As the Earth seems to be getting progressively more shite, it is worth remembering that we humans are capable of doing pretty incredible things. If we try and think beyond the petty here and now, and set our sights on knowledge, exploration and becoming a greater species I am convinced things could improve. With intolerance on the rise – religious and secular – we should try and better ourselves, not squabble and fight over imaginary beings or who should be allowed into “our” little patch of Earth. When you see our planet from space, the arguing and hatred seems so pointless.
Obviously nothing will change as too many humans are dicks. Happily, not all.
Here is an amazing video made by a talented fellow called Santiago Menghini. It is a tribute to NASA’s Voyager space program and combines real footage, recorded sounds, Voyager images, animation and more, into a very cool little film. Brilliant and truly inspiring. Cheered me right up, it did. Enjoy.
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
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.
Voyager has officially left the solar system. NASA said so and they seem pretty certain about it.
Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977, 36 years ago. I was 5 years old and it has remained an awe inspiring achievement throughout my life. It’s one of those things that humanity occasionally does that makes me feel proud of it. Good work humanity. The ability to look outward and the desire to explore and learn is a trait that should be encouraged. Sadly this trait was soon after rejected because we need more money for wars and bailing out banks and so forth.
I’m going to try not to rant about this but to put things in perspective, the UK spends £4.6 billion a year on science. That’s ALL science. The bank bailout is expected to cost the country over a TRILLION pounds since 2007. Just the bailout of RBS cost the taxpayer £46 billion. So when someone whinges about space exploration costing too much money, they are talking bollocks. Anyway, Branson is going to do it now, so the government and the whingebags can piss off.
Back to Voyager. The mission took some brilliant photos of Jupiter and Saturn and their associated moons. Our knowledge base has grown massively. It single handedly inspired the opening sequence to Star Trek Voyager when it flies through the rings of Saturn (probably). Speaking of Star Trek – there is also the possibility that Voyager will return and be super-intellgent thanks to some sentient machines it may meet in the far future, like in Star Trek the Motion picture. These are just a few perks in addition to the knowledge and pictures.
Voyager returns in Star Trek 1 movie.
One curious thing that I have personally discovered, is that Voyager has discovered sounds in space. I think. They are waves emanating from the sun and are recorded and sound like a noise. Another thing that I discovered is that the sound of space is pretty damned terrifying! Imagine the sound-track to a ‘space horror’ movie mixed with the sounds used in a scifi show to show ‘advanced aliens are up to something’ and that’s the sound. Downright eerie! (You can hear it below.)
I just wanted to say good work Voyager 1 (and 2) and all those involved in the project. I look forward to being a head in a jar in 40,000 years’ time when it makes it through the black bit between stars.
Here’s a short 2 minute with the terrifying sounds of space. Sail on!