You’re Nobody If You Don’t Die In The Times

I read the obituaries in the New York Times nearly every day. Unlike a local paper the Times is geographically agnostic with obits reserved solely for the accomplished. The Times obituaries introduce me to lots of people who weren’t necessarily famous–like Dr. Allan Sandage. He died this past weekend.

Dr. Sandage was an accomplished astronomer who spent the bulk of his adult life trying to ascertain the value of the Hubble constant. This single number allows astronomers to estimate the age of the universe. He was a prolific author with over 500 scholarly papers published under his name.

That’s not why I’m writing this!

What I like best about Allan Sandage is summed up in this one sentence from Times writer Dennis Overbye’s masterfully poignant obituary:

Dr. Sandage was a man of towering passions and many moods, and for years, you weren’t anybody in astronomy if he had not stopped speaking to you.

Wow. I feel sorry he didn’t stick around long enough to read that. He probably would have agreed. It’s a helluva way to be remembered.

3 Responses to “You’re Nobody If You Don’t Die In The Times”

  1. David Sachs says:

    And this is why I read your blog every day, Geoff. What a great observation (and a great quote in the NYT) You made my day! Thanks.

  2. Khrystyne Keane says:

    I knew Allan – he was at UC Santa Cruz when my husband was getting his PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He will definitely be missed.

  3. Khrystyne Keane says:

    In reading the obit, I saw Olin Eggen’s name. I knew Olin when we were both at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in La Serena, Chile. I never knew Olin for the brilliant astronomer that he was, just an old man, all alone in this world. He passed away in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

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