It is truly fascinating to see what is out there and how things look from a different perspective. The images you see in this article, with that prominent look of a small and tiny pixel, is the place you live; Earth – from 3.7 billion miles away (3,762,136,324 miles). Surely there must be other life forms out there and planets that we have not discovered yet? If our planet is this small it is quite understandable if other life forms consider us insignificant in the broader picture. However it is how our future shapes which will justify our meaning and significance in the end.
The Pale Blue dot
The Pale Blue Dot is a picture taken by Voyager 1 at a record distance of around 3,762,136,324 miles (Rounded up to 4 billion) by the NASA worker and famous book writer Carl Sagan who was the commander of Voyager 1. He pushed for the picture to be taken after the space crafts primary mission had been accomplished. NASA states that in the picture Earth only takes 0.12 pixels in size. Isn’t that amazing? Everything on Earth and Earth itself, only taking 0.12 pixels in a still picture?
To reflect on Carl Sagans words:
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. 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 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.