I’m sure there will be many tributes to Carl Sagan today, so I offer mine. It’s no different than thousands of kids, but it’s mine and that makes it special.
I was seven or eight when Cosmos came out. I think it was eight, but that was the year my mom and dad divorced and I know I watched Cosmos with my dad. We watched it on a crummy black and white 8 inch TV. Yes, we had tinfoil on the antennae because our local PBS station was in Houston over 100 miles away.
I don’t remember much of the show and it’s very hard to tell what I remember from the original and what I remember from subsequent views and clips. What I remember most is Carl’s smoothness. He had an eloquence, even to my young ears. He was very different from my own dad and I think that might have been a telling point.
I was already a dinosaur crazy kid, but then Carl started talking about spaceships of the imagination and other worlds and the amazing things on our world, like how a crab population could eventually come to have the face of a samurai on there backs.
It was an amazing experience and I can only say that it shaped me in some significant way.
I had a chance to meet Carl right before his death. He was doing a book tour in Houston. But my mom didn’t tell me he was there because she had purchased his book for me for Christmas. I still haven’t quite forgiven her for that.
In my own way, I’ve tried to follow in Carl’s footsteps. I’ll never have his eloquence or his calmness. But I think his influence is why I love science so much and why I love writing so much. It’s frustrating and hard sometimes, but I still feel the need to share what we know about the universe and try to explain it in ways so that even 8-year-old boys can understand.
Both Carl and I will never know the lives that we have touched, the influence we have had on people. I hope that influence just a few. Even that will be worth the efforts I’ve made both here and elsewhere.
I’m sorry to have never met you Carl… I hope you would be proud.