YouTube user Patrick Mylund Nielson created a video of Carl Sagan reading an excerpt from his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space*. As Mr. Nielson says in the description:
This excerpt from A Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Carl Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
Music: Ludovico Einaudi with a track titled, very fittingly, “The Earth Prelude”
Initial clip collection: HottiesInc
Ending scene: The intro from “Contact”, the motion picture based on Carl Sagan’s novel by the same name
I take no credit for anything in this video.
Here is the video:
The text is given below along with the picture**. However I highly recommend watching the video. If that is hard for some reason, even just the audio will suffice. Carl Sagan was an unforgettable speaker and the music is inspired.
From this particular 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. 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.
– Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
*I am not sure what the source is. It seems to me as if it’s from the audiobook for Pale Blue Dot, but I could not find a definite source and at least one other webpage says that it’s from a commencement address that Carl Sagan gave in 1996.
**I do not know if I am legally allowed to reuse that image. I am guessing and hoping that no one cares.