Sunday, February 17, 2008

Billions and Billions of Stamps

Proposed Carl Sagan commemorative stamps unveiled at Ithaca Sciencenter

Gracing our snail mail with the image of the Great Astronomer just might speed things along:

...A movement to immortalize famed Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan with a U.S. postage stamp was launched Feb. 11 for local media at the Ithaca Sciencenter...Patrick Fish, founder of the Utica-based grassroots Sagan Appreciation Society, and Charles Trautmann, executive director of the Sciencenter, unveiled four renderings by three artists or artist teams of proposed Sagan memorial stamps that the society plans to submit to the U.S. Postal Service for commissioning...

All three renderings are wonderful. The one above is my favorite, submitted by Pat Linse of California. I like the fact he's holding a candle, signifying a theme he returned to often: a candle in the dark as a symbol of science and reason holding back the darkness of a demon haunted world. He is also dressed in his characteristic turtleneck and jacket, so familiar to fans of the 'Cosmos' series. In addition, at least in my mind, the comet and observatory in the background speaks to history and archeology, subjects he loved to explore. And the way the candle illuminates his face grants a overall transcendental quality to the image. I think this image would delight someone who use to light up a bowl from time to time.

Greg Mort's submission also has a lot going for it. It's a simple pic of Carl outside in the evening, the Cosmos holding court above him. He has a friendly expression and seems caught in mid sentence, as if is taking you into his confidence, about to explain some impossibly complicated astronomical concept--in the simplest and most easiest to understand manner. Even though it is cold and dark, you are glad you came outside with the astronomer, for some secret of the uncharted universe is to be revealed. He has on his turtleneck, but is protected from the chilly night by a windbreaker.

The submission by Lisa Hutter and Chris Fix shows Carl later in life, his hair gray. He has a suit on and is smiling. Behind him are depictions of the planets. As Carl was a planetary scientist, this is certainly appropriate. Although my first impression of this image was that it was a bit stilted, Carl has such a big smile on his face it sort of won me over.

Please check out the images for yourself.

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