“History is full of people who out of fear, or ignorance, or lust for power has destroyed knowledge of immeasurable value which truly belongs to us all. We must not let it happen again.” –Carl Sagan
From the streets and people of our hometown to the nations, planets, stars and galaxies (and beyond) of our Universe, there’s an immensity of knowledge to be gained from a single human lifetime, if only we have the courage to let go of our preconceptions and discover it. Laura Viers might tell you that in her own way in her 2005 song,
But no one is born with this knowledge; it takes hard work, critical thinking and scientific literacy to get there.
For me, personally, it took decades of challenging the way I perceived the Earth, the Solar System, the galaxy, and eventually, the entire Universe, before I eventually arrived at the picture I have today.
But even the longest journey begins with a single step, and one of the most important ones I ever took was when I happened to pick out an old, dusty, forgotten book off of my parents’ bookshelf as a teenager.
Yes, I was always very strong at math and science, and I was also always very skeptical of claims that seemed to be made without adequate supporting evidence. But reading through this book — which I later learned was a companion to the even-more spectacular television series — was an inspiration to learn all about not just what we know in the Universe, but how we know it.
I’ve been working very hard to do exactly that, which means continually revising and refining my conception of things, as well as to share it with you; that’s what this blog is all about! But I’m about to get a chance to share in something very exciting, with many others who are passionate about the same exact thing.
This November 10th, I’ll be in Ft. Lauderdale as a featured guest at the 4th annual Carl Sagan Day, which is free and open to all comers; if you’re at all in the area (or can get there), I’d love to see you! Here’s the google maps address, so mark your calendars and join me if you can!
If you’re wondering what Carl Sagan Day is all about, here’s a little bit of info about what to expect.
On the Saturday closest to November 9th — Carl’s birthday — every year, James Randi (yes, that James Randi), advocate of critical thinking and promoter of sound scientific investigation, who was a close friend of Carl Sagan, sets up a celebration of Carl’s life, legacy and joys, many of which we all share. There will be:
- Posters and Awards,
- Displays and Activities,
- Scientists from NASA, the Planetary Society, as well as Randi himself,
- as well as Teacher workshops and Kids’ activities, plus
- a Dinner with the Stars the night before, for those of you who can attend that, too!
It will be my first time meeting James Randi in person, although he’s someone I’ve admired from afar for some time, and my first time back in Florida in a number of years. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the whole thing! And although I’m very different from Carl Sagan in a number of ways, we have some undeniably important things in common.
A love for the Universe, for learning, for knowing, and for sharing that knowledge with the world. I hope you’ll be able to join me there!