Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Pale Blue Dot

Somewhere in this picture, there is a pale blue dot. It is your home. It is the home of every living thing that we know and we don't know of. This is a picture taken by the Voyager in 1990 of our planet from 6 billion kilometers away.

It is the most humbling picture I have ever seen. It has been said that science does not provide moral values but religion does. I beg to differ. Even though science by itself, which is merely a method, cannot provide a moral framework, the fruits of knowledge it gives us let us define our morals. This picture is a great example. Carl Sagan, touched by this picture wrote a book on this. Here is an excerpt from the introduction, which everyone should listen from time to time to wash away his or hers false ideas of grandeur:

"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."

"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."

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