Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot Inspires Two Videos

The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 10 2012 8:00 AM

“A Mote of Dust Suspended in a Sunbeam”

Earth, as seen from 6 billion kilometers away by Voyager 1.
You are here.

Image credit: NASA/JPL

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.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Sagan’s words have inspired countless people, including artists. One person, at the art studio ORDER, created this lovely short video animating Sagan’s words:

Advertisement

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.

Tip o’ the lens cap to kuriositas via io9; and to Trunkman Productions and Gia Milinovich.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.