Sagan Charles Edward

(Karl Eduard)

SAGAN, Charles Edward (b. November 9, 1934, Brooklyn, ny; d. December 20, 1996, Seattle, wa) – an American astronomer, an astrophysicist, and an outstanding popularizer of science.

He studied at the University of Chicago. In 1960 he defended his doctorate thesis in astronomy and astrophysics, and became an assistant at Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago.

Sagan worked as a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and contributed to the organization of the first mission to Venus in the Mariner series.

His ideas were confirmed during the Venus-4 expedition in 1967. In 1962 Sagan became a teacher of astronomy first at Harvard, then at Cornell.

Nearly ten years later, he headed the Laboratory for the Study of the Planets, and was engaged in the development of the project that searched for extraterrestrial intelligence, seti.

It was Sagan’s idea to send messages to extraterrestrial civilizations (on aluminum and gold plates, which were attached to the space explorers).

Sagan was one of the first to put forward the hypothesis that Saturn’s moon Titan and Jupiter’s moon Europa might possess oceans (it was assumed that on Europa the ocean was under the icy surface) or lakes.

He suggested that Europa’s ocean might be suitable for life. Sagan made a significant contribution to the study of the atmosphere of Venus, finding that it is very hot and dense, and studied seasonal changes on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan.

He suggested that those on Mars are the  result of dust storms, and not processes connected with flora, as was previously  assumed.

He also noted that global warming is a threat, artificially created by man.

Sagan is known as the co-author of a work that predicted a nuclear war would result in nuclear winter; and along with the Soviet mathematician N.N. Moiseev he is considered to be the creator of this model.

Sagan actively popularized knowledge about space, his most famous work being the series Space: Personal Journey.

He also wrote several books, such as Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence.

The award-winning film Contact (1997) was based on his science fiction novel of the same name, which was published in 1985.

Sagan participated in civil disobedience actions at facilities that were associated with the development of nuclear weapons during discussions about curtailing the program of nuclear weapons development, and on one occasion was arrested in Nevada. He openly opposed us President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, known as “Star Wars.”

Sagan’s work was repeatedly honored with prestigious awards and prizes. Among these were awards from nasa, Emmy, Homer, Xyugo, and Isaac Asimov, as well as the title of “Great American.”

Works: (ed. with J.N. Leonard and editors of Life), Planets (New York, 1966); (ed. with I.S. Shklovsky), Intelligent Life in the Universe (San Francisco, ca, 1966); Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Cambridge, ma, 1973); The Nuclear Winter: The World After Nuclear War (London, 1985); (ed. with R. Tarko), A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race (New York, 1990); Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (New York, 1989); (ed. with E. Druyan), Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are (New York, 1993); Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (New York, 1997); (ed. with E. Druyan), Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (New York, 1998).