Science: The Cosmic Explainer

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Watching with wonder—and no doubt a little envy—the whirling star named Sagan, some of his colleagues feel that he has stepped beyond the bounds of science. They complain that he is driven by ego. They also say he tends to overstate his case, often fails to give proper credit to other scientists for their work and blurs the line between fact and speculation. But they probably represent a minority view. Most scientists, increasingly sensitive to the need for public support and understanding of research, appreciate what Sagan has become: America's most effective salesman of science. His pitch in Cosmos—and indeed in all his popularizing—is classic Sagan. Says he: "Science is a joy. It is not just something for an isolated, remote elite. It is our birthright." What scientist could disagree? —By Frederic Golden. Reported by Peter Stoler/Venice, Calif.

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