Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

*originally posted in Facebook on September 13, 2010

The "pale blue dot" refers to the planet Earth when the Voyager 1 probe took pictures at the direction of Earth. In 1990 as the Voyager 1 was just on the boundary or edge of our solar system and as it was leaving our solar system, Carl Sagan requested NASA to turn Voyager's camera around to attempt to take some pictures at the direction of Earth. The result was the "pale blue dot."

This "blog" is my way to honor Dr Carl Sagan and his great contribution to science. Also, a reminder I wish for everyone to contemplate on as to how we should look at our world and all of us who live in it... the only Earth we know, the "Pale Blue Dot."

we are but a speck in
the vastness of the cosmos
 Here's Carl Sagan's reflection on the image.

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."


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