episode at least twice and am reading 'The Demon haunted world', and am just blown away!
So even 10 years since his passing, he has made, and is MAKING a HUGE impact on my life!
I can't thank him or Ann enough for what you have given not only me, but to everyone!

JustFine

Off-topic question regarding Cosmos...

I was jut watching Cosmos on the Science Channel. It was the final episode of the series (#13 Who Speaks for Earth?).

Anyway, when he is doing a little trip through time, the background has sound-bits of news commentators mentioning famous historical events. The second to last event mentioned something about "world trade center" and "terrorists." The rest was fairly inaudible to me.

I know the series was made in the 80s -- prior to both terrorists attacks on the world trade center. Did the Science Channel edit the original series some and add something like this? Or did this happen to be in the original show?

I was just kind of stunned when I saw/heard it, because I know how old the show is. I am just curious.

Thanks

Leo

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 tough 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......

axinar

Ann, thanks for sharing so much with us.

When you get the chance, there is a question I have been curious about - well - for the last 26 years or so.

Now, if I'm making good sense of Carl's biographies, you met Carl through Timothy Ferris and you got the Chuck Berry piece added to the Voyager record - and quite a bit of the Voyager music ended up in "Cosmos".

Question - who first discovered the Vangelis pieces and how did they make their way into "Cosmos"?

Thanks!

Grant

I am a public school teacher near retirement and I have shown Cosmos to most of my eighth grade classes since the series first came out on tape. There is always a quiet sort of serenity in the classroom as Carl unravels the complexities of life and the universe, capturing their imaginations with his passion, his insight and his warmth.
I was thrilled this Christmas when my wife presented me with Cosmos on DVD. We watched some episodes tonight and my two grown sons are as captivated by it as my students and I have been through the years. I don't know how many times I've watched Carl and Cosmos, but I never grow tired of listening to him. He is "a man for the ages" who has opened the minds of millions. I only wish I had met him in person. As a teacher, I consider Carl to be the greatest teacher of our time.
Thanks for your memories, Ann. They were wonderful to read.
-Grant

David Wheelock

I just listened to the Ann Druyan interview on Free Thought Radio from 10/28/2006.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/ffrf/FTradio_27_102806.mp3

In it Ann says that more people than ever say they're influenced by CS and that the Cosmos DVD set sold more units in October 2006 than any other month since the series was released. Wow! What's happening out there?

Andrew O. Lutes

Dr. Sagan appears on the cover of the January/February issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Look for that issue at Barnes And Noble, Border's, etc. Dr. Sagan was a supporter of CSICOP, it's publisher.

bookboy

Just want to add my two cents. Reading your book Ann, found this site can't stop listening to the music. I'm buying the "Cosmos" DVD to share with my wife along in the dark in front of the TV. Thank you.

Weslley Fernandes

Carl ajudou a retirar a humanidade de sua profunda ignorância,do buraco onde estávamos atolados com seu sorriso belo e acolhedor,não creio que já tenha existido outro ser como ele na imensidão do Cosmos.

DaveVelo

First of all Ann, thanks so much for reminiscing about Carl. Although we never met, your remembrances of him are what I imagined his personal life was like.

An acquaintance cajoled me into watching the Vid "What The Bleep Do We Know"?? Well, this film turned out to be a advert for "Ramtha's School of Enlightenment" disguised as a quasi science documentary. Being an atheist and a skeptic, it was out of the deck tout de suite. Afterward, went over to the bookcase, extracted my copy of "Demon-Haunted World" and thumped it's cover. Carl's words were like a "candle in the dark" for so many.

Peace and good will to you Ann. Perhaps some day, we'll meet... I'd like that!

David Abraham

Dear Annie,

I have read virtually every book Carl ever wrote, not just because I love science, particularly the Cosmic sciences, but even more because Carl wrote so well. And I am a good, and tough, judge of good writing. My favorite work of his was Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, so I felt his loss keenly as I eagerly anticipated reading the second and third volumes of Ancestors. Perhaps you will finish it one day.

I spent New Year's Eve in my one bedroom apartment here in snow-covered Albuquerque, NM, and you were my date! Well, you and Steve Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I "found" a podcast of your November appearance at my AMNH on the web. Thank you so much for your company!

I wish I could share your optimism about the direction of our nation's spirituality but I can not. Americans seem Hell-bent on holding onto their Biblical spirituality. Perhaps if another Carl arose, (s)he could stop our slide into deeper "supernatural" spirituality.

Happy New Year to you and your family. My love to Carl too.

Next year in New York, or Ithaca!

Francisco J Ruiz

I have no words to express how Carl Sagan changed my life. I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be here today if not for the curiosity and skepticism seeds he planted in my mind.

I am honored to have named my daughter after him:

MacKenzie Montserrat Sagan Ruiz.

I miss him. Boy, do I miss him.

Darren Lacey

I only recently discovered Cael via a preface in a stephen hawlkins book and looked him up online.

Within a few weeks I had amassed almost everything I could about him. I have lost track of the amount of times I have watched COSMOS now... and will never tire of it.

I never got a chance to know Carl or Ann for that matter, I don't teach science and I did't have an incling into the scale of the universe or our part in it until I heard Carl talking... There are a lot of people who became scientists and teachers because of his work, I am just an average guy and now understand what its all about and I am sure Carl would have approved.

So sorry for your loss Ann and for that of Carl, but ideas and teaching live on forever and in that we are all his children and the children of the universe I guess also.

Of all the things in the emence universe he has missed in 10 revolutions, he shared the best with you till the end.

All our love

Darwin - Jassie and our Son Ethan, ENGLAND

Josh Gough

Ann,
Thank you for sharing these thoughts on your blog. I enjoyed reading them. I also enjoyed your comments in the Beyond Belief 2006 symposium. Please keep up the great work!

I wrote an essay devoted to Sagan's influence on me on my blog. You can read it by clicking on my name. Here is the first paragraph from it:

The bounds of my curiosity and creativity were stirred time and again by Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on public television. My uncle would sit down with me and watch the program whenever it came on when it first ran. Later, he would rent episodes when I was older. Now, both of us own the DVD collection. This program, more than anything I learned directly in school, expanded the boundaries of my mind and made me aware of the very long history of scientific discovery, the majesty of outer space, and the mystery of organic life on our planet. I can remember laying in bed in the morning, looking out the window at the tree branches swaying in the breeze and perplexing my mind with questions like, "What if nothing ever existed?"

alpha-helix

I first encountered Carl Sagan on "COSMOS" while in college and later in person at several of his lectures. That was over twenty-some years ago. Looking back, I can now clearly see, that Carl planted the seeds that eventually grew to become some of the guiding principles of my life.

Thanks to Dr. Sagan for fully opening my eyes and all of the ways that it has helped me since. In the truest sense of the word, he was my teacher. Growing older and life experience has reinforced & deepened my already immense respect for Dr. Sagan as the wisdom of his words and visionary ideas have and continue to ring true and become reality to this very day. The same will also hold true for the future.

The world is a better place, because Carl Sagan lived and shared so much of his time with so many others.

How wonderful it was to read Carl's wise counsel ("The Varities of Scientific Experience") again after all these years. Yet another classic vade mecum to navigate the world & life by.

Thanks to Ann, Nick Sagan, & the entire Sagan family for the many ways in which you continue to and have shared your husband & father with all of us. In a different way, of course, we need him too; his absence has left an immense void and we are all poorer without him, his vision, his leadership, & his courage. I definitely have never forgotten him and I try to honor him by passing on what he taught me, to my children (and others).

I'm grateful that I was able to walk on this Earth, and soar to the greatest heights in my mind, for a brief time together, thanks to, & along with, Carl Sagan. It is, & was, a life altering experience.

Cathy B

Thank you for sharing something of the beauty and magic of yours and Carl's lives. It reminds me to always look for that beauty.

Scott

Ann, thank you for giving us a glimpse into a personal side of Carl that we had not been exposed to. I almost feel I know Carl like a friend because he has generously shared his mind in various media, but it is precious to also see this personal side. I thank you for the legacy you have both carved together. I wish so much I could ask you one question about Carl...

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