On the 87th birthday of Dr. Carl Sagan, we pause to remember the life of this most remarkable human among humans.
American scientist Carl Sagan was born was born November 9, 1934 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. He was an astronomer and a planetary scientist. However, like Neil deGrasse Tyson he was better known to the general public as a science populizer than for his scientific efforts.
Sagan, like many other scientists, warned of the danger of the Greenhouse Effect and the danger to Earth from pollution and climate change.
He wrote many popular science books, such as The Dragons of Eden, Cosmos, Broca’s Brain, Pale Blue Dot and narrated and co-wrote the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. He also wrote the 1985 science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name.
Dr. Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray co-founded the U,S. Planetary Society in 1980 as a nonprofit, non-government organization to advocate for space research, especially for SETI (the Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence). In this writer’s opinion, if the residents of the planets orbiting Aldeberan or Alpha Centauri ever manage to contact the humans of Earth, it is far more likely to be in response to Carl Sagan’s efforts with SETI than broadcasts of “those poor people” stuck on that island.
Carl Sagan wrote several popular science books, Broca’s Brain, Pale Blue Dot, Cosmos, and The Dragons of Eden, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977,and The Demon-Haunted World. He wrote hundreds of scientific papers and one science fiction novel, Contact, which was made into a Hugo Award winning movie in 1997 starring former child actress Jodie Foster. Dr. Sagan won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation for his television show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. His accompanying book to the popular PBS show, Cosmos, won the Hugo for Best Related Non-Fiction.
In 1981, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Representation from SFWA and the annual Award for Television Excellence, and two Emmy Awards.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It was watched worldwide, not just in the USA. It is estimated to have been seen by 500 million people in sixty countries.
Dr. Carl Sagan studied at the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in astronomy. After earning his doctorate, he taught first at Harvard and then at Cornell University.
It all came to an end when he developed pneumonia after complications from surgery, and died from the disease. He passed away at the age of 62 on December 20, 1996 in Seattle, Washington, and is buried in Lake View Cemetary in Ithaca, New York, not far from Cornell University.
Dr. Sagan was married three times, divorced twice, and had five children. In 1977, NASA awarded him the Distinguished Oublic Service Medal. In 1974 the Astronomical Society of the Pacific granted him the first Krumpke-Roberts Award.
The impact this man had on the public acceptance of science and the way we think about the universe around us is hard to quantify. We celebrate his life, and the indelible mark he has left on the pages of the history of Humankind.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.