WASHINGTON – Seth MacFarlane once included a gag on his animated TV comedy Family Guy about an edited for rednecks version of Carl Sagans 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 MacFarlanes 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 Sagans papers, he covered the undisclosed costs of donating them to the library.
All I did was write a check, but its something that was, to me, worth every penny, MacFarlane told The Associated Press by phone from Los Angeles. Hes a man whose lifes work should be accessible to everybody.
MacFarlane – creator of Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show – met Sagans 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, Sagans acclaimed 1980 miniseries, with MacFarlane serving as producer. Astrophysicist 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 Sagans 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 Sagans academic articles and screenplay drafts for the movie Contact, which was based on Sagans 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.