Putting Things in Perspective

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. 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.” — Carl Sagan

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This is the part of the image that Voyager took that includes the earth.  You can see it as the tiny, pale blue dot in the beam of light above.  Here is a closer look at it:

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That fuzzy dot is where we live.  I defy anyone to look at that tiny dot, alone in the vastness of space, and not feel overwhelmed by a sense of insignificance.   Not too long ago, several hundred years or so, we thought we were the center of the universe.  Now we know that we live on an average planet, orbiting an average start, 3/4 of the way out from the center of an average galaxy that is part of an average galaxy cluster.  It is not unique and it does not have a special place in relation to the rest of the universe.

Yet this picture of our pale blue dot hanging in the void also shows how special this world is.  As Carl Sagan said, everyone who has ever been has lived their lives out here.  That makes our world a very special place because it is obvious from the utter vastness surrounding us that it is the only one we have and that makes it, and everything on it precious.  Earth may not be anything special in relation to the rest of the time and space, but for us, it truly is the center of our universe.

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