Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're having a wonderful Valentine's Day spending time with the people you love who make your life full and satisfying.  I've always loved those red, decorated, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that they sell for this holiday.  Corny, I know.  I just think their romantic.  

On this day in 1990, after traveling through space for 13 years, Voyager 1 was directed to turn its camera back toward the planets from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles).  When it sent the photos back to earth, there was a photo of our planet clearly visible.  Carl Sagan called it the "pale, blue dot."  Here we are, as Carl said, "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."  He uses the opportunity to  entreat all of us to be more kind, more loving and to do everything we can to preserve this fragile place we call home.  He's one of my heroes.  He had the ability to explain even the most complex things so that anyone could understand them and, what's more, understand the significance of what he was talking about.

Incredibly, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still operational 35 years later and are the farthest human-made objects in existence, still transmitting data back to us from 18.5 and 15.2 billion kilometers away.  Amazing, isn't it?  Let's love each other and extend that love to our beautiful earth and cherish and realize the beauty that we sometimes take for granted every day.  If we lose those things, we lose everything.  

Have a great ♥ day everyone!

Pale blue dot image with a wider field of view to show more background

Carl said it best:

"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.  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 somewhere else 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, our only home we've ever known."

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