November 9th is a great day indeed, for it is on this day in 1934 that a tiny little sack of Carl Sagan shaped star dust was born. Happy Birthday Carl! And to all of you, Happy Carl Sagan Day!
Dr. Sagan, as I’m sure many readers are aware, was an extraordinary researcher lauded not only for his numerous scientific achievements but for his role as a science popularizer, one who spread his enthusiasm for planetary sciences like wildfire. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, young Sagan showed a strong affinity for the sciences, going on to continue his exploration of the physical world at the University of Chicago, earning his B.A., B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics before flying off to Berkeley as a Miller Fellow. He spent most of his illustrious career at Cornell as a professor, director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies, and Associate Director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research (CRSR). Sagan was also profoundly influential in the development of the US space program, working as a NASA adviser beginning in the 1950s. He authored over 600 papers, 20 books, and co-wrote and narrated the award-winning PBS series, Cosmos: A Personal Journey before his untimely death at the age of 62.
A crown jewel among the pantheon of scientific minds, Carl Sagan is remembered as a vivacious, brilliant, and controversial character. In honor of his life and work, I’ve penned a list of my eight favorite tidbits of Sagan trivia, one for each decade since his auspicious day of birth.
Click here to read on!