our pale blue dot

Our pale blue dot, planet Earth, is seen in this video captured by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer from his unique vantage point on the International Space Station. From 250 miles above our home planet, this time-lapse imagery takes us over the Pacific Ocean’s moon glint and above the night lights of San Francisco, CA. The thin hue of our atmosphere is visible surrounding our planet with a majestic white layer of clouds sporadically seen underneath.

The International Space Station is currently home to 6 people who are living and working in microgravity. As it orbits our planet at 17,500 miles per hour, the crew onboard is conducting important research that benefits life here on Earth.

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2

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 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.

—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

tomorrow is your last day on this planet, there’s no more pain when it’s over, it’s just a silent movie afterwards, death has been saving your favorite moments inside of a reel and he has the popcorn ready, he has your happy moments, your i’m too broken to function moments, he has all of your laughter and crying inside of a walkman cd player because he refuses to upgrade his technology just to hear if you’re having another bad day or if this is the best day of your life, in truth, he never grows tired of your many moods. tomorrow is your last day on this planet, love transformed into a thousand butterflies landing on top of your tombstone, a garden of fluttery pureness, who said you can’t be beautiful when you’re dead? tomorrow is your last day on this pale blue dot of ours, have you seen the ocean lately? she kisses your cheeks when you were six, yes, the rain is just another version of her. she ran down your face when he broke your heart, but no matter how hard you were crying over a shitty relationship, baby, don’t the tears always stop when you least expect it? someone has been kind to you lately and what do you know, you’ve forgotten all about the pain between letting go and a crappy apology. tomorrow is your last day to find yourself, death is disguised as the little girl who stepped into the rain for the very first time at the age of four, at that very moment, she didn’t know it yet, but one day, she’ll become the rain. we’re just recycled souls trying to undo past sins, this is just another version of who you’ve yet to become. tomorrow is a beautiful day indeed. but today? today is even better. today you finally get to live. i hate stories with endings, so i guess in a sense i hate all stories, how come everything good or bad has to end some day? today is your day. today is your fleeting moment. today is your first kiss memory tatted behind your heart because you wanted to keep it safe. today will never end. don’t worry. this story is a happy one, it doesn’t need a “the end.” it just needs you. it just needs love. it just needs you to be your own i. don’t say i love you to anyone else ever again until you’ve got it all figured out for yourself. how can you love anyone ever again if you don’t love yourself? they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. so stare into a cracked mirror enough and you’ll eventually see that even though a broken mirror is still a broken mirror, at least your reflection is still in there somewhere. it’s like your heart. a broken heart is still a broken heart, but at least all of the people you did love is still in there somewhere. it’s like people. a broken person is still a broken person, but at least some day… even if it’s an astronomical chance… someday like maybe today. you’ll find yourself whole again.

Thanks to the twin Voyager spacecraft, music is truly universal: Each carries a Golden Record with sights, sounds and songs from Earth as it sails on through the Milky Way. Recalling the classic rock era of the late 1970s when the Voyagers launched, this poster is an homage to the mission’s greatest hits. Some of the most extraordinary discoveries of the probes’ first 40 years include the volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io, the hazy nitrogen atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan and the cold geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton. Voyager 1 is also the first spacecraft to deliver a portrait of our planets from beyond Neptune, depicting Earth as a ‘pale blue dot,’ as of Aug. 25, 2012, to enter interstellar space. Voyager 2 is expected to enter interstellar space in the coming years. Even after 40 years, the Voyagers’ hits just keep on coming.  

Enjoy this and other Voyager anniversary posters. Download them for free here: https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/downloads/

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

Shoulders by Shane Koyczan

Like many, I love to look at the stars.

I love the fact that ours is just one among many.

What I love about astronomy is that our constellations tell a story.

Our constellations were born from mythology.

Mythology was our first attempt to understand the world in which we live

We put a God in everything and those Gods would give us our reasons.

Why is the sky blue?

Who chose blue?

Gods.

How come men have nipples?

It’s the will of the Gods.

Why does this wine taste so good?

There’s a God in it!

And for a while, there was not a single thing that the gods could not explain.

We believed that their anger gave us lightning;

Their despair gave us rain

We whispered our desires to them, believing that their charity would sustain us.

Those Gods… were just stories.

But stories became a large part of how we learn

They burn lessons into our memories

They become a part of how we remember; we can remember almost everything,

Right down to that first unbearable bee sting

When we learned that this tiny blue marble we call the world has rules.

Rule number one: don’t fuck with the bees!

An unforgettable lesson brought to you by your memories.

I remember that I grew up loving mythology.

I remember the story of the titan Atlas, who was also the god of astronomy

The original global positioning system sending sailors safely home by telling them which constellation to keep starboard.

He taught us about the stars, and in all this, while he held up ours

Our pale blue dot.

But Atlas is caught between two different tellings of his story.

In the first, he leads a rebellion against Olympus and is then sentenced to hold the heavens on his shoulders for eternity.

In the second story, he is chosen to be the guardian of the pillars that hold up the earth and sky.

I prefer the second story.

It means that the world is not a punishment; but rather, a responsibility.

But how can just one be charged with such a burden?

How can just one be responsible for all this?

When I think of Atlas, I think of a single drop of rain

I think how unfair it would be to hold a single drop solely responsible for making the entire world clean again.

I remember how my grandmother tried to explain our world to me-

She told me a story

She said the ground and the sky, they love each other

But they don’t have arms

So rain; that’s just how they hold one another.

I began to see how the earth and sky need each other.

But I wondered about us.

In this perfect design, where do we fit?

Which piece of the puzzle are we?

Like constellations, I began to see a connection between dots and numbered my thoughts

And drew lines from one to the next.

I began to see us in the context of a bigger picture, sharpening the blur slowly into focus

We are Atlas.

I saw that this pale blue dot, this one world, is all we get.

There will be no reset button, no new operating system, no downloadable upgrade

We will not be allowed to trade in our old world for a new one with climate control or better fuel efficiency

We get one shot at this.

Dismiss all reports of second chances; we get one.

And yet we draw advances on our future as if we one day won’t be held accountable-

We will.

We are.

The human race runs toward a finish line emblazoned with the worlds ‘too far’ and wonders,

Will we ever cross it?

Have we already?

We are faced with the seemingly impossible talk.

And it’s okay to be afraid.

Our dilemma stands before us like a mountain carved into a blockade, the sheer magnitude of our problem would be enough to dissuade anyone.

How do we save the world?

We lay in our beds curled into question marks, wondering

What can we do?

Where do we start?

Is hope a glue crazy enough to hold us together while we’re falling apart?

The burden seems immense.

But we can do this.

We must take the martial arts approach to loving our planet-

Love as self-defense

Forget about the cost

There will be no other thing as worth saving as this!

Nothing more important; nothing as precious;

This is home.

All of our stories start and end here.

We are sheltered within an atmosphere that has given us every single breath we will ever take

Every monument we have ever made has come from the flesh of our planet.

Water like blood, skin like soil, bones like granite

It is not a myth, there is no debate, facts are in

Fact is, there’s never been any question.

We are facing crisis.

We dismiss the truth not because we can’t accept it, but because having to commit ourselves to change is a scary prospect for anybody.

The most alarming part of the statement ’we are facing crisis

Isn’t the word ’crisis’,

It’s the word ’we’.

Because those two letters take the responsibility away from one and rest it squarely on the shoulders of everybody.

We are Atlas now.

But our strength will come from finding a way to share in shouldering the responsibility of turning the impossible into somehow

Somehow, we will do this.

We can do this.

We can dismiss apathy; we can reject uncertainty

We can be the new chapter in our story

We will not see change immediately

We must act in faith as the hour hand grips the minute hand and they land on the eleventh hour

We must believe like the seed that change is possible to see.

Never seize the flower, it grows knowing it must become more than what it was

It changes, because in growth, all of its potential can be unlocked.

Change is like rain, it starts with a single drop.

Just one, like our pale blue dot.

Caught in an endless waltz called gravity, we circle the sun, wondering who, if anyone left the light on.

We are constellations drawn upon the earth, we are connected to one another, we are bound.

We must behave as the arms that connect the ground to the sky.

We must try to be more like the rain.

Our stories may differ, our goal is the same:

How do we save our pale blue dot?

We act as the rain, realizing that each individual drop is as equal and important as any.

We act as one.

Now, we are many.

“The Cosmos extends, for all practical purposes, forever. After a brief sedentary hiatus, we are resuming our ancient nomadic way of life. Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds throughout the Solar System and beyond, will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will love it no less for its obscurity and fragility. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.”

—-

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

—-

Graphic - Dan McPharlin

“Since, in the long run, every planetary civilization will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring – not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive… If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds." 

Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Chapter 21, p.371 )

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The Cold War - life at the gates of annihilation. 

With the end of the Second World War in 1945 and the death of fascism, the temporary wartime alliances forged in the darkest days of late 1941 - between the British Empire, the United States and the Soviet Union - quickly began to show deep cracks. A few weeks after the release of the Long Telegram in February 1946, which would inspire the Truman Doctrine, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in Fulton, Missouri. The speech called for an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviets, whom he accused of establishing an “iron curtain” from “Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic”. It was clear by 1947 that ideological difference had become intolerable and in September of that year the Soviets created Cominform, uniting the global communist movement while tightening political control over Soviet satellites.

Over the following decades a policy of containment would be pursued by the Western Bloc, usually led, and on occasion too far, by the United States. This, driven by the Domino Theory, that should one state fall it would collapse an entire region, led to a number of not-so-small proxy wars: the Malayan Emergency, Korea, Vietnam. On 13 August 1961, the Soviets erected a barbed wire Berlin Wall, something which would quickly grow in substance. Europe was divided, quite physically in two. When the Soviet Union went nuclear on 29 August 1949 the stakes of confrontation had risen exponentially, triggering an arms buildup on both sides; which, under Robert McNamara, settled into a state of Mutually Assured Destruction. European maps became the atomic battlefield and as crisis came thick and fast in the early 1960s the fate of life on our pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known, rested upon the cool minds of just a few men. Living at the gates of annihilation, they peered through and stepped back, time and again.

“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, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Image of Earth taken from the craft Voyager 1 on the fringes of our planetary neighbourhood. 

Earth By The Numbers

Ahhh, Earth. Our home planet and oasis in space. You’re probably very familiar with this world, but here are a few things you may not know about our “Pale Blue Dot” of a planet.

From the vantage point of space, we are able to observe our planet globally using sensitive instruments to understand the delicate balance among its oceans, air, land and life. Satellite observations help study and predict weather, drought, pollution, climate change and many other phenomena that affect the environment, economy and society. 

1. Known to Harbor Life

Of the nine planets, countless asteroids and meteors in our solar system, Earth is the only one known to harbor life. It has a thin layer of atmosphere that separates us from the coldness of space.

2.  All By Its Lonesome

Unlike some other planets in the system that have three or more rings, the Earth has zero, but we do have one lonely moon that orbits us.

3. Moving At The Speed Of Life

Earth is the third planet from the sun and is located about 93,000,000 miles away from it. At this distance, the Earth moves at 66,000 miles per hour through space to complete its 365 day rotation.

4. You Can Breathe Easy

Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and about 1% other ingredients. Most other planets in our solar system have an atmosphere, but Earth’s is the only one that’s breathable. 

5. For Real?

Did you grow up thinking that each calendar year was 365 days long? It’s actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds…in other words, it’s 365.2564 days long. This is why an extra day is add during a leap year: to help offset this time difference. 

6. Far Out

We measure the distance of planets in our solar system in a measurement known as an Astronomical Unit, or AU. This measurement is based on the distance of the Earth from the sun. Earth is one AU from the sun, while Mars is 1.52 AU and Jupiter is 5.2 AU.

7. Taking Selfies…Before It Was Cool

The first ever photo of Earth was captured on October 24, 1946 when a V-2 test rocket was launched into space from New Mexico.

8. Slumped Over Already

The Earth doesn’t sit upright like you would think. It’s actually sitting on its side a bit, or rotational axis as it’s called, the Earth sits at a 23.45 degree rotational axis spin.

9. How Original…

How did it get the name Earth? The name “Earth” is at least 1,000 years old. All the planets in our system are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, except for Earth. The name itself is of English and German origin and simply means “ground”.

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Pale Blue Dot

By: Meta Dead

It probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to most of the #deadcorps to learn that I enjoy reading books about outer space.  One of my favorite scientists of all time is a popular one–Carl Sagan.  The reason I love him is because he brings the awesome breadth and depth of the universe to the reader in common language, and yet with these simple words, he often takes your breath away. His writing combines two things I love–science and poetry. 

Although he has left this world, he was a mentor to Neil Degrasse Tyson, who carries on his legacy of being the people’s science rockstar.  Neil spoke in Nashville this week, and I got to attend the event.

The talk was incredible.  Three and a half hours of a very smart person talking about outer space, earth culture, and how the two affect each other.  His demeanor and insight were entertaining and challenging.  Also, it was fun to see the HD pictures of Saturn’s rings, the surface of Mars and the first picture of Pluto on that giant theater screen with all the lights out.  

As I sat there, one of 2000 people listening to his talk, my mind wandered to just how tiny we really are in this great big expanse–this universe within a multiverse within who knows what.  I thought about the horrific events of last week with the slaughter of humans for the gain of power or the vindication of religious ideals and how insignificant any “god” or any “man” on the expansive timeline and geographic landscape of known history truly must be.  

A very similar concept comes into play in our song “Astronaut.” When encountering all the problems of this world, the lyric says, “how can I fault a pale blue dot?”  Indeed.  This tiny speck and all of our problems become so insignificant in the context of the universe.  How can we blame the world for our suffering?

Furthermore, how can we knowingly make people suffer?  Is anything so important to take a human life, or to deny someone in need access to readily available food and shelter?  

It was fitting that as I had these thoughts, Neil closed with my absolute FAVORITE passage from any Sagan book.  While he read the passage, we gazed at a picture known as “the pale blue dot” which is a photo of our planet taken from Saturn.  It looks like nothing.  A pale blue dot–one of innumerable millions–lightly flickering in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Here is the photo:

The passage read aloud while looking at that picture moved me so much that I just wanted to share it with you this week.  The death that we deal to each other as a species is heartbreakingly needless.  Perhaps we need a larger perspective.

“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 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

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Why does Earth appear blue from space?

“The fact is that the ocean is made up of water molecules, and water — like all molecules — preferentially absorbs certain wavelengths of light. The easiest wavelengths for water to absorb are infrared, ultraviolet and red light. This means if you head down to even a modest depth, you won’t experience much warming from the Sun, you’ll be protected from UV radiation, and things will start to turn blue, as the red light is taken away.”

Seen from afar, Earth is often described as a pale blue dot. But why is our planet blue? Is it because the skies are blue? That can’t be right, or the clouds and icecaps would appear blue-hued as well. Is it because the blue skies are reflected by the oceans? That can’t be right either, or we wouldn’t see different shades of blue at different oceanic depths. The answer lies in the properties of water itself: it absorbs different wavelengths of light with different efficiencies, and is worst at absorbing blue light. That’s why, the deeper you go, the bluer underwater marine life appears, and that’s also why the blue light is most efficiently reflected back off the water, at all depths, and into space. The Earth may not be our Solar System’s only blue planet, but the physics of its blueness is unique!

Just something to think about:

“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

brodoswaggins-returnofthebling  asked:

What do you hope people will take away from this movie?

We want people to rediscover the fascination for science and discovery that we felt as kids, growing up and watching the show. Bill’s fans are adults now and they’re able to put the knowledge gleaned from the show to practical use. We face HUGE challenges on our pale blue dot (global warming, stressed ecosystems, treatable diseases, etc.) and science and technology can help us better understand the problems (and even solve them!). Also, we want this film to be fun and funny, just like the show. Bill’s life is inspirational and we want viewers to hang out with a funny, smart and charming guy for 90-100 minutes of fun. 

– Jason & David, filmmakers

Read more of Bill Nye’s responses to your #AnswerTime questions here, and check out The Bill Nye Film on Kickstarter.