Monday, March 16, 2009

The Pale Blue Dot

Last week I got results of my interview for MBA entrance and I could not get through. This particular institute was my last hope as I got interview calls from only one other institute besides this out of several entrance exams I wrote . I was pretty depressed/frustrated/angry with myself and was pretty much convinced that I'm a big loser who has no future.
Whenever I am going through troubled times, my policy of getting out of it is to look at the bigger picture, to zoom out and get a better perspective. I was going through similar introspective period when I remembered something written by renowned scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan I had read some time ago , which had given me great hope. I googled and read the whole thing again, and it gave me a new perspective about the world around and how insignificant we are in the bigger scheme of things. So I thought I shall share the same experience with everyone.

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken by Voyager 1 from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. In this picture you can see the entire solar system and the earth is seen as a small tiny point against the sea of blackness.

In a commencement address given on May 11, 1996 Carl Sagan talked about his understanding of the deeper meaning of the photograph. Few excerpts..
"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 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. 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.

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."

We keep going through the motions of our daily life, without taking a moment to sit back and look around. We are so busy getting to the destinations that we forget to enjoy the journey. We are so self obsessed and self involved that we forget how insignificant and helpless we are in front of the vastness of the universe! We consider ourselves the center of universe and forget that we are just a small drop in the large ocean of time!

So next time when you didn't do so well in your appraisal, or you failed to clear the entrance exam or interview, or your proposal was rejected by some boy/girl, or you are simply feeling low, just make someone smile and that shall be your biggest contribution in making the pale blue dot a better place to live!

If you want to listen to Carl Sagan's thoughts Click Here.


Shashia said...

Wow! This post is really awesome dude!

The greatest folly we as humans make is not realizing the fact that we exist in a bigger scheme of things. We tend to concentrate our thoughts and energies on well-being of us and our loved ones. This post has clearly depicetd the importance of always looking at the bigegr picture in life.

Cool man! I dint know anything about Carl Segan and his theories. This is a real eye-opener for me :)

priya said...

Wow Ravi... I really loved this post... Keep posting... :)