Tag Archives: carl sagan

Pale Blue Dot Photo

25 years ago, Voyager 1 turned round and took a picture of the Earth from 3.7 billion miles away. At first NASA wasn’t all that keen – it was expensive and served no real scientific purpose – but the legend that was Carl Sagan, persuaded them to do it. Just so that we humans can get a sense of perspective. And he was right. I have written about this before but as the anniversary just happened, I though I would write about it again. Here is the Pale Blue Dot photo and the Earth is on the right in the shaft of sunlight. It’s pretty amazing.

Pale Blue Dot photo

Pale Blue Dot photo

If that wasn’t perspective enough, add in Carl Sagan’s words:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any 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.

It’s even better with his voice. Enjoy and feel your insignificance.

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Brilliant explanation of the Big Bang – space stuff on Youtube

Youtube is normally just a repository for videos of adorable kittens falling over, or adorable humans falling over, or adorable blurry UFOs flying over, or adorable viral events that are soon to be over, or… Ok, I’ll stop as I am running out of ideas. Plus we all know there is a lot of other great stuff on there – trailers, clips of Felix Baumgartner falling from space, new fan made Star Trek movies, cool but stupid retro scifi movies like Space Probe Taurus, and so on.

There are also lots of youtube clips that teach you things. You can get totally educated and shit watching exciting animated clips and documentaries. I am currently watching a lot of astronomy related videos on youtube. This was partly inspired by a recent interest in physics (mostly particle physics but it is all related and bloody fascinating), and partly because I am a pretentious prick who likes to sound clever down the pub. There are some great clips out there like this one that explains the Big Bang for beginners:

The people who made this clip have a page called Kurzgesagt and they explain all sorts of things – astronomy, fracking, global warming etc. Click this for Kurzgesagt’s youtube channel. I am only mentioning all this as it is riveting and there are a surprising amount of people with time on their hands and internet connection. Why not learn stuff?

Here's a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

Here’s a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

On a similar note. Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on youtube while you are about it. I watched this as a kid on TV and it sparked a lifelong interest in in astronomy and science. Here is the first episode. Enjoy.

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