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|Born||July 9, 1938|
|Died||June 13, 1994(aged 55)|
|Fields||planetology, atmospheric science|
|Doctoral advisor||Carl Sagan (Harvard University, 1962 – 1965)|
|Known for||nuclear winter, dinosaur extinction, terraforming|
|Notable awards||Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, 1989|
Pollack was born on 9 July 1938, and was brought up in Woodmere, Long Island by a Jewish family that was in the women's garment business. He was a high school valedictorian and graduated from Princeton University in 1960. He then received his master's in nuclear physics at University of California, Berkeley in 1962 and his Ph.D from Harvard in 1965, where he was a student of Carl Sagan. He was openly gay. Dorion Sagan told how his father came to the defense of Pollack's lover in a problem with obtaining treatment at the university health service emergency room.
Pollack specialized in atmospheric science, especially the atmospheres of Mars and Venus. He investigated the possibility of terraforming Mars, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the possibility of nuclear winter since the 1980s with Christopher McKay and Sagan. The work of Pollack et al. (1996) on the formation of giant planets ("core accretion paradigm") is seen today as the standard model.
He explored the weather on Mars using data from the Mariner 9 spacecraft and the Viking mission. On this he based ground-breaking computer simulations of winds, storms, and the general climate on that planet. An overview of Pollack's scientific vita is given in the memorial talk "James B. Pollack: A Pioneer in Stardust to Planetesimals Research" held at an Astronomical Society of the Pacific 1996 symposium.
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