Corduroy-jacketed übernerd Carl Sagan shuffled off this mortal coil in 1996, but today would have been his 76th birthday.
The Brooklyn-born child of Russian Jewish immigrants, Sagan first illuminated my childhood with his thirteen-part educational series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, in which he traveled the universe in a dandelion floof, delivering Vincent Price monologues about Heaven and Hell. While doing so, he shied away neither from apocalyptic pronouncements of potential doom nor dopey optimism about humanity’s future.
He managed to get most famous for incessantly saying something he never said, “billions and billions” with a couple of over-emphasized B-sounds hurtling at you like a pair of double-ought loads from a twelve-gauge coach gun or a couple of massive — okay, let’s not take this metaphor too far.
In fact, just the one “billions” usually got the point across, though he sure could work that initial B sound.
He wrote and cowrote a number of truly amazing books I loved including (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)