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Saganpalooza: 8 Facts About Carl Sagan

This week is Saganpalooza here at Secret Life, a celebration of the man who inspired thousands both to love science and to share it with the world. We did a Google deep-dive on this the greatest of all science celebrities, and uncovered eight odd but eye-opening facts about the original host of Cosmos.

1. tumblr_mqtdgiiYlu1rzpvnro7_1280 Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan assembled an “Earth Guide for Aliens” and launched it into space on the Voyager probe. The record was meant to survive for a billion years in the hope that some day, it might cross paths with an alien civilization. It features and a montage of sights and sounds that include greetings in 59 different languages, the music of Chuck Berry, a fetus, a fishing boat, and a man eating grilled cheese.

2. Sagan and his wife fell in love while making said “Earth Guide for Aliens.” Ann shares the incredibly romantic story on this episode of Radiolab.

3. As you may know, Sagan liked words that end in “illions.” Enjoy this montage of Sagan saying words that end in “illions” with his distinctive, impeccable pronunciation.

4. Johnny Carson did a solid impression of Sagan. Carson nails his deep voice and dramatic dialect. It was all in good fun – Carson also endorsed Cosmos.

5. Sagan reached out to a 17-year-old Neil deGrasse Tyson. He gave young Tyson a tour of his lab at Cornell (on a Saturday no less) in an attempt to lure him to attend the university. Tyson tells the story here. He ended up going to Harvard, but Sagan was cool with it.

6. In school, Sagan doodled during class. Check out his University of Chicago undergraduate notebook. There’s a particularly upsetting doodle on page 17.

7. Contact wasn’t Sagan’s only idea for a novel. He had at least one other idea, a novel about a UFO appearance in Washington, DC, which somehow leads investigators to a faith healer in Northern Brazil.

8. Sagan knew that he was going to be an astronomer in high school. He told his high school paper that he wanted to be a research astronomer. He also told the paper that he likes Italian-style spaghetti and that girls are “wonderful in his eyes.”

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Seandor Szeles

    Seandor Szeles is the co-editor of the Secret Life Blog. He is most interested in the human side of science and providing take-away for educators.