Our ‘Pale Blue Dot’ and Thus Begins the Blog, ‘Harm’s Weigh’

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Cosmology
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Greetings Earthlings…

There is no better way to launch my Blog than to first take a movement to ponder, with the utmost humility, this image of everything we are.  Please consider this image with all the silence and reverence of all the worlds most solemnified  rites and ancient rituals replayed again and again throughout history.  Look inward at yourself and ask by what self interested egoistic need have you been able to claim such importance as to matter, sitting upon this ‘dot’ suspended for millions of years in a vast darkness— up until now, witness-less much less understood.

Let us ask ourself, what is that “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam?”  Who are we to claim ourselves important on this speck in such a sea of emptiness? What matter is what you do, or what you have come to believe, or claim to know as it rests in the vastness of time and space upon which this blue spec sits?

This is…. US… everything… and before I get lost in a sea of pondering and philosophical affectations, I think I will just leave this one to the immortal words of Carl Sagan, said only just a few short years before his time on this ‘Pale Blue Dot’ came to an end.

Our 'Pale Blue Dot'

This year is the 20 year anniversary of this image taken looking back at Earth from Voyager 1. It was at the last moment before it left our solar system, approximately 3,762,136,324 miles from home.

“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.”

Truly the most important lesson to learn from this image is that which Sagan says in his last sentence. The only thing we can do with ourselves that matters, no matter what we do in our short time,  is to “preserve and cherish the pale blue dot”.

Indeed we may never find another.

Welcome to Harm’s Weigh

Charles Harmison

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