It's Carl Sagan's birthday today!...pity he died fourteen years ago. Still, if other people commemorate births of influential figures thousands of years later, fuck it. This one's within my lifetime and a greater loss to human thought than any other death in the past twenty years.
Carl was the guy who first helped me make sense of the idea of four-dimensional travel in a three-dimensional perception, basically by dumbing it down a level and showing what it'd be like if a sphere dropped through a two-dimensional landscape. He was instrumental in the US space program right from the week before day one, as it were, and was a NASA advisor - one of his jobs was *briefing the Apollo astronauts*, telling the brave bastards who got launched at the Moon in a huge firework what they could expect. That's a badass fucking job. Carl went on to win the Oersted Medal, TWO of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, a non-fiction Pulitzer and a Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.
Carl Sagan was basically the poster child for a reasonable, enlightened human being. He was raised from an early age with a sense of wonder and focused, realistic inquisitiveness that led him to become one of the most inspiring figures in the history of cosmology, and one of the best and most riveting speakers on the subject. Check this out:
We'll all miss him.