Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was born on the 9th of November 1934 in Brooklyn, New York to Russian Jewish parents. Carl’s father Sam Sagan was a Russian immigrant garment worker while his mother Rachel Molly Gruber was a housewife.

Carl got his name in honour of his mother Rachel’s biological mother, Chaiya Clara whom Carl referred to as “the mother she never knew”. Sagan received his graduation from Rahway High School in Rahway, New Jersey, in 1951.

Sagan’s family lived a modest life in a mediocre apartment near the Atlantic Ocean, in Bensonhurst which was in the Brooklyn neighbourhood. Sagan family were reformed Jews who were considered the most liberal of the three main Jewish groups.

According to Sagan and his sister’s accounts Sagan’s father was not a very religious person whereas their mother was a pious lady spending her time in Godly things and temple visits.

The family witnessed the Great Depression during which Sagan’s father took up a job as a theatre usher. Sagan was a genius to have educated himself in all the fields of arts, science and science specializations.

He enrolled himself in the University of Chicago from where he earned his bachelor of arts with general and special honors in 1954, a bachelor of science in 1955, and a master of science in physics in 1956.

Sagan went on to receive his doctor of philosophy in astronomy and astrophysics in 1960. While in his graduating days, Sagan actively participated in the Ryerson Astronomical Society at the university.

Sagan had worked in the laboratory of the geneticist H. J. Muller while he was an undergraduate. Sagan remained a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from 1960 to 1962.

Sagan became widely popular for his studies and extensive researches on his theories and records confirming the existence of extraterrestrial life. Sagan’s studies include experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation.

He was the proponent of scientific communities working on ET (the Extraterrestrial). Sagan approached and requested the scientific community to intently listen and record signals from intelligent extraterrestrial life-forms with the help of radio telescopes.

It was in 1982 that Sagan’s ET quest took brilliant shape as he got to form a petition which was affirmed and signed by 70 scientists advocating SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) published in the journal Science.

These scientists included seven Nobel Prize winners. This was a great achievement for Sagan. His field of study was considered controversial and with such massive response Sagan got to rise high.

Saga authored more than 20 books about space and the universe. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. His TV series Cosmos still remains one of the most-watched shows in television history. Sagan helped NASA with U.S. space missions to Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

Particularly, his discovery of the high surface temperatures of the planet Venus is highly regarded. He also worked on understanding the atmospheres of Venus and Jupiter and seasonal changes on Mars. Carl Sagan died of pneumonia in 1996 at the age of 62.