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Percival Lowell Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94153).

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Lowell, Percival (13 March 1855–12 November 1916), astronomer and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Augustus Lowell, a president of cotton companies and director of banks, and Katherine Bigelow Lawrence, daughter of Abbott Lawrence, a textile manufacturer and founder of the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. His brother ...

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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)....