Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Collection of Essays Pays Tribute to Carl Sagan's Legacy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Collection of Essays Pays Tribute to Carl Sagan's Legacy

Article excerpt

CARL SAGAN'S UNIVERSE

Edited by Yervant Terzian

and Elizabeth Bilson Cambridge University Press 296 pp., $22.95 Millions of people knew Carl Sagan as "their" guide to the cosmos. The collection of essays in "Carl Sagan's Universe" will help all of us appreciate his other achievements which continue to enrich humankind. The book was meant to be a record of the symposium that honored Sagan's 60th birthday in October 1994. With his sudden death two years later, the updated essays by many of Sagan's colleagues now become a tribute to the many dimensions of his legacy. They put his contributions into the perspective of what has been achieved and where the work is going. Sagan was a vigorous proponent of cosmic exploration, whether by telescope or by spacecraft. He helped launch the search for life, or conditions that might support life, beyond Earth. As Wesley Huntress notes, Sagan asked the big question at the beginning of the space age: Are we alone in the universe? Soon to retire as associate administrator for space science at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mr. Huntress adds: "In my view, the mission of this country's space exploration enterprise ... is to explore the universe, to seek out new planets, and to search for life elsewhere in the galaxy." Sagan's colleagues bring us up to date on the progress of that search. Sagan was also enthusiastic about - and concerned for - life on Earth. His work on arms control helped lessen the threat of nuclear war. He used his scientific expertise and his persuasive power to drive home the point that full-scale nuclear war would be a global catastrophe. He was a chief architect of the theory of nuclear winter - the prospect that such a war would throw up enough dust and smoke to block sunlight and plunge Earth into years of unremitting, plant-killing cold. …

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