Carl Sagan, co-founder of The Planetary Society and an inspiration to millions the world over, passsed away ten years ago on December 20, 1996. To the memory of Carl, to his dreams, and to his unfinished mission, we dedicate these pages.
Where Would We Be With Carl?
by Ann Druyan, his Wife
und natürlich diesesWeather permitting, Carl preferred to think and write outdoors amidst the natural beauty that surrounds our home in Ithaca, New York. As I write this, I look out on the clearing down by the waterfall where he would work, sitting at a table, all but motionless for hours at a time. He said the music of the rushing water provided the perfect background white noise for concentrating. When Carl and I were writing Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, I once looked up from the computer in my office to find him deep in thought, his attention so highly focused on our manuscript that he was completely unaware of the rather large deer peering over his shoulder, as if trying to read what he was writing. The waterfall, the gorge with its record of the aeons inscribed in its strata, and the still-wild animals remain for now. The chair is empty.
Reflections on a Mote of Dust
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.
und nicht zu vergessen
Picture of the Day of 26.12.1996
For Ann Druyan
http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-11/ann-druyan.htmlIn the vastness of space and the immensity of time,
it is my joy to share
a planet and an epoch with Annie.
Greetings from Germany NRW