The Legacy of Carl Sagan
A Beloved Figure in Science
Carl Sagan was an astronomer, writer, and television star who forever changed the way we view scientific endeavor. As a popularizer of science, he managed to break the barrier between theoretical abstractions and the amazement caused by nature and the cosmos.
“Sometimes it is said that scientists lack romanticism, that their passion to understand the world strips it of beauty and mystery. But isn’t it exciting to understand how the world really works? It doesn’t hurt the romance of the sunset to know a little about it.””
His presence in public life and his work inspiring new generations of scientists and science enthusiasts is still being felt today.
From the Lab to the Spotlight
Carl Sagan was an unusual celebrity. Time magazine named him “America’s Most Efficient Science Salesman” thanks to the popularity of his work. He was known for his television show Cosmos, where he explored the mysteries of nature and the Universe, touching on topics that have gained importance over the years, such as environmental contamination and interstellar explorations. Without a doubt, Carl Sagan’s personal journey was the journey of thousands of people.
According to the Spanish scientific popularizer Pere Estupinyà, “I didn’t frivolize or take science as a show, but for what it is: the best tool we have to understand how the world works”.
Carl Sagan, The Teacher
Poignant and enthusiastic, Sagan managed to inspire hundreds of his students to continue his research on space, but also to continue disseminating science as a personal journey of discovery.
When Neil deGrasse Tyson applied to Cornell University, his application came into the hands of Carl Sagan. Sagan offered him a tour of the university and presented him with a signed book. To date, deGrasse Tyson remembers with emotion that first meeting with his mentor.
Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people were inspired by the popularizer and, to this day, there are people who never knew him but fondly remember his contributions to popularizing science because they were the ones that shaped his path.
A Vision Towards the Future
In 1985, when ideas about climate change were much less grim, Carl Sagan gave a speech in the United States Congress where he called to action about what is now a crisis rather than a change.
“The effects (of climate change) last longer than a human generation, there is a tendency to think that they are not our problem. Then they become nobody’s problem… It is not my turn, it is something of the next century, that the next century cares. But the point is that there are effects, such as the greenhouse effect, that have very long consequences. If we don’t worry about it now, it will be too late later. In this case, as in many others, we are leaving extremely serious problems for future generations when the time to solve these problems -if they have a solution- is now.”
Carl Sagan passed away on December 20, 1996, but his legacy continues to accompany us in the rigor and commitment of scientific dissemination.
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