13 September 2010

One day...



In a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996, Sagan related his thoughts on the deeper meaning of the photograph Pale Blue Dot [above, top left]

«From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of 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 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 | Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994)


John Lennon | Imagine (1971)



20 comments:

  1. What a coincidence, I just finished watching a program on the origin and the future of the universe by Stephen Hawking. Hawking tries to explain how the universe started from nothing. According to him, some 14 billion years ago, there was no light and no space and at a single point about the size of an atom an explosion occurred, “Big Bang,” and the universe was born. The universe started and is still expanding. He believes a force which he calls dark energy, which acts opposite to the force of gravity, initiated the explosion. The universe was a mist of hydrogen atoms. There is no such thing as perfection in the Universe and so the Hydrogen gas was not evenly distributed, because of this gravity was able to act on the Hydrogen particles bringing groups of Hydrogen atoms together. Hydrogen was converted to Helium by the process of fusion. When Hydrogen is fused into Helium some mass is lost, this mass is converted into energy. Suns (Stars) were coming into existence. As the Stars grew, increasing pressure created heavier elements in their cores. As a Sun aged it finally burned out and exploded as a Super Nova expelling heavy elements such as gold, platinum, iron and the elements of life Carbon and Hydrogen. The creative force of gravity brought the heavier elements together and formed the planets. Mr. Hawking cannot explain how life began, presently, no one can. He believes it was a fluke, an accident. Groups of atoms got together and were able to replicate themselves and evolution then took over. Our planet is about 4 billion years old, our sun is predicted to burn another 4 billion years. When it starts dying it will initially expand engulfing our planet. The Universe is a dangerous place and there have been mass extinctions on our planet caused by asteroids and Gama radiation, from dying stars, that stripped the earth’s atmosphere of protective ozone. If we can avoid killing ourselves, we eventually have to move elsewhere for the human race to survive. The trouble is we have to develop the technology to travel vast distances. With our present technology, it would take 350,000 years to reach the nearest known planet thought to be similar to ours. The technology we have to develop is not only faster space vehicles but also improving our longevity and intelligence through genetic engineering. The end of the universe has two possible outcomes, gravity will compress it back to a single point, “the Big Crunch,” or dark energy will keep it expanding and the universe will become very cold. Mr. Hawking believes in the latter outcome. He still wants to know why the universe had to exist. Boy, do I feel insignificant.

    I think the immediate danger that the world faces is over population, which will result in more disease, starvation and wars over resources. My aquarium is probably a good analogy of what is happening on earth. I started out with about 6 Mbuna, African Cichlids, I now have 24. The fish started coming down with diseases, because the good bacteria in the tank could not handle the excess waste. I started changing 25% of the water daily and now they are healthy again. I have to get a bigger tank.

    Joana, you posted a comment welcoming me back. I really never left. I read your blog many times but I don’t always post a comment and sometimes I post as anonymous with the name “guerra” at the end of my comment.

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  2. Carl Sagan Book quote‏:

    "A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic."
    — Carl Sagan


    zodiaczephyr

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  3. Thanks you Joana for posting the Pale Blue Dot, a fascinating watch

    Sandra Ryan.

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  4. This is a subject near to my heart - the cosmos. Even though I love science fiction I am still interested in the absolute vastness and undeniable uniqueness of the earth and the universe.

    My own favourite 'mantra' when everything around me is getting slightly out of proportion is this:

    "We are living on a speck of dust in a massive explosion".

    Somehow it brings me down to earth and everything takes its normal place in everyday life.

    Thank you Joana - very interesting subject.

    Angelique

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  5. Rather beautiful and inspiring posting Joana. Blessings be!

    "May the long time Sun shine upon you, all Love surround you and the Pure Light within you guide you all the way on..."

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  6. Man's stupidity surpasses his massive intelligence. Do we have a future? Sadly, Lennon's dream was only a dream. Sounds incredible but the radio is playing Ozzy Osbourne's "Dreamer" right now.
    Joana, thanks for this.

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  7. Anon. 2

    Yea - Carl Sagan was also wonderful lecturer - he did the Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institute on the box ages ago and I taped them all. I still have them and cherish every word he spoke. I have the video and the Book - Contact - I miss him.

    Angelique

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  8. Stephen Hawking: The Grand Design 623MB http://bit.ly/bt7Ejm or buy it here http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Design-Stephen-Hawking/dp/0739344269

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  9. John Prescott, when being asked after a flight, about how he was feeling..told the world..'It's good to be back on terra cotta'

    anyway there are mysteries at ground level too...

    http://geology.com/articles/racetrack-playa-sliding-rocks.shtml

    isar

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  10. Oh dear, I hope I haven't killed off the thread

    Anyhow, if anyone is interested in this stuff here is an article dated yesterday from the rather serious/po-faced German mag 'Der Spiegel'

    There should be a 'translate button' on the page if you aren't
    a german speaker.

    And the unbelievably aptly named Uni in Pennsylvania does exist-
    an easy google...

    anyway, thanks for letting me waffle for 2 posts in a row:

    http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,716545,00.html#ref=top

    isar

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  11. Angelique,

    When our eldest children were young we used to watch the Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institute on the box also. They were so enjoyable and fascinating. You are lucky you have them on tape.

    zodiaczephyr

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  12. Hi guerra,

    Your post was very interesting. Thank you for posting it. Whilst reading it I thought how uncanny it was, it reminded me of the process I use for meditiation. When I meditate I close my eyes, still my mind, in the stillness of my mind I see darkness and I then visualise a tiny point of light in the darkness, the tiny point of light is held in my forehead, in the position of the 'third eye' and I bring my soul being to rest in the light. This light I regard as a point of light that is both eternal and without dimension. It is both a point and an ocean of light. My soul is a point of light my soul is eternal and without dimension. My soul is both a point and an ocean of light.

    In your post guerra you mention:

    "According to him, some 14 billion years ago, there was no light and no space and at a single point about the size of an atom an explosion occurred, “Big Bang,” and the universe was born. The universe started and is still expanding. He believes a force which he calls dark energy, which acts opposite to the force of gravity, initiated the explosion."

    "The end of the universe has two possible outcomes, gravity will compress it back to a single point, “the Big Crunch,” or dark energy will keep it expanding and the universe will become very cold."

    What I find interesting is that whilst meditating the point of light explodes into an ocean of light. I wonder if this is the mind emulating the 'Big Bang.' When coming to the end of meditation the ocean of light returns to a point of light in the darkness. I wonder is this the mind emulating the 'Big Crunch'.


    Just my opinion, I think the Universe is infinite and mirrors meditiation. The Univese will always be a point of light that is both eternal and without dimension. It is both a point and an ocean of light.

    zodiaczephyr

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  13. this will cheer you up, IF you need cheering up:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR2uSWmlSHI&feature=fvw

    isar

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  14. thank you isar, it's a great video, both vision and sound; and I love jazz, have an excellent day ;)

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  15. I am glad you liked this,Joana

    here's one more (the original had Phil Collins-who was a close friend on drums)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVBPiJqUZQo&feature=related

    isar

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  16. thank you for sharing Isar, actually I didn't know John Martyn's work, but will have a look at his videos. I do enjoy his guitar sound and voice :)

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  17. 13 Anon.

    Yes - I've heard about this meditation technique - it was on the box some years ago - they took some employees into the wilds of Wales and they stayed there and used this meditation to empower them to be more positive.

    I think it works for some people - but not all.

    Angelique

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  18. Joana, Isar,

    Google search: nasa the eye of god,

    A.Dubliner.

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  19. Stunning,

    thanks

    A. Dubliner

    isar

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