A story of love, risk, tragedy, ingenuity and… Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan is an absolute legend. I’m truly fascinated about his life, his work, his books…. Cosmos.

When I heard that Neil deGrasse Tyson was working on a project that will bring Sagan’s epic Cosmos television series back to life some time in 2014, I was over the moon. Just today I found this beautiful short film by video artist Penny Lane, which tells a simple story of risk, love, tragedy, man’s ingenuity and Carl Sagan off course.

It’s really humbling to imagine that two single gold discs which are due to exit our solar system, may possibly be the only record of our existence here on Earth that will be available to anyone or anything else out there in the infinity of space, should the sun eventually vaporise us, or we destroy ourselves first.

Earth 2.0

Scorpius, the next potential frontier. These are the musings of a skeptical blogger. My lifetime mission: to find out if our scientists are onto something while exploring new worlds before either man or the sun totally destroys our planet, to boldly go wherever…

Okay, enough kidding around and apologies to Captain Kirk and Star Trek. On a serious note, a team of astronomers have discovered at least three potentially habitable planets orbiting around a sun known as Gliese 667C in the constellation Scorpius.This system is about 22 light years away from earth.

To put that in context, one light year is equivalent to 9460730472580.8 kilometers. That’s a pretty long number. And it would take many thousands of years to get there, travelling at our current best speeds.

So why are we ploughing resources, time and money bothering about something so far away, which we could never possibly reach… at the moment?

It’s simple. The earth is not going to be around forever. I have news for those of you who believe that the earth was created by some super-duper, infallible being: accept that his or her or its’ creation is screwed up. We need to hop off this rock at some stage and find somewhere new to continue the human species. And assuming you’re also decent human beings, you’d want to take a representative sample of all the other living species along with you… or maybe not; that may not be so wise.

The work scientists do today, will contribute to future generations finding the means to get there faster – we hope.

And another thing. It means the chance to start life afresh – without the ills that plague us currently, like politicians and clerics. Especially politicians and clerics. I’d like to think that some day, my descendants could have the opportunity to live life without these vermin.

So I’m all for it, if only for that.

I get goosebumps…

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from a distance, at the request of cosmologist Carl Sagan.

Subsequently, Sagan was inspired to write a book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future In Space and utter some of the most profound words in sciencedom [from Wikipedia below].

I hope you’ll enjoy this video with an amazing animation sequence, that keeps the voice and memory of Carl Sagan alive; it gives me goosebumps just listening.

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, 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.