Dr. Carl Sagan
Though he was an internationally prominent astrophysicist and astronomer at Cornell University, Carl Sagan is perhaps best known for his 13--part PBS documentary series Cosmos (1980), a science show designed to explain the possible origins of the universe and the nature of space to lay audiences. In 1978, Sagan won a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction for The Dragons of Eden. In 1985, he penned the speculative, sci-fi novel Contact and in the mid '90s co-produced the big-budget film version that starred Jody Foster. Sagan suffered from bone-marrow disease and in 1996 checked into a Seattle hospital to undergo treatment. On December 20, he died of pneumonia, a complication of the treatment.