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The Only Home We’ve Ever Known

Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite took this picture of earth from 1 million miles away on July 6th.

earth-million-miles-1500-2

(Right click on image above and “Open image in new tab” to see full version.)
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That picture is a lot closer than the photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU).

Pale_Blue_Dot

The caption to the picture in the wiki says, “Seen from about 6 billion kilometers, Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space.”

Carl Sagan’s meditations on that picture appear in his 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Listen to Carl read from the book.

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 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.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is itself a remarkable creation of human engineering and vision. It’s been on its voyage for nearly 38 years.

Voyager
The wiki notes:

The spacecraft, travelling at 40,000 miles per hour (64,000 km/h), is the farthest man-made object from Earth and the first one to leave the Solar System. Its mission has been extended and continues to this day, with the aim of investigating the boundaries of the Solar system, including the Kuiper belt, the heliosphere and interstellar space. Operating for 37 years, 10 months and 17 days as of today (July 24, 2015), it receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network.

The Voyager 1 reminds me of one of my favorite songs by my favorite band. “Gypsy” by the Moody Blues. It could be about Voyager 1: “Left without a hope of coming home.”

Gypsy
by The Moody Blues

A gypsy of a strange and distant time
Travelling in panic all direction blind
Aching for the warmth of a burning sun
Freezing in the emptiness of where he’d come from
Ah ah . . .
Left without a hope of coming home

Speeding through a shadow of a million years
Darkness is the only sound to reach his ears
Frightening him with the visions of eternity
Screaming for a future that can never be
Ah ah . . .
Left without a hope of coming home . . . .

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Atanu Dey on India's Development

Atanu Dey
Chapters
PJ O’Rourke: Every government is a parliament of whores
The Amazing Power of Technology
Swami Vivekanand: To the 4th of July
No True Islamic State
Herbert Simon — Information consumes attention
Yoga has no Religion
Hayek on “The Mirage of Social Justice”
An Open Letter to PM Shri Modi
Prefer a Functioning Economy
Political Discrimination is Socially Harmful
Markets & Competition
Ministry of Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy
John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion
Reading Ronald Coase
Universal Literacy
Man versus the State
What Comes Before
An ad from 1947: “The Uphill Task Ahead”
Pohela Boishakh, Vishu, and Puthandu Greetings
Rich People Spend More
Goodbye, Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Friday the 13th, Pi Day the 14th & Beware the Ides of March
Money is the root of all Evil
Warren Buffet’s Letter to the Shareholders
The Man Lee Kuan Yew Admires the Most
An Informed Citizenry is the Bulwark of a Democracy
Problems and Solutions
People I Admire – Part Doh
Nelson Mandela on Education
Criticizing Modern Indian Holy Cows Considered Dangerous
Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God
List of Pages on Teresa the Merciless
People I Admire
Lee Kuan Yew is under Intensive Care
On Monkeys, Cats & the Generality Principle
The Great Indian Bamboozle has to Stop
2400 hours of electricity for Delhi — every year?
Make India first to “Make in India”
Republic Day Thoughts on Reading the Constitution
A Day of Shame and National Mourning for India
The most dangerous man to any government
Socialism, Competition and Politicians
Open Thread: Ask me anything
Aakash, the “iPad Killer”, Vaporware has Evaporated
The Dreamer and the Dream
Circular Firing Squad of Flying Attack Monkeys Target Rajiv Malhotra
We need more Anandamide, not Jihadamide
Constitutions Matter in our Daily Lives
The Only Home We’ve Ever Known
Adam Smith on the Division of Labor
The Passing of Former President Mr APJ Abdul Kalam
Socialism Works its Wonders in Venezuela - also in West Bengal
Why the terrorists killed the satirists of Charlie Hebdo
Islam Poses an Existential Threat
The Wisdom of the Crowd
On Knowing Enough to Know that You Don’t Know
NITI — New Initiatives for Transforming India
Will India Recover?
The Unbearable Stupidity of Controlling Prices
Nov 14th as the “Day of Shame and Lamentations for India.”
The Indian Constitution — Part 2
Hayek on Valuing Individuals
Mr Modi goes to Washington