- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It’s not “billions and billions.” It’s more like 800 boxes worth.

That is the sum total of the personal and scientific papers of one Carl Sagan, acquired Wednesday by the Library of Congress.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, scientist, TV personality and space aficionado will have his letters, idea files, handwritten notebooks, report cards and other ephemera become a permanent part of a very vast collection — appropriate for a man whose trademark phrase was “billions and billions” whenever he described the stars of the universe.

Another star is behind the acquisition, which is officially designated “The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive.”


Yes, that Seth MacFarlane.

Late scientist Carl Sagan is famous for the long-running "Cosmos" educational series on TV. (Associated Press)
Late scientist Carl Sagan is famous for the long-running “Cosmos” educational series ... more >

The irreverent creator of “Family Guy” and other edgy, comedic Hollywood fare has funded the collection and organization of Sagan’s papers. winning praise for his “generosity” from the staff of the august facility.

“The work of Carl Sagan has been a profound influence in my life, and the life of every individual who recognizes the importance of humanity’s ongoing commitment to the exploration of our universe,” Mr. MacFarlane said. “The continuance of our journey outward into space should always occupy some part of our collective attention, regardless of whatever Snooki did last week.”

The new collection has already inspired a high-profile event to span the parallel universes of academia and popular culture, centered on Sagan’s legacy as a “role model for future American scientists.”

The Library of Congress is already organizing a summit for like-minded scientists, educators, policymakers and students intended to generate a little excitement about the field.

The Sagan collection itself has enough appealing personal material to fascinate, well, maybe millions. The scientist’s extensive correspondence with colleagues and famous people until his death in 1996, his book drafts, his academic notes as an instructor at Cornell University and even his birth announcement and elementary school writings are part of the cache.

The Sagan papers join other scientific fare from such prominent figures as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Sigmund Freud, J. Robert Oppenheimer and E.O. Wilson, said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Meanwhile, the ever-expanding Mr. MacFarlane has teamed up with Sagan’s original creative collaborators — writer/producer Ms. Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter — to produce a sequel to “Cosmos,” the long-running educational series that made Sagan a household name.

Production notes indicate the new series, which has the backing of Fox Entertainment and the National Geographic Channel, has noble intentions to explore the “heroic quest for knowledge.”

Carl was the exemplar of the citizen scientist,” said Ms. Druyan, who is also Sagan’s widow. “For him, the values of democracy and science were intertwined. I can think of no more fitting home for his papers than the nation’s library.”