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10 Cool Things About Carl Sagan


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Mentored Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil de Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, speaks during a press tour at the Rose Center for Earth and Space of American Museum of Natural History in New York, 2000. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Neil de Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, speaks during a press tour at the Rose Center for Earth and Space of American Museum of Natural History in New York, 2000. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

What may seem simple to one person often becomes profound to another. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the quick-witted astrophysicist, well known for hosting the 2014 version of the "Cosmos" series, received some valuable life lessons from Sagan as a high school senior.

Back on Dec. 20, 1975, Tyson traveled by bus from New York City to Cornell University to meet Carl Sagan. A busy author, astronomer and professor, Sagan had personally extended Tyson an invitation to visit after seeing his college application to Cornell, where he spoke about his enthusiasm for the stars.

"I already knew I wanted to become a scientist," Tyson would later say, "but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become."

After the personal tour of his lab, Sagan dropped Tyson off at the bus depot. As the snow was getting heavier, he told Tyson to call him if the bus was delayed so he could spend the night at his house.

Although Tyson opted to attend Harvard for his undergraduate education, Sagan's influence remained strong.

"To this day," Tyson said during an interview, "I have this duty to respond to students who are inquiring about the universe as a career path, to respond to them in the way that Carl Sagan had responded to me."


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