Posts Tagged ‘earth’

Life on a Mote of Dust

June 18, 2008

“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.

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.”

That was Carl Sagan.  This is me.  Sorry I been gone so long.  Forgive me.

SPACE TARANTULA

February 1, 2008

The Spider

As the Messenger spacecraft passed Mercury a few weeks ago, it snapped a number of high-quality images that shed new light on the planet. Unlike our moon, to which Mercury had been previously compared, these new pictures show a number of ancient, dormant volcanoes; massive, sheer cliffs; and a network of fissures that indicate patterns of fault activity not unlike those here on Earth. Also discovered was the formation seen in the above image, which scientists have begun to call the Spider. It is a large, central depression with over 100 narrow troughs radiating outward — a geological curiosity never before seen in our solar system.

The Messenger will pass by the planet twice more before settling into orbit around 2011, and scientists hope that the coming years will reveal information about Mercury’s origin and its strong magnetosphere, a characteristic which is shared with Earth only. (via the Washington Post.)