Seth MacFarlane Collection reveals old letters between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan

Feb 19 2014, 02:45 PM by Global Staff

Neil deGrasse Tyson article | Daily Texan |1986

Neil deGrasse Tyson, 25, in star T-shirt. Ken Ryall, Daily Texan, 1982, via The Library of Congress. 


When budding astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was applying to colleges in 1976, Carl Sagan warmly welcomed him to apply to Cornell University, where he taught. Tyson ultimately chose Harvard, but kept in touch with Sagan over the years.

The letters between the two legendary scientists —along with Sagan's personal photos, notes, yearbooks, manuscripts and papers— can be found in The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, which was recently donated to the Library of Congress.

Below are some gems that we absolutely love, including Sagan's thoughts on why clouds are white and an article about a young Tyson's infectious teaching style.

"As he moves rapidly about the room, Tyson combines the style of a good stand-up comic with his years of training in ballet, wrestling and basketball," wrote Mike Zimmerman of The Daily Texan. "He enjoys taking concepts such as microwaves and the inverse-square law and translating them into everyday metaphors. For example, he might demonstrate the Doppler effect by having students walk past each other while they mimic the sounds of racing cars; or he might wear a red T-shirt under infrared light to show how colours become invisible when exposed to their own wavelengths."

All images via The Library of Congress  

In this video, Tyson explains the heartwarming impact the friendship had on him.

Long time Sagan-fan MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) helped the library obtain nearly 800 boxes on material documenting Sagan’s life and work.

From Family Guy: "Cosmos edited for rednecks"

MacFarlane will be working as an executive producer on the upcoming series starring Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, alongside Sagan’s former collaborators.



When is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on TV? In Canada, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premieres Sunday, March 9 at 9 et/pt on Global TV .
Where can I watch Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey online for free? will stream full episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey online for free, or watch with the Global Go app on your iOS or Android mobile device. Episodes are typically posted the day after the initial on-air broadcast.