“The Cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are the way to the universe to know itself.” The Life Story of Carl Sagan, One of the Most Famous Scientists in the World (Part I)
“There are moments when what I do seems to me like an improbable, if unusually pleasant dream: to be involved in the exploration of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; to try to duplicate the steps that led to the origin of life on an Earth very different from the one we know, to land instruments on Mars to search there for life.”
This is not a section of science fiction. This is a draft of one of the biographical books of the American astronomer and scientist, visionary Carl Sagan, the founder of the scientific and educational genre of literature about the space future of mankind, a staunch supporter of the expansion of earthly civilization in the Universe, a timeless genius and a great optimist.
Long before Elon Musk and stellar missions with immense budgets, he began to explore the Universe. And he achieved amazing results in this.
GRANDSON OF THE BOATMAN ON THE BUG RIVER
All his life, scientist Carl Sagan was convinced that he was born just in time. Just think – if all his research had begun 50 years earlier, they would be considered crazy ideas and unrealistic fantasies. A few centuries earlier, he would have burned for them at the stake.
But in 50-100 years, as the scientist reasoned, people would certainly complete the study of the solar system, send several research vehicles into space and, for sure, put an end to the question of the existence of life on Mars.
He turned out to be right. Inspired by the “space” literature and scientific developments of Carl Sagan, in these minutes, scientists bring us closer to answering the most cherished questions about the Universe.
Sagan himself claimed that he was cramped in the laboratory and not interested in the department, because he was inspired by the astrophysicist of Ukrainian origin Iosif Shklovsky for his research. The book The Universe. Life. Mind, which an American astronomer read in his youth, forever changed his worldview and inspired him to work.
Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic
Scientist Carl Sagan never denied and always remembered his Ukrainian origin. He talked about how his grandfather was a boatman on the Bug River, how, after his death, his grandmother emigrated to the United States from a small town near LvIv. His father was born in Kamianets-Podilskyi.
He grew up as a very curious boy who often looked at the stars. And, to the credit of Carl Sagan’s parents, his curiosity was encouraged in every possible way.
“Why is the moon round?” the kid asked. “Why is the grass green? Where do dreams come from? How deep can the tunnel be dug? Why are there toes on the feet?” Too often, teachers and parents brushed off such questions with disdain, even mockery, or rushed to change the subject: “Does the moon have to be square?” Children quickly realize that adults do not like such questions. A negative experience can be repeated several times – and one more child is lost for science.
So in a section of one of his books, Carl Sagan, long before the newfangled writings on raising children, gives practical advice on how to raise inquisitive little explorers.
TO PUT INTO A RAGE THE FANTASY AUTHOR AZIMOV
As a teenager, Carl Sagan literally devoured books by famous science fiction writers at that time, read fantastic stories in Astounding Science Fiction magazine and was fascinated by the topic of aliens and flying saucers, like all Americans of the 50s.
It is now known that many science fiction writers predicted the emergence of certain things and phenomena. Carl Sagan also had a wild imagination, a subtle mind and was not shy about his conclusions.
So, he suggested that there are methane-ethane reservoirs on the moon of Saturn, that the surface of Venus is a hot desert, and on the moon of Jupiter, cold seas rage under the ice. All this was soon confirmed by the interplanetary spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, launched into space not without the participation of Carl Sagan.
A curious case: when his science fiction idol Isaac Asimov later reads Sagan’s book Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective, he will send the author a short review letter: “I realized that you are smarter than me. And it’s infuriating!”
We live in a society dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science or technology
The University of Chicago and the Department of Physics that Carl Sagan entered only confirmed him in his desire to explore the Universe. He will even choose Gerard Kuiper, who discovered the satellites of Uranus and Neptune, as his supervisor. Under his leadership, Sagan will defend his dissertation “Investigation of the physical studies of planets.”
The result of the astronomer’s work on a scientific work on the origin of life will be the birth of a new discipline – astrobiology. However, astronomy will remain his love forever.
“Someone said that astronomy instills humility and builds character,” said Carl Sagan. “Perhaps there is no better proof of the stupidity of human vanity than this distant image of our tiny world. For me, it highlights our responsibility to be kinder to each other, to cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Many of us call ourselves people of the world, but scientist Carl Sagan had a slightly different opinion. “The Cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are the way to the universe to know itself,” he said about humanity.