One of the greatest scientific passages ever written—and I hesitate to add the adjective “scientific,” the prose is so powerful—is Carl Sagan’s reflection entitled, “Pale Blue Dot.” It was written after Sagan saw a picture taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990, after it had traveled 6 billion kilometers (3.6 billion miles) from home. The image was a family portrait of the solar system that showed the Earth, our entire planet, as a single bluish pixel almost drowned out by the glare of the Sun.
As powerful as that is, it’s only about half of what Sagan wrote, and I strongly urge you to read his whole essay. It will only take a minute, but it may have a profound impact on your life. It did mine.
And (to totally change the mood) it had an impact on another man’s life as well. This short (10-minute) comedy piece is set in a small restaurant, the Pale Blue Café. I found myself laughing quite a bit watching it—I’ll note that there is some NSFW language and a very brief adult scene—but I really got a kick near the end when an old friend of mine shows up.
SPOILERS for those who don’t get the joke: Brian Cox is a physicist who does a lot of television documentaries, including the very well-done Wonders of the Universe, and yes, he does a lot of pointing up in the show.
I visited the Large Hadron Collider with Brian a few years ago and we had a lot of fun. He interviewed me for a podcast, and I put together a short video of the trip as well. One of these days I’ll have to go back. The LHC is awesome, and I would love to get more Geneva chocolate.
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