Thoughtcrime - 14 Feb 2013

Earth - the pale blue dot

Twenty-three years ago today, this picture of Earth - taken by the Voyager probe - was first glimpsed, after being transmitted back from a distance of nearly 6 billion kilometers.

Carl Sagan famously (and probably best) described the image in his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space:
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 vision of humankind leaving the vicinity of our planet, sailing amongst the stars, and exploring the remaining great unknown - all of this had to remain but a dream for Sagan.  Are we resigned to the same fate, or will we learn to see the bigger picture, put aside our petty quarrels, and instead embrace the best aspects of humanity - our curiosity and desire for knowledge - to forge a better path ahead?

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