The Pale Blue Dot

Today is the last day of 2017. As we look toward the future, it is a good time to contemplate what we have explored during the year just past and how it helps us grasp the place of our lives in the grand scheme of things. Here I offer you just such a contemplation. It was written by Maria Popova, an immigrant from Bulgaria who devotes her life to an amazing blog called Brain Pickings.

Her essay aligns in a wonderful way with the perspective on which Nature’s Depths is based. It leans heavily on the saga of the journey of Voyager 1, the first spacecraft to explore the outer reaches of our solar system, and on the role played in this journey by the great astronomer Carl Sagan. She includes Sagan’s eloquent musings on the amazing photograph—called the Pale Blue Dot—of our Earth taken by Voyager 1 as it was nearing the end of its journey in 1990.

Here is what Sagan wrote: “We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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.”

I relished reading this piece of Maria Popova’s. I hope you will too. Here is the link:


Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot from NASA’s web site, very slightly edited for better viewing.






Posted in: Rumination