December 31, 2008

A sobering thought for the new year

" Look [again] at 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 back-story: On February 1990 the space probe Voyager 1, having completed its mission by visiting Jupiter and Saturn, was commanded to turn towards the Sun on order to photograph the planets of the solar system from afar. This resulted to the above picture of our planet, known as the Pale Blue Dot, which is taken from a mind-boggling distance of 6.054 billion kilometers from Earth, earning the distinction of our remotest picture so far. The text underneath is written by the late Carl Sagan, who both had the idea of taking the photo and named it.

I post it here on the eve of the annus mirabilis [/sarcasm] 2009 as it helps put things in perspective, giving us a tiny glimpse of who we really are. I hope I'll be proved wrong, but I'm afraid this little gem will turn out to be more useful this year than it ever was... Plus, I find the phrase "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam" incredibly poetic.

And with these thoughts I have to leave you, in order to get ready for the New Year, whatever it turns out to be.

Have a happy new year, reader, and may the FSM touch you with His noodly appendage!

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