Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

I believe that it is very good to hear and meditate on Carl Sagan‘s Pale Blue Dot pretty often. Perhaps even daily.

Sagan’s powerful voice-over combined with the animated video below can certainly help us put things in perspective.

For some reason I can’t help but be reminded of Zaphod Beeblebrox — the President of the Galaxy in Douglas Adams‘ classic sci fi the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

It was Zaphod who once had to face the mad-making crushing reality of being an infinitely small speck, on an infinitely small speck, in an endless universe.

Typically for Douglas Adam’s character, Beeblebrox remained unphased because he knew that, in fact, his arrogance was indeed greater than the universe itself (and hence he was truly special;-).

Sometimes I wonder if by coming up with the concept of the technological singularity (especially Ray Kurzweil‘s 6th stage when intelligence spreads through the cosmos and the universe “wakes up”) we are not unconsciously saying what Zaphod Beeblebrox said…

…namely, that our (intelligence’s) arrogance is greater than the universe…

Whatever the case may be, it is just another piece of evidence that Douglas Adams was a serious genius!  Now, is this funny or ironic, or both…

 

Written and Narrated: Carl Sagan
Music: Hans Zimmer “You’re So Cool”
Art and Animation: Adam Winnik

Pale Blue Dot Transcript:

“From this distant vantage point the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us it’s different. Consider again 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 can 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.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.morris.5815 Steve Morris

    But coming at it from the other direction … “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life.” So from that perspective, the Earth is in fact the entire universe for us. There’s nothing else (yet). That explains why humans act with the “arrogance” they do, and why they attach so much importance to the pale blue dot.
    And I have to say that I rather admire Zaphod Beeblebrox. Standing up and saying, “We are special. We are not insignificant dots living on an insignificant dot,” seems quite important to me. It’s one the of the things that makes humankind worth something. Without that arrogance, I think that we would literally be nothing.

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Great point Steve!