Who was Carl Sagan?

"Among his works, 'The Dragons of Eden' winner of the Pulitzer Prize, speculations on the evolution of human intelligence were made. With 'The World and Its Demons: Science as a Candle in the Dark' highlights his skeptical thinking, trying to explain the scientific method; and as well his work 'Cosmos', in which he makes space diffusion, was turned into a television series and constituted a worldwide success, making Sagan 'undoubtedly the most famous American scientist of the 1980s and early 1990s'."
Por Clarisa Benavides
Jul 7, 2022

Carl Sagan was born in New York, in 1934, and studied at the University of Chicago, where he later obtained a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics. 

However, he not only limited himself to being a scientist

But became a celebrity, writer, and professor; standing out for being ambitious, skeptical and free thinker. 

Being an advocate of the probability of extraterrestrial life, he began his UFO research “with an open mind” during the 1950s and 1960s at the U.S. Air Force’s “Project Blue Book,” but concluded that there was no evidence of extraterrestrials on Earth. 

In 1970, he was appointed director of the Center for Planetary Studies. And being a regular collaborator with NASA, he devised radiotelegraphic messages sent by the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes into outer space to contact possible extraterrestrial civilizations; and he was part of the team during the two Voyager missions launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.



He later taught at UC Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell. William Poundstone, author of Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos comments that Sagan “Worked very hard for his students, for them to get jobs, cared about their education, and many of them are very well placed now.”

Among his works, “The Dragons of Eden,” winner of the Pulitzer Prize, speculations on the evolution of human intelligence were made. With “The World and Its Demons: Science as a Candle in the Dark” highlights his skeptical thinking, trying to explain the scientific method; and as well his work “Cosmos”, in which he makes space diffusion, was turned into a television series and constituted a worldwide success, making Sagan “undoubtedly the most famous American scientist of the 1980s and early 1990s” according to science journalist Declan Fahy of the American University in Washington, DC.

In 1970, Sagan marked a turning point in planetary science as a Harvard professor.

He predicted that the greenhouse effect heading into the atmosphere of Venus is hot enough to melt lead. As well as identify the shaded regions on Mars as highlands and the lighter areas as desert plains marked by dust storms.

Possessing the ability to explain with ease, journalists followed him on missions and surveys, and he became a favorite guest of Johnny Carson on the “Tonight Show”.

“He had a gift for television, he was very confident, and he looked very relaxed in his jeans, when other scientists might not have. Despite that, there was something bigger in store for him.”

Poundstone

But, that’s not all, in 1983, he decided to enter the global warming debate, participating as lead author of a Science magazine study on “nuclear winter”. His role was constituted of how the climate could change because of dust clouds raised by superpower nuclear tests.

Finally, in 1996, one of the most famous science communicators in books and television was lost, but his knowledge of the universe lives on.

References

B. (s.f). Retrievered from https://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/s/sagan.htm

Fanjul, S. (2021). Retrievered from https://elpais.com/icon/cultura/2021-12-20/el-cosmos-resumido-como-carl-sagan-llevo-lo-inexplicable-a-todos-los-salones.html

Vergano, D. (s.f). Retrievered from https://www.nationalgeographic.es/espacio/quien-fue-carl-sagan

Clarisa Benavides

Clarisa Benavides

Science & Technology writer in The Bookish Man.
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