Carl Sagan was one of the most approachable and inspiring scientists of the 20th Century and his premature passing in 1996 left a gaping hole in astronomy science’s ability to propel young minds on the imaginative quest of finding extraterrestrial life using purely scientific methods, while at the same time, not sacrificing that inner awe of wonderment and idealism mostly found in children and young adults.
In an effort to find the next Carl Sagan, someone who can not only inspire the next generation of space scientists but also make the discipline more popular again, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is creating the Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration.
Those granted this fellowship will continue Sagan’s search for life on planets outside our own solar system. Thanks to some of the early groundwork laid by Sagan and others, today there have been at least 300 newly discovered “exoplanets”.
Of course, NASA’s ultimate goal is to attract young scientists who share Sagan’s wonderment about the cosmos and who will dedicate themselves to answering that centuries-old question, “Are we alone?”
“Many feel it’s only a matter of time before we find Earth-like planets in Earth-like orbit around solar-like stars and that such planets might be capable of sustaining life,” said Jon Morse, director of NASA’s astrophysics division and a big supporter of the Sagan Fellowship.
It seems like Neil deGrass Tyson is already the next Sagan
His passing did leave a hole, not only at NASA, but around the world, a replacement for Carl Sagan exceptionally brilliant mind, tough job replacing a one off, good luck……
I agree with Skiznot – the astro-community already pretty much has annointed Tyson as the next Sagan.
He’s amazingly articulate, dynamic, engaging, smart as all getout, and a likable guy. The fact that he is a minority is an added bonus – an awesome role model for a demographic that needs more intellectuals to look up to.
Summer Brooks says
I also vote to see more of Neil deGrasse Tyson on TV. I had seen him on a show on Discovery (or History) once, but he was also a guest on The Daily Show, and that was the interview that fascinated me… he made Jon Stewart laugh out loud as well as kept him completely engaged, and that kind of dynamic is rare.
Alisa M Joaquin says
No one can be “Carl Sagan.” The man was brilliant. They need to find a person who knows just as much about Astronomy and Astrophisics and is a dynamic individual in their own right, and make the show that Carl Sagan made a household name their own. But seeing that person as another Carl Sagan or expecting that person to be LIKE Carl Sagan would pale in comparason. And expecting that person to sound like Sagan, it would not b Sagan, but a parady.
There is also one other consideration. That person could be a well respected and equally brilliant WOMAN.