Friday, April 18, 2008

The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any 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, ever king and peasant, every young couple in love, every moth 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 momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel 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, Chapter 1, A Pale Blue Dot

Previous Pale Blue Dot Post


Biker Boi said...

let me get this straight. That awesome dot, wich is unlike any star/planet/satelite, was, according to an impossible theory, made by an explosion. but, an awesome God could not make that. God cannot create order, where an explosion can create order. Thats what i caal stupidity.

Steven said...

You said "let me get this straight" but you by no means got anything straight. You clearly don't understand, even at a basic level, what you "caal" stupidity. Do you seriously think that the last 200 years of scientific discovery are going to be overturned by your ignorant and moronic paragraph that bastardises, strawmans, misunderstands and totally retards common sense never mind several different elegant theories that explain massive amounts of EVIDENCE.

Your comment is indicative of the lack of science education that seems to be prevalent. It really is like a 5 year old child has told me I am stupid. Your comment was that sophisticated.

Scientific theories are explanatory frameworks that explain all observations (facts) and have predictive power. They are the most powerful form of knowledge in science. You clearly don't even know what you are arguing against and the fact that you don't understand something has no relevance to the truth.

Fortunately the truth is immune to your uninformed incredulity and lack of understanding.

Your belief is not a prerequisite for the truth.

Billy said...

It is amazing the arrogance that leads people to somehow think that they somehow have a special place in the universe.

Billy said...

It's on you tube too Going to put it up on my blog now :-)

LeeC said...

Hi Steven,

Just popped over to read your Carl Sagan piece - Billy mentioned it.

What a clever chap Carl was…

You wrote:-
It really is like a 5 year old child has told me I am stupid. Your comment was that sophisticated.

Good reply sir…

But, you forgot about the killer reply you may received back…

“I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?” – writes a creationist

You have to admit, evolution is great... to have evolved fingers so we can use a keyboard to reply to blogs on the internet :)


LeeC said...

Oh I cannot help myself…

Hi Biker Boi

Hope you join with me in a little discussion because I wish learn some wisdom from you.

You wrote:-
That awesome dot, wich is unlike any star/planet/satelite,

Now why would I compare a rocky planet like the Earth with a star? That would be silly. You do know the difference between a main sequence star like our sun and a rocky planet like our Earth don’t you?

As for satellites, the main difference here is due to definition, i.e. when an object orbits a planet rather than the parent star. So another rather silly comparison don’t you think?

Though maybe you are saying that our planet Earth is completely different to any known satellites?

Interesting… could you explain to me then what are the main physical differences you are referring if we were to compare the Earth with, say, Ganymede or Titan or Europa?

Maybe your definition of “unlike” is the rather Earth centric view of “life” – well, can you explain why life cannot and will not be found, say, on the moons of Europa or Enceladus or the planet Mars?

But of course, you are no doubt talking about ‘higher forms of life’ (please define)… well I will agree with you that the odds of finding ‘higher forms of life’ such as fish, mammals and birds are rather close to zero within our solar system but the Vatican is getting worried about life around other planets and what it would mean for God it would seem…

Maybe time to re-read your holy book of choice and start re-interpreting :)

However, more importantly, can you give me any supportable reason why we should not expect to find planets like our Earth with life, out there is the vast universe?

If not, I would suggest it is just your belief, belief in an ancient book no doubt. BTW - Have you ever tried to confirm the validity of this book that you hold so dear?

I could help you if you like :)

Oh, and you could of course explain to me the major physical difference
was, according to an impossible theory, made by an explosion. but, an awesome God could not make that.

Which ‘impossible theory’ are you talking about? By impossible I assume you mean it has been falsified, I would love to know which falsified theory you are talking about – the Big Bang model? Not heard of the evidence that falsifies this, only evidence that confirms it – but you never know, you could be onto a Noble prize, so please share what information you have.

Oh, and thinking of an ‘explosion’ is a little misleading, the universe didn’t ‘explode’ into anything. So all those documentaries showing an explosion are not helpful. You cannot be on the outside looking in on the Big Bang as the TV shows normally have us believe. (The problem with ‘art people’ making science shows I’m afraid.)

And who said an “awesome God” couldn’t make a universe? – I would just have to ask where this “awesome God” came from and what positive evidence do you have for belief. Seems simple a request.

God cannot create order, where an explosion can create order. Thats what i caal stupidity.

But who created God, the question will always remain but ‘order from chaos’ was the new challenge, let me try and think of a simple example for you.

Get a bucket of sand (get camcorder because you will want to watch this in slow motion), make a small hole in the bucket and watch the sand fall onto a solid flat surface.

Watch as the particles of sand fall and bounce all over the place randomly, chaos – but after a short while, order will be seen as neat cone shape pile of sand is formed.

Simple order from chaos. Not as impossible as you claim.

Another great example is the snowflake, just plain boring physics but lovely ordered patterns are seen. Again, order from chaos

The physics of star and planet formation is also (at a high level) rather simple, though a few details still need to be worked out since it is only in the last 10 years that other planetary systems have been founded to test the current theories.

So please, explain to me why stars and planets could NOT be formed naturally in the universe and require divine intervention?

Also, since you are claiming supernatural intervention, you have to prove/show the existence of your God is more likely than any and all the natural explanations provided by science.

As I said, I would love to hear your wisdom. I am open to the evidence. Care to discuss?



Steven said...

Thanks for the comments Lee. Yes Carl really did have a way for words. I have read the majority of his books and enjoyed them all thoroughly.

Steven said...

"a way for words"

With words.

Billy said...

Just a hunch Lee, but you have dealt with creationist before - haven't you :-)

LeeC said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the comments Lee.

No problem – as I said, Billy mentioned you had the Carl Sagan quote and a “fundie” talking physics, So I just had to come across.

Like a moth to the flame

"a way for words"

With words.

Well, we cannot all be like Carl :)

Though if you didn’t mention it, I probably wouldn’t have notice the error.

Me not good with English very well.

Billy wrote:
Just a hunch Lee, but you have dealt with creationist before - haven't you :-)

Not for very long for some reason. Doubt Biker Boi will be back.

I need to work on my ‘people skills’ as my boss keeps telling me.