This 20th of December marked 10 years since the death of Carl Sagan. My first memory of him is of, as a kid, waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch his series "Cosmos". That series has certainly some of the blame for my interest in science in general, as (I'm sure) it does for many people around my age.
Sagan made science popular and cool, and that is his legacy to many, many of us. We all remember him fondly as part of our childhood or youth, and miss him greatly. I will take the opportunity to post some of his (to me) more interesting words.
The picture you see on the left was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990, looking back at the Solar System when it was almost 7 million km away from home. The dot in the centre is Earth, framed by a scattered ray of sun light (the Sun is just outside the field of view). Sagan talked about this image in his book "Pale Blue 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.
[...]Ann Druyan suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn't strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?