Saturday, June 09, 2012

A tiny pale blue dot

This is a photograph of Earth, taken on Valentine's Day, 1990 from the Voyager 1 space probe as it reached the edge of our solar system--4 billion miles from home. It is one of the last pictures that Voyager 1 took. Carl Sagan convinced NASA to rotate the spacecraft 180 degrees--so that the camera was facing back to Earth--and snap the photo before Voyager hurtled into the dark void beyond Neptune. The vertical colored bands are rays of light from our sun. In the right-most band--a little more than halfway down--is a tiny pale blue dot. That is Earth.

Carl Sagan had this to say about the picture:

“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 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. 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."


Post a Comment

<< Home