Carl Sagan died ten years ago today, and to commemorate his life, Joel Schlosberg has announced the organization of a blog-a-thon in Sagan's memory.
Carl Sagan had many contributions to science and technology, including discoveries that led to an understanding of the high surface temperatures on Venus, as well as contributions to NASA's Mariner program and others. He was also a best-selling novelist, producing such works as Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot, and the novel Contact, among others.
But Sagan's greatest contribution was in the form of education and advocacy. He advocated for SETI, co-founded the Planetary Society, hosted the PBS television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, and made numerous appearances on the Tonight Show. In doing so, he helped give a popular face to science (astronomy in particular) and introduced people (including me) to the wonders of the universe.
While Sagan's contributions to science were noteworthy, the inspiration he provided to so many others was, in my opinion, held much greater value. As brilliant as he was, Carl Sagan was only one man, and as such could only conduct so much science himself. By advocating and educating, he introduced and inspired a new generation of scientists and thinkers whose discoveries and reach will far surpass anything Sagan could have accomplished by himself.