Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: One of the most well-known scientists in the twentieth century, Sagan had the unique ability to simultaneously conduct significant astronomical and planetary research and make science interesting and accessible to the general public.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1934, Carl Edward Sagan knew from an early age that he wanted to be an astronomer when he grew up. At that time, however, astronomy was a somewhat obscure field, and when the eight-year-old Sagan asked a librarian for a book on stars, she gave him a book on Hollywood film stars. Sagan persisted and eventually found what he wanted. Fascinated by the fact that the stars are like the Earth’s sun but merely farther away, he continued to read about science on his own. He also supplemented his reading with science fiction magazines, which he carefully evaluated for their scientific accuracy.
Even while avidly pursuing these interests, Sagan did not yet know that it was possible to make a living as an astronomer—he thought he would have to get a “regular” job during the day and indulge his astronomy hobby on evenings and weekends. While attending high school in Rahway, New Jersey, where his family had moved at the end of World War II, Sagan learned that it was indeed possible to pursue a career in astronomy. Fortunately, his parents supported his ambitions, and Sagan began studying physics at the University of Chicago...
(The entire section is 2035 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!