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Thursday, September 28, 2006 - 8:10pmSanction this postReply
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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.

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 in 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 the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. 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. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.



[Bridget: I feel this execerpt from the book by the same title is important considering how folks like Hugo Chavez, Bin Laden, and even George W Bush are carving a legacy from the hides of human beings. This being the state of affairs for modern day humans cannot go on. Ultimately, either the savages will win and the fire of civilization will return to ashes or those of us with a sense of life will take that fire from them. More than ever, our rational self-interest must be the touchstone of our actions, otherwise we'll become like the savages, carving out a legacy from the hides of innocent human beings. I say that as a piece of advice and a warning. It takes a strong heart to handle a harsh world without being just as harsh.]

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Friday, September 29, 2006 - 5:09amSanction this postReply
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I watch Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" on "The Science Channel" and love it!  His sense of wonder, amazement, and exuberance for the human capacity for learning/advancement is infectious.  If only everyone understood how amazing we truly can be, who knows where the world could go.

Bauer


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Friday, September 29, 2006 - 7:02amSanction this postReply
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Bridget,

There is a related quote from Herman Melville, which is a favorite of mine:

"Thus have I seen passion and vanity pounding the magnanimous earth. But she has not changed her tides nor her seasons for all of that."

The vista for this thought is not from space to earth, but from mankind on earth to earth. I can no longer remember the specific parable for which the preceding quote is the moral. I believe it had to do with killing some animal for enjoyment of the suffering and the destruction, in contrast to killing for supporting human existence.

Melville pondered whether all the whales would someday be extinct from human hunting. In those days, lamps were not yet fueled by kerosene, but by whale oil. He reports hearing it said that even the great herds of buffalo on the American Plains would someday be extinct from hunting. Not knowing the outcome in the future, he trusts to the vast and magnanimous earth.

In my lifetime, the greatest threat to the destruction of all higher life on the planet was the threat that the USA and the USSR would inch finally into a nuclear exchange. My father worked in War Plans at a SAC base back during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Believe me, the possibility of all-out nuclear war was very real. As Churchill had foreseen at the onset of the nuclear age, peace might become "the sturdy child of terror." As it worked out, the mutually unacceptable damage of nuclear war between our countries prevented WWIII. But the threat was real, and it had to be real for deterrence against belligerent acts that could escalate to use of nuclear weapons. For another orbit around the sun.


Bauer,

We really enjoy The Science Channel in this household too. "What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty."


Stephen


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Friday, November 29, 2013 - 5:44pmSanction this postReply
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Cassini photo of earth from saturn is here.

Carolyn Porco on The News Hour this evening:

". . . look up, contemplate your existence, contemplate the beauty and the lushness of our own planet, marvel at your own existence, and appreciate the magnitude of the accomplishment that has made this interplanetary photo session possible."




(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 11/29, 5:50pm)


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Thursday, March 13 - 5:58amSanction this postReply
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Blue Below



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Thursday, March 13 - 7:47amSanction this postReply
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What were reactions to the new 'Cosmos?'

 

I looked forward to it, generally think it paid homage to the spirit of the original, but can't quite put my finger on my slight dissapointment, other than, I wanted more 'Carl' and his intelligent pondering of ideas, and less ... animation.  Especially, painfully long cartoon animations.  

 

In the original, the graphics were supportive props for Carl's stories.   In the remake, the host seemed more like someone introducing the graphics and animation and posing in front of them.   

 

It's hard to take on a classic.  I will still check it out.

 

 

 



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