Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrochemist, author, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by more than 600 million people in over 60 countries, making it the most widely watched PBS program in history. A book to accompany the program was also published. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film of the same name starring Jodie Foster. During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated skeptical inquiry, secular humanism, and the scientific method.
Awards and honors
Annual Award for Television Excellence - 1981 - Ohio State University - PBS series Cosmos
Apollo Achievement Award - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal - National Aeronautics and Space Administration (twice)
Emmy - Outstanding Individual Achievement - 1981 - PBS series Cosmos
Emmy - Outstanding Informational Series - 1981 - PBS series Cosmos
Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Helen Caldicott Leadership Award - Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament
Hugo Award - 1981 - Cosmos
Humanist of the Year - 1981 - Awarded by the American Humanist Association
In Praise of Reason Award - 1987 - Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
Isaac Asimov Award - 1994 - Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award - American Astronautical Society
John W. Campbell Memorial Award - 1974 - Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective
Joseph Priestley Award - "For distinguished contributions to the welfare of mankind"
Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific - 1974
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Medal - Awarded by the Soviet Cosmonauts Federation
Locus Award 1986 - Contact
Lowell Thomas Award - Explorers Club - 75th Anniversary
Masursky Award - American Astronomical Society
Miller Research Fellowship - Miller Institute (1960–1962)
New Jersey Hall of Fame - 2009 inductee 
Oersted Medal - 1990 - American Association of Physics Teachers
Peabody Award - 1980 - PBS series Cosmos
Prix Galbert - The international prize of Astronautics
Public Welfare Medal - 1994 - National Academy of Sciences
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction - 1978 - The Dragons of Eden
SF Chronicle Award - 1998 - Contact
Named the "99th Greatest American" on the June 5, 2005, Greatest American show on the Discovery Channel
Carl Sagan - Billions and Billions - Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (Ballantine, 1997)
Carl Sagan - Contact (Reissue, Doubleday, 1985, 1997)
Carl Sagan - Cosmos (Random House, New Edition, 1980, 2002)
Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot - A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Ballantine, 1994, 1997)
Carl Sagan - The Cosmic Connection - An Extraterrestrial Perspective (Dell, 1973)
Carl Sagan - The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a candle in the dark (Headline, 1996)
Carl Sagan - The Dragons of Eden - Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (Ballantine, 1978)
Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, is the last book written by renowned American astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan before his death in 1996. The book is a collection of essays Sagan wrote covering diverse topics like global warming, the population explosion, extraterrestrial life, morality, and the abortion debate. The last chapter is an account of his struggle with myelodysplasia, the disease which finally took his life in December 1996. Sagan's wife, Ann Druyan, wrote the epilogue of the book after his death.
Contact is a science fiction novel written by Carl Sagan and published in 1985. A film adaptation of the novel starring Jodie Foster was released in 1997. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway is the director of "Project Argus," in which scores of radio telescopes in New Mexico have been dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
Before long, the project does, indeed, discover the first confirmed communication from extraterrestrial beings, a repeating series of the first 261 prime numbers (a sequence of prime numbers is a commonly predicted first message from alien intelligence, since mathematics is considered a "universal language," and it is conjectured that algorithms that produce successive prime numbers are sufficiently complicated so as to require intelligence to implement them). Further analysis of the message reveals that two additional messages are contained in different forms of modulation of the signal. The second message is a primer, a kind of instruction manual that teaches how to read further communications. The third is the real message, the plans for a machine that appears to be a kind of highly advanced vehicle, with seats for five human beings.
Cosmos (1980), published by Random House, is a book by Carl Sagan based on his TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. It is similarly structured to the TV series and contains most of the information from the series (though the book often explores the information more deeply), and some information not found in it. The book is still in print as of 2007, and is one of the best-selling science books ever published in the English language. The sequel to Cosmos is Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994).
The book has 13 chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. But there were differences between them. For example, the Cosmic Calendar was introduced in episode one of the series and then referenced in detail in episode two, but not even mentioned in the book. Sagan explained in the book's introduction that the Cosmic Calendar was referenced in his earlier book The Dragons of Eden. The series paid much more attention to the life of American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard than the book did, because Sagan had devoted a chapter of another early book of his, Broca's Brain, to Goddard.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994) is a non-fiction book by Carl Sagan. It is the sequel to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage and was inspired by the "Pale Blue Dot" photograph, for which Sagan provides a sobering description. In this book, Sagan mixes philosophy about the human place in the universe with a description of the current knowledge about the Solar System. He also details a human vision for the future.
The first part of the book looks at the claims made throughout history that Earth and the human species are unique. Sagan makes two claims for the persistence of the idea of a geocentric, or Earth-centered universe: human pride in our existence, and the threat of torturing those who dissented from it, particularly during the time of the Roman Inquisition. However, he also admits that the scientific tools to prove the Earth orbited the Sun were (until the last few hundred years) not accurate enough to measure effects such as parallax, making it difficult for astronomers to prove that the geocentric theory was false.
After saying that we have gained humility from understanding that we are not, literally, the center of the universe, Sagan embarks on an exploration of the entire solar system. He begins with an account of the Voyager program, in which Sagan was a participating scientist. He describes the difficulty of working with the low light levels at distant planets, and the mechanical and computer problems which beset the twin spacecraft as they aged, and which could not always be diagnosed and fixed remotely. Sagan then examines each one of the major planets, as well as some of the moons—including Titan, Triton, and Miranda—focusing on whether life is possible at the frontiers of the solar system.
Sagan argues that studying other planets provide context for understanding the Earth—and protecting humanity's only home planet from environmental catastrophe. He believes that NASA's decision to cut back exploration of the Moon after the Apollo program was a short-sighted decision, despite the expense and the failing popularity of the program among the United States public. Sagan says future exploration of space should focus on ways to protect Earth and to extend human habitation beyond it. The book was published the year after the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, an event Sagan uses to highlight the danger Earth faces from the occasional asteroid or comet large enough to cause substantial damage if it were to hit Earth. He says we need the political will to track large extraterrestrial objects, or we risk losing everything. Sagan argues that in order to save the human race, space colonization and terraforming should be utilized.
The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective
The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective is a book by Carl Sagan, produced by Jerome Agel. It was originally published in 1973. The book covers several topics, but is primarily centered around the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence and the likelihood of the existence of more advanced civilizations and their distribution throughout the galaxy, as well as the universe.
A popular theme in the book includes Sagan narrating the possible opinions of more advanced intelligences and their views of the Earth, as well as communication with mankind. He also discusses the popularity of UFO sightings and attempts to mathematically portray the probability of such events. Another theme is the inclusion of his view of astrology as a pseudoscience.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is a book by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, which was first published in 1995.
The book is intended to explain the scientific method to laymen, and to encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking. It explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science, and ideas that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking, and should stand up to rigorous questioning.
In the book, Sagan states that if a new idea continues in existence after an examination of the propositions, it should then be acknowledged as a supposition. Skeptical thinking essentially is a means to construct, understand, reason, and recognize valid and invalid arguments. Wherever possible, there must be independent validation of the concepts whose truth should be proved. He believes that reason and logic would succeed once the truth is known. Conclusions emerge from premises, and the acceptability of the premises should not be discounted or accepted because of bias.
Sagan presents a set of tools for skeptical thinking which he calls the "baloney detection kit". Skeptical thinking consists both of constructing a reasoned argument and recognizing a fallacious or fraudulent one. In order to identify a fallacious argument, Sagan suggests the employment of such tools as independent confirmation of facts, quantification and the use of Occam's razor. Sagan's "baloney detection kit" also provides tools for detecting "the most common fallacies of logic and rhetoric", such as argument from authority and statistics of small numbers. Through these tools, Sagan argues the benefits of a critical mind and the self-correcting nature of science can take place.
Sagan provides a skeptical analysis of several kinds of superstition, fraud, pseudoscience and religious beliefs, such as gods, witches, UFOs, ESP and faith healing. However, based on what he describes as "some, although still dubious experimental support," Sagan calls for serious scrutiny of a handful of seemingly inexplicable phenomena such as reincarnation and psychokinesis, not because he regards them as likely to be true, but because anomalous data deserves close scientific study.
The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a Pulitzer prize winning 1977 book by Carl Sagan. In it, he combines the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science to give a well balanced perspective of how human intelligence evolved.
Other topics mentioned include the evolution of the brain (with emphasis on the function of the neocortex in humans), the evolutionary purpose of sleep and dreams, demonstration of sign language abilities by chimps and the purpose of mankind's innate fears and myths. The title "The Dragons of Eden" refers to man's early struggle for survival in the face of predators, and how fear of reptiles may have led to cultural beliefs and myths about dragons and snakes.