MacFarlane gives Sagan papers

Carl Sagan papers were donated by the "Family Guy" creator

Topics: From the Wires, ,

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seth MacFarlane once included a gag on his animated TV comedy “Family Guy” about an “edited for rednecks” version of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” featuring an animated Sagan dubbed over to say that the earth is “hundreds and hundreds” of years old.

Jokes aside, his admiration for Sagan runs deep.

The Library of Congress announced Wednesday that, thanks to MacFarlane’s generosity, it has acquired the personal papers of the late scientist and astronomer, who spoke to mass audiences about the mysteries of the universe and the origins of life. While MacFarlane never owned Sagan’s papers, he covered the undisclosed costs of donating them to the library.

“All I did was write a check, but it’s something that was, to me, worth every penny,” MacFarlane told The Associated Press by phone from Los Angeles. “He’s a man whose life’s work should be accessible to everybody.”

MacFarlane — creator of “Family Guy,” ”American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show” — met Sagan’s widow and collaborator, Ann Druyan, at an event a few years ago that brought together Hollywood screenwriters and directors with scientists. They agreed to collaborate on a follow-up to “Cosmos,” Sagan’s acclaimed 1980 miniseries, with MacFarlane serving as producer. Astrophysicst Neil deGrasse Tyson will host the series, which is scheduled to begin production this fall.

MacFarlane said he watched “Cosmos” as a child and devoured all of Sagan’s books.

“He was an enormous and profound influence in my life,” MacFarlane said. “He played an essential role — some would say the only role at the time — in bridging the gap between the academic community and the general public.”

A planetary astronomer and passionate advocate for science, Sagan contributed to a variety of NASA projects and conducted research on the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. He also studied climate change and the “nuclear winter” that could result from a nuclear war. He died in 1996 at age 62.

The papers — contained in more than 800 filing-cabinet drawers — include correspondence with other scientists, drafts of Sagan’s academic articles and screenplay drafts for the movie “Contact,” which was based on Sagan’s novel. Also part of the collection: his grade-school report cards and a drawing he made as a child about the future of space exploration.



Druyan said Sagan would have been thrilled to see his life’s work made available to the public.

“He was a citizen scientist,” Druyan said by phone from her Ithaca, N.Y., home. “He really believed that science belonged to everyone, all of us. He was a ‘small-d’ democrat in the truest sense of the word.”

The donation is part of a busy week for MacFarlane, whose first live-action film, “Ted,” hits theaters Friday. While he’s known more for crude humor than his interest in science, he hopes to push for a renewed commitment to space exploration. Although he’s a liberal Democrat, he was impressed by Newt Gingrich’s recent comments about establishing a colony on the moon.

“In the late ’60s, they just assumed that would be a given, that things would continue to progress and that the space program would continue to evolve, and it was a no-brainer that we would have a presence on the moon by 2000,” MacFarlane said. “We’re so far away from that, and it should be embarrassing.”

___

Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at http://twitter.com/APBenNuckols.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>