Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan (1994)

The complete name of the book is called "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space" and it was another non-fiction book released by Carl Sagan (the famous astronomer and scientist) who wrote a series of books on science and space, and is most famous for his works, Cosmos and Contact. The name of the book is based on a photograph taken by the space explorer spacecraft, Voyager 1. Carl Sagan had pushed for the spacecraft to take a photograph when it was at a huge distance from the earth, a distance of 3.7 billion miles. In this photograph, the Earth seems nothing more than a Pale Blue Dot in the midst of empty space, and this is all that mankind has got.
Carl Sagan also described this photo in a speech he was giving, with these starting words: "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."

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, by Carl Sagan (1994)

The book takes a look at previous theories of the geocentric Earth-centered universe, and how that was the idea that could not be challenged, with torture awaiting those who dissented. Slowly, that idea was overturned and we started learning about reality, about our true size in the enormity of the universe, starting with the scale of the solar system, and then continuing with the idea of how to explore the planets in the solar system. Carl Sagan also talks in detail about the Voyager program. The book also has some great photos of the Solar System, courtesy of NASA.


Wanderers: An Introduction
You Are Here
Aberrations of Light
The Great Demotions
A Universe Not Made for Us
Is There Intelligent Life on Earth?
The Triumph of Voyager
Among the Moons of Saturn
The First New Planet
An American Ship at the Frontiers of the Solar System
Sacred Black
Evening and Morning Star
The Ground Melts
The Gift of Apollo
Exploring Other Worlds and Protecting This One
The Gates of the Wonder World Open
Scaling Heaven
Routine Interplanetary Violence
The Marsh of Camarina
Remaking the Planets
To the Sky!
Tiptoeing Through the Milky Way

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