The pale blue dot

18 07 2007

“The pale blue dot” is a well known book by  the late astronomer Carl Sagan. I have not read it but I did come across this article on the web last night which is a text of part of an address he gave at his own university. I suppose it struck a chord in me (see the second paragraph) because of all the strife we are experiencing now in Zimbabwe. Anyway, here it is.

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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 in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot… 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. It is up to us… To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known”.

– Excerpted from a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996

This is the actual picture he is talking about – taken by the Voyager spacecraft when it was about 4 billion miles away as it left the solar system. See the Earth as it really is – in the photo there are three rays of sunshine. In the one furthest to the right (the yellowish one), look VERY closely about the mid point. See that TINY white speck? That’s the home planet where ALL of the above, and all that will ever, take place.

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One response

18 07 2007
Tuppit

If you zoom in a bit you might see David Beckham!

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