Biographies

Carl Sagan and the popular science

Carl Sagan and the popular science

Carl Edward Sagan was an American cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist, writer and popularizer, an open-minded man, fascinated by the stars and the mystery of life.

He was born on November 9, 1934 in New York and completed his preparatory studies at Radway High School in New Jersey.

At age 20 he graduated as a pure physicist and shortly thereafter obtained his PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He appeared in the scientific community as a young man, whose conjectures fascinated and in turn threatened the established.

He actively participated in the Mariner 4 project, the first probe to reach Mars, in June 1965. His work at NASA combined him as a professor at Harvard University. Carl began collaborating with the Soviet scientist I. S. Shklovski to scientifically discuss the search for extraterrestrial life. These debates were published in the book "UFOs: A Scientific Debate". However, the conservative Harvard University did not approve of these activities and denied him the renewal of his contract.

He then went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He became the director of the Space Science Laboratory at Cornell, since, along with his classes at that university, he held for the rest of his life. At Cornell he conducted numerous experiments on the origin of life and confirmed that the organic base molecules of life can reproduce under controlled conditions in the laboratory.

He actively participated in the Apollo 11 project in 1969 and in the Mariner 9 mission to Mars, which was designed to orbit the planet and from which it was deduced that it could once harbor life. It was also part of the Pionner and Voyager projects, probes that, after exploring the planets farthest from the solar system, had to travel indefinitely throughout the universe. In each of these ships Sagan included a gold record with information about life on earth, photos, sounds, greetings in different languages, and the brain waves of a woman from the earth (Ann Druyan, then his wife).

It was also at Sagan's insistence that the Voyager photographed the Earth from the confines of the solar system. He was co-founder and president of the Planetary Society, the largest organization with space interests in the world.

He criticized the great powers for producing nuclear weapons. He was an active part in the eradication of CFCs and other ecological protection programs. He was co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Research of Paranormal Phenomena (CISCOP).

He maintained a constant opposition and criticism against pseudo-sciences. In his book The world and its demons, he criticizes them harshly, as well as religions. He studied the origin of the organisms with geneticists Hermann J. Muller and Joshua Lederberg. He worked as an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory from 1962 to 1968.

He devoted most of his life to spreading the sciences. He published numerous books and articles in magazines and newspapers. His extensive knowledge of the cosmos made his explanation possible with simple words. One of his first books "The Dragons of Eden", published in 1978, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

In 1979 he had the great idea of ​​using the most attractive and massive means of communication to spread cosmology, history and astronomy: television.

Through it he took thousands of people on a fascinating journey through the universe in the "Cosmos" series of which one of his most popular books was also published. The series won 3 Emmy Awards and a Peabody, and became the most successful scientific series in the entire history of television.

After performing "Cosmos", Sagan dedicates some time to writing a novel, "Contact", in which, advised by a group of scientists, he wanted to write a book of scientific fiction where everything and every one of the proposed was theoretically possible .

Carl Sagan led projects such as SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence). After being diagnosed with a disease called myelodysplasia, he began an agonizing and fatal stage in Sagan's life. He was subjected to bone marrow transplantation and chemotherapy three times the last of them in 1995. At dawn on December 20, 1996, he died at age 62 in Seattle due to pneumonia.

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