Naomi's Reviews > Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
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Sep 03, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, science
Read from August 26 to September 03, 2012

This book was very well written by an excellent physicist. It was one of those books that really makes you consider the world around you and the massive scale of the Universe.
The first chapter contemplated the arrogance and self-centred nature of humans, and presented the notion that humans are exceedingly small compared to the vast Universe. For the first time I really comprehended how tiny our species are. It is quite an obvious concept that gets lost in everyday worries, fears and troubles. Now everytime I am stressed or anxious I think of how insignificant it is compared to the world, compared to the Universe, and perhaps how some far-off civilisation would view our world and its problems.
Another thing the book did was allowed the reader to take an objective perspective of the Earth, for example, it made me realise how irrelevant political and social problems such as war and money are; the Universe is so much bigger, so much more significant than the miniscule conflicts that we create here on Earth. But it also made me realise the grandeur of the human race: how much we have accomplished, how much we still don't know, how far we're willing to go to find answers to scientific problems.
The book also touched on the Solar System and the many diverse environments close to our planet, which was well explained. It was amusing to see that little information was available regarding what Titan is like since the probe would reach there in 2004 (the book was written in 1995)! I had to seek reference in another book to find the answers and alleviate my curiosity about this strange moon. However, the positive to this lack of information is that it elucidated the fact that science is always growing; new phenomena are constantly being discovered so that books written almost 20 years ago are immediately out of date. Carl Sagan also discussed the prospect of sending robots to Mars, which again made me laugh given Curiosity's recent successful landing.
As the book went on, I found that it lost momentum. The last 8 or so chapters were quite repetitive and tedious; Sagan was mainly speculating about future possibilities instead of introducing new facts. Nevertheless, I found it quite interesting to read about potential trips to other galaxies, or terra-forming of Mars and asteroids - it would make for an excellent science fiction novel!
The last chapter recapitulated much of the whole book so that I was left feeling that sense of awe and wonder at the majestic of the Universe and of humanity's scientific advancement.
In conclusion, this was a fantastic book that really makes the reader contemplate the vastness of the Universe, feel patriotic towards Earth and want to make exploration of the Universe a possibility.
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Quotes Naomi Liked

Carl Sagan
“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

Carl Sagan
“.. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the 'Momentary' masters of a 'Fraction' of a 'Dot' ”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space


Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Kenny Bell an unbelievable response coming from a perceived 10 year old.


Naomi Kenny wrote: "an unbelievable response coming from a perceived 10 year old."

I'm 18??


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