Carl Sagan Puts Human History in Context

YouTube / Cosmos
YouTube / Cosmos / YouTube / Cosmos

Carl Sagan's Cosmos is an intellectual touchstone: it provided a basic cosmological education for lots of Americans, including me as a child of the 70s. Today, I want to share one of my favorite clips from it.

Cosmos is filled with powerful ideas rendered simply, so they're understandable. That's why Sagan is such a revered figure -- he gave us a simple way to experience awe and wonder. To me, one of his most powerful notions is the "cosmic clock" in which he puts the entire span of human history (which seems like a long time to humans) into the perspective of the universe. From that perspective, human history is just the blink of an eye. Got five minutes to change your perspective? Tune in:

I should also point out that, to my eye at least, part of Sagan's charm comes from his outfit. He's not dressed up like a fancy-pants professor. Nope, he's just wearing a beige jacket and ambling through the history of the universe. That red turtleneck says "I'm here to speak to you as an equal," and that's what makes it work.

See also: Remembering Carl Sagan written on the 15-year anniversary of his death; and my awestruck coverage of "A Glorious Dawn" (the now-famous auto-tuned Sagan song based on Cosmos) from 2009.

(Via The Kid Should See This.)