Happy Carl Sagan Day!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today is Carl Sagan Day, in honor of Carl Sagan's birthday!  He'd be 77 today.

I love this particular line, as it kicked-off his famous Cosmos series:


There are so many quotable quotes from Mr. Sagan, but my favorite is this:

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.
That makes me tingle every time. So today, bake an apple pie from scratch, as is customary on this day, or at least eat one (I hear GT Pie Co makes a killer pie...). If you're making one, though, you better get on it. I hear it takes more than 13 billion years to preheat your universe.

4 comments:

steves 5:50 PM  

Mmmm...pie.

Bob 8:25 AM  

Awesome. Can we hand that out to every insignificant freshman legislator?

I temporarily have the Science Channel, which just ran a three-part series on the creation of the universe written and partially narrated by Stephen Hawking.

In their discussion of the beginning of the universe, they discuss the pre-big bang times, where there were no elements, no subatomic particles, only pure energy. After the big bang, particles were created, which coalesced into hydrogen atoms, which combined with one another, due to gravity, creating great pressures, which formed stars. After millions of years, the first star ran out of hydrogen, which had fueled its fusion reactions.

The first sun dies resulting in a super nova. Only then were some of the materials in our daily lives created. This includes heavy metals like gold.

It is likely a ring around your finger, or a chain, or the connections in the computer are made of the stuff. Without the death of a star that ring would not exist.

That shit trips me up.

Smitty 8:54 AM  

There is a whole bit in Cosmos where he talks about us as being born of stars. Beyond our rings and trinkets...we are.

Jay 12:23 PM  

Yup, can't even get water without fusion reactions in stars.

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