My Favorite Scientists of All Time

Today marks the 18th anniversary of my grandfather’s death.

My grandparents on their wedding day.

As a 15-year old, the day my grandfather passed away was the turning point of my youth. I mean, it was a huge blow. For the next several years, I explored every avenue of the macabre, read books on death and dying, immersed myself in Gothic culture, and tried in vain to find some kind of relief in a rock-n-roll lifestyle. Needless to say, I was very unhappy.

For many years I was unable to come to terms with not only death itself, but also with losing one of the most logical, intelligent members of my family. You see, Julian Felix Floyd was a hero to me. He sat with me under the stars and quizzed me half-jokingly on physics and astronomy. He cared deeply about learning and the Universe at large. Ultimately, it was the memory of him that propelled me to finish my degree, to study Psychology and apply it to my own mind, and to reconcile spirituality with observable fact. My relationship with Big Pop, as we lovingly called him, fueled my curiosity in life and made me perma-stoked about seeking Truth.

Today is also the birthday of cosmologist Carl Sagan. Dr. Sagan’s brilliant narratives have touched me deeply, at times rekindling my passion in various subjects. The biggest takeaway for me so far has been his commentary on Hinduism and this ancient religion’s alignment with modern cosmology.

Carl Sagan on Hindu religion and Cosmology

In the end, I was not able to take comfort in the fire and brimstone teachings of Christianity, though I have immense respect for the Truth in the Bible and the essence of Jesus’ teachings. It was eventually the ideas of Yoga and, later, Buddhism and Ayurveda, that gave me the solace and comfort I needed to be at ease in this world. And now, it is the teachings of Hinduism that interest me as I reflect on the origins and future of mankind, again and again, and marvel at a profound culture I am only beginning to understand. It is humbling to learn about the people that have come before me, their ideas and explanations, observations and experiences. Eastern thought is robust with the kind of knowledge that I am most interested in learning: open to any and all who are curious, challenging to the brain and status quo, and truly applicable across generations. It is essentially timeless.

I think Big Pop would be proud. And if he weren’t proud, he would at least try to understand…because that’s what a scientist does best. It is the seed of curiosity which propels all of human kind forward. ¬†Always be curious, always be compassionate, always be learning.