Most people associate the name Carl Sagan with the TV show Cosmos. Sagan co-wrote and presented the 1980’s award winning series detailing man’s place in the universe. The series has been broadcast in over 60 countries and has an estimated 500 million viewers.
But, Sagan was far from a one trick pony, and was in actual fact a very well respected scientist. He studied at the University of Chicago where he achieved a PhD in astrophysics and astronomy before going on to lecture and do research at Harvard University. He finally become a full professor at Cornell University where he continued to study the planets surrounding us.
He was closely involved with the NASA space program and made a number of vital discoveries relating to Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. While he wrote some 600 scientific papers and was involved in 20 books, he was also a great proponent of the search for extraterrestrial life and authored a number of popular science books.
It was his latter activities that saw him being barred from receiving one of the highest honours in US science. The National Academy of Science refused to elect him to their ranks, reportedly because his popular science activities made him unpopular with his peers.
The Academy did bestow their highest award on him later in his life, but never actually allow him entry despite his many true scientific achievements.