Carl Sagan Biography
An exposition on Carl Sagan, his life, and his accomplishments.
Carl Sagan grew up in Brooklyn New York, where Sam and Rachel Sagan had earlier met. When Carl was about five years old his baby sister Cari was born. Their father didn't like the idea of his two children growing up in New York, so he moved the family to New Jersey.
At the New Jersey public high-school Carl attended- it might surprise you- but he was voted 'class brain', and most likely to succeed. He had already started his crusade of finding life on other planets but was intent on doing it through designing the spaceships and creating the items that would take future astronauts up into space (when he was 11 he realized he would be too old to go into space by the time the technology was available). However, the Sagans didn't have much money and Carl was offered a scholarship to University of Chicago, where there was no engineering program.
Carl decided (much to all of our benefits) that he would major in thinking. This was his specialty. At university of Chicago he got a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics through Dr. Keiper. Then later married Lynn Alexander, with whom he had two sons.
At the age of twenty-seven Carl started appearing on television. It was a weird sight to see a scrawny twenty-seven year old professing to be an expert on national television about space exploration, but he was credible, and many of his theories proved to be correct! He got a job at NASA and helped to launch several Mars missions.
Then, at what many believed to be the pinnacle of his career, Carl was offered a position at Harvard as a "lecturer." For many this would be an outstanding honor, but Carl would not take the job unless he was granted immediately in as associate professor. Which he was, for who could give up the mighty Carl Sagan?
While at Harvard Carl continued popularizing science on national television, but his popularity soared too high and started making co-workers at Harvard quite jealous. He was passed over for tenure at Harvard, which was a major blow to his ego.
Cornell University, on the other hand, was looking for the same kind of outspoken, publicity seeking star as Carl. So they snatched him up in the blink of an eye. But before Carl moved to Cornell he divorced his wife Lynn Alexander, left his two sons, and married the artist Lynda Salzman. While at Cornell Carl briefed Neil Armstrong and the rest of the Apollo 11 crew that landed on the moon, appeared many times on the Tonight Show to talk about Mars, Venus, as well as the rest of the solar system.
He made a plaque that went up into outer-space on several spaceships showing who we are. On this plaque were two anatomically correct human beings, the religious right went ballistic, claming they were wasting tax-payers' money to send smut into the universe.
In more of a publicity stunt than anything else Carl designed a record that would be sent into space representing our culture, sounds of all over, music, pictures, etc. To do this he needed help, so Annie Druyan, came onto the project. They fell in love, and Carl left the new children that he had with Lynn Alexander and divorced her, to once again marry.
By this time Carl was a star. He had appeared on the Tonight Show many times, appeared on the news as an expert, and was starting his work popularizing science. He was then approached to produce a thirteen part television series that would air on public broadcasting system. It was called Cosmos. At first it was Man and the Cosmos… but Annie decided that would be sexist.
So, in three years, forty locations, twelve countries, Carl Sagan created the thirteen hour series which was seen by millions. In his spare time he campaigned against nuclear war, and publicized his nuclear winter theory.
Then Carl was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a rare and deadly disease. There was hope however, if Carl got a bone marrow transplant. His sister gave him two, all in all. The bone marrow transplants seemed to be holding, so Sagan started shooting the movie production of his book, Contact, with Jodie Foster. The scientist was now in Hollywood, and doing a great job of it. But his health turned sour, and he came down with pneumonia. On December 20, 1996 Carl died.