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Rabinowitch, Eugene (26 August 1901–15 May 1973), chemist and scientific activist and popularizer, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia; information about his parents is not available. He was a student at the University of St. Petersburg, specializing in chemistry. In 1926 he completed a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Berlin. During this period of his life, he married Anya (surname not known); they had two sons. In 1933 the family left Germany for Copenhagen, where Rabinowitch worked with Niels Bohr at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. He later studied at University College, London. He brought his family to the United States in 1938 so that he could take part in a solar energy research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1942 Rabinowitch joined the Metallurgical Project of the Manhattan Engineer District at the University of Chicago, known as the “Met Lab,” where he was a senior chemist and a section chief on the Manhattan Project. The main task of the Met Lab was to develop procedures for the large-scale production of plutonium. Work on “weapons theory”—that is, on theoretical aspects of bomb construction—was transferred to Los Alamos in early 1943; thus Met Lab scientists played a relatively minor part in the final stages of the Manhattan Project (which would result in the successful production of the atomic bombs used against Japan in 1945)....

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Carl Sagan. Courtesy of Cornell University.

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Sagan, Carl (09 November 1934–20 December 1996), space scientist, author, science popularizer, TV personality, and antinuclear weapons activist, was born Carl Edward Sagan in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Rachel Molly Gruber Sagan and garment industry worker Samuel Sagan, an immigrant from the Ukraine. Carl Sagan's Jewish background encouraged him “to ask questions early,” as he later observed (Davidson, p. 57); so did his mother's skeptical, sometimes acidic personality. At age five, he became interested in astronomy when he read in a library book that the stars are distant versions of our sun. His interest in science soared when his parents took him to the New York World's Fair of 1939–1940, which offered an optimistic and (as he later acknowledged) “extremely technocratic” view of the future (Davidson, p. 14)....