Ann Druyan is an author, lecturer, and television and motion picture writer/producer whose work is largely concerned with the effects of science and technology on our civilization. She was co-writer of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning television series COSMOS. Ms. Druyan served as Creative Director of the NASA Voyager Interstellar Record Project to design a complex message, including music and images, for possible alien civilizations. These golden phonograph records affixed to the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, the fastest moving vehicles ever created by the human species, are now beyond the outermost planets of the solar system on their way to interstellar space. They have a projected shelf life of one billion years.
Ms. Druyan is the author or co-author of several books, including A Famous Broken Heart, a novel, and Comet, which was on the New York Times best seller list for two months. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, written with Carl Sagan, was another New York Times best seller. She is also a credited contributor to the best selling books Contact, Pale Blue Dot, The Demon-Haunted World and Billions & Billions by Carl Sagan. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Parade, Discover, and The Washington Post.
She wrote and produced the PBS NOVA episode "Confessions of a Weaponeer" on the life of President Eisenhower's Science Advisor, George Kistiakowsky of Harvard.
In the spring of 1989 she convinced the Turner Broadcasting System and the Asahi Broadcasting System of Osaka, Japan, to commit to a program of long-term, in-depth coverage of the August encounter of the planet Neptune by the Voyager 2 spacecraft. This resulted in coverage that was unprecedented in the history of unmanned space exploration. She wrote and produced three network specials, which were broadcast globally from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
She has played key roles in establishing an American seismic network in the former Soviet Union to monitor Soviet compliance with their 18-month-long unilateral moratorium on underground nuclear tests: in a joint U.S./Soviet scientific study of implementing and verifying massive nuclear disarmament; and in a U.S./Soviet project to design a legally and scientifically viable treaty banning chemical and biological warfare. During the Soviet nuclear test moratorium she helped the American Peace Test, a grassroots organization, organize three of the largest non-violent demonstrations ever held at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ms. Druyan was elected in 1988, and served for ten years as Secretary of the Federation of American Scientists, an organization consisting of five thousand scientists and engineers, some fifty Nobel Laureates among them. Founded in 1945 by the scientists who invented the atomic bomb, the FAS was the first group ever organized to deal with the danger of the misuse of science and high technology. It has been called the "conscience of American science". In the 1980's Ms. Druyan worked with Dr. Sagan and then-Senator Al Gore, Jr., and a host of religious and scientific leaders, to bring the scientific and religious worlds together in a unified effort to preserve the environment.
She has been President of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for many years.
Ms. Druyan is both a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims for the Paranormal (CSICOP) and a laureate of the International Humanist Academy.
She is co-producer and co-creator of Contact, a Warner Brothers motion picture, based on the story she co-wrote with Carl Sagan. Directed by Bob Zemeckis and starring Jodie Foster, Contact was released July 1997.
She served as a Director of the Children's Health Fund up until the spring of 2004, a trail-blazing project that provides mobile pediatric care to homeless and disadvantaged children in more than half-a-dozen cities. She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board.
She has appeared on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, The News Hour with Jim Lerher, The Crier Report and scores of other radio and television talk, news, and public affairs programs. Ms. Druyan has lectured widely on topics as diverse as the nuclear arms race, the Voyager interstellar record, human evolution, the scientific search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and pre-Socratic philosophy.
She has lectured at the Washington National Cathedral, UCLA, the Center for Inquiry, USC School of Cinema and Television, American University, NYC's 92nd street Y, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Cambridge University, Harvard University, the City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, Spain and many other venues. She was a panelist at the first Tribeca Film Festival in May 2002, at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and at the 2003 Hamptons International Film Festival. In January of 2003, she spoke at the Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C. about the history and future of African astronomy. In February of 2003, she lectured at the Musee de l'Art Moderne in Paris on NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message.
At the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Ms. Druyan served as juror and panel chair for The Perils of Prometheus: Ethics in Science and Film symposium. On February 11, 2004 she delivered the Darwin Birthday Tribute Lecture entitled Escape from Eden at the New York Academy of Sciences.
Ms. Druyan is Founder and President of The Carl Sagan Foundation whose first major project, in partnership with The Children's Health Fund and The Moses Montefiore Medical Center, was the Carl Sagan Discovery Center. This first children's hospital in the Bronx opened November 1, 2001. An innovation in family-centered care, with a unique emphasis on inspiring the young with the wonder of nature as revealed by science, it has been called the "world's most inspiring hospital" by FAST COMPANY magazine in their May 2002 issue.
She was co-author with Dr. Steven Soter of Passport to the Universe, narrated by Tom Hanks, the inaugural show of the Rose Sky Theater at the Hayden Planetarium, the foremost virtual reality theater on Earth. Passport, which premiered December 31, 1999, has been seen by 3,000,000 people. Ms. Druyan and Dr. Soter co-wrote The Search for Life…Are We Alone, narrated by Harrison Ford, which opened March 2, 2002.
Ms. Druyan is the founder and CEO of COSMOS STUDIOS, producing science based entertainment for all media. In 2000, COSMOS STUDIOS produced "The Best of Cosmos" for PBS and released an updated dvd version of the 13 part COSMOS television series. It funded an historic expedition to the Sahara which resulted in the discovery of a new genus of dinosaur, the second largest ever found. These findings were published in the journal SCIENCE (June 1, 2001). Cosmos Studios' two hour documentary of the expedition, entitled The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, premiered on the A&E television network on October 8th, 2002. Random House published the accompanying book.
COSMOS STUDIOS' Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message, premiered on A&E Television Networks January 16th, 2003 and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the best nature/science documentary of the year.
Cosmos Studios, in collaboration with Aland Pictures of South Africa, produced "COSMIC AFRICA" in 2003, a film directed by Craig and Damon Foster. COSMIC AFRICA tells the story of Thebe Medupe, who came of age in apartheid South Africa with the seemingly impossible dream of becoming an astronomer. With the unstinting support of his parents and rural village, he beat the odds and was awarded a doctorate in astrophysics in 2002. Cosmos Studios sent him and a film crew the length of Africa gathering the ancient cosmologies of its people and rediscovering the wonder that attracted Thebe Medupe to study the heavens.
Ms. Druyan served as Executive Producer on all four of the aforementioned Cosmos Studios productions. COSMOS STUDIOS provided key financial support to NASA's Cassini Imaging Team for creating films of Jupiter's atmosphere, satellites and rings during the recent flyby. (See SCIENCE 7 March 2003)
In collaboration with The Planetary Society, Cosmos Studios launched Cosmos 1 on June 21, 2005, the world's first solar sail, aboard an intercontinental ballistic missile based on a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea. Unfortunately, the launch was unsuccessful. Once in orbit, it was supposed to deploy a vast reflective sail, making it a naked-eye object, visible the world over. Because solar sailing is theoretically a means to travel ten times faster than anything humans have ever devised, if successful it would have been the first step in developing a rapid transit system between the planets and the first viable means of traveling to the stars. Ms. Druyan served as Program Director of the mission and serves now as Project Advisor to LightSail, a new deep space solar sailing mission to be launched in 2011.
Ms. Druyan is also the co-producer and co-writer of the screenplay (executive producer, Martin Scorsese) "AND THERE WAS LIGHT", which is based on the true story of Jacques Lusseryan, the blind leader of the French Resistance.
Some of Ms. Druyan's ideas were featured in the November 2003 issue of DISCOVER magazine in an interview entitled "Mistress of the Cosmos Sets Her Sail". A talk she gave in Los Angeles was turned into the cover story of the November/December 2003 issue of the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER.
In November of 2006, her edited version of Carl Sagan's 1985 Gifford lectures was published as The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by The Penguin Press.
Ms. Druyan was married for nearly two decades to her long time collaborator, astronomer Carl Sagan, until his death in December 1996. Their children are Alexandra, born in 1982 and Sam, born in 1991.