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The great esape, the edge of the heavens, and long-distance calling

In Stuck on March 18, 2012 at 9:42 am

Radiolab takes a different spin on stuck with three great stories in “Escape!”

The pale blue dot from Voyager 1Listened to this on a morning walk, and this quote from Carl Sagan made me stop in my tracks. Literally.

“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 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.”

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