Have you seen Carl Sagan's classic series Cosmos? A couple months ago Sam camped out for a weekend or so and pretty much watched the whole thing. I also enjoyed several episodes, but since I felt like I could chew on the content of each episode for months, I couldn't quite watch them back to back like Sam could. A nice perk to having spent so much time with Sagan was that Sam developed a pretty great impression of his distinct, awkward but endearing speaking style...you should ask him to do his best Sagan if you get a chance.
And speaking of fantastic Carl Sagan impressions, Jen Uman made these paintings; aren't they great? The rest of her work has a similar wit and confident humility about it...a celebrated imperfection that helps me feel at home and relax enough to laugh at myself and ask questions.
I've been chatting with a lot of scientists this week, since I'm with my scientist husband in Palm Springs CA as he presents at a conference on issues in his field of environmental engineering. It turns out that my favorite scientists are really just like my favorite artists: brazenly humble, incessantly inquisitive, and full of wonder.
On that note, I leave you with Carl Sagan's incredibly beautiful reflection on this photo of our home:
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds...
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994