Carl Sagan: A Pale New Dot
On February 14th 1990 Voyager spacecraft looked back at earth from a distance of 3.1 billion miles and took a picture now widely celebrated as the “Pale Blue Dot”. It shows the earth as a barely distinguishable speck of dust surrounded by vast cosmic darkness. Carl Sagan a leading astronomer and philosopher discussed this picture eloquently in his series Cosmos. An excerpt is below
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.
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.
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."