Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Cosmos" among the "Books That Shaped America"

by Salman Hameed

The Library of Congress recently announced a list of Books That Shaped America. Yes, it includes books by authors like Mark Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, etc. But Sagan's Cosmos is also on the list. It is great to see a book about science and the spirit of inquiry to be a part of it. There are couple of science fiction books on the list as well (Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein). On the negative side, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is also part of the list. I guess, the shaping didn't go right all the time.

On another Sagan related matter, the creator of Family Guy and the director of the hilarious Ted (yes - I know it is about a potty-mouthed teddy bear, but it was funny! And please don't confuse it with TED talks either...), Seth MacFarlane, has donated collection of Sagan's papers and other things to create an archive at the Library of Congress. From Science:

Archivists at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., face a daunting task: painting a picture of noted astronomer Carl Sagan using 750,000 objects and documents he saved over the course of his life. 
The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, donated to the library by television producer and Sagan fan Seth MacFarlane, contains notes, doodles, and correspondence from the astronomer who brought the universe into people's living rooms. The sheer number and diversity of items will keep the archive team busy for a full year. 
This is a multimedia collection, says Leonard Bruno, project head and science manuscript historian at the library. “There are lots of photos, videotapes, audio cassettes, technical reports from his work with NASA, a quilt with mathematical equations on it, and even a dry erase board with the story board for Sagan's movie, Contact, Bruno says. The collection also includes the scientist's report cards, undergraduate notes, fan mail, and early research. Archivists must prepare each article separately, carefully examining, grouping, and placing them in storage containers that will protect them from the environment. 
This new collection takes its place alongside scientific manuscripts from figures such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and E. O. Wilson. The library plans to open Sagan's works to the public in November 2013.
Very cool!  In case you are wondering, what was Sagan's planned reading list at the University of Chicago, here is a snapshot:

From the Library of Congress blog:
One such gem is a list of “outside readings” that Sagan planned to tackle in the fall of 1954 while attending the University of Chicago. Among the literary works on the list are AndrĂ© Gide’s The Immoralist, Aldous Huxley’s short story “Young Archimedes,” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and what appears to be the first volume of Star Science Fiction Stories (1953), which includes stories by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke, among others.
Also check out here a digitized copy of a letter to Warner Brothers about the movie Contact.


Asad M said...

reading list includes "The Bible - Anonymous" on :))

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