Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human

Pale Blue Dot

“Consider that blue dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

Pale Blue Dot
Image taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. Four billion miles away, Earth appears as a tiny point of light.

I recently watched the Netflix series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and was really impressed with the amount of discoveries about the origin of the Universe science has achieved. It’s really impressive to see how infinite all the existence is and how many infinite possibilities are out there.

According to Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar visualization – a method to visualize the vast history of the universe in which its 13.8 billion year lifetime is condensed down into a single year – the Big Bang took place at the beginning of January 1 at midnight, and the current moment maps onto the end of December 31 at midnight. Sagan goes on to extend the comparison in terms of surface area, explaining that if the Cosmic Calendar is scaled to the size of a football field, then “all of human history would occupy an area the size of [his] hand”.

This is an excerpt from Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot, inspired by an image taken, at Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.

“Consider that blue dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, 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 creator and destroyer of civilization, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — On a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

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. 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., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human

And here’s a great video and soundtrack created by the Southern California Pop group Empire Assembly. It was inspired by NASA’s recently released audio recording from inside the Apollo 10 when it crossed the dark side of the moon. Noises could be heard from inside the spaceship in an area where, according to specialists, no waves from our planet could reach.

Sources: Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human by Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey by Netflix, www.planetary.org

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