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The Pale Blue Dot

kgrass's picture

While looking for an avatar, I came across a picture of our world taken from the Voyager 1 in 1990.  This picture mainly struck me because of the story that came with it.  Carl Sagan, an astronomer and astrophysicist, saw this picture and said "Look at the pale blue 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. "-Carl Sagan 1994 

    This quote made me think about our need to find the truth of our past, analyze the significance of the present, and determine the path of our future.  No matter how we perceive our world, however, does not change what it holds or has held.  The secrets of the past may never be unlocked for us.  The fossil record is like looking at a drop from the ocean.   But it is amazing to think of everything that has happened and all of the significance we are able to find on this "tiny blue dot".   If only our earth could talk.  Oh the stories it would tell.  Resting silently, basking in the light of the sun, watching evolution in action.  Patiently looking on as we try to unlock the secrets of the past, like a teacher watching a student struggle with a math problem.


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