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Date Posted:30/04/2010 3:31 PMCopy HTML

February 13, 2010


It’s the twentieth anniversary of the famous “pale blue dot” photo – Earth as seen from Voyager 1 while on the edge of our solar system (approximately 3,762,136,324 miles from home). Sagan’s words are always worth remembering:

Look again at 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.

[LINK SiteName=Mothrust: Movies and Modern Myth Target=_blank][/LINK] Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle - Anita Roddick
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  • Register:21/09/2018 12:36 AM

Re:Pale Blue Dot

Date Posted:01/05/2010 5:58 AMCopy HTML

I listen to ABC News Radio's astronomy show, Star Stuff by podcast every week.  I recommend it.

Carl Sagan was so right about Astronomy being '
a humbling and character-building experience'.  If you are regularly thinking about our 'place' in the universe then it is very hard to believe we are the apple of the supposed creator's eye.  It takes millions of years for light to travel to parts of the universe where humans will never go or ever see, so this was created for what?  In the grand scheme of things, we are not even a vapour, and far less than a blue dot.

Great post. Thanks.
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Re:Pale Blue Dot

Date Posted:28/06/2010 1:44 PMCopy HTML

I never tire of reading Sagan. It put's all of life's worries into perspective in an instant.

TLY, following on from your comment of our 'place' in the universe, here's something I only learned a year or two ago that adds yet another dimension to that theme...

Our solar system (to which we attach such permanence and immovability) is the detrius of a third generation of supernovae since the big bang - a third generation of gravity-powered condensation of 'star stuff'. In a few billion years, our sun will supernova, scattering a literal starburst of debris in 'our' little corner of the galaxy. The resulting cloud of pulverised mass will continue to expand until its inherent mass (gravity) slows the expansion... the expansion will again eventually reverse and become an equally inevitable contraction and so the cycle repeats for a fourth time...

We are truly 'star stuff' as Sagan used to say. Every milligram of mass in your body has (so far) been part of three different solar systems, with more solar systems to come.

Awe inspiring stuff.
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