Carl Sagan introduced his seminal book, Murmurs of Earth, in the following words:
In August and September 1977, two remarkable spacecraft named Voyager were launched. After exploring Jupiter and Saturn, they will slowly leave our solar system and cruise for eons to come through the realms of other stars. Affixed to each is a gold-coated phonograph record, a message from Earth to possible extraterrestrial civilizations.
By far the most complex and informative of all our attempts so far to communicate with other intelligences, the record contains, encoded in the audio spectrum, 118 pictures explaining our planet and ourselves; greetings in fifty-four different human languages and greetings from the humpback whales; a representative selection of "the sounds of Earth," from an avalanche to a rocket launching, from an elephant's trumpet to a kiss; and almost ninety minutes of some of the world's greatest music.
The chance that the record will ever reach an extraterrestrial is remote, but this by no means diminishes the significance of its presence on Voyager. In this book, the group that was responsible for making the record explains how and - still more important - why they did it, and what they feel the record says not only to possible extraterrestrials but to human beings in the last half of the twentieth century.
"No one sends such a message on such a journey without a positive passion for the future. For all the possible vagaries of the message, any recipient could be sure that we were a species endowed with hope and perseverance, at least a little intelligence, substantial generosity and a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos."
Dr. Sagan's undeniable contribution to astronomy and space sciences, and his gift for boundless compassion for the creatures on earth and, according to his belief, the infinite variety of creatures which existed outside of it notwithstanding, he died at the age of 62 in 1996, of cancer, at the pinnacle of his intellectual faculties, without any evidence to validate his vision of the natural pervasiveness of life, as opposed to the almost certainty of its caprice.
While his belief in "billions and billions" of lives of any which form was and is enthusiastically shared by many, I was one of the vociferous but loving dissenters. That is not of any consequence. What matters to me is that I do not see that any one of us, including those being born today across the length and breadth of the earth, is likely to witness during his or her lifetime the vindication of this very tantalizing, benign hope: to reach, to touch, to hear, to feel that we are not alone.
This is also for those who believe in my voice and prognostication. Our planet, in my opinion, is choking, gurgling, for what I think is its last breath.
I looked at this singularly unique 'selfie' of yours although I totally don't like to refer to any of your works by popular terms. Although you described it in so much detail, I am still unable to visualise how you composed it.
All I know is you saw it first and then did it. I have been viewing it as gurgle of universe except that I don't really know what the universe is or how much. I use the word only as a manner of speaking to denote the non - earth. That I think is because of the impression you have created of stellar density and the blue elliptical shape like a planet in orbit. This is only a purely subjective impression. Seen in the context of the lovingly dissenting text it does convey the grim and powerful image your words convey of the choking planet.
This post is so timely. Perhaps you are as riveted to TV watching Cosmos-A Spacetime Odyssey narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson as we are.
It is good to remind people, once again, at least those who can take time out of their daily rigor, that the Earth is in its death throes. It may come tomorrow or may not for another century.
But, ultimately it will not matter if you dissented and proven right or Carl Sagan and his fellow believers were proven right. No one will be here to celebrate the victory or the defeat of one or the other. I am not suggesting that you are prognosticating to win a victory.
Just like the Blue Marble in the picture it will ultimately choke on its own 'codswallop'.
The picture allows a beautiful sinking feeling as one feels after imbibing three glasses of wine. I love the picture.
Anant Nanda wrote:
All these are expression of human desire to prolong life, or life's experience through indirect means. Sometimes indirect means appears to be the direct reality through imagination, say like two lovers viewing moon at two different places come to feel their oneness through their act of watching moon. Assumptions have the tendency of skipping the very first level of proof and become accepted as reality, nay the assumed reality. It all starts as one wonders how can there be only one earth with life, and nowhere else? There has to be many like earth. See, this is the assumption. It all depends how and how many are willing to believe this and are willing to skip the basic hurdle of proof before going to the next step. Here impatience works. Aware that the first proof itself would take several lifetimes, one is forced to leave the first stage and then everything becomes easy: to imagine, to prove something unproved with the help of another unproved assumption, etc.