When you hear the name Carl Sagan, you may think of his revolutionary television series, Cosmos, NASA’s Viking missions, or maybe just that silky voice as smooth as melted butter floating in Zero-G. But the late scientist, engineer, writer, and televised educator also spent a significant part of his career teaching science courses at universities including Harvard and Cornell. Now, thanks to the Library of Congress, you can access digitized versions of his personal course materials, allowing the celestial godfather himself to be your personal professor.
Materials for two of his courses, including a 1965 Planetary Science Course and a 1986 course in Critical Thinking in Science and Non-Science Context, have been digitized and are now available for review. The course materials, which were donated by The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, allow users to look over Sagan’s personal lecture notes, and even take exams. (Fair warning: the problem sets are no joke.) The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, Library of Congress.
Sagan’s courses don’t only apply to the movement of celestial bodies however. He also encouraged people to think critically—scientifically—about everyday matters like sports, television, tobacco usage, and even automotive advertising practices.
If you’ve looked over the course notes, exams, and problem sets—more of which can be found in the image gallery below—and are feeling a bit daunted, don’t be discouraged. There are other, less quantitative, ways to enjoy the ultimate space sherpa, including this video of Sagan discussing extraterrestrials, and this one of Sagan discussing space exploration.
What do you think about these digitized course notes? Are you thrilled with the idea of taking a class designed by Sagan himself, or are you going to stick to the Cosmos television series and maybe some of his less brain-busting books? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: wikimedia / JPL