Monday, June 27, 2011

Where are we?

It would have been a wonderful experience, defying any description when our ancestor, Homo Erectus, after changing his posture from quadruped to biped, might have gazed at the star-strewn vault of the sky in the night and dazzling, blinding aura of the Sun in the day.

... that awe still haunts us, still pervades our psyche...

Who are we?
Where we are?
Why are we here?
What is the purpose of our being here?
Are we the sole inhabitants in this vast expanse of Space?
Anybody out there?

Search for life beyond Earth is our subconscious effort to search the 'Self' ... the search for our own roots...

The depth and explorations of Space gives us humbling experience, which brings us closer to insignificance of our existence, our tiny insignificant planet, in an unimaginably vast universe...

Below is a photograph of our planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager from a record distance, beyond the orbit of Neptune -

(Thanks to all those who were involved in creation of this masterpiece)

Dr.Carl Sagan related his thoughts on a deeper meaning of the photograph. He points out that "all human history has happened on this tiny pixel, which is our only home".

He further, lyrically and philosophically, pondered over it in his book, 'Pale Blue Dot - A Vision Of The Human Future in Space' -

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. 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."

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