Carl Sagan was the consummate renaissance man, an astronomer, author (of non-fiction and science fiction), professor, and most famously the narrator of Cosmos, the most-watched series in the history of American public television. But Sagan was also a father of five, and a recently unearthed video shows that he had no qualms about parenting while doing one of his many jobs.
The clip shows Sagan in the early ’80s giving an interview to a news reporter. The subject is his life’s work, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and he speaks with a passion and clarity that’s truly impressive.
“I think everyone wants to know how unique the human species are, how common this thing called intelligent life on the Earth is. Or, is it possible that in a galaxy of 400 billion stars and a universe of a billion, trillion stars that we are the only inhabited planet? Is that possible?”
But from a parenting perspective, what’s even more impressive is that he gives this rather profound quote while holding his infant daughter Sasha in his arms.
Most people probably would have given her to someone else to hold before appearing on television, but Sagan clearly didn’t want to sacrifice time holding his daughter. And if he felt some kind of social pressure to do so, he clearly didn’t care.
The accompanying tweet says Sagan must have told the best bedtime stories, which garnered a reply from the grown-up Sasha Sagan herself in the comments.
Sagan’s most famous legacy will always be as a scientist and cultural figure, but the clip makes it clear that his legacy as a dad is also worth celebrating.