Ann Druyan

On this date in 1949, multi-talented author, popular science promoter, writer/producer and activist Ann Druyan was born in Queens, N.Y. Druyan was the longtime collaborator and spouse of astronomer Carl Sagan (until his death in 1996). The two science enthusiasts had two children together and co-wrote the best-sellers Comet (1985) and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992).

Sagan credited her as a contributor to his books Contact (1997), Pale Blue Dot (1997), The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997) and Billions and Billions (posthumous, 1998), in which Druyan wrote the poignant epilogue addressing Sagan’s nonbelief and death.

Druyan co-wrote the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning television series “Cosmos,” viewed by half a billion in over 60 countries. She also wrote and produced the two updated “Cosmos” series: “A Spacetime Odyssey” hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson that aired on Fox and ran on The National Geographic Channel in 2014 and won multiple awards, including a Peabody; and “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” also hosted by Tyson that debuted in 2019 on the same channels.

She served as creative director of the NASA Voyager Interstellar Record Project affixed to the Voyager I and II spacecrafts. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Discover and The Washington Post. She co-produced and co-created the hit film “Contact,” which starred an atheist-scientist heroine played by freethinker Jodie Foster.

Druyan produced and wrote the screenplay for “Comet,” a 3-D IMAX motion picture. Druyan, who has organized for peace and against nuclear testing, is founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios, served as secretary of the Federation of American Scientists, on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and directed the Children’s Health Fund. She was named Harvard’s Humanist of the Year in 2017. 

Druyan has always made time to advocate for science and speak out against the illusion of religion. “By disobeying god, we escape from his totalitarian prison where you cannot ask any questions, where you must never question authority. We become our human selves,” Druyan wrote in The Skeptical Inquirer (November/December 2003).

She received FFRF’s 1997 Freethought Heroine AwardShe told Freethought Radio in October 2006: “The Universe revealed by science is one of far more awesome grandeur than any religion has ever posited.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation