Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Pale Blue Dot

Also Sprach Carl Sagan:

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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 in 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 the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. 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. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

  • Padmanabhan

    Hi there. Yours is a great blog. I enjoyed reading most articles.

    But regarding this post/quote – I have a different opinion.This is double standards.

    “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 in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

    If earth is one small blue dot, isnt all the rivers of blood spilled an even smaller , even more insignificant microscopic dot. one cant treat earth as insignificant and something happening in earth as more significant or worthy enough to complain.

  • shiva


    You get Carl Sagan’s point. In the vastness of the universe the earth matters little and the rivers of blood even less; and the triumphs for which all that was spilt even less.

    Now the New/Old Creationist morons (Intelligent Design stupids included) can’t stand Carl Sagan in general (idiots aren’t fond of the wise) and this quote in particular. Hard to accept things as they are.

  • pugazh

    Carl Sagan riles the Christian Right because his line of thinking makes their religiously informed notions of cosmology look stupid. Worse still Sagan is full of appreciation for Buddha’s pronouncements on ethics and the Hindu scale of cosmology.

  • Jayant


  • Sudipta Chatterjee

    We need to stand before a mountain to know how insignificant we are, and how little our actions matter. On a more humorous note, though, you might want to look at this:

  • sanyam

    I agree to you that earth is a small dot, but thats all that most of us will e confined to for whole of our life. Not all of us can associate ourselves to the whole universe and thus think as widely as this article from you expects them to. So in my opinion all that should matter to immortal normal human beings should be the matter from where we need to make them understand the bigger issues of humanity.

  • Manoj

    “jab akelapan sataye..ya fir apne bahut bade hone ka bhram ho jaye , samundar ke saamne khare ho jana.
    uski chanchal laherein kahengi tum akele kahan ho ? samundar ka vishal vistar puchhega, tum mujhse to bade nahin ho ?”

    From ” Maine Gandhi Ko nahin maran “

  • RR