Hello, All Readers and Stargazers,
This July marks thirty years since my trip to beautiful, ivy-covered Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
My then eleven-year-old daughter and I had the honor of attending a three-week science symposium there in the summer of 1992. I was part of the San Diego educators’ team.
One of many highlights of our stay was an audience with the famous astronomer, astrophysicist, author, television personality, and Cornell University professor Carl Sagan (1934-1996). He discussed his latest work in the radio search for extraterrestrial life with the Planetary Society, the importance of science education, and answered our questions, including one from me. But more on that exciting part another day.
All of us were very familiar with this Renaissance man as arguably the world’s leading popularizer of science, mainly from his Emmy and Peabody Award-winning 1980 PBS miniseries Cosmos. It became the most-watched television show in the history of tv with over 500 million viewers in sixty countries. We also knew him for his oft-misquoted phrase, “billions and billions” (of stars). His actual words were, “A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars–billions upon billions of stars. . . .”!
My wonderful memory of an afternoon with Carl Sagan made me take notice of a recent Mighty Girl Facebook post. It featured Carl Sagan’s famous quote about the immortality of books and authors. Since I posted about that topic a few weeks ago, I wanted to be sure to include Dr. Sagan’s poetic words on the subject. He spoke them in Cosmos, Part 11, “The Persistence of Memory” (1980). I never tire of his exquisite use of the English language:
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it, and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you’ll want to learn more about Carl Sagan, who left us all too soon. You can do so at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0755981/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm.
And if you’ve never seen his series, Cosmos, you can find it at your favorite DVD site. If I could add months to the calendar, I’d watch those episodes “billions upon billions” of times!