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The art of cultivating science personalities

By Erik Nilsson | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-29 13:59

The newly published Chinese version of US astronomer Carl Sagan's Cosmos. [Photo provided to China Daily]

His eyes blast lasers, while his catchphrase "billions" blazes across multicolored starbursts.

In another GIF, he placidly reclines and blows dried dandelion seeds into the air like a flotilla of parasols.

And in yet another, identical image of his own face blow out of his mouth like expanding bubbles.

Those are just some of about a dozen stickers of Carl Sagan I have on my phone.

Sagan is a household name in the West. Yet my son is, as far as I know, the only person with Sagan as a given name.

A shared interest in astronomer Carl Sagan helped me determine that my wife was the one. We agreed, after watching his Cosmos TV series repeatedly, that if we got married and had a son, we'd name him Sagan.

We did.

Fast-forward over a decade in space-time.

It was an honor to pose three questions as a panelist of the Carl Sagan Forum at the National Astronomical Observatory of China last week, focusing on popular-science communication.

First, why is Sagan such an enduringly popular figure in the West?

Second, why is he less known in China?

And, third, why has China yet to produce its own Sagan-that is, an internationally acclaimed popular-science communicator who has become a household name internationally?

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