Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Pale Blue Dot

I find myself going back to this video every now and then. It was my introduction to Carl Sagan, but it also did much more than that. 

The Pale Blue Dot, Sagan's masterful book about the place of humans in the universe, changed my life. It made me look very differently at the world and our place in it. Just something I wanted to share on New Year's Day.

The following is an excerpt from the book:
"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."


This is the 'mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam'; planet earth photographed on Valentine's Day 1990, from 6 billion kilometers away by Voyager 1 (now the farthest man-made object in the universe). Look very carefully, you'll see it. 



Sagan goes on:
"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."


Watch Sagan narrate those words, set to some beautiful music and unforgettable scenes from all-time great movies.


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