The Sagan Series: Singing the Praises of Space Exploration

by jdroth on 10 July 2011

“The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” — Carl Sagan

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by space. I never wanted to be an astronaut; I wanted to live in space. In high Earth orbit. On another planet. Or maybe among the stars.

All my life, I’ve loved science fiction: Star Trek and Star Wars; Asimov, Blish, Clarke, Heinlein, LeGuin; Kim Stanley Robinson’s near-future Mars trilogy. I’ve lived vicariously through the imagination of others.

Through it all, one man has been my guide. From Cosmos to Contact to Pale Blue Dot to The Demon-Haunted World, astronomer Carl Sagan has been there to patiently point to possible futures. Sagan’s relentless optimism inspired many geeks my age. When I feel depressed about the future of our species, I remember Sagan’s conviction that despite our flaws, humans are capable of great things. For me, Carl Sagan’s fundamental message was this: We, the human species, are awesome people.

I also remember Sagan’s sense of wonder. It infected me.

Apparently, his sense of wonder also infected Reid Gower (@reidgower on Twitter). Gower has taken it upon himself to make space exploration cool again. Last December, he produced this mind-blowing mock NASA TV commercial. He followed that in January with his first installment in The Sagan Series, an attempt to create the PR campaign that NASA should have made for itself.

Gower has taken Sagan monologues, combined them with contemplative music, and layered the audio over stunning video from a variety of sources. The results are inspirational, a sort of paean to space exploration. The first installment in The Sagan Series has been viewed more than 1.2 million times; the sixth part deserves at least that many hits.

Here’s the entire series.

Part Three: A Reassuring Fable

Part Four: Per Aspera Ad Astra (“Through hardship to the stars”)

Part Five: Decide to Listen

The most recent installment in The Sagan Series is perhaps the best of all. To commemorate the final Space Shuttle mission, Gower created “End of an Era”.

Part Six: End of an Era

These videos make me want a Carl Sagan fix. Maybe I’ll go home tonight and watch Cosmos again. Or read Contact. Or maybe I’ll simply go outside and look at the stars. (Speaking of which, I just posted six stunning videos of the night-time sky at my personal blog.)

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” — Carl Sagan

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Paula Pant @ Afford Anything October 13, 2011 at 15:16

How startling. I often talk about the importance of seeing the ‘big picture,’ but of course I mean it metaphorically.

But the picture becomes big — huge — when someone puts it in the context of the cosmos. As Carl Sagan says in the third video (A Reassuring Fable), it seems silly to imagine that so much was created for the benefit of just one religious sect, or gender, or even species. And while it may be hard to get past our conditioning from our vantage point standing on the ground — at the foot of it all — it takes nothing more than a glimpse at the skies to remember how vast this all is.

Thanks for sharing those videos. That was a highlight of my afternoon.


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