01934 November 09: Carl was born to father Samuel Sagan, an immigrant garment worker from Kamianets-Podilskyi, then in the Russian Empire, in today’s Ukraine. His mother, Rachel Molly Gruber, was a housewife from New York. Carl was named in honor of Rachel’s biological mother, Chaiya Clara, in Sagan’s words, “the mother she never knew”.
01951 Spring: Carl graduated at age 16 from Rahway High School in Rahway, New Jersey. “Sagan was a straight-A student but was bored due to unchallenging classes and uninspiring teachers.”
01951 Autumn: Carl matriculated at the University of Chicago, which was one of the few colleges he applied to that would, despite his excellent high-school grades, consider admitting a 16-year-old.
01955 Spring: Carl received a B.S. degree in physics at age 20 from the University of Chicago.
01956: Carl received a M.S. degree in physics at age 21 from the University of Chicago.
01957: Carl married Lynn Margulis.
01958: With a Top Secret clearance at the U.S. Air Force and a Secret clearance with NASA, Carl and his dissertation director, planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper, worked on the classified military Project A119, the secret Air Force plan to detonate a nuclear warhead on the Moon.
01960: Carl received a Ph.D. degree in physics at age 25 from the University of Chicago with thesis “Physical Studies of Planets”.
01960: Carl was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley through 01962.
01961: Carl wrote an article on the atmosphere of Venus and had it published in the journal Science. As a result of this article, Harvard University astronomers Fred Whipple and Donald Menzel offered Sagan the opportunity to give a colloquium at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA and subsequently offered him a lecturer position at the institution. Carl instead asked to be made an assistant professor, and eventually Whipple and Menzel were able to convince Harvard to offer Sagan the assistant professor position he requested.
01963: Carl lectured, performed research, and advised graduate (MS and PhD) students at the institution from until 01968, as well as working at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, also located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
01965: After having two children, Jeremy and Dorion Sagan, Carl and Lynn divorced, perhaps due to dominance contests.
01968: Carl was denied tenure at Harvard and moved to Ithaca, NY and accepted a position at Cornell University where he worked for the rest of his life. Carl married Linda Salzman.
01981: After having one child, Nick Sagan, Carl and Linda divorced, perhaps due to dominance contests.
01981: Carl married Ann Druyan (spoken “Dreeyan” and who can be heard speaking in the video above; they remained married until his death) and they eventually had two children, Alexandra (“Sasha”) and Samuel Sagan.
01994 November 09: Carl presented this lecture above.
01996 December 20: Carl died at age 62 from pneumonia after suffering from myelodysplasia for two years and receiving three bone marrow transplants from his sister Carol.
02020: Sasha Sagan released the book For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in our Unlikely World which depicts life with her parents and her father’s death when she was age 14. The Sagan family continues after Carl’s death.