Remembering Carl Sagan
On Friday, the 15th of October 1999, BBC wrote: "If we send just one book to the grace the libraries of distant worlds tended by librarians born under the light of an alien sun, let it be "Cosmos".
These words are perhaps the supreme accolade any book has ever got. And the author of the book, Carl Sagan, was born on the 9th of November.
I actually stumbled on Cosmos that was trashed in a room corner back in Mumbai. And ever since, I’ve thought everything from the number of dimensions that space is made of to the futility of human existence. The book covers everything from cosmos (which is the original theme) to the evolution of species to evolution of mankind to the powers and limitations of mankind as a species.
BBC goes on:
More than 20 years later, there is not a book on astronomy - in fact not one on science - that comes close to the eloquence and intellectual sweep of Cosmos.Sagan, an astronomer by profession, was personally involved in designing several extra-terrestrial flights. He also assembled the contents of the first physical message sent into space, with the hope that it will reach other aliens.
Personally, I haven’t read a more informative book than Cosmos. His other book, Contact, is considered as a supreme accomplishment in Science-Fiction. If you’ve achieved martyrdom in movie-dom, you might recollect the cutie Jodie Foster starrer Contact, which is an on screen adaptation of the book.
Cosmos happens to be best selling science book ever. The Cosmos video series was the most watched TV series of all time in the US when it was released. It’s available for us now through Google videos. Puhleez do watch it!!!
More than anything else, Carl Sagan stands out in terms of educating general people about science. I think this is one reason for which he deserves more accolades than others, coz it’s relatively easy to do something nerdy and be silent about it and keep all the knowledge to oneself. But, I think, it’s far tougher to actually come out and let everyone share what you know.
I’m about to read An Ancestor’s Tale, the book that talks about evolution of humans from the most primitive one-celled organisms. It supposedly talks about 40 different intermediate transformations before humans evolved, all over billions of years. Reviews on that later!
Note: Cosmos might be vying for the most informative book you’ll read, but be forewarned: It might not the easiest book you’ll read. It’s riveting in the start and towards the end, but it might digress a bit in the middle. And it certainly doesn’t compete with The Da Vinci Code in terms of raw pace. But, rest assured - its intellectual sweep is nothing short of spectacular.