Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, exobiology pioneer,
astrophysicist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The
Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human
Intelligence. He also wrote the novel Contact, which
was adapted into the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film of the
same name, starring Jodie Foster. Other books include
Cosmos (1980) (the companion to his popular TV series),
The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective
(1973), Other Worlds (1975), Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the
Human Future in Space (1994), and Billions and Billions:
Thoughts on Life and Death at the End of the Millennium (1997).
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Carl Edward Sagan
Date, time, and place of birth: November 9, 1934,
at 5:05 p.m., Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Date, place and cause of death: December 20, 1996,
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. (Pneumonia/Myelodysplasia)
Note: Myelodysplasia in a bone marrow cancer.
Wife: Lynn Alexander (m. June 16, 1957 - 1963/1964) (divorced)
(mother of Dorion Sagan and Jeremy Sagan)
Wife: Linda Salzman (m. April 6, 1968 - 1978) (divorced) (mother of Nick Sagan)
Wedding took place at the MIT Chapel, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Wife: Ann Druyan (m. June 1, 1981 - December 20, 1996) (his death)
(mother of Alexandra and Sam Sagan)
Wedding took place at the Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Road,
Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Sons: Dorion Solomon Sagan (b. 1959)
Jeremy Ethan Sagan (b. October 1960)
Nick Sagan (b. Nicholas Julian Zapata Sagan, September 16, 1970)
Samuel Democritus Druyan Sagan (b. 1991)
Daughter: Sasha Sagan (b. Alexandra Rachel Druyan Sagan, November 1982)
Father: Samuel Sagan (a garment worker/factory manager)
(b. March 2, 1905, Kamenets-Podolsk, Ukraine -
d. October 7, 1979, Los Angeles, California)
Mother: Rachel Molly (Gruber) Sagan (a homemaker)
(b. November 23, 1907, New York City, New York -
d. February 1982, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts)
Burial site: Lakeview Cemetery, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.
Professor Carl Sagan often speculated about the
possibility of extraterrestrial life in the universe
and actually co-founded the Search for Extra-Terrestrial
Intelligence (SETI), which searches for signals from
intelligent extraterrestrials. He helped stimulate
popular interest in astronomy, physics, and exobiology,
the study of extraterrestrial life, via his scientific
papers, articles, books, TV appearances and his popular
lectures. He was co-founder and President (1979-96)
of The Planetary Society, the largest space-interest
group in the world.
He hosted and helped write the landmark PBS series
Cosmos. Even before the popular show launched
in 1980, he was one of the most widely known and
outspoken scientists in America and a familiar face
to many, thanks to his many television talk show
Dr. Sagan played a leading role in many
U.S. spacecraft expeditions to other planets.
He was an adviser to NASA on the Mariner,
Voyager and Viking unmanned space missions.
Carl consulted on NASA's Galileo and Pioneer
missions as well, but was most heavily involved
in NASA space missions to Mars and Jupiter. It
was as a member of the scientific team that sent
the Voyager spacecrafts to the outer solar system
that Dr. Carl Sagan conceived and helped design
informational messages placed aboard the spacecraft,
on the chance that extraterrestrial beings might
come upon them in the future.
Sagan was assistant professor of astronomy,
Harvard University (1962-68), associate
professor of astronomy, Cornell University
(1968-70), professor of astronomy and space
sciences, Cornell University (1971-96),
director of the Laboratory for Planetary
Studies at Cornell University (1968-96),
Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute
of Technology (1986-96).
The most in-depth of more than three dozen
sources consulted in preparing this profile,
was the 1999 biography, Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos,
by William Poundstone.
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