Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It was ten years ago today

It was ten years ago today
It was ten years ago today that the world lost one of its greatest minds. This is the day that Carl Sagan passed away.
Sagan was well known as a popularizer of science. His PBS show Cosmos had a huge influence on a lot of people, including a ten year old boy living outside of Cleveland.
I was a precocious little geek of a kid that was completely in love with science. I already had a telescope, and I spent hours every clear night outside looking up at the stars, and wondering what might be out there. Then Cosmos came on, and I found that a lot of my questions were being asked on the show, and I loved the potential answers.
Shortly after watching that series, I read two of Carl's books...The Dragons of Eden and Broca's Brain. Some of the material was a bit over my head...I was ten after all...but I understood a lot of it, and he forever changed my life.
It may sound odd, but next to my family, Carl Sagan probably had the biggest influence on my life. I probably wouldn't have become a science fiction writer if I hadn't been exposed to his work.
I never even fully realized what an effect he had on me until I was in college. I can remember sitting on the second floor of the Auraria Campus library...I was supposed to be studying, but instead, I was working on a short story. The story was about aliens living in a gas giant. I thought it was a great idea, but there seemed to be something familiar about the aliens. About six months later, I was watching Cosmos on PBS for the first time since I was ten, and he was describing potential life forms in a gas giant. My aliens were very similar to what he was describing. I hadn't seen the show in a decade and a half, but those aliens had stuck with me, and as I watched the reruns, I realized a lot of other things from that show had stuck with me as well...
Carl Sagan is dearly missed. His voice and wisdom would be greatly welcome in the world we currently live in...

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