Our World

 Our Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.


Seen from about 6 billion kilometers, Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space. From Voyager 1 spacecraft.  Photo taken Feb. 14, 1990.

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 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. 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.

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.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

To view other images taken by NASA expeditions, visit NASA’s Planetary Photojournal web site at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov

Our sun. Image taken January 20, 2017 by NASA

“Carl Sagan (1934-1996) is perhaps best known for his award-winning PBS series Cosmos, in which he inspired a sense of wonder and excitement about his favorite subjects: the origins of life and the search for intelligent life in the universe.

Carl Sagan 1934-1996 Credit and Copyright: 1994 by Michael Okoniewski & https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap961226.html

In addition to holding a 25-year professorship at Cornell University, Sagan was the author of numerous scientific papers, popular articles, and books . . .; he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978.  In the 1950s Sagan began serving as a consultant and adviser to NASA.  . . .
‘Reflections on a Mote of Dust’ is an excerpt from a commencement address that Sagan delivered on May 11, 1996″ (106).
From: McQuade, Seeing and Writing 2, 2003.
Let us “preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Aloha, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

3 responses to “Our World”

  1. Rosita says :

    That’s true. We should cherish our planet as we cherish loved ones who’re surrounding us, ’cause we know that both of them are gonna vanish someday, suddenly or not, yet it still seems sudden for us, mere humans, which don’t have the loyalty of dog nor the resilience of cat, for adapting to such diferent, although sometimes brusque situations. If our planet enter on a colapse, wha’ would we do? Colonize another one, just to invariably end it on same dramatic, yet dotish [Caribbean slang for idiot, stupid] way? That’s? We should seriously rethink wha’ are we doing to our little big planet Earth, and try to revert all that mess by taking better care of it while we still have time, ’cause it was best gift God could even have give us. Just my thoughts, BTW. Hope y’all are fine and taking care of this loving planet, the only we have,

    • reneeriley says :

      Thanks, Rosita: You are right. I like your phrases “our little big planet Earth” and “the best gift God could even have given us.” Earth is the only home we have in the foreseeable future, so we must take better care of it than we are now. We must all do what we can. Aloha, Renée

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