Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our Pale Blue Dot

Until i saw the COSMOS series with the very watchable Neil deGrass Tyson, i had never heard of Carl Sagan who wrote and starred in the original COSMOS series back in 1980.
I have though, previously seen the famous Pale Blue Dot image of the Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe from 3.7 billion miles away where our planet appears as a tiny dot in the vastness of space.   
Amazing picture and perfectly complimented by one of the most thought provoking passages written where Sagan contemplates that on that dot in the picture: 'everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.'
'Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark' he muses before explaining that this is the only home we have ever known and we have nowhere else to go and how we should: 'deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot'.
Powerful stuff but still we go on polluting the planet, stuffing poisons into the atmosphere, shoving toxic waste into the ground and generally vandalising the only place that we have to live on.
What the image also drives home as we look at that tiny pinprick of light in the vast blackness of space is how we are just a tiny, infinitesimal part of the universe.
It shows how we are not at the centre of things as we maintained for centuries, that we are not even at the centre of our own solar system which is just one of tens of billions of solar systems in our galaxy alone, a galaxy which is in turn amongst hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe.   
Whilst we could quite easily make excuses for our less knowledgeable predecessors that the Sun and the Planets went around us and that the Earth and everything around, above and below it was created for our delectation, to maintain that idea today that a God created something 13.8 billion light years across just for the inhabitants of an insignificant,  rocky planet situated out in the sticks on the arm of a far flung Galaxy is the height of arrogance or ignorance.  
The image should make us feel very humble and shows our place in the great scheme of things which is an inconsequential dot in the immense vastness of space and alarmingly, the only place we have to live so we should be taking better care of it because once we have wrecked this planet, we don't have anywhere else to go.

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