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Carl Sagan was an American science professor at Cornell University that specialized in astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. He is well known for his popular science books and for hosting and co-writing the 1980s television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Sagan’s narration has often been featured in space-related videos on YouTube and he is often heralded as a champion of science on websites like Reddit and 4chan.
On April 2nd, 2007, YouTuber darknlooking uploaded a video titled “Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot,” featuring a slideshow of space photographs accompanied by Carl Sagan’s narration from the audio book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Within the next five years, the video accumulated over 2 million views and 8,500 comments.
In 2009, Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan launched the “Carl Sagan Portal” website, promoting the Sagan family’s ideas and work. On September 17th, YouTuber melodysheep uploaded the first Symphony of Science video (shown below), featuring auto-tuned footage from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series. Within three years, the video accumulated nearly 8 million views and 30,000 comments.
On October 26th, The website CarlSaganDay.com was launched in preparation for the November 9th celebration of Sagan’s birthday. The holiday was started by Center for Inquiry, a non-profit organization which encourages evidence-based examination of pseudo-scientific practices. On November 16th, Xkcd published a webcomic titled “Sagan-Man,” featuring a man who is given the powers and abilities of Carl Sagan (shown below).
On January 9th, 2011, Reid Gower launched the Sagan Series educational project which aimed to promote scientific literacy with videos inspired by Carl Sagan (shown below). On February 2nd, a Facebook page for the series was created, which accumulated over 60,000 likes within two years.
Sagan is frequently mentioned as a joke on the /r/circlejerk subreddit, referencing the deceased scientist’s popularity on Reddit. As of November 9th, 2012, the top “Carl Sagan” page on Facebook has accumulated over 172,000 likes.
Sagan has often been the subject of image macros and animated GIFs, many of which reference his advocacy of using the drug marijuana as a means of intellectual inspiration. Additional examples can be found on Cheezburgerand Tumblr under the tag “#carl sagan.”
Sagan became associated with the catchphrase “billions and billions” after being impersonated by Johnny Carson onThe Tonight Show (shown below). Sagan claimed the only time he ever used the phrase was in a passage in the book Cosmos. This inspired the creation of the sagan unit of measurement, which is defined as a number equal to at least four billion.
“A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars--billions upon billions of stars.”
This inspired the creation of the sagan unit of measurement, which is defined as a number equal to at least four billion.
Sagan was known for being politically active and spoke out against Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” nuclear missile defense initiative in 1983. After the Reagan administration dismissed a Soviet moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons as a fabrication, Sagan and other protesters were arrested outside of a United States nuclear testing facility in Nevada.
Advocacy of Marijuana Use
Sagan was an advocate for using the drug marijuana and wrote an essay under the pseudonym “Mr. X,” explaining how the substance provided him with intellectual inspiration. His widow Ann Druyan became a member of the board of directors on NORML, a non-profit organization which aims to achieve legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.
Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 9th, 1934. In 1957, he married biologist Lynn Margulis and had two children before they split. In 1968, he married the artist Linda Salzman, with whom he had one child. In 1981, he married the author Ann Druyan and had two more children. On December 20th, 1996, Sagan died of pneumonia at the age of 62 after suffering from myelodysplasia.