Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 - December 20, 1996) was an American scientist who worked in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. He contributed greatly to the scientific study of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. He was also a popular science writer and was well known for his TV series Cosmos and the book of the same name. He also wrote a science fiction novel called Contact.
Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at the University of Chicago, where he received a bachelor's degree (1955) and a master's degree (1956) in physics, before earning his doctorate (1960) in astronomy and astrophysics. He taught at Harvard University until 1968, when he moved to Cornell University.
He worked for NASA on the Viking and Mariner programs. He made new discoveries about Venus and its atmosphere. He helped to create messages for alien civilizations which were attached to space probes launched in 1972 and 1977.
- Cosmos: Sagan is most famous for his work on the TV series Cosmos. It was a program viewed by more than 600 million people in 60 countries. The TV series and the accompanying book cover themes including the history of science, the origin of life and our place in the universe. The book Cosmos is written for the non-specialist and is understandable by many people.
Examples of Carl Sagan's works of popular science and essays on science are:
- Pale Blue Dot: inspired by a photograph of the Earth taken by one of NASA's probes that shows the Earth as a pale blue dot, due to the great distance. It covers many topics, including our place on the universe.
- The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence: won a Pulitzer Prize
- Broca's Brain
- Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
- Comet, written with his wife Ann Druyan
- The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
- Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium,
- The Nuclear Winter: The World After Nuclear War
- Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence
- Intelligent Life in the Universe, written with Russian author I.S. Shklovskii
- Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective