pale blue dot

meant to post this yesterday, as it was Earth Day, but never mind.

pale blue dot

Earth (the dot in the middle) as seen from 3.7 billion miles away by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, on 6th June 1990.

… 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.

(From Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan, Random House, 1994)

books

I find it odd that if I were to go into Waterstone’s, I would have to pay £12.99 for a copy of The Corner, by David Simon & Ed Burns.

Whereas if I go online to their website I can pay £7.79, and get it delivered for free to the exact same store (or my home address).

But then I have to wait for them to deliver a copy to the store. The same store which I was in earlier, and and where they had half a dozen copies in stock.

PC World have a slightly different take on the process. You essentially pay the web price online, then collect the item from the store an hour later – just enough time for them to forget to pick it off the shelves, so you have to get it yourself, saving a fair whack of change in the process.

So why can’t Waterstone’s do the same thing? Surely it would save on costs getting extra copies of already-in-stock books delivered, and make the customer (me! hi!) happier.

Just a thought.

some interesting things I’ve found

First off, the Star Wars ABC, which is oddly beautiful:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tweedlebopper/sets/72157600166417445/detail/

Then a fantastic post by a fellow pen addict:
http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/10/16/the_gel_dilemma.html

which is so me, it’s scary. Must go and buy some more pens. My favourite line was this:

if you’re going to have an argument about pens with anyone, chances are there’s a Moleskine nearby.

Brilliant

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1166968&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo.

The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries . All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries . Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent ‘whistlers’ produced by fleeting electrons . Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?

More info here http://www.semiconductorfilms.com/root/Magnetic_Movie/Magnetic.htm

An Animate Projects commission for Channel 4 in association with Arts Council England.