Carl Sagan, a modern-day Renaissance man of science, was born in 1934 in New York. After graduating with both a B.A. and a B.S. degree from the University of Chicago, Sagan completed his M.S. in physics and earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics in 1960.
Sagan was nominated to join the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1962. At the same time, he also worked with the Nobel-prize winner Joshna Lederberg, investigating the origins of life on Earth, and taught genetics at Stanford. Sagan then taught astronomy at Harvard until 1968, when he became professor of astronomy and space sciences at Cornell University. He was then appointed director of the laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan was awarded the NASA medal for exceptional scientific achievement in 1972, after his hypotheses about Mars were validated by data obtained from the 1971 expedition. Beginning in 1968, Sagan was editor of , the international journal of astronomy, and wrote many distinguished books. His works include (1973), which received the Campbell Award for best science book; the Pulitzer-prize winning (1977); (1979), on developments in neurophysiology; and (1980), which accompanied his widely-acclaimed television series. In “The Nuclear Winter” (1983), Sagan explored the unforeseen and devastating physical and chemical effects of even a small-scale nuclear war on the earth’s biosphere and life on earth.