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"Space Exploration defies the cynicism of our age. Antidote to the intellectual malaise and spiritual drift..."



On Impermanence
If we lived forever, if the dews of Adashino never vanished, if the crematory smoke on Toribeyama never faded, men would hardly feel the pity of things. The beauty of life is in its impermanence. Man lives the longest of all living things... and even one year lived peacefully seems very long. Yet for such as love the world, a thousand years would fade like the dream of one night.

Kenko Yoshida, Essays in Idleness (1330-1332)


"... As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenure of this planet. We've accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage: propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders. All of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we've also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience, and a great soaring passionate intelligence -- The clear tools of our survival and prosperity.

Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain. Particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of our small planet Earth. But up there in the cosmos. An escapable perspective awaits. National bounderies are not evident when we view the earth from space. Fanatic, ethnic, religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion citadel of the stars."



Dreams are Maps
Exploration and Human Purpose - by Carl Sagan

I know where I was when the Space Age began. In early October 1957, I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, working toward a doctorate in planetary astronomy. The previous year, when Mars was the closest it ever gets to Earth, I had been at the McDonald Observatory in Texas, peering through the telescope and trying to understand something of what our neighboring world is like. But there had been dust storms on both planets, and Mars was 40 million miles away. When you're stuck on the surface of Earth, those other worlds, however tantalizing, are inaccessible.

Dreams are Maps - Full Text


"We all repeatedly fall into the trap of identifying people too closely with their circumstances. It is an almost overwhelming human impulse to attach values to appearances. The habitual ease with which we do this explains a great deal about our history and values..."



Pale Blue Dot
- Carl Sagan
Earth, as seen by Voyager 1 at a distance of 4 billion miles
...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 significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodian of life's meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.





The technological changes in our lives are no less profound. During the past fifty years, even the past ten yers, not only our lives but our consiousness has been transformed by scientific advances.

First was Nuclear power, which altered our sense of history. By acquiring the key to our own destruction, we assumed responsibility for the continuation of human life on our planet. No other generation has ever lived with that burden. We have not even begun to acquire the wisdom that would make such a responsibility tolerable. That knowledge torments us.

We initiated the exploration of the universe. From Sputnik to the International Space Station was but a moment. But from the wheel to Sputnik was a leap far greater than the invention of the wheel itself.

We have, through discoveries in biology and genetic science, entered a realm hitherto sacred. We have dared to tinker with the origins of life itself. None of us can conceive of where that journey will lead.

Our world is one of ironies. On the one hand we have like the generation that came to maturity in the 1930's, become aware of limitations. We no longer believe that our children's lives will be better than our own, that history is a chronicle of unending progress, or that concepts such as victory have much meaning beyond the moment.

Yet at the same time, we are pushing our consciousness beyond our bodies, beyond our nation, beyond our planet. Even as our personal world is drawing tighter around us, we have set upon a path of discovery that may make all our notions of morality and all our wars seem inconsequential.

Fifty years ago our world was finite and history seemed infinite. Today our history may be finite but our world is becoming infinite. I may well be around fifty years from now. It would be foolhardy to predict what the world will be like. We may have blown ourselves up by then. Yet we are a resilient and optimistic lot. We think we can create the future. And by thinking so, in some degree we can.

"And man can be as big as he wants" is most insipiring, most direct, in its unshakable faith in the future.