Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon

What did Carl Sagan do for me?

He taught me that it was OK to ask "why", forever. He served as a role model in that regard.

He also served as a role model of scientist as communicator.

Because of Carl Sagan, when we got an Encyclopedia Britannica (we may have been poor, back then, in the pre-Internet days, but we with the Britannica were wealthy beyond dreams) I browsed it. And romped through it. And chewed my way across it.

I learned about special relativity long before taking a physics class. What cool stuff! Such knowledge! All in one place! I reveled in it. REVELED IN IT.

Because of Carl Sagan, I knew science was cool, education was cool, learning was cool, long before anyone came along to try and peer-pressure me out of it. (Whether because I was a girl or because of some mistaken belief that ignorance = hip.) The peer pressure didn't take.

I learned about history, geology, DNA, evolution, Galileo, gravity, Voyager, and the birth and death of the universe from Carl Sagan. He opened up all of human knowledge to me, and did it with passion and articulate grace.

As if I were a little duckling, he imprinted me to science. Thank you, Dr. Sagan.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Honestly, I Could Just Close Up Shop, Right Here

"When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions, that is the heart of science."

Carl Sagan, Cosmos.

The beating heart of science, what makes us move mountains and extend horizons, is this simple, terrible preference: rather to be pierced by truth, than a whole fool.

Thank you, ciroccoj, for letting me know about tomorrow's Sagan blog-a-thon. I will be there.

"Carl was a candle in the dark," said Yervant Terzian, the David Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and former astronomy department chair, after Sagan's death. "He was, quite simply, the best science educator in the world this century. He touched hundreds of millions of people and inspired young generations to pursue the sciences."

Did he ever.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Winter in Europe cancelled?

Concern over Europe 'snow crisis'.

That's global warming for you. And people who think the environment and the economy have nothing to do with each other? You're wrong: "Already banks are refusing to offer loans to resorts under 1,500 metres as they fear for their future snow cover."