November 9, 2010

Carl Sagan Day

(NOTE: Some groups and people celebrated this holiday on November 6 this year—the Saturday closest to Sagan's November 9th birthday.)

Carl Sagan was an astronomer, author, and popularizer of science. For more information on Sagan, see last year's post

To celebrate, read or watch something written by Sagan. Some popular choices are Contact (a science fiction book and a movie starring Jodie Foster), Cosmos (a book and a multi-part television show on science, available on iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu), and Pale Blue Dot (a book and audio book). One of my favorite Sagan books is The Demon-Haunted World. On You Tube there are lots of free videos that are little clips of various Sagan productions.

Here's a taste of Carl Sagan:

Some people enjoy the Symphony of Science videos. Here is one that features Sagan and other eminent scientists. 

Make and eat an apple pie...
and as you do so, contemplate Carl Sagan's words:

This video splices Sagan's voice onto images from the movie The Matrix. It really cracks me up. 

Also on this date...In 1965, the Great Northeast Blackout

At 5:27 p.m., there was a massive blackout that left about 30 million people in eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces without power. For some, the power was out all night—around 12 hours. In New York City this power outage trapped thousands and thousands of people (some sources say almost a million people) underground in the subway system, in office buildings, and in elevators. Apparently there was pretty much no rioting, violence, or looting. Instead, New Yorkers and other people spent the night helping each other out—volunteering to direct traffic, taking food and coffee to people trapped underground, and so forth.

Interestingly enough, a mere 12 years later, there was another long-lasting power outage in New York, and this time there was a lot of violence and looting. Why do some disasters bring out the best in people, and others bring out the worst?

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