Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. He developed a love for science and space early in his life when his mother sent him to the library at the age of five. He graduated high school at the age of 16 and then went on to get a BA in physics from the University of Chicago. A year later, he obtained his master's and four years after that he had a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics. He brought the wonders of the universe to TV and helped to create a culture that was in love with space and science. He also authored some very popular books like Dragons of Eden, Pale Blue Dot, and Contact.  Here is this week's top ten. 

1. Sagan was the original host and creator of the television show Cosmos. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has since then brought the show back for a whole new generation of stargazers. 

2. Known for the quote, "Billions and billions," Sagan never actually said them. In fact, it was Johnny Carson that said it while doing an impression of him. The actual phrasing Sagan used on his show Cosmos was, "Billions upon billions." 

3. Sagan believed in fringe science. In his 30's he began speaking about things like interstellar space flight, aliens, and strange creatures living in Venus' atmosphere. He even testified to Congress about UFO's, and also wanted to terraform Venus. 

4. His novel Contact, which Sagan wrote 30 years ago this year, was turned into a movie that starred Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

Photo: Copyright 1968 Warner Bros Pictures

Photo: Copyright 1968 Warner Bros Pictures

5. In 1968, Sagan briefly consulted on the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space OdysseyThe film was way ahead of its time and is heralded as one of the best science fiction films about exploration of the unknown of all time. 

6. He won a Pulitzer Peace Prize for his book The Dragons of Eden: Speculation on the Evolution of Human Intelligence. In the book, he uses anthropology, evolutionary biology, computer science, and psychology to try to give some idea on how human intelligence may have evolved. 

7. Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan put together the "Earth Guide for Aliens," that was launched into space on the voyager probe. In fact, it was during this project that they fell in love and were engaged to be married after she found a 2500 year old Chinese piece of music called Flowing Streams. 

8. The "Earth Guide for Aliens," is meant to survive billions of years in hopes that it will come across an alien civilization one day. 

9. Sagan thought Star Trek was racially biased. He was quoted in a piece he wrote for the The New York Times, "In a global terrestrial society centuries in the future, the ship's officers are embarassingly Anglo-American. In fact, only two of 12 or 14 interstellar vessels are given non-English names, Kongo and potemkin."

10. He thought we should leave Mars alone. Sagan felt that if there was life on Mars that the planet belonged to the Martians. "If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes. The existence of an independent biology on a nearby planet is a treasure beyond assessing, and the preservation of that life must, I think, supersede any other possible use of Mars."


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