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06 November 2008

You Are Here

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an astronomer. I wanted to discover galaxies and black holes and gamma ray bursts. On warm summer nights, I would drag a blanket out into our back yard. I would lie there on my back looking at the points of light and try to comprehend the meaning of the infinity. I still don't know how to explain the concept of infinity. But I think I have an inarticulable understanding of infinite. I think most human beings feel so small when they ponder the Universe. On the scale of the Universe we may be small, but our minds are capable of infinity -- our imaginations are without boundaries, and we dream without limitation. I was a teen when the Voyager space crafts were launched in 1977. We didn't have computers, or internet, or even cable television. I had to get my information from news papers and magazines at the public library. Every day after school I would go to the library and pour over the national news papers looking for updates, information, anything about the progress of those odd looking little crafts. When those first images of Jupiter and then Saturn were returned to us I was so excited and mesmerized by them. Ah but life intervened, and I lost track of those lonely Voyagers for a while. During all those years I spent living my life, they quietly continued on their paths toward infinity. As the Voyagers approach the barrier between the heliosphere and interstellar space marking the end of one journey and the beginning of another, I would like to see humanity begin on a new journey toward peace. If only we could stop hurting and hating each other long enough to lie down on the earth on a clear night, look up and out into infinity -- what wonders we could imagine!
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. Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
You Are Here image created using NASA Hubble Space Telescope Public Domain Image

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